False and True Revivals

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As we study this week’s SS lesson, different churches and denominations may change their ideas on integrity, wholeness and holiness, but God never changes.

We are told in the last days there will be false revivals as well as a true revival of “primitive Godliness.” So how do we know a false revival from the real? In my line of work I am constantly meeting people who are choosing a church or denomination where they can feel like a Christian without having to live like one. Or if I can be a little bolder, they want to be called a Christian without living like Christ, and following His path of self denial and self sacrifice. Self remains a big part of their worship. Fact of the matter is, no matter what church or denomination you choose, there is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus. Jesus says, “If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23  Churches may over time swing the pendulum back and forth between strict or lenient standards, but the words of Jesus never change. His standards never change.  Please consider the following from The Faith I Live By, page 326.

   Revivals True and Counterfeit

     Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. Matthew 7:16, 17

     Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth, there will be, among the people of the Lord, such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His Word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time, to prepare a people for the Lord’s second coming. The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it, by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power, he will make it appear that God’s special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. . . . 

     Wherever men neglect the testimony of the Bible, turning away from those plain, soul-testing truths which require self-denial and renunciation of the world, there we may be sure that God’s blessing is not bestowed. . . . 

     A wrong conception of the character, the perpetuity, and the obligation of the divine law, has led to errors in relation to conversion and sanctification, and has resulted in lowering the standard of piety in the church. Here is to be found the secret of the lack of the Spirit and power of God in the revivals of our time. . . . 

     It is only as the law of God is restored to its rightful position that there can be a revival of primitive faith and godliness among His professed people. “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16.

Click here to read more about modern revivals in the Great Controversy.

I want to see the church grow! But much more than this I want to see souls added to the kingdom of God!  While in my ministry, the churches I have served, have at times led the English speaking churches in baptisms for their conferences , I have always purposed to remember my true goal as a Christian Servant:

Our Goal–Truly Converted Members.–Ministers who labor in towns and cities to present the truth should not feel content, nor that their work is ended, until those who have accepted the theory of the truth realize indeed the effect of its sanctifying power, and are truly converted to God. God would be better pleased to have six truly converted to the truth as the result of their labors, than to have sixty make a nominal profession, and yet not be thoroughly converted. These ministers should devote less time to preaching sermons, and reserve a portion of their strength to visit and pray with those who are interested, giving them godly instruction, to the end that they may “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”  {Evangelism, p. 320.1} 

In the road to death the whole race may go, with all their worldliness, all their selfishness, all their pride, dishonesty, and moral debasement. There is room for every man’s opinions and doctrines, space to follow his inclinations, to do whatever his self-love may dictate. In order to go in the path that leads to destruction, there is no need of searching for the way; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad, and the feet naturally turn into the path that ends in death. {Thoughts on the Mount of Blessing, p. 138}

 

You may find more devotionals and studies at In Light of The Cross.

Wine: Shall we Drink?

cruise-ship-002As always I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Here is my blog on this week’s SS lesson.

From time to time while I am giving Bible studies on temperance and health I hear people say that wine has great health benefits. Problem is do the benefits make up for the risks? Also if the Bible forbids something does it really matter? Why do we always get the idea we’re smarter than God?  Fact is though; regular grape juice helps the heart just as much as wine but without the alcohol.

Below are some links on the benefits of regular grape juice and also a Bible presentation on alcohol.

http://archives.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/alternative/03/31/wine.heart.wmd/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/AN00576

http://www.delhiwineclub.com/wine_health/Grape_Juice.asp

Alcohol

What do the Scriptures say about alcohol, wine and liquor? It’s in the Bible, Proverbs 20:1, RSV. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

Why is drinking dangerous? It’s in the Bible, Ephesians 5:18, TEV. “Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you; instead be filled with the Spirit.”

Why are kings and rulers advised to not drink alcoholic drinks? It’s in the Bible, Proverbs 31:4-5, NIV. “It is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.”

With what sins is drunkenness classed? It’s in the Bible, Galatians 5:19-21, NIV. “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity …idolatry and witchcraft…drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

What is one of the results of over-indulgence in food and drink? It’s in the Bible, Proverbs 23:20-21, NIV. “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”

How do alcoholic drinks affect those who use them? It’s in the Bible, Proverbs 23:29-35, TLB. “Whose heart is filled with anguish and sorrow? Who is always fighting and quarreling? Who is the man with bloodshot eyes and many wounds? It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new mixtures. Don’t let the sparkle and the smooth taste of strong wine deceive you. For in the end it bites like a poisonous serpent; it stings like an adder. You will see hallucinations and have delirium tremors, and you will say foolish, silly things that would embarrass you no end when sober. You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast. And afterwards you will say, ‘I didn’t even know it when they beat me up.’ “

Alcohol/Wine: Does the Bible condone moderate use of these substances?

Let’s look at some Bible examples of people who used alcohol, as well as the effects it has on the body.

BIBLE EXAMPLES:

Aaron and his sons, the priests, were strictly forbidden to drink either wine or strong drink when they went into the tabernacle to minister before the Lord (Leviticus 10:9). Nazarites were likewise forbidden to use wine while under the vow (Numbers 6:3,20; cf. Judges 13:4-7). The Rechabites lived a noteworthy example of permanent abstinence from wine, adhering strictly to the command of their ancestor, Jonadab, to refrain from it (Jeremiah 35:2,5,6,8,14). Proverbs is replete with warnings against indulgence in wine and strong drink (Proverbs 20:1; 21:17; 23:30,31; 31:4). Wine mocks those who use it (chapter 20:1), and rewards them with woe, sorrow, strife, and wounds without cause (chapter 23:29,30). “In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” (verse 32) The prophet Isaiah declared, “Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks.” (Isaiah. 5:22 NIV) Daniel and his compatriots set a worthy example by refusing to drink of the king’s wine (Daniel 1:5,8,10-16). When fasting later in life, Daniel abstained from “flesh” and “wine” (chapter 10:3).

The usual New Testament word for wine, whether fermented or unfermented, is OISNOS. Jesus likened His revolutionary teaching to new wine, which would burst the old bottles of tradition (Matthew 9:17). Paul warned believers against drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18), and declares that deacons should not be “addicted to much wine” (1 Timothy 3:8). He counseled Titus that the older women should not be “slaves to drink” (Titus 2:3).

For relief from a digestive ailment, Paul recommend “a little wine” to Timothy. Let’s take a look at 1 Timothy 5:23 in particular. Physical ailments such as dysentery, often due to contaminated water, were common occurrences. Consequently, other ways to quench thirst were often recommended. Some commentators believe that Paul here was advocating the temperate use of fermented wine for medicinal purposes. They call attention to the fact that wine has, through the centuries, been used for this. Others say that Paul refers to unfermented grape juice, their reasoning being that he would not give advice inconsistent with the rest of Scripture, which warns against the use of intoxicating beverages (see Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-32). The purpose of Paul’s counsel is that Timothy should be physically fit for the heavy duties that rest upon him as administrator of the churches in Asia Minor. Mental and moral alertness are closely related to physical fitness. Apparently Timothy was frequently ill. A body frequently sick is not an attractive advertisement for any kind of health reform.

EFFECT OF ALCOHOL/WINE ON OUR BODIES

Our bodies are temples of the living God via the agent of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19) God is concerned with how we treat these, His works of unsurpassed art. (1 Corinthians 3:17) The wise Solomon said, “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1 NIV) And again in verse 31, “Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly!” (Proverbs 23:31 NIV) Why?

Short-term effects of alcohol use include:

  • Distorted vision, hearing, and coordination
  • altered perceptions and emotions
  • impaired judgment
  • bad breath; hangovers

Some problems like those above can occur after drinking over a relatively short period of time. But other problems-such as liver disease, heart disease, certain forms of cancer, and pancreatitis-often develop more gradually and may become evident only after years of drinking. Women may develop alcohol-related health problems sooner than men, and from drinking less alcohol than men. Because alcohol affects nearly every organ in the body, long-term drinking increases the risk for many serious health problems, a few of which are described below.

Alcohol-related liver disease. More than 2 million Americans suffer from alcohol-related liver disease. Some drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, as a result of heavy drinking over a long period of time. Its symptoms include fever, jaundice (abnormal yellowing of the skin, eyeballs, and urine), and abdominal pain. Alcoholic hepatitis can cause death if drinking continues. If drinking stops, the condition may be reversible. About 10 to 20 percent of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver. People with cirrhosis should not drink alcohol. Although treatment for the complications of cirrhosis is available, a liver transplant may be needed for someone with life-threatening cirrhosis. Alcoholic cirrhosis can cause death if drinking continues. Cirrhosis is not reversible, but if a person with cirrhosis stops drinking, the chances of survival improve considerably. People with cirrhosis often feel better, and liver function may improve, after they stop drinking. About 4 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), which can cause liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Some heavy drinkers also have HCV infection. As a result, their livers may be damaged not only by alcohol but by HCV-related problems as well. People with HCV infection are more susceptible to alcohol-related liver damage and should think carefully about the risks when considering whether to drink alcohol.

Heart disease. The moderate use of alcohol has been reported to have beneficial effects on the heart, especially among those at greatest risk for heart attacks, such as men over the age of 45 and women after menopause. However, it is very important to know that these reports as based on observational data. but there is insufficient evidence to prove causality. It is also vital to recognize that none of these investigators has recommended those not using alcohol begin doing so! Heavy drinking increases the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and some kinds of stroke.

Cancer. Long-term heavy drinking increases the risk of certain forms of cancer, especially cancer of the esophagus, mouth, throat, and larynx (voice box). Research suggests that, in some women, as little as one drink per day can slightly raise the risk of breast cancer. Drinking may also increase the risk for developing cancer of the colon and rectum.

Pancreatitis. The pancreas helps regulate the body’s blood sugar levels by producing insulin. The pancreas also has a role in digesting the food we eat. Long-term heavy drinking can lead to pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis can cause severe abdominal pain and can be fatal. Chronic pancreatitis is associated with chronic pain, diarrhea, and weight loss.

In John 10:10 God says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (NIV) In using alcohol we participate in destroying not only our own life but often the lives of others. God says, in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now and let us reason together.” With alcohol use we temporarily and permanently stupefy our reasoning powers. So, for a Christian, is it drinkable, or unthinkable?

If you or someone you know has been drinking, there is a risk of developing serious physical, mental, and spiritual problems. Because many of these health problems can be treated, it is important to see a professional for help.

Alcohol/Wine: What are the historical and scriptural facts about fermented drinks in the Bible?

It is commonly supposed that in Bible times, all preserved grape juice inevitably fermented, thus many assume that all mention of “wine” in the Bible refers to the alcoholic beverage commonly called “wine” today. However, ancient civilizations had several ways of protecting fruits and fruit juices from fermentation, and thus of having non-alcoholic wine throughout the year.

  1. Boiling the grape (or other fruit) juice and reducing it to a syrup that could then be diluted
  2. Boiling the juice with minimum evaporation and sealing it airtight with beeswax (anaerobically) in jars.
  3. Drying the fruit in the sun, and then reconstituting it to use the fluid for wine.
  4. Filtration to exclude gluten.
  5. Addition of sulphur to the fruit juice, a process that prevents fermentation.

All these methods of preservation were known to the ancients, who also practiced boiling fermented juice to eliminate the alcohol. Referring to the first method of preparation, Aristotle (b. 384 B.C.) wrote “The wine of Arcadia was so thick that it was necessary to scrape it from the skin bottles in which it was contained, and to dissolve the scrapings in water.” Nott’s Lectures on Biblical Temperance, p. 80.

The poet Horace (65 B.C.) wrote, “There is no wine sweeter to drink than that of Lesbos; it was like nectar, … and would not produce intoxication.”

“The Mishna states that the Jews were in the habit of drinking boiled wine” (Kitto’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature, vol. 2, p. 447). Naturally this wine would be entirely alcohol-free as a result of the boiling, if not also from the manner of preservation.

“Albert Barnes, D. D., [Presbyterian] in his commentary on Jn. 2:10, wrote: “The wine of Judea was the pure juice of the grape, without any mixture of alcohol. It was the common drink of the people and did not produce intoxication.”

Adam Clarke [Methodist] in his famous Bible Commentary wrote in reference to Gen. 40:11: “From this we find that wine anciently was the mere expressed juice of the grape without fermentation. The saky, or cupbearer, took the bunch [of grapes], pressed the juice into the cup, and instantly delivered it into the hands of his master. This was anciently the yayin of the Hebrews, the oinos of the Greeks, and the mustum of the ancient Latins.” Clarke’s historic note accords with the Scripture that declares “… the new wine is found in the cluster and one says Hurt not the wine when it is in the cluster, for there is a blessing in it.” Isa. 65:8.

Please enjoy more Bible studies and devotionals at my personal website http://www.InLightOfTheCross.com

I Sure Do Rest A Lot!

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while. Mark 6:31

Here is an article on how working overtime increases your risk for heart attack!

This week’s SS lesson talks about the importance of rest, and that is something that I get plenty of. I do not apologize for saying this and why should I? Our western culture has the erroneous idea that being “too busy” is some sort of status symbol. It’s not. It’s not healthy and it’s not productive. Don’t get me wrong. I do my job. Like many gospel workers I put in about 60 hours a week. My blogs and Internet ministry do not count towards my hours worked. Being salaried I may never clock into work but I never really clock out either. Here is the key, I pace myself. I work hard but I also play hard. I don’t apologize for my golf hobby. It keeps me balanced. I used to obsess over things at work. Now I just go play golf. When I come back I find God has been taking care of things for me. I enjoy kayaking and watching sunsets. I enjoy sitting on the park bench reading my Bible and spending time with Jesus as friends and not just work associates. These things keep me balanced so I do not obsess, and by pacing myself I am more productive in my ministry than I would be otherwise.

Some have hinted that I need to be very secretive if I sneak in a game of golf after working 14 hours the day before, or that I should not be posting on Facebook that I am enjoying a sunset on the beach after having had Bible studies with 12 people earlier in the day. So in defense of myself (Not that anyone has placed me in defense mode) and other gospel workers for that matter, consider this; While you may happen to catch your pastor on the golf course on a weekday afternoon, what you did not see was him at the emergency room till 3am praying with a family in the waiting room. While you may see your pastor picking up his kids from school and taking them to Dairy Queen for the afternoon, what you did not see was him on the phone from 2-4am talking someone out of suicide. I speak for all gospel workers when I say, we are busy. There is a lot you see us do but there is even more you don’t see us do. 

The Gospel Worker, and everyone else needs time to rest. We need to recharge our batteries, but even during our “down time” when the mind is relaxed and clear, we can have some of our greatest bursts of inspiration. Some of my best ideas for evangelism have come on my day off while I was just relaxing or sitting on a park bench “with Jesus.”  Pace yourself. Work hard. Play hard, and when Jesus tells you, go ahead and come rest a while.

We all need a little Mary as well as a little Martha in all of us. I have to remind myself in the mornings, when I am tempted to hit the floor running, that I am not going to be any help to the multitude until I have first been alone with Jesus. I sure do rest a lot, and it makes me a more productive worker, and if I pace myself right, I will be a productive worker for decades to come.

A Sense Of Humor Is No Laughing Matter

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

2:Am on a January morning in 2001 I rush out of my apartment and down the steps into the parking lot to drive to UPS where I worked. My car is not in its regular space. I walk up and down the parking lot and can’t find it anywhere! I finally realize my 2001 green Hyundai Accent has been stolen. I go back inside and call UPS. I then called the police department and they came out and took a report. As soon as the insurance company opened I called and they told me to go get a rental car. I called my friend David Mellandorf who came by on his lunch break to pick me up and take me to get the rental car. On our way to the rental car agency we pass Taco Bueno, like Taco Bell only better. I asked David if he wanted to stop for a bite at Taco Bueno and that’s when it hit me! Last night I was doing my laundry at the apartment laundry mat. After throwing my clothes in the dryer I went to Taco Bueno for a burrito. On my way back I drove straight to the laundry mat to get my clothes. Not used to driving to the laundry mat I then walked back to my apartment, put my clothes away and went to bed. I got up and rushed to my car forgetting that I had left it at the laundry mat the night before!  Once I reaized what I had done I called the apartments on my cell phone and sure enough they said my car was right there at the laundry mat! I had reported my car stolen and missed a day of work just because I forgot where I parked my car.

The next Sabbath, when I went to preach in Breckenridge there was a note in the bulletin saying, “William your car is in the church parking lot. Don’t forget it when you leave.” All of my friends gave me a hard time for that and even today my friends from Texas will ask me if I have lost my car lately. It was a dumb mistake but it has been good for a few laughs over the years.

This week’s SS lesson talks about the importance of a cheerful heart and good humor. People with a sense of humor live happier and longer. Yet having a good sense of humor does not mean that you think everything is humorous. It just means you can sense what is humor and what is not. Since the general consensus concludes that I have a sense of humor, I have taken it upon myself to make some rules on joking around. Here they are:

Rule # 1: Don’t Tease People About Things They Can’t Control.

I love to laugh with my friends and make fun of myself about the “stolen car” incident. However years earlier I had another car in Texas with no air conditioning. One of my friends would tease me about it in the hundred degree dry Texas heat. Let me tell you something. While you are sitting still at an eternal red light, sweat dripping, in the 100 plus degree heat, no air conditioning is not funny! There was nothing I could do about it. Once I had the money for air conditioning they no longer made my model of car and no A/C was available.  I had no control over the situation. You could have teased me about being a Texas Rangers fan even when they were the worst team in the league, but I chose them and could chose another team anytime I wanted. I was stuck with that car in the 100 degree Texas heat.

Rule #2 Let People Know When You are Just Joking.

Just because I tell one joke does not mean I joke around all the time. Some people don’t know that. You tell them just one joke and somehow they decide that’s all you do. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I may laugh harder than anyone else when I laugh, but you know what? I also cry harder than anyone else when I cry, and I do cry. I love my life and I vividly sense all of it, the good and the bad. For those who cannot tell when I am joking or being serious here is a clue. I don’t lie. If you ask me “are you joking” I will tell you right away yes or no. I may pull your leg until you ask me, but once you ask me point blank I will not pull your leg anymore. So if I say I am not joking, I am not joking. I am being serious.  People with a sense of humor are serious people too. Again a sense of humor senses what is humor and knows what is not humor. There is a difference between joking around and having a sense of humor.

Rule #3 Jokes Can Be Affirming!

I have to admit it. With my good friends that I am comfortable with I can joke kind of rough and they can be rough right back. Most of the jokes you hear are on sitcoms are insults. I am learning this does not have to be. My last few years in Texas I worked with an amazing man. He was a Jehovah Witness, and was always joking around with me. It took me a year or so to realize that even though he was always joking around he never insulted anyone-ever! All of his jokes were positive jokes. I do not know if that was because of his religion or not, but I have always admired him for that. It is possible to use a sense of humor to compliment people instead of insulting them with it. For example instead of negative comments about being bald, how about saying God doesn’t cover perfect heads? If you joke rough with someone make sure you have their permission first. If someone jokes rough without your permission forgive them and pay them a compliment instead. Don’t censure. Lead by example. They will catch on soon enough. If you think teasing someone back they way they teased you will teach them a lesson you are wrong. All it does is tell them you approve of such humor. If you do not approve of their humor, rather than retaliate just don’t participate.

Rule # 4 Leave peoples’ Bodies Alone

Just because I make a comment about my thin hair or pot belly does not mean I want you to chime in. Often when people make negative comments about themselves even jokingly, they are looking for you to counteract it with affirmation not insult. There is something I want to make clear. If you tease someone about ANY part of their body you have just given them permission to tease you about ANY part of your body and I do mean ANY and you know what I mean.  Respect the entire body.

Rule #5 Humor is Not Mean Spirited.

There were a lot of jokes this last election that went beyond trying to be funny to being outright mean.  For a moment forget that I am a nice little Bible Worker as I say something just as blunt and clear as I can. When you call a political leader “stupid”, “idiot”, and “incompetent” then that just makes you look like a stupid incompetent idiot. Show some class and couth.  I am applying this to all political parties here. Nothing charms me like a politician sincerely complimenting his rival.

Rule # 6 Don’t take Yourself Serious.

I have to admit I am not too bright sometimes. There have been times people have been mean spirited towards me and I laughed with them thinking they were just joking and having fun.  Either way you have to see the lighter side of life. Years ago when I was a UPS supervisor, we were having a terrible day. All the packages were stacked all around the end of the belt when they should have all been loaded in the package cars by now. I was overwhelmed, and when my boss came by I told him, while looking at the mess of boxes, “I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.” He told me, “You might as well laugh, crying isn’t going to do any good.” Humor has always helped me get through tough times. When I got real sick last fall ladies were bringing me food left and right. It was great! Later I told them looking back, all that I went through was worth it all just for their delicious dish that they made for me. When I first picked up the game of golf, I was playing with a buddy and I was doing lousy! I was actually doubling par on every hole! Finally around hole number 14 I hit another lousy shot and then I could not control myself! I fell to the ground doubling over in laughter! My friend, not sure what I was doing, asked what was wrong. I told him I was just laughing at how terrible I was playing! Once while getting ready to putt another player nearby asked if he was in my way. I told him I had no idea until after I hit the ball. I am no pro today, but I don’t play as bad as that anymore. Crying never did get me anywhere, but hard work and a good sense of humor will get you anywhere!

More studies and devotionals are available at In Light OF The Cross.