All posts filed under: Teaching

My Spin on Philippians 4:6-9

Jeanne Doyon
Telling someone not to be anxious is like asking them not to breathe.It is certainly true of me. Worry just seems to be the natural response to anything I fear or lack knowledge about.

Entangled

By Rick Renner

In the early years of our ministry in the former Soviet Union, a group of local psychiatrists determined among themselves that I was using a high level of hypnosis to control the people who attended our church. They stated that my level of hypnosis was so developed that I could even manipulate and control people who read my monthly teaching letters that we sent to television viewers.

Why did Jesus ride a donkey into Jerusalem?

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, people laid their robes and palm branches on the street before the Lord, proclaiming him King. But why did Christ ride in on a donkey? It was a prophetic act. The Apostle John wrote that Jesus told His disciples where they could seek out a donkey colt for the Lord’s final journey into Jerusalem (John 12:13-16). And in this passage, John referred to a prophecy in Zechariah, where the prophet proclaimed that there would be a new King over Israel, the Messiah, who would enter riding a donkey: Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!See, your king comes to you,    righteous and victorious,lowly and riding on a donkey,    on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:10 NIV) Donkeys or mules, the interbreeding of a horse and donkey, were often associated with royalty in ancient Israel. During times of peace, kings typically rode donkeys or mules, so they wouldn’t instill fear into a population (John 12:15). Having just come through a bloody civil war with Absalom, in 1 Kings 1:33, King …

Did Jesus speak about censorship on Palm Sunday?

According to China Aid, a watchdog on religious persecution in Communist China, effective March 1, 2022, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has banned the word “Christ” on China’s social media platforms. The banning was part of rules implemented under the Communist regime’s “Measures for the Administration of Internet Religious Information Services.” The Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC), a house church movement that started in China in 2006, was one of the first to report the fallout of this new law. China Aid reports that one of ERCC’s members was creating a survey on WeChat, a group messaging app, asking members to vote on their favorite Christian book. Included on the list was one entitled, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. As soon the member typed the word Christ, the WeChat app refused to allow the post to be uploaded and provided the following warning: “The word ‘Christ’ you are trying to publish violates regulations on Internet Information Services, including but not limited to the following categories: pornography, gambling, and drug abuse; excessive marketing; incitement.” …

Why did Jesus call Herod a fox?

There is an interesting story in the Gospel of Luke that tells of the day Jesus called Herod Antipas a fox. Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great, the brutal ruler connected to the birth of Christ, who ordered the deaths of the boys born in Bethlehem in an effort to assassinate Jesus. After Herod the Great died, his kingdom was divided and his son, Herod of Antipas, received a fourth of his father’s kingdom. He was called a Tetrarch, literally a ruler of a fourth, and his territory included Galilee and Jerusalem. Herod Antipas, who ruled during Christ’s ministry years and participated in Christ’s crucifixion, also ordered the beheading of John the Baptist, after the prophet criticized Herod’s marriage to his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias, who was also Herod’s niece (Matthew 14:6–11).. Luke’s story starts with a group of Pharisees warning Jesus to leave Herod’s territory because he was planning to kill the Lord. 31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere …

How gratitude rewires your brain

In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul writes that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). The Greek word translated ‘transformed’, metamorphoō, speaks of an utter and complete change. It is where we get the English word metamorphosis, which describes the process when a caterpillar builds a cocoon, dissolves, and reforms into a butterfly. The change is so dramatic that the butterfly can no longer eat the same thing that it did when it lived as a caterpillar. But for the believer, Paul adds that this transformation takes place as we ‘renew’ our minds. Paul uses the same Greek word, anakainoo, when he writes that we are ‘renewed in the spirit of our mind’ (Ephesians 4:22-24). Anakainoo means to ‘make new,’ ‘make different,’ ‘to renovate’ and refers to a dramatic change, and it’s this change in thinking that transforms us. But when Paul speaks of the spirit of our mind, he is speaking about what controls and directs our thinking. Some Bible versions, such as the NIV, …

After she died, the woman’s spirit left her body and she saw a blue tennis shoe on the hospital roof

The Bible talks about humans having a spirit and a physical body and this separate spirit, is essentially who we really are. And when the Bible speaks of body, soul, and spirit as Paul describes it in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, I believe this additional element, the soul, is what appears after our spirit merges with our physical body.

Denzel Washington’s advice to Will Smith: The devil comes for you at your highest moment

I haven’t watched the Oscars for years and probably never will, but there was a shocking moment last night when actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock after he joked about Will’s wife Jade Pinkett Smith. Jada, who is struggling with hair loss because of alopecia, has chosen to shave her head bald. Rock joked, “Jada, I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see you,” a reference to the movie GI Jane when actress Demi Moore shaved her head bald for the role. Will Smith would go on to win an Oscar that night for best actor in King Richard. But during a commercial break shortly after the slap, Will said that Christian actor Denzel Washington counseled Will and gave some sound advice: “Denzel (Washington) said to me at the highest moment, be careful — that’s when the devil comes for you. It’s like, I want to be a vessel for love.” Will Smith would later apologize and according to reports Chris Rock has chosen not to press charges. But Denzel’s words, that …

Creation? Are we still talking about that?

Are you a Creationist? Do you believe that God made this world? Or do you believe that it all evolved? And what about Noah and his ark? The opening words of the Bible are “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) We don’t have many options. Science is on the side of evolution, and religion is on the side of God and creation. It is hard to be on both sides at once, and the Bible falls apart if we remove the part where God started it all. I am a Christian, and I know that this topic divides people. I am concerned about the stressful times we are in, now, with a COVID Pandemic, and a war in Ukraine, and who knows what is coming next. I believe we should pray and ask God for help and direction. That God is the one who created the Universe. I also believe we need to get back to the God who made us, and we should read the owners’ manual. But, …

Do churchgoers have greater satisfaction in family and personal relationships?

A recent poll conducted by Barna, entitled the State of Your Church, revealed that 58% of people who attend church rated their contentment in family and personal relationships as ‘strong’. When the individuals classified themselves as practicing Christians, the rate of ‘strong satisfaction’ went up to 67%.

While most Christians fall into the ignorance category when it comes to the Holy Spirit, the rest of us fall into the leaky category

I was honestly surprised by the results of a poll conducted in September 2021 by the Cultural Research Center of Arizona Christian University that showed the majority of Christians do not believe the Holy Spirit is a real person. According to the poll, the majority of Americans, 176 million, considered themselves as Christians with 35% self-identifying as born again and 28% self-identifying themselves as Evangelical Christians. Though the two groups are technically different groups, the polling showed that they held primarily the same opinions on multiple issues. But when asked if they believed the Holy Spirit was real, the Christian Post reports that only 38% of the self-identifying born-again Christians believed that the Holy Spirit was a real or living person. The remaining 62% believed the Holy Spirit was only symbolic of God’s power. In other words, the majority of Christians do not believe the Holy Spirit is a necessary part of their Christian experience. As surprising as this sounds, it explains the anemic nature of the North American church. It is such a contrast …

Why Jesus said the poor will always be with us

When Jesus was at the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came in and poured very expensive perfume over the Lord’s head (Matthew 26:6-13). It was a prophetic act as it prepared Jesus’ body for His looming sacrifice. But the woman’s actions annoyed the disciples, who muttered among themselves that it was such a waste because she could have sold the very valuable perfume and given the money to the poor. But it was the woman’s wealth, and she could do with it what she wanted. And in response to their criticism, Jesus made an odd statement that ‘the poor will be with you always.’ It certainly counters any modern notions that money is the answer to people’s problems, or the idea, often portrayed in Star Trek movies, that some future society will have ended poverty. So, what did Jesus mean by that statement? Though the poor need help, and we should assist them, the lack of money is often not their real issue. Many times it’s a person’s lifestyle, that is the root …

The Day God Ran

Years ago, while I was doing security work, an off-duty police friend came by for a coffee. He was wearing a funny t-shirt with the logo: “Bomb Squad – if you see me running, try to keep up.” When those in charge run and panic, where does that leave us? Biblical theology makes it clear that God is omniscient and omnipresent – He knows all and is everywhere. God is sovereign. So, it leads me to the question – If you are God, the almighty Creator of the universe, do you ever have to run, or be in a hurry? Christians often say that God is never early and never late, and Jesus, while He walked on the earth, never seemed to either be in a hurry or panic about anything. I don’t remember Jesus ever running to do anything, ever! I have never found a reference to God being in a hurry either in the Old or New Testaments – except in one passage – Luke 15. Luke 15 contains three similar parables, the …

Have Mercy On Those Who Doubt

By Dr. Michael L. Brown It is true that, in the Bible, Jesus often rebuked people for their doubts and unbelief. But that was because they have should have known better. That was because, based on what they had witnessed and experienced, they should have faith. But at other times, He showed great mercy to those who wavered with doubt. In fact, there’s an amazing little verse in the book of Jude which calls us to “have mercy on those who doubt” (or, Jude 22). When is the last time you heard a sermon using this verse? We should show mercy, not condemnation, not criticism, not censure, not condescending correction, to those who are sincere and yet struggle with doubt. And what, exactly, is doubt? Sometimes it is an inability to believe that God will do something for us personally, as in, “I know the Bible says this, but I’m struggling to believe it will really happen to me.” At other times, it is a struggle to believe that there really is a God, or …

Christian receives payout after being fired for not working on Sunday

A delivery company in Miami has been ordered to pay an unnamed employee $50,000 for firing him when he didn’t show up for work on Sunday. Tampa Bay Delivery Service LLC (TBDS), which partners with Amazon, was found guilty of religious discrimination. But there was a bit more to the story. According to the lawsuit, the employee had previously told TBDS that he was not available to work on Sunday because he was a Christian and attended church. But added that he was free to work on Saturdays. However, when the company scheduled the employee for a Sunday shift, he was fired after he didn’t show up. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took the case to court on behalf of the employee, who received $25,000 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in back pay. The EEOC noted that according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 the government requires companies to reasonably accommodate a person’s sincerely held religious beliefs. The EEOC added that the company fully cooperated in resolving the issue and will be …

German citizens pay a ‘church tax’

Premier Christian News reports on an interesting story out of Germany about thousands of people leaving their faith because of the country’s ‘church tax.’ Germany is one of a handful of countries in the world, including Austria, Denmark, and Italy, that imposes a ‘worship’ or ‘church’ tax on its citizens. It is a form of income tax and depending on where a person lives, the tax can range from 8% of income in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria to 9% in the remaining states. Since it was first implemented in 1919, German citizens pay the tax if they are registered as a member of a protestant and Catholic Church or as a member of the Jewish faith. This also includes anyone who has been christened or married in a German church. Churches, including Evangelical, can then apply to receive funding from the ‘worship tax’ and those eligible typically receive about 70% of their income from the state’s church tax. According to Simplegermany.com, in 2020, the German government paid out 12.1 billion Euros to protestant and Catholic churches. …

Is God unfair?

There is a cute video of an experiment on unfairness conducted by researchers on two Capuchin monkeys. The monkeys were placed in side-by-side cages, that had openings allowing the monkeys to receive and give items to the researchers. As part of this, the woman conducting the experiment rewarded the monkeys if they handed her a small stone. It started with the researcher receiving a stone from the monkey on the left and rewarding it with a piece of cucumber. The researcher then turned to the monkey on the right and gave it a grape after receiving a small stone. Though the Capuchin monkeys are fine with cucumbers, they look upon grapes as caviar. The monkey that had gotten the cucumber immediately noticed that his companion had received a grape. The researcher returned to the first monkey, and after it gave her a stone, the researcher handed it a cucumber a second time. The reaction was immediate, after taking a small nibble from the cucumber, the monkey outraged by the unfairness took the remainder of the …

Quit Comparing Yourself to Others

By Rick Renner …But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.— 2 Corinthians 10:12 Earlier in life, I struggled terribly with an inferiority complex. Inadequacy, insufficiency, incompetence, and deficiency are just a few words to express the feelings that tried to master my self-image. Today I want to share what I learned from that experience, as well as a great truth I found in my studies of Second Corinthians 10:12, which says, “…They measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” I believe that the principle I discovered in this verse will help you if you’ve faced a similar struggle and you long to be free. When our teaching ministry was first getting started, I wondered, Who will ever want to have us minister in their church or conference? Denise and I had been living in a small city and had very few contacts beyond our little circle, so it seemed like a logical question. On one hand, I knew that God had called us …

Bible warns leaders: They are not above the law

Over the past several months, stories have emerged of politicians breaking the very COVID rules that they imposed on their citizens. It has happened around the world. It is part of that “rules for thee, but not for me” approach to governing that many leaders fall into. And it happened again earlier this year when a business owner in New York City videoed a Democrat senator walking into his restaurant without wearing a mask. In fact, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand walked right past a sign stating that masks were required on entering. In an Instagram post, the owner provided a video of what happened and added, “I guess Senator Gillibrand thinks that the Governor is wrong or she is special and above the rules.” Though studies have shown that cloth facemasks are basically useless when it comes to stopping the spread of COVID, there was a bigger issue at work here. It is important that when politicians make up these rules, they obey them as well. When Israel wanted a king, God provided several ground rules …

Is Christianity socialist?

According to Bitter Winter, in 2020, the local franchise of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the city of Dandong, ran a sermon contest among its CCP approved Three-Self church pastors to see which one could provide the most ‘socialist’ sermon. The contest, outlined in a CPP document entitled Implementation Plan for the Preaching Competition on Sinicization of Christianity in 2020, told the pastors they were to look “for elements in the Bible that are relevant to the core socialist values and traditional Chinese culture.” The local branch of the CCP was trying to syncretize communist values with the Christian message, and convince believers that communism and Christianity are inherently compatible. One Christian told Bitter Winter, “It is so devious. They are poisoning people of faith bit by bit, eroding their belief. By doing so, the CCP aims to justify its control over religion.” We see a similar thing occurring in the West, where some now suggest that socialism best supports Christian ideals. But does it. I want to look at four areas where Christianity …

Use what influence you have!

By Rick Renner But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. — 1 Peter 3:15 Several years ago my heart was stirred to pray for a method to reach the elderly population in the city of Moscow. The majority of them grew up under Communism and therefore lived a life devoid of God. Although the rule of Communism is gone, that ideological system still pervades much of the thinking of the older generation. This makes them one of the most difficult groups to reach with the Gospel. My heart has been burdened for this older segment of Russian society for several reasons, but the most important reason is that multitudes of these senior citizens will soon leave this world and pass into eternity without Christ unless we first reach them with the Good News of Jesus Christ. As I prayed for these seniors, I wanted to know how …

Is It True That the Book of Revelation Indicts Big Pharma?

By Dr. Michael L. Brown Speaking of the fall of “Babylon the Great” in the 18th chapter of the Book of Revelation, verse 23 states that “all nations were deceived by your sorcery,” but the Greek word for “sorcery” here is pharmakia. Was it possible, a caller asked me on Friday, that this was speaking of the large pharmaceutical companies? My answer was absolutely, categorically not. Allow me to explain. What Does Pharmakia Mean: Drugs or Sorcery? The caller was sharp enough to realize that we cannot determine the meaning of an ancient word from the modern word derived from it. For example, we get the English word “dynamite” from the Greek word dunamis, which means “power,” and in the New Testament in particular, “miraculous power.” It was with that dunamis that Jesus healed the sick — not blew them up. So, the fact that English “dynamite” is derived from dunamis tells us nothing about the meaning of that ancient Greek word. In the same way, the fact that our English words for “pharmacy” and …

The Deadly Ditch of Gnosticism

Many years ago, when learning about Gnosticism while at Bible college, I wondered what the big deal was with it in our day – how is it relevant? Much of the New Testament after Acts deals with keeping the church out of two ditches – legalism (the Law) and Gnosticism (special knowledge) Legalism was trying to add the Law on top of grace. Acts 15 reveals one of the pivotal challenges that the early church went through to deal with this problem. We are saved by what Christ did (justified by faith), not by our works. Gnosticism on the other side of the road was the adding of “special knowledge” on top of grace. It is defined as “an early heresy based on knowledge instead of faith” (NKJV dictionary) And “knowledge” is not necessarily truth! When I was at Bible college, it was the late 70s and 80s. Cults and secret societies were very fringe, so it wasn’t really an issue? Yet so much of the New Testament deals with warning the church about both …

The power of believing

By Rick Renner When our TV program was broadcast on Channel One in Belarus, every home in the entire nation had the ability to watch it. The proof of how many people watched our program was the mountains of mail we received every week from Belarus. The impact we had was simply phenomenal. So at the urging of a pastor in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, we took the train to that city and held a three-day meeting for our television viewers. People came from all over Belarus, to the point that the auditorium could not hold everyone who tried to get into the meeting. It blessed us to see such a response to the Gospel message delivered through our TV program. However, the first night of the meeting was a real struggle because they gave me an interpreter who knew almost no English. All night he and I wrestled back and forth on the stage, trying to understand each other, and I knew that the crowd was missing what God wanted to say to …