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Point of Reference

    by Fred Price

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 )

February 22, 2019

Abdul Hakim-Shabazz is a guest columnist for the Indy Star newspaper1. Not a conservative as some would define it, he none-the-less voices rather conservative opinions concerning a number of issues. One being the near hysterics of some in the MeToo movement over the holiday classic, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Mr. Shabazz voicing the opinion that being hypercritical of mores΄ and attitudes decades removed from our own, often expressed onscreen and through music, can be downright silly, not to mention unfair and even irresponsible.

Any…  ( Click for more )

February 15, 2019

Charges of intolerance and prejudice are being made against Christians quite frequently these days. What do they mean and, more importantly, are we? Prejudice is defined as a dislike or distrust of people solely based on their being of another race, religion, or country. An opinion formed not of fact but on rumor, innuendo or others supposed experiences. To be honest we are all probably somewhat prejudiced. There is however, a big difference between prejudices and being racist, which is defined as the practice of discrimination, segregation and separation based on doctrines…  ( Click for more )

Defining the doctrine of the Trinity is difficult, principally because as human beings we have little to compare this concept to. I used to think the 3 in 1 ideal might refer to multiple personalities, manifestations or expressions of God. (Similar to the different names of God revealing different aspects of His nature.) But on closer scrutiny, scripture seems to state that God exists as three distinct persons, differnt yet the same. Which, to my sensibilities, doesn’t make any sense; until I remind myself that I’m not God and He is who He is and does as He…  ( Click for more )

I may indeed be reaching back a ways here, but as the incident I’m about to cite is so representative of so many issues yet today, I ask for your indulgence and understanding; as the “clothing malfunction” involving Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake during their Super Bowl performance several years ago starkly highlight these issues. Not the least of which was the hypocrisy of some who protested Ms. Jackson’s “unveiling.” (Mirrored somewhat in the “Me Too Movement” today, as many of the more vocal protestors of female objectification…  ( Click for more )

January 25, 2019

In this day of respect for diversity and tolerance of all people and beliefs, we have created fertile ground for the resurgence of paganism; usually defined as a faith pre-dating Christianity. The popularity of mediums and witchcraft, coupled with renewed interest in Native American practices, radical environmentalism and the New Age movement, even the resurgence of interest in Greek mythology accompanied by the virtual worship of virility, fertility and sex in our society give ample evidence of paganism on the rise. (The “church” of Satan suing for tax-exempt…  ( Click for more )

Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, including the “poem” in chapter 2:6-11 – a masterpiece of compressed biblical theology that in all probability pre-dates his letter – less than 30 years after Jesus’ execution; somewhere in the mid-50’s of the 1century. (Shortly after his initial visit there around 49-50 A.D.)

In its brevity of style and conciseness, it is similar to what he passed on “as of first importance” in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; which again was possibly recited as part of the early church’s…  ( Click for more )

Last week we looked at a number of people who seemed to have little to recommend them for greatness who none-the-less were used by God to accomplish extraordinary things. We ended up with David, a man of great success and failure, who was repeatedly redeemed by God for a greater purpose. And while much of what he did was disappointing, his life was much like ours – full of contradictions and failure, even as we struggle to understand what God’s will for us is. Jesus characterizing us well when he said, “The spirit is willing but the body is weak.”…  ( Click for more )

January 4, 2019

Even though God demands perfection (Matthew 5:48), he recognizes our human frailty and limitations; helping us, reclaiming us, redeeming us for good. The concept of redemption literally meaning to get back, as in the reclaiming of an item by paying off a debt; with an inference of fulfilling a promise and restoration to usefulness. Scripture being full of examples of men and women who at the beginning of their stories seem very much in “debt” and unredeemable; but through exposure to God and His Word, as well as a maturing of understanding and subsequent faithfulness…  ( Click for more )

Some view statements like this one by social commentator Dennis Prager as unnecessarily alarmist while others greet it with a yawn. Rabbi Prager admits that, “Such moments are extremely rare in history. And when they have occurred, they have been between two, not three, competing ideologies.”1Yet he believes there are now indeed three competing ideologies striving for pre-eminence in shaping mankind’s future; Militant Islam, Western European secular/socialism and American Judeo/Christian capitalism. (And although the original premise for this article…  ( Click for more )

Such is the way Jesus describes all His followers, continuing with, “A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on it’s stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men,...” Matthew 5:14-16

It is no coincidence then that at this time of year, we are especially drawn to light; as it gets dark earlier, house and street lights are more noticeable; with a chill in the air, fireplaces radiate welcoming warmth. We decorate our homes…  ( Click for more )

December 14, 2018

In any consideration of God’s essence, John’s definition of Him as love immediately comes to mind. (1 John 4:16) All of us finding comfort as well in Matthew 11:28 - 30 where Jesus described the task of following him as easy and light (at least when compared to the consequences of not following Him); and that if we do grow weary, we can find “rest” in him. His love of us prompting our redemption (John 3:16); scripture characterizing our response to him and those he places in our realm of influence as likewise grounded in love, expressed through…  ( Click for more )

December 7, 2018

To be or not to be – really is a question posed by today’s concept of tolerance. In this age of political correctness and an all-embracing of anything and everything as equally good, proper and correct; defining tolerance is a must. Webster’s Dictionary defines tolerance as the ability to recognize and respect others beliefs even when we don’t share them. To be tolerant does not mean accepting anything and everything as having equal worth and value but treating those with whom we disagree with at least a modicum of respect.

Contrary to…  ( Click for more )

November 30, 2018

Defining what having a relationship is can be difficult, as it often depends on individual needs as well as a person’s ability – or willingness – to accommodate others. For our purposes here, it can broadly be said to represent the connections, understanding and expectations between people, groups of people or between God and people; which is ideally achieved through confidence and freedom. The freedom of people to respond – or not – to offers of help, advice, love and even salvation. Likewise allowing God the freedom to respond as he sees fit. …  ( Click for more )

There are times when those in authority over us make decisions we don’t understand or agree with. At other times, usually when our needs are being met, we fully support those who represent us; but that consensus is rare these days.

Decisions have been – and will continue to be made – with life-altering consequences for us all, that aren’t going to change despite our support or lack thereof. A few examples of such would be: the ongoing “war” in Afghanistan, and our response to the continuing terror attacks around the world;…  ( Click for more )

Johann Gutenberg was born in the city of Mainz, Germany around 1400, right in the middle of a movement to make God personal by revealing Him to people in their own language, making Him available to any and all who could read. He greatly facilitated and energized this movement with his refinement of the printing press. (The Chinese apparently inventing moveable type some time before – but never taking it to the next level of general use.)

Before Gutenberg took that next step, all copying of printed material was done by hand or on presses that imprinted…  ( Click for more )

What an intriguing image, a statement shrouded in obscurity yet possessing a number of profound possibilities. Not an exhortation to get fired up but possibly referring, at least in part, to being passionate. It could be a promise, similar to that found in Joel 2:28, that something unique is about to happen among Christ’s followers. And in fact, Acts 2:1-4 records the literal fulfillment of that promise, the “tongues of fire” ushered in by a violent wind signifying the disciples’ receipt of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost; their understanding…  ( Click for more )

November 2, 2018

Scripture speaks to the problem of quarreling rather decisively; as in “Starting a quarrel is like breaching (breaking) a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” Proverbs 17:14 And, “He who loves a quarrel loves sin.” Proverbs 17:19 Which raises the question: Can a disagreement ever be legitimate? To which Paul advises, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” Colossians 3:13

But what if someone is saying or doing something stupid – really wrong –…  ( Click for more )

October 26, 2018

For many, Jesus is the nicest person they can imagine. For others, he is for the most part irrelevant. The problem for both sets of people is that they don’t really know him at all. For way too many people today, he has no real substance, existing as a mere shadow of the man who roamed the hills of Galilee and walked the streets of Jerusalem. They still feel free to call on him in prayer, expecting their wants and needs to be met expeditiously but the thought of him being the Lord of their lives – with expectations of his own – is hard to conceive…  ( Click for more )

The seriousness of this attempt and the effort needed to achieve it is indicated by several scriptures. Paul asserting that, “Those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24 Insisting that, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20 That same terminology used when he explained, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to…  ( Click for more )

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