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Archive for November 2008

Bible Study Tips

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I figured it might be fun to share some of my ::cough, cough:: expertise ::cough, cough:: in studying the Bible. Actually, I’m no expert. But one of my greatest passions in life is studying the Bible, and I do have a significant amount of schooling in this area, so I feel I might have a few little gems to pass along. So today’s tip is…

Read, Research, & Ruminate

So, like a good preacher, I came up with a 3 word alliteration. Perhaps it would have just been easier to say: Read your Bible, Study your Bible, and Think about the Bible. These are three disciplines that are easily held in balance with minimal effort.

The first of these disciplines is the one we are most familiar with: Read. Without this discipline in place, neither of the others are even possible. The goal of Reading your Bible regularly is to become generally familiar with the content of the Bible. Unquestionably there will be certain details that are missed, but details are not the goal of reading. However, reading ought to spike your curiosity to understand the message of scripture in more detail. Reading, “For you are saved by grace, through faith, and that not of yourselves,” will give us a general understanding that we don’t earn our salvation, but that it is a gift from God. But there are unanswered details. How does God give us this grace? Can anyone receive this gift? Is this the Divine equivalent of a “Get out of Jail Free” card? Many other questions could easily arise. That’s where study comes in.

Study or Research, is the process by which we extrapolate the details of a given verse or passage of scripture. We are looking for correlation between various sections of scripture, we are looking for answers to those nagging questions, we are looking for a comprehensive cohesiveness to all of scripture. Reading familiarizes us with Scripture – study makes us understand.

Then comes “Ruminate.” The Bible often uses the word “Meditate,”  which is probably the best word for the job. This is by far the most neglected discipline. Most people read their Bibles, then put it down, and they don’t think about it again until the next time they pick it up. Yet it is this meditation process that drives us back to the Word of God again and again. When you can discipline yourself to think about God’s word all day long, it will keep you out of trouble, inspire frequent and spontaneous worship and praise, and keep your mind occupied on the important things in life.

In fact, the word “ruminate” has its origins in the digestive process of cows. Cows graze, and swallow the grass. Later in the day, they regurgitate the grass, and chew on it for hours until they have extracted from it all the nutrients it has to offer. Throughout the day, we ought to “regurgitate” the scriptures we read that morning, and chew on them for awhile. It is in this process that the Word of God becomes real, and influences our lives. It is here that we begin to recognize the value of the Word in our daily lives.

READ – RESEARCH – RUMINATE

Written by jeffrossman

November 21, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Woman, the Child, and the Dragon

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So as I was writing what used to be the first part of this post (I have since erased it and started over), I realized that I was spending too much time on the periphery, instead of just getting to my point. So here it is…

The “off the beaten path” interpretation that I have arrived at is that Satan’s current activity may be different than what we commonly think. I believe that Satan’s activity is practically unchanged from what we observe in the book of Job. Let’s look:

1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”

A few things I want to point out from this passage. First – Satan has significant access to God here. Satan is actually standing in God’s presence, before His throne, having a conversation with Him (albeit wrought with tension and acerbity). Furthermore it is interesting to note that God seems to “cut to the chase” a bit with Satan. God pipes up and offers Job for Satan’s observation. Why? Because this is why Satan had come – to ACCUSE God’s people before Him. So God offers up His own candidate for Satan’s consideration. Satan says, “Oh, Job only serves you because you have hedged him in with success and blessing. Take all that away and he’ll curse You to Your face!” We know the rest of the story. But is this the only place where we see Satan doing this?

Zech. 3:1 – “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.”

Luke 22:31 – “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

There are other, less clear, examples of this, such as when Michael “contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses…”

Satan is given an unusual title in Revelation 12:10: The Accuser of our Brothers. When we view his activity in the scriptures mentioned above, this seems a very appropriate title. Satan accused Job of serving God only for the blessings he received. Satan accused the high priest before God. Satan asked for Peter’s soul, to sift it like wheat – obviously, Satan was asking God for Peter’s soul.

But is Satan still doing this? Does Satan go before God for you and me? Does Satan accuse US before our Father? I believe he does. Taking a futurist view of revelation, it seems that Satan will continue his role as “Accuser of the Brethren,” until he is “cast out,” and there is “no longer any place for them in heaven.” It is after this that Satan’s wrath is kindled because, “he knows his time is short.”

“But what about the cross? Didn’t Jesus overturn the power of Satan through His atoning death?” Yes, He did! However, even though Satan’s power was trumped by Christ’s victory on the cross, it doesn’t mean that Satan no longer has any influence in the world. It is obvious that he does! But for the child of God who has believed in Christ, Satan has no more power. Not only that, but when Satan comes to accuse us before the Judge of the Whole Earth, WE HAVE AN ATTORNEY!! Jesus Christ stands up and advocates for us. Satan attempts to bring unjust accusations against us before God, but Christ stands at our defense. This is what John meant when he said, “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Even when we sin, and Satan comes to say, “SEE! I told you that Jeff was a worthless wretch! I told you that if the opportunity to sin was placed in his path, he would fall headlong into it!!” It is then that my incredible Savior stands up to defend me. “Your Honor. My client is guilty of this charge. But his sentence was already carried out. I move for a dismissal.” Says the Judge, “Case dismissed.”

So, wrapping it up. Satan still has access to God to Accuse the Brothers before Him day and night. At the end of the age, Satan will be cast out of heaven, having no place anymore to accuse God’s children, and he will be enraged by this. It is at this time that he will unleash his wrath upon the world, and the traditional idea of “the Great Tribulation” will begin. However, nowhere in Revelation is the “seven-year tribulation” idea propogated – that comes from a misinterpretation of a prophecy in Daniel. This tribulation lasts 3 1/2 years. Or 1260 days. Or “a time, times, and half a time.” Neither will the saints be “spared” from this time, at least not by a rapture. God promises to sustain the saints through this time, to protect them and nourish them “in a place prepared for them in the wilderness.” But Satan will seek to destroy them. He will pursue them and persecute them. It will be an aweful time for the saints. But Christ will triumph, and the tribulation the saints experience will be transformed into eternal glory. Satan will be bound for 1,000 years, and the saints will rule the earth with Christ, God will make His dwelling with man. Satan will be loosed for a short time, there will be a war, God will win, the end.

Written by jeffrossman

November 13, 2008 at 5:42 pm

Posted in Theology

Any prophets out there?

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The kings of Israel always had prophets around to tell them God’s will when making difficult decisions. I could use a prophet right about now. God, what am I supposed to do with my life?

Written by jeffrossman

November 13, 2008 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Don’t paint yourself into a corner…

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I’ve just spent a good deal of my lunch break reading about “Kingdom Now,” theology. I could sit here and explain it, but I don’t want to, and it would sort of defeat the purpose of this post…

I found my way to a website that places Kingdom Now theology and Dispensationalist theology (as well as a few others) side by side. What I found was that I agreed and disagreed with various points from both theological systems. It helped reinforce to me what I have known for a long time…ALL theological systems are broken, incomplete, myopic.

I find that when anyone buys wholesale into any theological system, they seem to forego the freedom to think for themselves anymore. The possibility of any idea being true, which lies outside the scope of their “system,” becomes unthinkable, even blasphemous! These people begin to interpret the scriptures through the lens of their particular theological leanings, as opposed to taking the scriptures for what they say. Passages that seem to contradict their “system” are scrutinized and studied until an acceptible reason can be found as to why they in fact SUPPORT the system which they so clearly seem to oppose…

I have Pentecostal leanings, Calvinistic leanings, Dispensationalist leanings, Kingdom Now leanings, Oneness AND Trinitarian leanings…I have leanings that don’t fit into any category! So should I choose to lock myself into a system just because I agree with it 80%, whereas the other systems I agree with only 10%. NO! I believe what I believe based on my understanding of scripture, which is always evolving and growing. I can’t see myself ever being painted into a theological corner, either by my own doing, or someone else.

That’s all, just letting off some steam…

Written by jeffrossman

November 12, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Posted in Theology

Hmmm…

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So I had my first “bad” experience with my church. “Bad” really isn’t the right word. It wasn’t that bad. It’s more, unfortunate.

Here’s the story. I decided that I would visit the church of a friend from work. Why? Because the previous Monday I had attend their “young adults,” or “20-somethings” or “College/Career” small group (I don’t know what they call it), and it was great! One of the things that is most lacking at this church I’ve been attending is people my age! It’s frustrating when you have no one to hang out with, no one who is in the same stage of life as you to share life with. So for obvious reasons, I was drawn to my friend’s church. I went. I liked it. Someone from my old church called and said, “I didn’t see in you in church today. Everything okay?” That was nice. I emailed a response to him saying that I had visited another church, and gave him the reasons above specified. I also thought I would include the pastor in the email. It seemed right. This is where it gets a little interesting…

This may be harsh language, but essentially, the pastor scolded me. Not exactly scolded. He said, essentially, that because I was checking out this church because of what it offered, instead of what I could offer (or something like that), that my priorities were screwed up.

“I want to assure you that the “goal” focused approach (fulfillment) never succeeds because it ignores God’s priority and so is doomed to failure and ultimate frustration of the fulfillment goal.  Seeking first the Kingdom, seeing my call as “building the body of Christ” rather than just enjoying the fruits of it, will achieve the goal of fulfillment precisely because it is the secondary consideration.”

There’s truth in there. But I have experienced pouring all of my efforts into “building the kingdom” while ignoring my need for fellowship and that didn’t provide fulfillment either. Fellowship didn’t automatically happen just because I was “building the kingdom.” Both have to be intentional. And since the the kingdom which we are called to build, is made up of people, held together by the mortar of godly relationships and Christ-centered fellowship, I can’t see how one could “build the kingdom,” without also “building relationships.”

I sent him an email back to that effect. He didn’t respond to those particular thoughts. I’m pretty sure I’m going to join my friend’s church.

Written by jeffrossman

November 11, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized