The Age of the Earth

by Guest Blogger Joseph Kezele

The age of the earth is an absolutely crucial topic in the controversy between evolutionists and Bible believing creationists,  but it is not the real issue.  In general evolutionists understand better than many Christians that the repeated assertion of long ages for the universe and earth itself casts doubt upon the veracity of Scripture. When that assertion is accomplished in the mind of an individual,  then it naturally follows to have doubts about the veracity of the rest of the Bible, and the authority of Scripture is overturned.

So how can the Earth be dated? Rocks cannot be dated by appearance, chemical content, the order of the rock layers or by index fossils. Index fossils are said to be specific fossils that are characteristic of specific rock layers. The problem for the evolutionary model is that the order of the rock layers and of fossils in the rock record is not consistent from place to place.

Indeed in many locations layers according the secular geologists representing tens or hundreds of millions of years are missing in various places. The Grand Canyon has great examples of this, one of which is where the Coconino Sandstone directly rests upon the Hermit Shale. When you look at the contact between these two layers, it is level and so tight not even a razor blade can be inserted between them. There are no signs of unevenness, no erosion, for hundreds of miles. It is impossible for millions of years to pass with no unevenness developing. The simple explanation is that the supposed missing time simply never existed.

The attempted scientific fallback position lies in radiometric dating, using pairs of elements, a mother element, which is unstable and is therefore radioactive, and a daughter element, produced by decay of the nucleus of the mother element. A common example is the decay of uranium to lead. This method is unreliable because it depends upon three assumptions which cannot be observed, but which can be disproven.

The first assumption is that there was no daughter element in the sample when it came into existence. There is no way to know this, except for one special situation. The second assumption is that the rate of decay of the mother element has always proceeded at the very same rate at which it is measured to occur today. This has been disproven by elegant experiments. Go to https://www.icr.org/rate/ for details. The third assumption is that nothing ever entered or left the specimen to alter the ratio of mother element to daughter element. This also is unknowable, and in the case of Carbon-14/Carbon-12 this assumption has been disproven more than once.

When samples of known age have been dated using radiometric methods, the results are seriously in error. New rock formed after the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens measured 30 years later should have shown it to be around 30 years old, but standard radiometric dating gave the significantly incorrect date of 350,000 years. This is just one of many examples of  wild disagreement between known dates with calculated dates using radiometric methods. Since this is the case with samples of known ages, how can we have confidence in dating of samples of an unknown age?

So how do secular geologists date rocks? You ask’ “How old is this particular rock?” The answer is, “300 million years because of the fossils we find in it.” You then ask, “How do you know the age of that fossil?” The answer is, “300 million years because of the rock it is found in.”  Do you see how this works? Circular reasoning. The dates of the rock layers are arbitrarily assumed, in order to create a record of deep time, which is necessary to provide for long, long ages, to give evolution enough time to happen, since it is so improbable. Attempts are made to find dates by radiometric methods that are consistent with the assumed dates. Different pairs of mother-daughter elements give widely different dates from the very same sample, so the number most consistent with the desired date is cherry picked, to “prove” its age.

However, there are many methods that provide ages consistent with the biblical time frame of less than ten thousand years, even close to the six thousand year age of the universe and Earth given by the chronologies in Chapters 5 and 11 in Genesis. Some examples are the strength of Earth’s magnetic field, the decay of comets, the erosion of Niagara Falls, coral reef growth, sodium, potassium and uranium in the ocean, and spiral galaxies.

Scientific data from observations confirm what Scripture gives us about the age of Earth without relying upon assumptions. After all, the author of the world is the author of the  Word. He does not contradict himself.


joseph-kezele
Guest Blogger Joseph Kezele

Joseph Kezele studied the sciences and music at the University of Arizona, while earning his B.A. in Russian in 1971, and his M.D. in 1975. He then completed a Pediatric Residency and practiced Emergency Medicine for 25 years in the Phoenix area, and was a diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine and fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. He is now retired from the practice of medicine, serves as President of the Arizona Origin Science Association, and is Associate Professor of Biology at Arizona Christian University in Glendale, teaching Human Genetics, Nutrition and Wellness, Biochemistry, Pathophysiology, Organic Chemistry and Creation Science Apologetics. Dr. Kezele has also been named a Logos Research Associate, and had the privilege of participating in a dinosaur dig in Montana and excavated a triceratops horn and the triceratops cervical condyle from which Mark Armitage isolated intact osteocytes in soft tissue.

He has participated in 24 foreign mission trips, teaching medicine, standard evangelism and creation science evangelism in India, Zambia, Mexico, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Ukraine, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Armenia and Moldova. Dr. Kezele is one of the principle presenters in the Institute for Creation Research’s 4 DVD series Made in His Image.

Dr. Kezele teaches Creation Science Evangelism at Black Mountain Baptist Church in Cave Creek, Arizona, where he and his wife Patty attend. Their three adult children live and work in the Phoenix area.

You are invited to visit his website, Arizona Origin Science Association.


 

Jesus Loves the Little Children

by Guest Blogger Alvin Gann

Have you ever sung the song “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” back in your childhood years? For many Christians, it often brought images to mind of Scripture that told the stories of Jesus with children. Jesus loved little children. They held a special place in His heart.

Here’s a quick reminder about the lyrics for the song (along with the chord chart, for the musicians who are reading this):

G
Jesus loves the little children
D
All the children of the world
G
Red and yellow, black and white
    C       G
They are precious in His sight
          D       G
Jesus loves the little children of the world

Lyrics by: Clare Herbert Woolston
Tune by: George Frederick Root

Over time, the song has been extended as well. For example, here is a version by Cedarmount Kids:

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

Jesus died for all the children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus died for all the children of the world.

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

Many songs about Jesus and children from our childhood are songs worth remembering, but “Jesus Loves the Little Children” is a classic song that is very special, because many people love to teach this song to their children or teach it to kids at church.

Did you know that the song “Jesus Loves the Little Children” actually originated as a civil war ballad? It went like this:

Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! The boys are marching
Cheer up, comrades, they will come
All beneath the starry flag
We shall breathe the air again
Of the free land in our own beloved home

The song “Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!” was written by George Frederick Root. It was written during the Civil War in the USA from 1861-1865. George Root’s goal in writing the song was to raise the morale of the prisoners during the war. At a later time, Clare Herbert Woolston, a lyricist, writer and preacher, wrote the lyrics of “Jesus Loves the Little Children” to the tune of “Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!”

The song “Jesus Loves the Little Children” was likely inspired by this Bible verse:

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:14 English Standard Version (ESV)

The context for this verse tells us that when people brought children to Jesus, seeking prayer and blessing for them, they were rebuked by Jesus’ disciples. Unfortunately, the disciples thought that the children were not worth Jesus’ time. They thought the best thing to do would be to send the children away. But Jesus disagreed. He was upset with His disciples and brought the children to him. He even used them as an example to explain that it only takes a simple faith, like that of a child, to enter into the kingdom of God.

What can we learn from this story in Matthew 19:14 and from the song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children”?

  1. Children Matter: Jesus cares deeply about children. They matter to Him!
  2. A Simple Faith: Jesus made it clear that it only takes a simple faith in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven. It doesn’t require you to work your way into heaven. Just a simple faith like that of a child allows you to believe in Jesus, repent of your sin, and begin following Him.
  3. Love Children: As Christians, we should love children. They are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). As we love them, we are also called to raise children in the ways of the Lord (Deuteronomy 4:4-9, Ephesians 6:4).
  4. Lead Children to Jesus: Children need to hear about Jesus, just like all of us do! The #1 time that people begin following Christ is during their childhood, especially before their teenage years.

If you’re interested in learning more or would like to learn how to use this song in your home or in your church, then take a look at the resource by Let the Little Children Come on Jesus Loves the Little Children. Included there are:

  • Videos of the song
  • Song lyrics and chords
  • Several medley recordings of this song, along with other songs, including: “Jesus Loves Me,” “Jesus Loves Even Me,” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”
  • A split track of the song
  • A sign language video for this song
  • A history for the song
  • . . . and more helpful resources!

Visit Let The Little Children Come for resources on leading a child to Christ and other child evangelism resources.

______________________________________________________

Guest blogger: Alvin Gan

Alvin Gan is the father of three noisy (but lovely) teenagers and founder of 2 websites that provide creative evangelism and discipleship resources.

www.LetTheLittleChildrenCome.com  specializes in unique child evangelism tools and resources to help convey the plan of salvation for kids effectively.

www.BibleGamesCentral.com develops Bible games for youths, kids and even adults to teach spiritual truths.

Telling the Story of Easter to Kids

alvin-gan_2-12-20

by Guest Blogger Alvin Gan

“For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14

Easter is certainly a joyous occasion. We celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. We celebrate the fact that through Jesus, we have this amazing hope of a wonderful eternity, where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

As Easter draws near, let us consider Christ’s completed work on the cross. Let us also think about how we can pass on the truth of Jesus’s death and resurrection to our children.

One fantastic way to share the Easter story with younger ones is with Resurrection Eggs. Resurrection Eggs are plastic Easter eggs that each contain an item related to Easter.

Although these can be purchased ready-made, you can easily put a set of resurrection eggs together yourself. This can be a very meaningful project you do with your children.

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Here’s how you can make your own set of resurrection eggs using items that are readily available. Alternatively, you can use these printable Resurrection Eggs Cards from Bible Games Central which feature images of these items.

 

 

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Bible Games Central also provides a printable Resurrection Eggs script for telling the story of Easter.

How To Make Your Own Resurrection Eggs

Place the following items (or the egg-shaped Resurrection Eggs Card) in each plastic Easter egg. Write the corresponding number on the outside of each egg with a permanent marker.

Resurrection Egg #1

Any leaf to represent the palm branches that the people of Jerusalem spread on the road as they welcomed Jesus. You may like to cut the leaf to resemble a palm branch.

Resurrection Egg #2

Three coins to represent the 30 pieces of silver that Judas Iscariot received to betray Jesus.

Resurrection Egg #3

A small piece of terry cloth to represent the towel that Jesus used to dry his disciples’ feet after he had washed them.

Resurrection Egg #4

A small communion cup to represent the last supper.

Alternatively, use a communion wafer or a small piece of bread.

Resurrection Egg #5

A flower to represent the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus went with his disciples to pray before he was arrested.

Resurrection Egg #6

A piece of string to represent the rope that was used to tie Jesus up when he was arrested.

Resurrection Egg #7

A small stem of any plant with thorns to represent the crown of thorns that the soldiers put on Jesus’ head as they mocked him.

Resurrection Egg #8

A small cross to represent the crucifixion of Jesus.

Alternatively, use 3 small nails.

Resurrection Egg #9

A toothpick with one tip dipped in red paint or nail polish to represent the spear used by the soldier to pierce Jesus’ side.

Resurrection Egg #10

A small strip of white cloth to represent the strips of linen used to wrap the body of Jesus before he was placed in a tomb.

Resurrection Egg #11

A small stone to represent the large stone placed in front of the entrance to Jesus’ tomb.

Resurrection Egg #12

Leave the 12th egg empty to represent the empty tomb.

Resurrection Eggs Script

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Use this Resurrection Eggs Script to tell the story of Easter.

 

 

Resurrection Egg #1 – Palm Branch

alvin-gan_egg-1

Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. He rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey.

A large crowd spread their coats and palm branches on the road. The people shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Matthew 21:7-9; Mark 11:7-10; Luke 19:35-38; John 12:12-13

Resurrection Egg #2 – 30 Pieces of Silver

alvin-gan_egg-2

Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They gave him 30 pieces of silver.

Matthew 26:14-15; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-5

 

Resurrection Egg #3 – Towel

alvin-gan_egg-3During the Passover meal, Jesus got up, took off his outer clothes, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a large bowl and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

John 13:4-5

Resurrection Egg #4 – Bread and Wine

alvin-gan_egg-4Jesus was eating the Passover meal with his 12 disciples. He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, Jesus took the cup and said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” They all ate the bread and drank from the cup.

Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20

Resurrection Egg #5 – Garden

alvin-gan_egg-5

After the Passover meal, Jesus went with his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.

Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46

 


Resurrection Egg #6 – Rope

alvin-gan_egg-6When Jesus had finished praying in the garden, Judas came to the garden with some soldiers and officials. The chief priests and the Pharisees had sent them. They carried torches, lanterns and weapons. They arrested Jesus and tied him up.

Matthew 26:47,50; Mark 14:43,46; Luke 22:47-48; John 18:3,12

Resurrection Egg #7 – Crown of Thorns

alvin-gan_egg-7The soldiers took off Jesus’ clothes and put a purple robe on him. They twisted thorns together to make a crown and placed it on his head. Then they spit on him, hit him repeatedly on his head, and pretended to worship him as the king of the Jews.

Matthew 27:27-31; Mark 15:16-20; John 19:1-3

Resurrection Egg #8 – Cross

alvin-gan_egg-8

After they had finished mocking Jesus, the soldiers took Jesus to the place called Golgotha and nailed him to a cross.

Matthew 27:31; Mark 15:22-24; Luke 23:33; John 19:17-18

 


Resurrection Egg #9 – Spear

alvin-gan_egg-9After Jesus’ crucifixion, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear before his body was taken down from the cross.

John 19:31-34

Resurrection Egg #10 – Strips of Linen

alvin-gan_egg-10A man named Joseph approached Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus. Joseph wrapped the body in spices and strips of linen, then placed it in a new tomb cut out of the rock.

Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:50-53; John 19:38-42

Resurrection Egg #11 – Stone

alvin-gan_egg-11
Joseph placed Jesus in a tomb, rolled a large stone in front of the entrance and went away. Later, the chief priests and the Pharisees put a seal on the stone and posted some guards there.

Matthew 27:59-66

Resurrection Egg #12 – Empty

On the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion, the women brought spices to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. But they saw that the stone in front of Jesus’ tomb had been rolled away and the body of Jesus was not there. An angel told them, “Jesus is not here; he has risen from the dead!”

Matthew 28:1,5-7; Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-6; John 20:1-2

Be sure to check out BibleGamesCentral.com for more Easter games and creative Easter egg hunt ideas.

Another resource to consider is the Lost Easter Egg Pop-up Tract from Let The Little Children Come. This Easter Tract features clever pop-ups and tells the story of 3 children in search of a lost Easter egg. The 3 friends really, really want to find the lost Easter egg, just as God really, really wants to be with each one of us.


About our guest blogger, Alvin Gan:

Alvin Gan is the father of three noisy (but lovely) teenagers and founder of two websites that provide creative evangelism and discipleship resources.

Child Evangelism
LetTheLittleChildrenCome.com
 specializes in unique child evangelism tools and resources to help convey the plan of salvation for kids effectively.

BibleGamesCentral.com develops Bible games for youths, kids and even adults to teach spiritual truths.

 

 

On Lent

by Guest Blogger Shirley Davis

One of the most impactful things I ever did one Lenten season (in preparation for Easter) was give up holding grudges against my husband.  For context:  Usually, for Lent, Protestant Christians don’t bother much with giving things up.  I had, for many years, not seen the point and chucked the idea altogether.  I did, that is, until a good friend challenged me to use the 40 days of Lent as a time to come closer to God less through a sense of obligation and more about willingness and desire for life-change.

A Lenten practice might look like adding something—like praying for someone more regularly or choosing a place to serve those less fortunate.  It might also look like relinquishing an attitude or behavior.  I had the sense that God wanted me to give up stewing, to give up feeding my frustrations or my resentments, specifically those that were related to my marriage and my husband’s inability to read my mind . Incidentally, he was not doing anything heinous—it was just garden-variety relationship friction that I chose to continue to hang onto and keep to myself.

I also knew that I would need to replace what I was relinquishing with something healthier—a healthier attitude, better choices, etc.  So, I chose to increase my focus on God as my provider…my guide…my strengthener…my help.  I decided that every time I was tempted to ruminate over a grudge, I would “take that thought captive” to Christ and stop and pray for my husband instead.

It supposedly takes 30 days to break a habit.  Lent gave me 40 days, not including Sundays.  This one intentional season, over 20 years ago, truly broke me of that bad habit, replaced it with a better one and helped strengthen my marriage. Not that I never consider stewing anymore, but God reminds me to turn that over to Him sooner and more thoroughly so that it’s no longer my default mode.

I have also noticed the helpfulness of this practice in my coaching and mentoring.  New Year’s Resolutions seem so heavy and burdensome—stretching 365 days into the horizon with the potential for failure or discouragement at every turn.  The 40 (or 46) days of Lent, however, seems doable in a different sort of way.  Shorter. In partnership with God in a very intentional sense. A heightened awareness in a winter season.

Lent and Sacrifices

If Lent is about coming closer to God through some sort of self-sacrifice, then it’s probably more about attitudes than about actions.

Some things to consider “giving up” for Lent:

  • harboring anger or resentment toward someone
  • self-pity
  • complaining about one’s boss
  • complaining about one’s roommates
  • gossip
  • talking with others about a problem instead of talking with the person with whom you have that problem
  • over-commitment
  • complaining about your family
  • sweets
  • chocolate
  • alcohol
  • computer games
  • credit cards
  • compulsive shopping
  • social media
  • certain magazines/catalogs
  • television/Netflix/HBO/Hulu—or certain shows/movies—or binge-watching
  • eating out
  • problem-solving when someone is sharing their heart with you

Replace the thing you are giving up with something healthier:

  • prayer
  • accountability
  • a new habit
  • take every thought captive
  • pray the Psalms
  • Lent readings
  • quiet times
  • discipline
  • Scripture—memorize and remember
  • journaling
  • uplifting reading
  • books; books on Audible
  • rest
  • reflection
  • exercise
  • time limits
  • Post-It Note reminders in key places
  • Lent small group
  • listening to Scripture
  • worship
  • music
  • listening
  • silence/solitude
  • time in nature

And, pick just ONE thing.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with a list of “resolutions.” Consider this a “fast” for your soul—a way to invite God in to do some much-needed renovation and restoration.  It helps to find a Scripture to meditate on during your Lenten practice.  Several suggestions follow:

Verses for Reflection:

2 Cor. 10:3-5  Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.

Phil 4:8  Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

2 Tim. 3:14-17  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

Matthew 4:2-4  He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

1 Thess. 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Prayerfully begin now to reflect on what God would have you do . . . and who He would have you “be” . . . for your Lenten sacrifice to Him this season.

[Lent this year begins on Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020 and ends with Easter Sunday on April 12, 2020.]


shirleyShirley Giles Davis is a coach, consultant, and facilitator specializing in resilience, communication, conflict, transitions/change, leadership, strategic planning, personal style, resource-management, purpose, performance management, sabbath, caregiving, gifts/passion, and Enneagram debriefing.

Shirley is also author of the God. Gifts. You.: Your Unique Calling and Design six-week workbook and the Your Unique Design Class Guide.  She has been Director of Equip-Connect-Serve Ministries at a church of 1,200 in Boulder, Colorado since 1999, connecting people with opportunities to serve and places of learning and fellowship.  Shirley and her husband, a university professor, have been married since 1982. Contact Shirley.

 

Time for a Coach?

by Guest Blogger, Jenny Karr

When I was 13 years old, I was involved in an accident that left me with some structural issues and chronic pain.

Several years later a doctor told me if I could work on strengthening the muscles around my back, core, and joints, it would provide some relief from the pain I was experiencing. In an attempt to do so, I actually ended up making things worse. I didn’t understand my limitations and in fear of making things even worse, I just stopped trying altogether.

Coaching Business Succes Cloud ConceptGod recently opened a door for me to try again, but this time I’m working with experienced and knowledgeable coaches who are giving advice specific to me, my body, and my goals.

This reminded me of how often I hear of my friends and colleagues who are coaches talk about the importance of having their own coach. Not only does it help you stay focused and intentional in your own life, but if you are a coach, then it’s helping you experience coaching skills that you can incorporate into your own coaching! One friend said, “When I started my first business I didn’t have anyone mentoring me. Now that I’m starting my 12th business, I have two coaches!”

She went on to share that when you look at people who are professionals and masters in their field, you will often learn of a mentor, coach, or trainer who has been supporting or guiding them along the way. They understand that to be successful, they need to receive the wisdom of others—not just general wisdom, but wisdom that uncovers where they are now and where they want to go and and guides them on how to bridge the gap for their specific situation.

When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, ‘What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?”
Exodus 18:14–15

Who is speaking into your specific situation? What areas are you trying to go it alone? If you don’t have an answer, it might be time to get a coach!

Note: Original article was written for CCNI’s President Message at ChristianCoaches.com . Visit their website to learn how to find a coach . . . or how to become a coach.


About Guest Blogger, Jenny Karr

Jenny-Karr
Jenny Karr

Jenny Karr has been at Tailored Fundraising since 2013 and is now the Coaching Manager and Executive Coach. With a passion to train, equip, and support people in ministry, she has worked with hundreds of Christian missionaries and leaders on healthy and effective ways of building a partnership team.

Outside of Tailored, she is the 2019 President of Christian Coaches Network International, providing education, resources, and community to Christians seeking to grow or strengthen their coaching skills.
In Jenny’s personal life you’ll find her spending quality time with her husband and teenage daughter in and around their home in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

Why Did God Invent the Church?

by Guest Blogger David Wentz

Why did God invent the church? Scholars have advanced various ideas. My own thinking goes back to the very beginning, and it builds on the way Jesus most often referred to God: as Father.

I have sometimes considered developing what I call a “theology of fun,” based on the idea that God created the universe just for the fun of it. Certainly nobody could force God to create! But I think there must be more to it.

Let’s start at the beginning. Not Genesis 1:1, In the beginning God created. . . .  I want to get behind that, to why God created. To do that we have to look at God himself.

How many ways can you think of that God is described in the Bible? God is great, God is just, God is holy, God is good, God is merciful. God is our refuge and strength and salvation. God is a spirit and a consuming fire. All these are descriptions of God. But one verse is not a description, it’s an equation. 1 John 4:8 says, God is love. Love is God’s essence. It’s who God is.

What is the greatest characteristic of love? Love wants to share. It’s a relationship. Love must be shared, or it isn’t love.

Since eternity, God has shared love in the Trinity. One of the most basic understandings of Christianity is that there is only one God, but this one God exists in three persons: God the Father, God the Son (who came to earth as Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. Without this community of divine persons to share love, God could not be love.

God, who is love, has been sharing love since eternity. But God’s love is not only eternal, it’s infinite. It’s overflowing.  God’s love wanted to overflow the Trinity.

What provides the greatest opportunity for an ongoing expression of love? A family – different personalities living together, adapting to each other, adjusting to each other, caring for each other, putting each other first. A family creates infinite possibilities for love. So God decided to create a family to share his love, with God and with each other.

God could have created us so that we had no choice but to love him, but that wouldn’t be real love. God could force us to act like we love him, but that wouldn’t be real love. Love is only real if it is freely given. God wanted to share real love. So God gave us free will.

Unfortunately, our free will doesn’t just give us the opportunity to freely love God. It gives us the opportunity to cause a lot of trouble as well. We see this in the very first human beings God created.

Adam and Eve shared love with God for a time. Genesis 3 implies that God used to enjoy walking with them in the Garden of Eden. But one day they exercised their free will to disobey God, and that time of innocent family fellowship was broken.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”  – Genesis 3:8-9

God experienced the heartbreak of a father whose children turn against him and get lost in the world. Adam and Eve’s disobedience broke up God’s family. The whole rest of the Bible records God’s plan throughout history to bring his children back.

For a while God tried to relate to the whole growing human race, but they turned from God and became so wicked that God had to destroy them all in Noah’s flood (Genesis 6-8). He tried again with Noah’s descendants, but instead of trusting God, they built a tower and put their trust in it. They were unified, but not in God. To keep it from happening again, God confused their language, and the human race scattered across the earth (Genesis 11).

So God changed strategies. He decided to relate in a special way to one group of people, who would get to know and love him. Then they could invite the rest of the world into God’s family. God chose the children of Abraham, the nation-family known as the Hebrews, Israel, or the Jews.

King Solomon understood. He prayed at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem that all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do (2 Chronicles 6:33).

God’s desire has always been to live among his people. When Israel wandered in the wilderness, God told Moses, Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them (Exodus 25:8).

When the Hebrews conquered the Promised Land and started living in houses, God approved David’s plan to build a house where God could live. It was called the Temple, and God filled it with his presence (2 Chronicles 6:1). For the next thousand years, a series of temples in Jerusalem were the focus of God living among his people.

Unfortunately, somewhere between Solomon and Jesus the Hebrews lost their understanding of what it meant to be God’s chosen people. They forgot God chose them as messengers to invite the whole world into his family. Instead, they began to believe God chose them to be the only members of his family. Instead of welcoming other nations, they scorned them.

So God started again, with Jesus. But this time membership in the family wasn’t by genes but by choice. The Bible says, Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children (Romans 9:8). “The children of the promise” are the church.

The church – all people, of Jewish or non-Jewish descent, who put their faith in Jesus – is now the family of God. And our loving Father has commanded us to bring as many people into the family as will accept the invitation. When we do that, we become the fulfillment of God’s desire to live among his people. Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16).  Where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them (Matthew 18:20).

God so longs to live among his people that when we die, God takes us to live with him until the end of time. And at the end of time, when everything is put the way God wants it, where will God live? With his people.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.” –  Revelation 21:3

God is not looking for a place to live in. He has that in heaven. God is longing for a group of people to live with. God’s plan in creating human beings was that we would be his family. Fulfilling that plan is what the church is all about.

Like any father, God desires a home where he can rest and be himself. Like any father, God desires to raise up children who will be like him. And because God is the ultimate and infinite Father, God desires for his children to bring other people to become part of God’s family – ideally, every other person in the world!

These three desires of God show us the three purposes of the church.

First, the church exists to create a loving family home where God can rest and be himself. Arise, O Lord God, and enter your resting place (2 Chronicles 6:41). The way we do this is traditionally called worship.

Second, the church exists to raise God’s children to be like their heavenly father. Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children (Ephesians 5:1). The way we do this is traditionally called discipleship.

Third, the church exists to equip God’s children to bring other people into God’s family. Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). The way we do this is traditionally called evangelism.

Everything we do as a local church – in fact, everything we do as Christians – should contribute to fulfilling one or more of these three purposes. How does your church stack up? Top of Form

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The above is taken from the first chapter of Pastoring: The Nuts and Bolts, by David Wentz. A comprehensive, theologically and culturally neutral compendium of practical options and best practices for being a pastor and leading a church, Pastoring is being used in pastor training courses in Africa and Asia as well as the US. It is available in print or e-book at www.books2read.com/pastoring. Scripture verses are from the New Living Translation.

 

 


About guest blogger David Wentz: 

Serving as a pastor since 1981 has honed David’s passion for helping people connect with God and make a difference.

Add a varied church background, a first career in engineering, and graduate degrees from three very different seminaries (charismatic, mainstream and Wesleyan-evangelical) and you can see why he expresses God’s truth in ways everyone can appreciate.

Raised in the Episcopal church, David has also been part of Nazarene, Pentecostal Holiness, and non-denominational congregations. As a United Methodist pastor he has served small, large, and multi-cultural churches in rural, small town, suburban and urban settings. David served as a regional church consultant in the Maryland – D.C. area and has led workshops for pastors in Turkey. In 2015 he retired to the rural Ozarks, where he writes, works in God’s great outdoors, and continues to pastor part-time.

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In 1974, David married his college sweetheart, Paula. They have five children, all with wonderful spouses, and fourteen grandchildren.

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David earned a B.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia; two Masters of Divinity, one from Melodyland School of Theology and one from Wesley Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Ministry in Christian Leadership from Asbury Theological Seminary.

In his spare time David enjoys playing sax and flute in jazz and blues jams (though those are hard to come by in bluegrass country), and writing worship music with his guitar.

His heroes are John Wesley, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (And for you old baseball fans, Brooks Robinson.)


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When FAITH Becomes Simply FIRE Insurance

by guest blogger Doris Homan

As believers, we make a choice to follow God whole-heartedly . . . or a little. This is not a judgment but a sad reality. Some choose to believe and then live according to God’s way, while others also choose to believe but then live their own way. This breaks the heart of God.

“I, the LORD, am your God who brought you up from the land of Egypt, Open your mouth wide and I will fill it. But My people did not listen to My voice; And Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart. To walk in their own devices. Oh that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways. I would quickly subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their adversaries. . . . But I would feed you with the finest of the wheat; and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Ps 81:10-14, 16 NKJV

Like Israel, some will not listen or obey God but choose their own way. Yes, they believe and have accepted Christ as Savior,  but they have not made Him LORD of their life; instead, they choose to live as they wish. How much He wants to lead them, bless and deliver them, fight their battles and give them victory. He desires to give them His finest and satisfy their souls with amazing ways. YET to those who rebel by choosing their own way, He gives them over to their own devices. He says in essence, “You want your way? Fine, that’s what you will have” and stays the hand of God on their behalf.

God will not force anyone; we have a free will and can choose to rebel and disobey, to  live as we please. But how we miss God’s BEST, God’s BLESSINGS, His DELIVERANCE and His VICTORIES (see Psalm 81:12).

WHAT IS OUR END WHEN WE GO OUR OWN WAY AND REJECT GOD’S?  (See 1 Cor 3:10-15) Our faith gets us into heaven (fire insurance), yet where is the life lived in victory? Where is the reward of pleasing God and one day hearing “well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:21)? Where are the rewards given for right living? “Our works will be judged by fire” if they were “wood, hay and stubble” (worthless) . . . nothing will be left (1 Cor 3:12). “If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved” (1 Cor 3:15).

Hear the tender heart of God and “let there be no strange god among you”; don’t choose anything else, like pleasures and distractions of this world, as your god. Return to Him. Stop living as the world does and begin to live God’s way. Distinguish yourself as different, as His.


doris-homan_1About guest blogger Doris Homan

Doris has a passion for discipleship. She is a Bible teacher, speaker, blogger and author of The Christian Journey, Parts I & II. Doris’ mission is to help Christians know the Word and apply it so they are better able to navigate both the calm waters and the storms of life. She is on the leadership team of Reasons for Hope*Jesus and Greater Impact Ministries, in the capacity of ecourse mentoring, content development, editing, and distribution. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, she and her husband John now reside in Florida.
Myjoyandcrown.com and  facebook.com/theChristianJourney2017

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