Jesus and the Mithras Mythology

I just finished the book Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace. I highly recommend it to you. His website is coldcasechristianity.com, or you can look on Amazon to buy it.

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case detective who uses his skills to examine the “crime scene” to lead someone to making a “reasonable conclusion” that God exists, Jesus is real and the Bible can be trusted.

One article I wanted to share with you today is a blog post he wrote entitled, “Is Jesus Simply a Retelling of the Mithras Mythology?” Skeptics have made the case in books and in universities that Jesus was just a retelling of previous mythologies. These kinds of arguments can be devastating to a young college student who is not prepared to deal with such an attack.

Fathers and grandfathers, we know that our kids and grand-kids are being bombarded with all kinds of anti-god indoctrination through peers, media and academia. It is vital that we equip ourselves as much as possible to help lay the groundwork and foundation of faith in their hearts.

Detective Wallace is also coming out with versions of his books for kids.

As with any material, including my articles, please compare them with God’s word to make sure that what is being taught is from God.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

But Only In Expressing His Opinion

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion (Proverbs 18:2).

Solomon says a lot about fools in Proverbs, of course he says a lot about wise people as well in contrast to the fool. What is a fool in the Biblical sense? You might want to search the book of Proverbs for that word and see all Solomon has to say about it. If you boil it down to the essentials, it comes down to this: a fool does not listen to anyone but himself.

The above proverb teaches us that a fool’s delight is not in understanding wisdom or receiving instruction. He only wants to tell you what he thinks.

It is just another reminder that a big part of communication is listening. A huge component of learning is listening. But if I’m always talking, and I really love the sound of my own voice, how can I learn? How can I effectively communicate when I’m the only one talking?

My daughter Lindsay calls this a “versation,” not a “con-versation.” She’s right on the money about that.

Do you notice how some folks just dominate a conversation? They just don’t know when to take a breath and let someone else say something. For some reason, they don’t recognize social cues to see that someone else is trying to talk. A person may be done listening a long time ago, but do I recognize that, or do I just keep prattling on? We may be perfectly comfortable in teacher mode, but are we just as comfortable in “student” mode? Do we assume that we have the right approach and answers to each situation and that others are indebted to hear us talk about it?

It’s not that we want to call ourselves or others fools, but it would be good to take a cue from the proverb here and recognize that maybe we talk too much and listen far too little. And when we behave that way, we lack a true heart and desire for understanding. We won’t understand other people, because we really aren’t interested in it, and we won’t understand God’s truth, because we really are only in love with our opinions.

Ask more questions to engage others in conversation.

Be willing to let someone speak freely even if he or she has a different opinion or approach than you do.

Commit to hearing someone else’s story instead of being in such a hurry to tell your own.

Devote yourself to prayer for the Lord to give you courage and understanding to close your mouth and open your ears.

You were bought at a price

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Guys, this is just a simple encouragement today to take care of your bodies and your health. You only get one body on this earth. Because of the advancements of medicine we can replace a few parts, but in the end you get one body. Paul says in the verse above that it is not your own. You were bought by the blood of Jesus Christ.

If you are a Christian, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. That’s plain Scripture. Our response to this knowledge and relationship to Christ and the Holy Spirit is to glorify God in our body and in our spirit.

This isn’t talked about much in church, but we need to talk about it more. Sometimes our relationship to food is unhealthy. Food is supposed to give us nourishment and even enjoyment, but if we eat too much and eat the wrong things our bodies pay the price. Even Solomon talked about how wonderful honey is, but if we eat too much of it, it makes us sick (Proverbs 25:16,27).

Who does that affect when we hurt our bodies because of neglect? Does that just affect me? No. It affects my wife and kids, too. My ability to do for them and to enjoy life with them can be greatly hindered because I’m not taking care of my body. Our influence on others for Christ is also affected when we do not live with self-control.

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:27)

Food is wonderful, God gave all of it to us to enjoy and to receive with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4-5). But if your food and your passions for it are controlling you, then you have put your passions and not God in control of your body.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

So, today, take some time to reflect upon this. This is not to say that we all are to walk around as marathon runners, bodybuilders, having 2 percent body fat. But we do need to take the encouragement and warnings of Scripture to heart about how we eat and how we take care of our health.

  1. Push away from the table a little sooner. You don’t have to heap on such big helpings.
  2. Use a smaller plate.
  3. Take a walk. Bodily exercise does profit a little, Paul said. (1 Timothy 4:8).
  4. Do your own research on how to eat healthier. There is a wealth of information out there. Here is an article about sugar and how addictive it is and the havoc too much sugar can wreak on your body.

Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God. (Ecclesiastes 2:24)

Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab

Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah (Matthew 1:5-6).

In the book of Ruth, the Jews are instructed as to where David came from (Ruth 4:17-22), but for the Christian, we see where Jesus came from. Matthew 1 is the family line of Jesus Christ. When you read through that list and see all those names, don’t get lost thinking it is just a boring list of dead people. There are stories behind those names. Many of those people are written about in the Old Testament.

Matthew 1:1-17 is an amazing picture of God’s grace that culminates in Jesus Christ. Murder, adultery, arrogance, materialism, lying, betrayal, idolatry, harlotry, etc., are all found in that list of names. That’s Jesus’ family. That’s our family. That’s us. Just like those men and women, we need the grace and mercy of God.

Look at the above verse in Matthew 1:5-6. We have been looking at lot lately into the book of Ruth. Boaz was a godly man, a kindhearted man, a generous man, and a man who clearly understood the grace of God. He knew God would bless Ruth because she had come “under the wings of God for refuge” (Ruth 2:12).

Who was Boaz’ mother? Rahab the harlot! Rahab was another outsider, a Gentile, a prostitute from Jericho (a city condemned by God for destruction). She and her relatives were rescued from destruction and saved by God because she believed, repented and came under the wings of God for refuge. The New Testament refers to her more than once because of her obedient faith (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25).

It is interesting to me that in the book of Ruth, it only says that Salmon was the father of Boaz. But in Matthew 1, the Holy Spirit tells us who Salmon married. Who was the mother who nurtured and raised this little boy Boaz? A former harlot in a wicked Gentile city.

I don’t believe we need a greater testimony to the grace of God than that, and this is what I want to leave you with today. Fathers, let us be nurtured like Boaz was in the grace of God and come under the shelter of His wings for refuge. Let us always be grateful for the grace, longsuffering and mercy of God which He poured out upon us abundantly in Jesus Christ. Jesus was the great, great, great, great…..grandson of a harlot. May we like Boaz and Jesus show this grace to others, especially to our children.

What Will Be Said of You?

Someone sent me a bulletin article they found online, and the title was “What will be said of us when we die?” In that article the author listed several very good things that can be said of the person who walks with God and dies in Christ.

I thought this would be appropriate to consider for today. You could even consider using these thoughts to talk with your kids about what really matters. People in life will say all kinds of things about you, some true some not true, but what matters is what God says about you.

Will this be said of you and me when we pass from this life?

  • “He walked with God (Genesis 5:24; Genesis 6:9; cf. 2 Kings 20:3 ).
  • “He was the Lord‘s friend” (John 15:14).
  • “He fought a good fight, he finished his course, he kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
  • “He declared the whole counsel of God to others” (Acts 20:27).
  • “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).
  • “His death is gain” (Philippians 1:21,23).
  • “His death is precious” (Psalm 116:15).
  • “His death is a blessing, because he died in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13)
  • “He died in a good old age, full of days and riches and honor” (1 Chronicles 29:28).
  • “He has gone to be with the Lord” (Philippians 1:23).
  • “He is in a better place now” (Luke 16:22; John 14:1-3; Hebrews 11:16).
  • “He left us a godly example” (1 Timothy 4:12; cf. Titus 2:7-8).
  • “He was faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10).
  • “By his righteous life, he still speaks (Hebrews 11:4).
  • “He is now among the heroes of faith” (Hebrews 11).
  • “He is now gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:8; 35:29; 49:33).

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).

But Ruth Clung to Her

Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her (Ruth 1:14).

Naomi was bitter…she said so. In fact, she was grieving so bitterly that she wanted to change her name from Naomi which means “pleasant” to Mara which means “bitter” (Ruth 1:20). After the death of her husband and her two sons, she had little room for hope. In her dark valley of grief and despair, she felt as if God was punishing her and had dealt very bitterly with her (Ruth 1:13,20-21). As she began her journey back home to Bethlehem, she tried very hard to send away her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. She did not see any hope that she could provide husbands for her daughters-in-law, so she attempted to send them back to their families and their gods (Ruth 1:8-13,15).

But Ruth clung to her

That is such an impressive statement. Ruth clung to Naomi; she was fully ready to leave her family, her nation, her gods and religion. No matter how hard at this point Naomi tried to push her away, Ruth clung to Naomi. Ruth was leaving all behind to be with Naomi and to come under the wings of the God of Israel for refuge (Ruth 2:11-12).

But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).

That says something about Ruth. Naomi was all prickles and stings at this time in her life, but Ruth still clung to her. That is a true friend. This is what friends and family do. Ruth was loving Naomi through this grief even when Naomi was trying to push her away. Everyone noticed what Ruth did for her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:11), and everyone saw that Ruth was better to Naomi than “seven sons” (Ruth 4:15) even if during the great sadness Naomi didn’t see it.

That says something about Naomi. Just because Naomi at this point is bitter and not thinking clearly does not mean that she always was this kind of woman. I believe Ruth’s respect for and commitment to Naomi gives us a clear indication of what Naomi was really like beforehand. Keep in mind that they spent a decade together before this point (Ruth 1:4). If you continue into chapter 2 of Ruth you will see the old Naomi spring back to life again. This is something that we fail to recognize and appreciate at times, men. As people of God we all have our “moments,” and during those moments we can look ugly, but that does not define who we are as a person. All of God’s faithful people had those ugly moments (Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Peter, etc.). Naomi was no different. She was overwhelmed with the grief and hopelessness of losing her husband and her two sons. God was patient with her, and He will keep working in her life until her eyes open again and she will see God’s marvelous hand and His loving care (Ruth 2:20).

So, men, let’s learn a lesson from Ruth and from Naomi and share these concepts with our kids. We can help our kids to see the value in being a Ruth to others. Also, we can help our kids to see that we all have our “Mara” moments, but thankfully God and His people love us through those moments.

Behold I Make All Things New

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful” (Revelation 21:5).

I’m looking outside the window this morning and seeing much more green today than before. It is just amazing how that happens. The Lord just turned on the green switch last night. Birds are singing and building nests in the trees. Spring flowers are coming up.

The promises that come with spring are so encouraging; God is making all things new again. Leaves will come back on the trees, fruits and vegetables will grow. New creatures will be born. The blossoms on the trees will spread their fragrant aromas. Spring brings such a hopeful atmosphere with it.

Take these opportunities to direct your children’s attention to God’s marvelous creation, and the amazing work He accomplishes every spring!

Consider also that during the springtime is when Jesus raised from the dead. The God who raised Jesus from the dead is the God who said, “Behold I make all things new.” Just as spring flowers, baby birds and green grass are a testimony to God’s handiwork, even more so is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The very fact of Jesus’ resurrection serves as a promise that one day, God will truly make all things new. There will be no more death, no more sorrow, no more pain because the “former things” will have passed away (Revelation 21:4). So as we see the Spring bring new life, we can comfort our hearts in faith that the God who made the robin and its beautiful blue egg will one day make all things new in heaven.

Some principles for making a wise decision

Today we will consider some principles for making wise decisions. We make decisions (tons) of them on a daily basis. Some are pretty insignificant, like which coffee mug to use this morning. Others have generational impact, in other words, this decision will affect your great-grandchildren. The Bible is full of teaching and advice on how to make good decisions, we cannot even scratch the scratch of the surface in today’s post. Hopefully, however, we can consider just a few basic principles to keep our feet on solid ground and our heads out of the clouds when making decisions.

Some principles for making a wise decision

Did I come to God first and ask Him for wisdom (James 1:5)? There are many examples of people in Scripture who did not consult God first, and it really turned out poorly (Joshua 9:14; Isaiah 30:1-2). Those examples are given to us so that we can keep from repeating history! God promised, and He does not ever break a promise, that He would liberally pour out wisdom upon us if we ask!

Have I consulted His word? His word is designed to give us prudence, the discernment to make sound decisions (Proverbs 1:1-4). Are there clear commands from God on this matter? What consistent Biblical principles can I draw from to help shed light on this matter? Can I find examples of people in Scripture who were in a similar situation? Is this conclusion / choice I am making consistent with Biblical wisdom?

What is the advice of the godly, wise people around me who love me (Proverbs 1:5)? There are many times when the godly, wise men and women around you will speak with one voice on a matter. Take those words seriously.

If you feel like you have to hide your decisions/course of action from the wise godly people around you, then ask yourself “Why is that?” We had better have a really good Biblical reason for not taking the advice of several godly people who surround us.

There are other times when you will get a wide array of advice, sometimes very different advice, and it will all come from very wise and godly people. So we have to go back to #1 and pray for wisdom to discern. Sometimes well-meaning Christians will all say “this is what God wants you to do,” but the problem with that is they may all have several different answers. In this specific instance, I’m not talking about matters of doctrine and sin, I’m talking about things like career choices, education choices, purchasing decisions, relationship advice, etc. Folks have lots of advice, that is why we must do a LOT of praying and searching Scripture for discernment.

Is this a decision I should be making right now (Genesis 25:29-34)? When we are really stressed, tired, and highly emotional, it is not a time to make huge life-changing decisions. Take some time to sleep and recover before you make those big choices. For example, you are really stressed and tired, and you are driving home from work. The tire goes flat. So, in your frustration, you decide to have it towed to the dealership and get a loan for a new car. A simple tire repair turned into a 5 year loan. This is just a made up example, but I hope you can see the point.

How will this decision affect others (1 Corinthians 8:12; 10:32-33)? We do not live in a vacuum; our decisions have direct impact on those around us. Esau’s wives were a grief of mind to his parents. Simeon and Levi’s anger and thirst for vengeance brought shame to their father Jacob. The 1st century Christians also faced this when it came to eating of certain meats and keeping of certain holy days. Their decisions had the power to cause another to stumble and sin. What they decided to do could either draw someone closer to God or make it far more challenging for another to obey God. How will this decision affect my influence upon others for Christ? What will this decision do to my loved ones? Who is looking up to me…how will this influence them?

Does this decision glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31)? Am I making a choice that will bring glory to God or more attention and glory to me? Am I seeking the praise of God or the praise and attention of men?

Hopefully these principles help. It is not all-inclusive, and many of you will have much better ideas. Please share them with me. Thanks!

And the Lord Remembered

And the Lord remembered Hannah (1 Samuel 1:19).

The Lord remembered Noah (Genesis 8:1).

God is worthy of praise because He “remembered us in our lowly state, for His mercy endures forever” (Psalms 136:23).

The above verses are so comforting. “And the Lord remembered…” God loves His children. He remembers His promises. God never leaves us nor forsakes us. That is a fact, but in the midst of pain, look at what God’s people sometimes wonder. Watch as they go through the process of despair to hope. These Holy Spirit-given passages are there for us today to help us go through the same process with God (and to help others do the same).

I will say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a breaking of my bones, my enemies reproach me, while they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God (Psalms 42:9-11).

To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph. I cried out to God with my voice–To God with my voice; and He gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; my hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night; I meditate within my heart, and my spirit makes diligent search. Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah. And I said, “This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples. You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. The waters saw You, O God; the waters saw You, they were afraid; the depths also trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies sent out a sound; Your arrows also flashed about. The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, and Your footsteps were not known. You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron (Psalms 77:1-20).

Here is one final passage from Isaiah. Notice how God’s people feel, and how God helps them (and us) to see the reality. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me” (Isaiah 49:13-16).

You have had pity on the plant

Then God said to Jonah…”You have had pity on the plant…”  (Jonah 4:10).

I encourage you today to read Jonah 4 today. Jonah was angry, really angry. He was angry because he knew God was gracious and merciful. God showed mercy on the city of Nineveh and forgave them because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. Even though Jonah preached to them, he really didn’t care about the salvation of the souls of Nineveh. He preached in anticipation that this effort would fail. Nineveh would reject God and God would toast them.

Read the last verse of chapter 3 and the first verse of chapter 4. God relented because Nineveh repented and Jonah vented. Jonah went outside of the city in verse 4 and waited in eager anticipation of God raining down judgment and destruction upon Nineveh (Jonah 4:5).

Notice the mercy that God had upon Jonah, while at the same time teaching a critical lesson. God prepared a plant to grow up and shade Jonah “to deliver him from his misery” (Jonah 4:6). Jonah was very grateful. Next, God sent a worm to destroy the plant. Then God brings a “vehement east wind” and the sun “beat on Jonah’s head” (Jonah 4:8).

All Jonah wants to do now is die. Now Jonah is really ticked off. This provides one of those “teachable moments.”

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” But the LORD said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left–and much livestock? (Jonah 4:9-11).

You have had pity on the plant

This being Wednesday, our focus is on parenting. I want to take this concept and apply it to parenting. As a Father, God was parenting Jonah. There are some valuable lessons to learn here in parenting.

Our children sometimes will care more about the plant, which creates teachable moments. They will get really upset about something, like a sibling borrowed a shirt without asking. Justice must be administered! It is times like that that we can help direct them to areas where they really should focus their passion. We are there to help them gain some “perspective.” Jonah cared more for a stupid plant than he did for 120,000 souls. Andy Harrison wrote an article recently about “Misplaced Compassion,” and today’s article connects well with it.

We must show mercy to our kids at those times, like God showed Jonah. I mentioned in Monday’s article about a sermon that Mike Sullivan preached recently. He made a point that Jesus was not self-righteous about the self-righteous. Jesus ate with the Pharisees, too. He loved them and wanted desperately for them to understand His grace and mercy. As we see the hypocrisy and double-standard in our kids, we must remember God and Jonah. God kept teaching Jonah and showing mercy to Jonah, too.