Saturday, March 29, 2014

25 Incredible Facts About Noah

Here's some incredible, true facts about Noah as found in the Bible.

1. Noah was born 126 years after Adam died, and Noah died 2 years before Abraham was born.
2. Noah's great-grandfather was Enoch, who was taken to heaven without dying.
3. Noah's grandfather was Methuselah who was the oldest living man at 969 years.
4. Noah was the only blameless, righteous person living on earth at the time.
5. Noah was 500 years old before he had his 3 sons, first Japheth, then Shem, then Ham.
6. Noah was 600 years old when God gave the dimensions of the ark: 450ft long, 75ft wide, 45ft high.
7. Noah was told to take into the ark 7 pairs of animals that were approved for eating and sacrifice.
8. Noah was told to take into the ark 1 pair of other kinds of animals, male and female.
9. Noah was told to take only his wife and his 3 sons and their wives into the ark, 8 total.
10. Noah did everything that God commanded him to do.
11. Noah's son, Shem, was 98 years old when the flood came.
12. Noah did not close the door on the ark, the Lord did.
13. Noah and his family were in the ark 7 days before the flood waters came.
14. Noah's ark landed on the mountains of Ararat 150 days, exactly 5 months, after the flood began.
15. Noah was able to see other mountain peaks two and a half months later as water receded.
16. Noah opened a window after another 40 days and released a raven and a dove.
17. Noah's dove returned to the boat, and after another 7 days, Noah released the dove again.
18. Noah's dove returned with an olive branch in its beak, showing the land was becoming inhabitable.
19. Noah waited another 7 days, and released the dove, who stayed on land this time.
20. Noah lifted back the covering of the boat - this was ten and a half months after the flood began.
21. Noah waited 2 more months, then he and his family left the ark and released all the animals.
22. Noah and his family were in the ark over a year when they finally left the ark for dry ground.
23. Noah then built an altar and sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals approved for that purpose.
24. Noah received God's promise that the earth would never be destroyed by water again.
25. Noah lived 350 years after the flood, for a total of 950 years!

Read Genesis chapters 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The One-Two Punch To Overcome Worry

OK -  I know - we're not supposed to worry. But as humans, we all tend to do it. I think it's one of our most negative inherent traits. So, why is it so bad to worry? One reason is that it produces nothing but anxiety and stress. And more often than not, the things we worry about either never happen or they simply work themselves out. Because of that, worry is usually a waste of time, as we go on and on, tormenting ourselves with worst-case-scenarios. Not only will constant worry drive you crazy, it can actually be detrimental to your health. Simply put, worry doesn't do us any good. "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" (the words of Jesus, Matthew 6:27)

Perhaps the strongest case against worry is that it is diametrically opposed to our faith and trust in God. That's why Jesus seemed disgusted when the disciples were afraid they were going to die because of the storm on the sea, even though Jesus was with them.  He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:26)

I'm not saying it's easy to stop worrying. As for myself, I don't know if I can completely overcome it. But lately, I've discovered a way to reduce it, and I want to share this plan with you. It works for me, and perhaps it will help you too, in trying to take steps to conquer worry.

Lately, my worries have been about my children. Naturally, as a dad, I'm concerned about their well being. What makes things worse is that they are scattered around the world. My son, daughter-in-law, and my grandson live in Africa. My youngest daughter is back-packing in Western Europe and will eventually be in the Philippines for 2 months before returning home. My other daughter and her husband live in Tennessee (I never knew Tennessee was so close to Delaware). None of them are near by.

I've caught myself worrying about their health, safety, provision, etc. However, over time, I've found a one-two punch combination that has really helped me to the point that I've found some peace of mind. Here it is:

The One-Two Punch To Overcome Worry

1. Pray Specific Requests
First, whatever it is that is worrying you, pray specifically to God about it. Ask God for His providence, His intervention, His hand to work in your favor. For whatever specific situation you are concerned about, ask for the outcome that you desire. In this way, you are casting all your anxiety on Him, for Him to handle, allowing Him to take control.  After all, that's what He wants us to do. "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)

2. Then Pray "The Prayer of Trust"
Once you pray a specific prayer, then follow up with what I call "The Prayer Of Trust". I came up with this prayer after realizing that in my worry, I was not turning my concerns over to God, not trusting in Him. I was just leaving things to happen by chance. I realized that worry was a weakness, perhaps a weakness in my faith in God! Once I began admitting this, and praying this prayer, I felt peace. Here is "The Prayer Of Trust". Feel free to quote it and take it as your own.

The Prayer of Trust:  "Lord, please forgive my tendency to worry, and help me to take this worry that I have and replace it with Trust in You."

It's all about transforming worry energy into trust energy. And that's done with God's help, through prayer. The next time worry pops up, and it will, the quicker you fight it, the better. Remember the combo: Specific Prayer + Trust. This one-two combination may not be a knock-out punch, but it certainly will do some heavy damage in the battle against worry. God does not want us being anxious about anything. Instead, He wants us to give it all to Him, let Him handle it, and trust Him with the outcome. His desire for us is to have peace, not fear and worry. And that is so comforting to know.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:4-6)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How Ezekiel Opened My Eyes To The Big Picture

A few of us met at my office (the local Panera's) recently for a morning Bible study on the book of Ezekiel. It took us months to go through it verse by verse. We met once a week, 7:30 each Monday morning, and did about a chapter each time. First we would talk a bit, sip on some coffee, and more often than not, I would jokingly ask who's bright idea was it to study this book. That's because Ezekiel is kind of intimidating to study because of it's imagery and symbolism, and a lot of people just either skim through it or simply stay away from it. 

In case you didn't know, Ezekiel is one of the Old Testament books of the Bible, named after the writer, who was one of the prophets of God. Ezekiel lived around 600BC. He was among those Jews who were brought into captivity in Babylon. It was a time when the nation of Israel, God's chosen people, had become disobedient, corrupt, arrogant, and were worshiping idols instead of worshiping God. This had been going on for a long time and God became so fed up with their disobedience that He decided to wipe most of them out and destroy all their idols.

God began giving Ezekiel visions, calling him to become a prophet. The first vision was a spectacular one. It's the famous vision of spinning wheels inside of wheels. Essentially what this spiritual throne-chariot meant was the God was going to remove Himself from His presence in Jerusalem because He was fed up with their disobedience.

Then chapter after chapter Ezekiel gives warning after warning, prophesying about the coming destruction of Jerusalem. This destruction would be by God's own hand of judgment, using the Babylonians as his vehicle. At first God told Ezekiel he would temporarily be unable to speak, so he had to act out various predictions. For example, he would lay on his side in the direction of Jerusalem, pointing to the city that would be receiving God's judgment. He would ever build models of Jerusalem, indicating where the coming destruction was to happen. Then, after the destruction of Jerusalem, he was allowed to speak, often against other nations such as Egypt and Tyre, who were holdouts against Babylon, the nation God wanted to use as His agent of judgment. 

The book of Ezekiel, however, ends with a glorious vision of the new Jerusalem in all its splendor. This could mean, symbolically, the coming New Testament church of Jesus Christ, or even the eternal Holy City of heaven talked about in Revelation. Regardless, it is a vision of restoration and promise. 

As we went through the book, occasionally I would try to summarize what we had been studying so far. At first, I summarized the book, from a big picture view, like this: 


But when we got toward the end of our study on the book of Ezekiel, I summarized it this way: 


However, what I began to realize was that the big picture view of Ezekiel is really this:


It began to make sense that, because of disobedience, God needed to punish the nation of Israel for worshiping other gods. He would destroy Jerusalem and many of the people there. Although their punishment was justified, it was actually part of a purification process. You see, God didn't totally annihilate His people and wipe them out completely. There was a remnant left - a remnant of the faithful. Because of this purification of Israel, God's chosen nation could be restored from the remnant. 

What is even more amazing, is that this principle of Ezekiel, "Disobedience-Purification-Restoration", is the underlying principle of most of the other prophets as well. Not only that, it is the underlying big picture concept of the entire Bible as a whole. Think of it this way....sin came into the world through Adam and Eve (Disobedience). Forgiveness of sin was needed for mankind to be reconciled to God (Purification). This purification is only found through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus, who offered to take the punishment we deserve. And finally, by His grace, the relationship between God and His people could be reconciled. (Restoration). 


What really is amazing is that this principle of Ezekiel, "Disobedience-Purification-Restoration", actually applies not only to the big picture of the Bible, but it applies to the big picture of our own individual lives as Christians!

You see, because of sin (Disobedience) we become separated from God. We then need a Savior, Jesus, who came to die for our sins (Purification) to take our punishment, so we can be reborn into a new creation, reconciled into a loving relationship with Him (Restoration). 

Thank you, Ezekiel, because from a sometimes intimidating, confusing book, you have clearly brought out a simple, but powerful, principle. It's the big picture of the Gospel message.


Thank you Ezekiel. Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Why I Won't Be Going To See "The Son Of God" Movie

The movie "The Son Of God" is currently playing in the theaters and I won't be going. The reason? It's basically a spin-off of the History Channel's "The Bible" series. And if you want to know what I think of those 5 episodes, check out my previous blog posts. Those episodes drove me crazy! And maybe the reason why these posts about the History Channel's TV show have become some of my most popular ones, with hundreds of reads, is because so many feel the same way. 

The problem with such movies is that they are "adaptations". An adaptation by definition is "a composition rewritten into a new form." But why rewrite the Bible? A movie that is "based on a true story" is not the true story. And as you start watching, you will begin to see things that make you say, "Wait a minute, that's not how it is in the Bible!" 

Go to the movie if you want, but as for me, I wouldn't be able to handle 138 minutes of a movie I know will be based on so much misrepresentations, out of context quotes, over dramatized scenes, and worst of all, inaccuracies. 

And if you want to really know what I think............then on my blog site, in the upper left hand corner, there is a search box - just type in "History Channel" and you'll find several blogs on my critiques of "The Bible" TV series. And just to give you a glimpse of what I'm afraid is in the movie, "The Son Of God", below are just a sampling of what drove me crazy in the TV series. And I'm afraid many of these same scenes may be in the movie.

Noah is shown on the ark with a wife and 2 young children, a young boy and a young girl. This may seem insignificant, but the Bible says that Noah, his wife, and his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, and their wives were in the ark - eight in all. And they are important figures later on.

Abraham was 100 yrs old when Isaac was born - in the show, Abraham, as well as Sarah, are much younger. His age is significant because it shows without a doubt that the birth of Isaac was miraculous.

The real reason God is so upset with Sodom and Gomorrah - the sexual sins that are so tolerated in today's society - is never revealed (maybe not to offend anyone?).

In the manger scene, a mid-wife delivers the baby Jesus and hands him to Mary! What?! Besides that, there are a bunch of people standing around watching the event. 

In the scene involving the baptism of Jesus, they leave out the Holy Spirit coming down on Him, descending like a dove, and there is no mention of God the Father actually talking from heaven. All very significant events. 

When Jesus is saying His last words to the disciples before ascending into heaven, in the TV show, He leaves out most of the important words of the 'great commission', and He doesn't say one of the most incredible statement's in the Bible, "I'll be with you always, even to the end of the age." Then, instead of ascending into the clouds, He just sort of walks away becoming invisible. The ascension is one of the foundational truths of scripture. Again, it's like the producers are saying, "Let's cut this part out, we don't have time for it, it's not really that important, and no one will know the difference anyway."

There are dozens more botched scenes!

Bible believers long to see the Bible promoted, and would love to see the Bible ACCURATELY represented in film. Unfortunately, it usually doesn't happen. However, not all Bible movies are poorly done. There are some really good movies available such as "The Passion Of The Christ". There are other very well done Bible movies, such as "The Gospel of John", starring Christopher Plummer. You can find it on Amazon. The dialogue is entirely scripture, word for word!

So go see "The Son Of God" if you really want to, but don't look for me there. I don't think I could handle it. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Price Tag God Puts On Your Head

What is a person worth to God? Is a believer more valuable to Him than an atheist? Is a righteous person more valuable than a sinner? Can the price tag that God puts on your head be calculated? After all, you must have some value to God. You must be worth something. What is your worth?

Let's step through this thought logically, and establish some facts. 

1. Our Original Value
First of all, in the big picture, the human race, human beings, are valuable to God simply because of that fact that He created them. Therefore, you are valuable to God because you, as an individual, are one of His creations. That fact in itself establishes great worth to God. You are one of His. But what is that worth? What is the measuring stick, the currency, that God uses to establish your value? 

2. The Lost Coin
Because of Adam and Eve's sin, sin entered the world, and we sin. We all sin and fall short of the Glory of God, and because of sin, we become separated from God. In this sense, we are sort of God's lost coin. The coin still has the same value, it's just separated from it's owner. And God really wants His coin back, and He will go through great effort to retrieve it. But what is the value of the coin?

3. The Buy Back
Because sin holds us apart from God, we become shackled by it. In this sense, sin holds us for ransom. It's similar to the Somali pirates who hijack ships on the ocean, bring them to port, and hold the ship and the crew until a huge ransom is paid to release them. When you think about it, Satan is the one who wants to claim ownership of the lost coin. And because we sin, we allow ourselves to become hijacked and are therefore apart from God. 

The good news is that God desires so much to have us back as one of His, He offers to pay the ransom price for our release from the bondage of sin. In other words, He is willing to pay the price to redeem us, to buy us back, since we are one of His own created beings to begin with. So He makes an offer. It's as if God is saying, "You are extremely valuable to me. I am willing to pay whatever the cost to have you back with me. Please allow me to pay the full price to have you back."

The value God puts on your head is established by the offer He makes to redeem you. Consider the case where you own a rare antique and wonder what the value is. In reality, the value, at least monetarily, is only what someone is willing to pay for it. You must be of incredible value to God because the price He is willing to pay is very, very high. It's the highest price tag that could ever be. Yet He is willing to pay it. This price He is willing to pay, the price tag that God puts on your head, is this: the life of His one and only Son! Amazing!

God is not using currency, He is using the barter system. He is willing to release someone on death row (you, because the wages of sin is death), by trading His Son's life, allowing His Son to be put to death instead of you! And what makes the offer even more valuable is that His Son Jesus is not worthy of death because He is sinless, guiltless, and perfect!

Considering this, because God's offer is the same for each and every person, everyone is of equal value in God's eyes. So valuable, He is willing to pay the highest price for your redemption, your buy back, regardless of what you've done or what your sins are. The question is, do you accept the offer? Your acceptance is sealed with your surrender and subsequent obedience to Him. Your willingness to be one of His means you are willing to live for the One who died for you. Are you ready to sell out?