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Point of Reference

    by Fred Price

August 23, 2019

I have heard any number of sermons based on the idea that all people everywhere have a “God-spot” deep within their hearts, a place yearning for God – even if we fail to properly recognize it as such or identify it as something entirely different. In fact there is ongoing research to identify just why this is so, seeking to genetically define why the vast majority of people look for the true meaning of life in something beyond themselves. Could it simply be that God created us with a need for him, that we miss the daily walks in the garden our first…  ( Click for more )

August 16, 2019

Almost immediately after Paul’s conversion on the way to Damascus, he began to energetically and persuasively preach the gospel of Jesus Christ; surprising those he had only recently been persecuting and confounding those he had just as recently been supporting. Both found his motives suspect and his actions unbelievable. He was a “man without a country” and nearly lost his life, as those he once supported began plotting his death, those he now supported shying away from him out of fear and distrust.

Those who did believe his turn-about was…  ( Click for more )

This comment by Jesus to a Samaritan woman was not merely a rebuke but a challenge to her complacency. Like many today, what beliefs she had she held strongly; but her knowledge of the truth was limited and she was not motivated enough to seek a more complete understanding of her faith. She was comfortable in the knowledge she had; her belief-system reinforcing who she was and what she did rather than encouraging her to question who she was and what she was about in relation to God and his expectations.

Which is just as prevalent today as then, many “unbelieving…  ( Click for more )

Belief and unbelief in the same person; is that even possible? Does your faith ever waver? Are we a REAL Christian if it does? Can a person question God’s existence, wondering about his ability to provide for us? Did he really love us enough to die for us? Can we even ask those questions and not be immediately condemned? First of all, we must realize that there is a difference between honest questioning – a seeking for answers – and a non-conforming, rebellious challenge. The attitude we convey when we do have questions is key to whether we have…  ( Click for more )

The message of salvation has many layers, some of which take a while to fully grasp. Much of the New Testament, largely embodied in Paul’s pastoral letters – particularly his message to the Roman’s – focuses on the reality of unmerited mercy and grace; followed closely by the response we are expected to make in love and appreciation for all that’s been done for us.

The Gospels convey to us the life and times of Jesus from four different perspectives. Matthew using the Sermon on the Mount to highlight the kingdom’s radical…  ( Click for more )

I believe in the supposition, up to a point, that people value religion on the basis of cost. I know that contradicts the easy-believism many espouse today and arouses the protests of faith-only believers – which I am not in disagreement. My point being that after salvation, which we can’t earn and is granted to us exclusively through grace, many people need to be challenged to be better and do more, and will do neither if that challenge never happens. I further believe this challenge is received best by people who are seeking a belief-system that does more than…  ( Click for more )

Jeremiah is characterized as the weeping prophet for good reason, torn as he was between proclaiming the message God insisted his people hear and respond to even as they insisted on hearing a conciliatory, “uplifting” message. They expected pronouncements of peace and prosperity while God was seeking an acknowledgement of sin and subsequent repentance. A spiritual condition much like that which is prevalent in our society today. Even as we look to blame Washington, Harvard, Wall Street and Hollywood; who do indeed share in the blame for our present condition. (Not…  ( Click for more )

July 5, 2019

In continuing the theme of last week’s article, let’s look at a few things we often convince ourselves are no big deal, yet which nevertheless influence our lives in ways we fail to consider. A major factor in so many of these incidents is our comfort level. As the shock or fear of these enticements fade due to repeated exposure or mental indulgence, we become comfortable doing what we have become comfortable thinking about or imagining. We must, however, be on our guard and work to “…not be overcome by evil, but over-come evil with good.”…  ( Click for more )

What kind of mental image do you get from that? A little “sowing of wild oats”, with an expectation of danger or trouble? Pertinent to this scripture is the fact that Hosea was speaking to the people of the covenant, the good guys; those who had been called, responded, and should have known better. Like most of us. But what’s wrong with getting just a little wild? Don’t we all need to get that out of our systems while we’re still young? Only if you are in turn willing to accept responsibility for your actions and their consequences;…  ( Click for more )

What is righteousness? Paul argues convincingly that it, like salvation, is dispensed solely by God’s grace (Romans 3 & 4); the righteous living by faith. (Romans 1:17) Using Abraham as a prime example of a man living and responding to God in faith, and considered righteous solely on that basis. As, “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

But doesn’t any conversation concerning faith embrace…  ( Click for more )

This article is not meant so much to scold as to encourage; which is indeed part of the function of church. (1 Thessalonians 4:18) We have been commissioned by Christ to make disciples, baptizing them into the community of believers – his church – and teaching them to obey his commands. (Matthew 28:19,20) The first Christian sermon delivered by Peter to an inquisitive assembly on the day of Pentecost outlining the immediate necessities of faith, repentance, baptism and Holy Spirit indwelling. (Acts 2:38) The fundamentals of worship recorded in Acts…  ( Click for more )

Many find the gospel to be somewhat mysterious and hard to understand. The reason, in part, can be attributed to the vast gulf that exists between us finite beings and God’s infinite character. Literally, his “…thoughts are not (our) thoughts, neither are (our) ways (His) ways,…” Is. 55:8 And then there are times when he appears to go out of his way to make things difficult – or does he? Scripture specifically depicting Jesus as speaking in parables, which occasionally simplified divine wisdom in down-to-earth terms. That mode of…  ( Click for more )

This, for me, is one of the Bible’s more reassuring promises. It is found in one of John’s pastoral letters in which he extensively discusses God’s love for us. (1 John 2) He also discusses – in detail – God’s revelation in Christ and the necessity of our journey throughout life in light of that revelation. (1 John 1)

In the scripture immediately preceding that used as the title for this article, John asserts that our past sinfulness as well as our present inclination to sin is covered by God’s promise of…  ( Click for more )

The debate between supporters of creation/intelligent design and evolution ebbs and flows, often turning mean-spirited. Many Christians are reluctant to respond because they feel they have nothing to add to the conversation but ‘The Bible says…’; which doesn’t sound very convincing when others are citing dates, figures and facts, however dubious some of them may be. (It being particularly difficult to cite scripture effectively when your opponent doesn’t believe in the Bible – there being no common ground to your “debate”.) …  ( Click for more )

“Stand up, stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the cross. Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss. From vict’ry unto vict’ry His army shall He lead, ‘Til every foe is conquered and Christ is Lord indeed.”

“Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey. Forth to the mighty conflict in this His glorious day. Ye that are men now serve Him against un-numbered foes. Let courage rise with danger and strength to strength oppose.”

“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war. With the cross of…  ( Click for more )

The good news of Jesus Christ found in the Gospels is rarely associated with repentance anymore. It is more often expressed almost exclusively as the overwhelming love, mercy, grace and redemption of God – regardless of our acknowledgement of Him or our response to His offer of salvation and consequent expectations. But the implications of salvation, chiefly that of being saved from something we can’t save ourselves from; of redemption, as in being redeemed or recovered to an intended state or to something other than we are now; of grace and mercy, which at…  ( Click for more )

Last week we looked at how the religious and irreligious alike benefit from exposure to the gospel of Christ, both groups having their lives modified by the principles of virtuous behavior found throughout scripture – most succinctly stated in Matthew 5,6 & 7 along with a few others.

Through past experience, our founding fathers realized the danger inherent in a too close association of the institutions of government and religion, even as they believed religion to be a major pillar from which the new democracy in America was to be built. The freedoms granted…  ( Click for more )

April 26, 2019

On a number of occasions, I’ve claimed that in the course of American history, Christian ethics have impacted secular society as well as Christians; and that they had in fact laid the foundation for the development of our democratic ideals.

All of which contributes to the larger debate as to whether America is – or ever was – a truly Christian nation, if by that we mean a majority of citizens actually professing and practicing their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. (Any discussion of practicing vs. professing being a…  ( Click for more )

April 19, 2019

A Barna poll of a few years ago confirms statements by Dave Shiflett in the Wall Street Journal; claiming many Christians no longer feel compelled to convert heathens (or unbelievers) – primarily because they aren’t sure there are any. (And that trend certainly hasn’t changed.) Many apparently buying into the idea that every religion is equally valid; embracing the modern dictates of tolerance and inclusion over the traditional teachings of their faith. (Such as John 14:6,7 and Acts 4:12) The findings of the Barna poll are surprising at first glance,…  ( Click for more )

So says Jesus concerning the Holy Spirit’s role of revelation in and through the Word. Yet the world continues to echo Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” John 18:38 An article appearing in Time magazine titled, “The Lost Gospels”, addressed this on-going search for truth in surprisingly balanced fashion, citing mankind’s desire for full disclosure and understanding while seeking additional revelation to either support or supplant what they’ve learned.1

The so-called gospels of Peter, Mary, Thomas and Truth, along…  ( Click for more )

In continuing last week’s discussion as to whether violence is inherent in monotheism – or the belief in a single, supreme god – we must admit that a number of religious inspired actions, past and present, have been perverse and grotesque. The question being: Are they an unavoidable, natural outgrowth of religion that espouses a One True God? My answer being – No! Israel did and does still fight almost continuously to survive, being surrounded by political enemies plotting her demise and destruction. (Which is not to say everything the Israeli…  ( Click for more )

March 22, 2019

In responding to authors like Mark Juergensmeyer, Regina Schwartz and Sam Harris, atheists who believe virtually every religion tends to violence as a result of their single-minded insistence on ultimate truth – and their possession of it – Paul Copan writes that that claim is simplistic, irresponsible and unjust.1

Their claim that monotheism – or the belief in one god – and exclusive truth creates an us vs. them mentality can at times be seen in the actions of some radical, unthinking, ill-advised individuals; such as the atrocities…  ( Click for more )

What exactly does being filled with the Spirit mean? And what evidence is there that we are? Will we have “supernatural” power, or just behave differently – even act oddly? There are any number of ideas concerning the consequences of a Spirit-filled life, my purpose here not being to answer every question raised by those sometimes conflicting ideas but to examine this topic from a very basic perspective. What does the Bible specifically say about our receipt of the Holy Spirit and the benefits of being so filled?

Paul told the Corinthian…  ( Click for more )

Envy was considered so prevalent among the inhabitants of the world – as well as the church – that it was included in a list of purportedly seven “deadly” sins, second only to pride1. (Maybe because they would seem to be so closely related.)

Interestingly enough, this deadly list didn’t include the major “thou shall nots” of the Ten Commandments – idolatry, adultery, murder, etc.; but focused on the more common, everyday issues that tend to trouble family, friends and communities.2 (Which is not to say those…  ( Click for more )

Financial “corrections” of the stock markets and the subsequent volatility of the economy occur periodically. Trade agreements, government policy, corporate practices and union benefits packages all coming under fire during these times of instability, and in truth, all play a part in the fluctuations of our national and personal economies. But despite all the finger-pointing and our supposed recovery from the latest significant recession, I’m not sure we’ve genuinely addressed the real issue yet – greed. A moral issue not confined to the…  ( Click for more )

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