All posts filed under: Teaching

Back to basics

Well, it finally happened, I got COVID. During a heat wave in August, I am well ….. sick! I now understand what the phrase ‘fellowship of His suffering’ means. So on my way to the Futon, I randomly grabbed one of my martial arts books off our bookcase. Just something to read and get my mind off the ugh… I have found it strange, that I have had very few prophetic words concerning direction during this pandemic, but I got a word for the church while reading this ‘random’ martial arts book. The book by Richard Kim, called ‘The Weaponless Warriors,’ is a series of stories about an Okinawan Karate master from the past. Reading a book, while your eyes feel like they are running with what appears to be gorilla glue, is not fun. But I randomly read one chapter and could not see past the goo to read anymore. I initially thought this would be a good story to share with my karate class. Then I felt like God saying, how about sharing …

Justice vs forgiveness

Several years back I stumbled upon a conversation a couple coworkers were having in the coffee room of the place I worked. One was asking the other who was a believer about a Bible discrepancy. How come the Old Testament talks eye for an eye and executing murderers and the New Testament talk about loving and forgiving everyone including our enemies, he wondered? These two commands seemed diametrically opposed to each other and from outward appearances a contradiction. It was a legitimate question. But we see the answer to this alleged contradiction in a recent story out of Alabama. On Thursday, July 28, 2022, Joe James was executed for murdering his ex-girlfriend, Faith Hall, in 1994. Faith, who was 26 at the time, had two daughters when she broke up with James after they had briefly gone out. James was found guilty and sentenced to death in Alabama for the senseless murder and 26 years later he had run out of appeals. But then a strange thing happened, Faith’s two daughters, now adults, petitioned the …

Reckless

By Rick Renner

Many years ago, Denise and I took our sons to Rome for a study tour of the ancient world with a special emphasis on early Christian history. As we stood inside the great Roman Coliseum, we listened as our doctoral guide spoke to us at length about the barbarism and atrocities that were so loved and cheered by the Roman citizens who packed that great stadium nearly 2,000 years ago.

The key to optimism

A recent study conducted by several researchers from Canada and the U.S. has concluded that optimists live longer, the Washington Post reports. The study came to this conclusion after tracking 160,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 for 26 years. At the beginning of the study, the women completed a self-analysis that measured their optimism, with those scoring the highest considered optimists and those on the lower end of the scale, pessimists. In 2019, the researchers then conducted a follow-up study with those who were still alive and also determined the ages at which the remainder had died. While accounting for other factors that contribute to a longer life span, such as economic well-being and ethnicity, the researchers found that those who scored high on the optimist scale lived longer than those who didn’t. Optimists were also more likely to live into their nineties, which the researchers described as ‘exceptional longevity” considering the average life span for women in their study was 83 years. Another study, conducted by researchers from Rochester University in …

Televangelist Creflo Dollar retracts his teaching on tithing

It was a surprising admission from one of the church’s more popular televangelists, Creflo Dollar, when he publically stated that he was wrong about tithing earlier this month. Creflo pastors Christian World Changers Church International, based in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. He has become known as a prosperity preacher, basically, the more people give, the more God will bless them. Of course, tithing was the main part of his message. Over the years, Creflo has come under criticism for what people describe as a lavish lifestyle, that included several homes and a private jet. But in a recent sermon, entitled The Great Misunderstanding, Creflo basically stated that his teaching on tithing was wrong. He told his congregation: “… I will say that I have no shame at all at saying to you throw away every book, every tape, and every video, I ever did on the subject of tithing, unless it lines up with this (held up his Bible).” “So why is this important? Because religion is sustained by two factors, fear and guilt. …

Granger Smith’s wife, Amber, speaks of her need to forgive others for hurtful comments

Granger Smith, 43, is a country music singer, songwriter, who also goes by the name of Earl Dribbles Jr. He had a number one hit in 2016, Backroad Song and another, If the Boot Fits, was a top ten hit in 2017. In 2010, he married his wife, Amber. But in 2019, the family was struck with tragedy when their three-year-old son, River Kelly, drowned at the family home. Amber, 40, recently share an Instagram Post of people who are still condemning and blaming her three years later for their son’s death. It started after Amber commented on the post of another woman, whose child had also apparently died. “All of us mamas who know this pain have been praying so hard for your family,” Amber wrote. “We are all rallying around you and are here for you. Light will come from the dark. He is working. Bless you for blessing others in your deepest hurt. Sending all our love.” After she posted that comment, the condemnation about her son’s death started pouring in. One …

I Want to Be a Torch

Speaking of John the Baptizer, Jesus said, “He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light” (John 5:35). That’s my heart as well. I want to be a burning and shining lamp. I want to be a torch! In the words of Smith Wigglesworth, “O, if God had His way, we should be like torches, purifying the very atmosphere wherever we go, moving back the forces of wickedness.”

An explosion of rage over too much mayo?

I am not sure how much a Subway sandwich costs in Atlanta, Georgia, and of course, the price varies depending on the size and type, but I am guessing around $8.00. And a subway employee was shot to death and another injured requiring emergency surgery when a customer became enraged and opened fire after an employee put too much mayo on a sub. In an interview with Fox News, the Subway manager, Willie Glenn said “Believe it or not, it was about too much mayonnaise on his sandwich. He decided to escalate the situation and from there that’s when all hell broke loose.” The police have not caught the person responsible for the murder. Though the mayo triggered the violence, it was not the cause, because whole people do not kill someone over an $8 mistake.. I suspect that the person responsible walked into that subway carrying grudges, and by his reaction, I am guessing a mountain of offenses. It reminds me of the story of the King who called for an audit of his …

Do Not Confuse Your Bad Temper with the Burden of the Lord

By Dr. Michael L. Brown

It is true that Jesus drove the money changers out of the Temple and overturned their tables. It is also true that He called the hypocritical religious leaders snakes and blind guides. But He was the Son of God and we are not, and all too often, mean-spirited Christians point to His example in order to justify their carnal behavior. This is a dangerous mistake to make.

Weeds in the driveway

Almost one year ago, my wife and I plus our dog moved to a new home. This once beautiful large lot on the edge of town had become overgrown with bushes, dead trees, and huge wild roses. I have been spending months cleaning out dead trees, garbage, and weeds. Much of this work only requires brawn and not too much thinking. One day, I had the idea to talk to God about my plans for the property; I needed wisdom. One of my winter jobs was to remove a very large raccoon nest; at the same time, I needed to fill a low area on our land. I felt like God was saying, don’t burn it, use it in the low area. Ha, how come I didn’t think of that? Like I said, I’m good at moving the junk, just not thinking about it. Then spring came, and I could not put off the large paved driveway with all the cracks in it any longer. I got several pails of cold patch pothole filler and …

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 …