jump to navigation

Is Thanksgiving All About Receiving? November 27, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

In millions of homes throughout America families and friends join to together to celebrate a cherished holiday, Thanksgiving.  In countless homes people go through various types of rituals and traditions including taking time to share what they’re thankful for.  If we listen to those often hastily prepared statements we’ll find the vast majority of them refer to what’s been received.

“I’m thankful for my family.”  “I’m thankful for health.”  “I’m thankful for peace, prosperity, safety, security, a home, a car, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, etc.”

It’s good to give thanks for all we’ve receive.  It’s even better to give thanks for the Giver and to recognize that it’s all a gift.

The greatest gift of all is Jesus.  God gave Him to us as our Savior.  It’s through His stripes we’re healed.  It’s through Him making Himself poor that we became rich.  And it’s through the indwelling Spirit of God that we have access into the wisdom of the ages.  And that wisdom teaches us that it’s better to give than receive.

So this Thanksgiving as we share what we’re thankful for perhaps we should be thankful for all the opportunities we have to give.  The Word of God tells us plainly, “If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it, but if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms.”  In another place it says, “Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way.”

All around us a world in need of God stumbles through the inky void of uncertainty not knowing why bad things happen to good people, why the evil seem to triumph over the good, or where they’re going when they die.  And we have the answer.  His name is Jesus.

So how do we share what isn’t just good news but the best news ever with the lost and broken around us?

It isn’t by trying to shove a Bible down their throat.  It isn’t by beating them up with doctrines they don’t know repeated in religious speak.  It isn’t by trying to scare them to death with stories of what will happen when they die.  When we use these time-tested mistakes while trying to share the most beautiful truth in the world, that Jesus came to bring us life, our success rate is perfectly expressed by my favorite band, Casting Crowns, “Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see.  The world is on their way to You, but they’re tripping over me.”

It’s not about who we are it’s about who He is.  It isn’t about what we’ve done it’s about what He did.  And it isn’t about what we get it’s about what we give.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!  May the Lord bless you and keep you may He make His face shine upon you.  As we gather with our loved ones on a day set aside for giving thanks instead of offering a litany of what we’ve received let’s give thanks for opportunities to give.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

How Than Shall We Pray November 19, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

One of my favorite sayings is, “Why worry when you can pray.”  I know that the Bible says, “Don’t worry,” more times than it says, “Don’t steal,” and we all know what stealing is.

Prayer is how we talk with God.  Notice I said talk “with” not talk “to.”  We come to God in prayer bringing our praise, our thanksgiving, and our needs.  And it should also be a time when we listen.  It’s supposed to be a two way conversation.  And since God knows everything and we don’t perhaps listening should be a bigger part of the process than most of us make it?

How than shall we pray?

This is a question Christians have been asking since Jesus walked among us.  And God’s Word doesn’t leave us to stand around scratching our head.  It gives us some clear-cut straight forward teaching.  Matthew (in The Message) puts it like this, “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.”  In The New King James we’re told, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

In other words there is no magic formula.  There is no surefire incantation we’re supposed to memorize and repeat like a mantra.  Instead we’re supposed to talk with God on a one-to-one personal basis and everyone’s personality and circumstances are unique.  Which brings us right back to the age-old question; How than shall we pray?

After telling us what prayer should not be Jesus told us what it should be.  The Message puts it this way, “With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:” and the New King James once again references the way heathens pray telling us, “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.  In this manner, therefore, pray:”

Notice one version tells us “Like this:” and another says, “In this manner, therefore, pray:”

Neither one tells us, “Repeat these words.”  One says “Like this,” or in this way.  And the other says, “In this manner.”  The clear meaning of this when interpreted through the admonition found in the immediately preceding passage whether the “Don’t fall for that nonsense” of The Message or the “do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do” of The New King James is that turning what follows next into a formula or a mantra is the exact opposite of what Jesus was trying to teach us about prayer.

What follows these warnings about praying repetitiously like a religious robot or a magician’s apprentice is Jesus’ teaching about how to pray not necessarily about what to pray or as it has come down to us through religious tradition, the “Lord’s Prayer.”

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

This is a model that we can analyze.  Using this analysis we can try to understand its components.  We can accept these as necessary components of prayer.

Some say that the so-called Lord’s Prayer is the meaning of the 23rd Psalm embodied within a prayer.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the till waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

There are many ways to break down the Lord’s Prayer into its essential components.  Here’s one way:

  1. A personal relationship with God— “Our Father”

 

  1. Faith                                “in heaven”

 

  1. Worship—                          “hallowed be Your name”

 

  1. Expectation—                    “Your kingdom come”

 

  1. Submission—                     “Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”

 

  1. Petition—                            “give us this day our daily bread”

 

  1. Confession—                      “and forgive us our debts”

 

  1. Compassion—                    “as we forgive our debtors”

 

  1. Dependence—                    “and lead us not into temptation, but                                             deliver us from evil”

 

  1. Acknowledgment—          “for Yours is the kingdom, and the power,                                       and the glory forever

Seeing this as a model Jesus gave us when teaching us how to pray it makes sense to see complete prayers as having these components.  However, taking the message of His teaching in the same passage of scripture to heart tells us that the idea of memorizing or repeating endlessly the same words like a mantra is the opposite of what He intended.

It’s good to remember that the shortest prayer in the Bible, “Lord, save me!” was answered immediately.  So we can see it isn’t the length or a certain sequence of words that brings an answer.

So, How than shall we pray?

We should pray from the heart with pure intentions seeking intimacy with Him not merely fulfilling an obligation or checking a box on some spiritual scorecard.  If we seek Him we’ll find Him.  If we draw near to Him He’ll draw near to us.  The most important aspect of our prayer is not what we want it’s who we want.  If we seek Him and His kingdom He assures us that all we’ll ever need is there when we need it.  He’s an on-time God.

So when we pray let’s not use vain repetitions as the heathen do.  For they think they’ll be heard for their many words instead let’s just talk with Daddy openly, intimately, and often.  And let’s give Him the space to speak to us.  We’ll do well to apply the wisdom of God not only to our conversations with others but also to our conversations with Him, let’s be swift to hear and slow to speak.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

Quit Looking at the Wind November 5, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

The talents we have are God’s gifts to us.  What we do with those talents is our gift to God.  Paul told us, “Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it.”

As believers we don’t just know about God.  We not only personally know the Master of the universe.  He’s in us.  We’re wall-to-wall Jesus filled with His Spirit.  And it’s that dynamic union that makes us who we are.  Like the energizer bunny we’re filled with power but ours doesn’t come from the copper top it comes from the Creator of everything.  What we do we do in and through Him and without Him we can do nothing.  If we attempt to build our lives without Him we’re building castles in the sand instead of a fortress on the rock.

John told us, “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.  I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”

How do we test our lives?  How do we know whether or not we’re allowing God to work in and through us?  Are we allowing Him to guide us?  Or are we insisting on being the piolet instead of the co-pilot on our brief flight through this world?  We can easily test this by asking, “How fruitful am I?”  If we’re producing fruit we’re united with Christ.  If not what are we doing?

Are we waiting until the time is right?  Are we waiting until we’re fully prepared?  Are we waiting until we have all the provisions we need to face any eventuality?

The time is always right.  God is always ready to act, to be, to do because He is the great “I am” not the will-o-the-wisp “I’m going to be.”

We don’t need to worry about being fast enough, strong enough, or smart enough because God delights in using the ordinary to do the extraordinary.  He took a bunch of nobodies from a backwater and turned the world upside down.  Or as my favorite band Casting Crowns puts it, “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who saved my soul.”

Our God hasn’t changed.  He still delights in using the weak to confound the strong.  Just look at the history of faith.  You don’t have to look very deep, Jacob, Joseph, David, Paul to see the obvious God deliberately “chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these nobodies to expose the hollow pretensions of the somebodies.”

Therefore being a weak and foolish nobody isn’t a disqualification.  In fact it might be why He chose us to do what He’s called us to do.  What has He called us to do?  Maybe we should ask Him?  And then allow Him the space and the time to tell us.  In prayer as in life we need to listen more than we need to speak or as James put it, “let every man be swift to hear and slow to speak.”  If we listen to Him and let Him lead us we can be assured He will show us where we should go and what we should do.

Often when I say to people, “The Lord told me to do so this or that, to go here or to stay there” they look at me as if I have two heads.  Many have looked at me that way and said, “Do you mean God talks to you?”  In such cases I always look at them the same way and ask, “Do you mean God doesn’t talk to you?”

God is always there.  He’s always guiding us.  If we don’t hear Him the odds are we aren’t listening.

Are we waiting until we have all the resources?  Do we think we need to wait until we have enough money?  Do we think we need to wait until we have enough time, or skill, or opportunity?  I can tell you when all that will occur, never.

When God called Moses from the burning bush and told him he was going to go to Pharaoh and lead the chosen people to freedom Moses protested saying he wasn’t strong enough, smart enough, and that he didn’t have a silver tongue.  Did all that fear dressed up as humility impress God?  No it made God angry. So let’s do our best not to make God angry.  Let’s leave the objections that we aren’t the ones He called to do what He has told us to do and come to the realization that where God guides God provides.  If He calls us to walk upon the water we can walk upon the water.  Let’s quit looking at the wind and the waves and step out of the boat.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

By Grace You Have Been Saved October 22, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

When I think of my neighbor I pray for justice.  When I think of myself I pray for grace.

Grace is defined as the love and mercy given to us by God because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we’ve done to earn it.  We all need grace to be saved from the greatest sinner to the greatest saint.  Quoting the Old Testament Paul put it this way, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.”

Extending grace, mercy, and the forgiveness it demands isn’t just a good idea.  It’s what God requires of us.  Remember we reap what we sow.  If we sow to our flesh of the flesh we’ll reap corruption.  But if we sow to the Spirit of the Spirit we’ll reap everlasting life.  Refusing to forgive is of the flesh.  Forgiveness is of the Spirit.  And we get to choose which one we’ll do.

We’re called to walk as pilgrims in this world remembering that as born-again children of God this is not our home.  We have a home in Heaven with God in Christ Jesus.  Trying to live this out day-by-day soon teaches us that it’s easier said than done prompting us to ask, “How then shall I live?”

One quick answer is we should forgive others as God in Christ Jesus forgave us.  This is nothing more or less than a natural outworking of Christ’s command that we love others as we love ourselves.  Of course loving others so completely isn’t always easy.  So often other people do things we wouldn’t do or things we think others shouldn’t do.  Not that we should turn a blind eye to sin but we should certainly open both eyes to the idea that there’re many ways to please God and He’s well able to lead each of us into the best way for us to do it.

It all comes down to love.  We need to ask ourselves, “How does God love us?”  Did He wait until we were perfect?  Did He wait until we quit making mistakes?  Did He wait until we were sin free?

If we won’t forgive others we aren’t dealing with them from love.  Instead we’re judging them.  Jesus is the judge and we should leave that job to him since we never get it right anyway.  It’s easy to say we love God.  But how can we say that we love God when we won’t love our brother?  How can we love our God who we can’t see when we don’t love our brothers who we can see?

If we’re really filled and motivated by God’s Spirit we’ll have His nature.  We’ll reflect Him much as a mirror reflects our own image.  We can reflect that nature not just in our personal circle of friends but also into the wider world.  Imagine how much greater the leadership of our nation, our organizations, and our churches would be if instead of constantly criticizing those whose thoughts and beliefs differ from ours instead we devoted that time and energy to praying for them?  If we as the born-again Church of Christ turned our criticism into intercession we would see the most effective changes possible shining like a bright light after a dark night.

It comes down to this: by grace we have been saved so we should extend grace to those around us.  To love as we have been loved.  And to forgive as we have been forgiven.  We are one in Him so let’s go forth and be one with each other.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

Can Anyone Say Amen? October 2, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

Staring at the carnival mirrors of this life we squint through a swirling mist at the constantly shifting mirage of a fallen world.  Things are not as they seem.  Good is so often trampled underfoot while evil triumphs.  The innocent are sacrificed as the guilty ride roughshod over justice.  Walking in the ways of the flesh is stumbling through a maze all alone.  Social Darwinism runs amuck.  Survival of the fittest is the order of the day as the weak, the poor, and the defenseless are shoved out of the way for the next conqueror as they elbow their way to the fleeting throne that will eventually become their funeral pyre.  Allowing our flesh to rule and guide us is walking with our eyes closed in the dark and following the lie that we can be like God creating our own realities through our selfish choices. 

There is a better way.  Walking with God is walking in the light reaching out for His revelation in His Word which is truth.   

As we mature by meditating on the Word of God the things of this world grow strangely dim.  Suddenly a light shines through the darkness and the spiritual world which is invisible to the natural man comes into focus.  Paul put it best in his first letter to the Corinthians, “The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah’s question, ‘Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?’ has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit.” 

Look at it this way if tomorrow morning when we opened our eyes we saw Jesus standing right there beside our bed physically manifested before us do you think we might have a different kind of morning than normal?  Now imagine if He were to walk next to us all day.  Everywhere we went He went.  Do you think an experience like that might change the way we saw things? 

The Lord is with us every day wherever we are and wherever we go because He prayed that the Father would send us the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of God.  And we know the Father always hears and answers the prayers of His Son Jesus.  Here’s what Jesus said about this, “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”  He lives within in us.  This is the fact of a born-again life.  But do we really live this way?  Or do we let the mundane sameness of this life gradually gloss over the sparkling joy of our first love?  If we will open our spiritual eyes we’ll see through the filthy fog of this world and see Jesus in all the power of His resurrection with us every step of the way. 

I’m not saying this’ll instantly convert a vale of tears into a bed of roses.  Jesus told us we shouldn’t expect any better treatment than He received at the hands of man, and they crucified Him.  Look at Stephen the first martyr.  He preached the good news that man can be reconciled with God by confessing Jesus as the Lord and leader of our life and by believing that God raised Him from the dead.  This upset the applecart for all the religious leaders who made their living and maintained their power by confining people within the straightjacket of religion filled with rituals and symbols but lacking in a personal relationship with God. 

These wolves in sheep’s clothing couldn’t meet Stephen in open debate.  They couldn’t contend with the power of God that was so obvious in his preaching.  So they manufactured lies and spread false rumors.  They stirred up a crowd and then aimed the violence of the mob directly at this man of God.  But even while they stoned him he had his eyes on Jesus and while the last breaths were crushed from his tortured lungs he cried, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 

We too can live our lives walking, breathing, and speaking in the presence of the Son of Man, Jesus the Christ and there’s nothing the world can do about it.  No one can snatch us out of God’s hand.  To paraphrase one old song Jesus gave it to us and the world can’t take it away.   So abandon the snipe hunt of seeking peace or fulfillment through walking in the flesh and embrace the reality of walking in the Spirit.  Heed the words of the Master, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” 

Here’s a prayer I’d like to share, “Father let me see with Your eyes, hear with Your ears, speak with Your words, love with Your heart, and touch with Your hands.  Reach through me to those in need.  Let the fire of Your love burn so bright in me that when others look in my direction You are all they see.” 

Can anyone say, “Amen?” 

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens 

 

 

 

Loose Him and Let Him Go September 17, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

There’s a story in the Bible about Jesus raising a man from the dead.  The man’s name was Lazarus and he was one of Jesus’ good friends.  When the moment came for the great miracle Jesus stood before the open tomb and, “cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’   And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”  

We who believe the Bible is God’s Word accept this as a true story of actual events.  It can also be seen as an illustration of what happens when we step out of the smothering embrace of the religious systems humans create to reach God and thus accept what God has done to reach us.  When we reject the bewildering straightjacket of rules and regulations humans inevitably devise, and accept that Jesus paid the price, finished the work and welcomes us home He stands at the tomb of our self-help religion and says, “Loose him, and let him go.” 

Once we’ve confessed with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believed in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead we’re made right with God.  And though Jesus has ascended to heaven He didn’t leave us alone.  Just before He left He said, “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!”  Embracing that and allowing the Spirit of Truth to guide us is the ideal for those who follow Christ. 

Christ’s final command was to take this light to the world.  Instead we built thousands of competing lamps betraying the unity of the Gospel and confusing unbelievers with our multiplicity of slightly different presentations.  But then again it’s easier to make rules than it is to be sensitive to the Spirit of God.  Laws and regulations can appear to bring order out of chaos relieving the pressure of walking by faith in a faithless world.  But these endless rules cannot change us from the inside out.  To paraphrase Ben Franklin: if we seek order and security from religion we’ll never find either one of them. 

When following rules defines the state of our spiritual life we walk in constant fear of crossing the lines, of veering off even if it’s by mistake into the deception of sin.  This fear of deception won’t keep us from deception.  It’ll lead us into it.  We’re called to walk in faith not in fear.  So if we’re walking in fear we’ve already fallen for deception.  The Bible tells us that the only way we can avoid falling for deception is to embrace the Spirit of Truth.    

Think about it. When we open the blinds at night does darkness come rushing in?  No. When we throw open the blinds light rushes out into the darkness.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can’t overcome it.  If we’ll immerse ourselves in what God is calling us to, the unearned grace that flows from the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, we’ll find the order and security we long for. 

Following God which is walking forward in the light can at first feel like walking backwards in the dark because we’re surrounded by and have been raised in a world that’s in revolt against its creator.  We must dedicate ourselves to following the voice of the Spirit of Truth who lives within us.  It’s vitally important that we learn to recognize His voice so we can recognize it out of all the voices in the world.  When the whole of creation is shaking He’s the rock solid foundation giving us the security of our salvation. 

Does this mean we should abandon all restraint and follow the voice in our head?  First we must know whose voice we’re following, than we must acknowledge that God wrote us a book to explain it all from beginning to end.  His voice will never contradict His Word and His Word shows us exactly how to live moment-by-moment.   

Paul put it this way, “It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.”  

Because we live in a fallen and evil world some laws and regulations must be imposed to maintain people’s safety to provide external order.  However, rules and regulations must never be imposed to bring about spiritual purposes because only the Spirit can birth spirit. 

The Bible is the operator’s manual for life on earth.  In it God has shared with us the greatest wisdom and the deepest insights.  In it we receive not only the instructions on how to live in this world but also how to be born-again as a glorious Spirit-birthed child of God. It’s not possible to put a price on God’s gift of His revelation.  But even the Bible can be used to weave a web of soul-strangling regulations keeping us imprisoned in the law. 

We must always remember the Bible was given to us to lead us to Christ not to take His place.  The tyranny of the law seeks to confine us in a prison of our own making.  But Christ stands at the door to our cell and says, “Loose him, and let him go.” 

One last thing: Having a Bible we can understand really helps us to understand the Bible.  In the New Testament where Christ quotes the Old Testament He quotes from the Septuagint, a translation in the common language of the day and not from the traditional Hebrew texts.  The New Testament itself was written in the Koine dialect of Greek.  This was the supra-regional form of Greek spoken and written by the people.  I’m not trying to share a lecture on biblical languages.  What I’m getting at is that Jesus and the Apostles used the language of the day so that everyone could understand what they were saying.  They didn’t use the fifty cent words and nuanced meanings of the intellectuals or the technical jargon of theologians.  They didn’t use a language that was no longer spoken or a dialect that was from another era.

Today there are many translations that render the Bible in the language we use every day at work, at the market, and at home without all the thees and thous which no longer form a part of our daily speech.  I’m not saying don’t use a Bible with those words if that’s what suits you I’m just saying use a Bible you can easily understand.  Personally my favorite is the Message but there are plenty of others.  Find the one you’re comfortable with and let it speak the Words of God into your spirit and breathe the Spirit of God into your life.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens 

 

There’s Power in the Blood September 4, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Long before I was born-again into the reality of my life in Christ someone once told me they could never become a Christian because it was a butcher’s block religion based on a human sacrifice and drenched in blood.  At the time I was in the seeker phase on my way to becoming an atheist and this sounded about right.  I knew from my parental enforced childhood study of Christianity at a Sunday school and catechism class they used for weekend childcare that Christians referred to Christ’s death on the cross as a sacrifice: they believed they were drinking His blood during communion, and they sang songs like, “There’s Power in the Blood.”

Now that I live each day seeking to be used of God in and through Jesus Christ, I’ve come to realize there’s some basic truth to this butcher’s block talk minus the negative spin.  Blood is an important part of Christianity.  And there is power in the blood of Jesus.

When He was instructing Moses in the revelation of the Jewish shadow of things to come God put it this way, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”  In the New Testament the writer of Hebrews explains it this way, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”

When Adam chose to follow his wife into disobedience instead of rebuking the Devil and throwing him out of the Garden God’s warning to them concerning the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die” came to pass.  True, Adam lived another 930 years physically but he died spiritually the moment he disobeyed God.  Then everyone descended from Adam was born after his likeness with a spirit alienated from God and in bondage to the Devil.

God could have waved His hand and made everything as it was but that would not be just and God is a just God.  He created Adam as the overseer of His creation and only subject to Himself.  Man chose to listen to the Devil and follow him instead.  In other words, God gave the title-deed to creation to man and man gave it to the Devil.

Just imagine if I bought a new car and gave it to you.  It is now your car.  I bought it for you.  I wanted you to have it and enjoy it.  But then you decide to give it to someone else.  You sign the title over to them.  Now who owns the car?  I bought the car for you.  I wanted you to have it.  But now that you’ve given it to someone else it’s legally their car.  If I was to take it back and once again give it to you, would that be fair?  Would that be just?

That’s the situation God faced after our betrayal.  For the sake of justice a price had to be paid for man’s sin of disobedience.  That price is what God foreshadowed through the sacrifice of a lamb without blemish.  A spotless sacrifice whose blood when applied to the door posts of the Israelite homes caused the angel of death to Passover.

When John the Baptist looked at Jesus and said, “Behold the lamb that takes away the sins of the world” he announced to the world that the final sacrifice had begun.  The old plan for covering sins was passing away and a new plan was beginning.  The writer of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament was speaking to the Jews trying to explain to them how the sacrifice of Jesus did away with their millennia old tradition of animal sacrifices.  This explanation as presented in The Message covers the ground very well:

But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.

Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant was put into action at Jesus’ death. His death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins, and summoning the heirs to receive the eternal inheritance that was promised them. He brought together God and his people in this new way.

Even the first plan required a death to set it in motion. After Moses had read out all the terms of the plan of the law—God’s “will”—he took the blood of sacrificed animals and, in a solemn ritual, sprinkled the document and the people who were its beneficiaries. And then he attested its validity with the words, “This is the blood of the covenant commanded by God.” He did the same thing with the place of worship and its furniture. Moses said to the people, “This is the blood of the covenant God has established with you.” Practically everything in a will hinges on a death. That’s why blood, the evidence of death, is used so much in our tradition, especially regarding forgiveness of sins.

That accounts for the prominence of blood and death in all these secondary practices that point to the realities of heaven. It also accounts for why, when the real thing takes place, these animal sacrifices aren’t needed anymore, having served their purpose. For Christ didn’t enter the earthly version of the Holy Place; he entered the Place Itself, and offered himself to God as the sacrifice for our sins. He doesn’t do this every year as the high priests did under the old plan with blood that was not their own; if that had been the case, he would have to sacrifice himself repeatedly throughout the course of history. But instead he sacrificed himself once and for all, summing up all the other sacrifices in this sacrifice of himself, the final solution of sin.

Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ’s death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation.

Because of that sacrifice we can now pick up the keys, the car is ours again.  Jesus paid the price and purchased it back for us.  Paul said it clearly in the New Testament book of Romans, “This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God ‘Jesus is my Master’ embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not ‘doing’ anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: God has set everything right between him and me!’”

The best advice I can give is: devour God’s Word and let it lead you into all truth.  So if anyone ever says to you, “I could never become a Christian because it’s a butcher’s block religion based on a human sacrifice and drenched in blood” you can answer them confidently, “That’s exactly why I had to become a Christian because you see, there’s power in the blood.”

An old song has it nailed:

There is power, power, wonder-working power

In the blood of the Lamb;

There is power, power, wonder-working power

In the precious blood of the Lamb.

Sing it.  Say it.  Believe it.  Live it. And watch that power give you the life God designed for you.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

 

Shadows Dancing On A Wall August 20, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

The idea that everything came out of nothing is an assault upon reason.  Since creation is often presented this way as a straw-man argument by the opponents of faith, many thinking people fall for this siren song of secularism.   

But that isn’t what the Bible presents.  In the beginning, in Genesis we’re told that God called all things in this physical reality into being out of nothing physical.  This reality did not exist before God willed it to be here.  God said, “Let there be,” and there is.   

But this doesn’t mean that everything came out of nothing. In the letter to the Hebrews Paul put it this way, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”   It was God’s word and His faith in His word that created everything.  And it’s God’s faith that sustains all that we see. 

Ponder for a moment the incredibly complex relationship between the physical reality and our perception of it.  The computer screen you’re reading this article on is made up of more empty space than matter.  As is the table or desk it’s sitting on.  As are you and I.  From the dark matter and dark energy that scientists theorize makes up the vast majority of the Space-time continuum to the sub-atomic world which goes as far in as the stellar expanse goes out this physical reality is actually tiny bits of matter held together by invisible forces.   

Accepting ourselves as the center of the universe because that’s the only point of observation each of us has we look at our macro view of the micro world and see solid things and we accept that this is the totality of reality.  However, that’s only how we perceive things.  That’s not what they really are.  All matter is enveloped in emptiness powered by energy and the fabric of creation is sustained by faith. 

Long before modern science revealed the mirage of solid matter or the inability of perception to account for an expanding universe without a preponderance of dark everything, one of the greatest of secular thinkers aptly described the shifting sands upon which our understanding rests. 

In his book The Republic Plato used the allegory of the cave to explain the relationship between perception and reality.  His story goes like this; prisoners are chained in a cave, only able to look forward at the shadows on the wall. The shadows they see are real to them, but in reality the shadows are just the shadows of real objects in the room and shadows of the prisoners themselves being projected on the cave wall from a fire behind them.  The sounds they hear and images they see are real to them, even though they are unaware of the true source.  The allegory of the cave is a theory put forward by Plato, concerning human perception. Plato claimed that knowledge gained through the senses is no more than opinion and that, in order to have real knowledge, we must gain it through philosophical reasoning. 

Thus even those who knew nothing of God could see that what we see is not all there is and that what we do see is more a representation of what it is than what it appears to be.  However, the wisdom of the wise is foolishness to God and the wisdom of God is foolishness to the wise. 

The problem with this thinking past the shadows is that we can’t reason our way to God.  He’s outside the bounds of our reality, the source and summit of that reality and therefore, beyond anything we can think or imagine.  If He didn’t reveal Himself we could no more reason what He’s like than an ant could reason its way to man. 

God used an allegory to teach the Israelites about the death-defeating life-giving nature of the Messiah’s mission.   

Since the days when the Jews were slaves in Egypt the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb has been the symbol and the purchase of redemption.   Originally Moses ordered the Jews to sacrifice the Passover Lamb and then apply the blood to the door posts of their homes.  Seeing the blood of the sacrifice the Angel of Death passed over God’s chosen people.  For more than a thousand years the Jews sacrificed the Passover Lamb every year to cover their sins never knowing this was a shadow of things to come.  

Christ’s ministry was first announced to a fallen world when John the Baptist said, “Behold the lamb that takes away the sins of the world.”  And from that moment on His life brought the true form of reality out of the shadow. 

Following the command of Moses as interpreted by the elders every year each Jewish family chose a lamb and took it into their home to live with the family for five days.  During this time they examined the lamb for blemishes.  Only after it was found to be perfect could it become the Passover Lamb.  Then the lamb was sacrificed and the blood poured out on the altar of God to cover the sins of the people. 

Jesus, the Lamb of God entered Jerusalem on the same day that the lambs entered the homes of the Jews.  For five days He was examined by the Chief Priests, the Scribes, and the Pharisees.  After He was found to be without guilt they were forced to bring in false witnesses.  Than on the fifth day; the Day of Preparation just as the Jews were sacrificing the Passover Lamb the light of revelation pierced the darkness of a fallen world as thousand year old shadows took on flesh and blood for when Christ was nailed to the cross the shadow became real. 

At the time of Christ’s death and resurrection even His Apostles didn’t understand what it was all about.  They scattered and hid fearing they would be the next to go.  It was only after they were filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost that they boldly proclaimed the Gospel.  It was only then that they finally grasped that Jesus came to fulfill the scriptures, to make the shadows real. 

We may ask ourselves, “How did they miss it?”  But just as the proof is in the pudding so faith is in the living.  Do we live consistently in a way that reveals our grasp of God’s revelation?  Or do we judge our acceptance with God by how well we’re doing?  Do we live each day in the full knowledge that we’ve become eternally acceptable to God only by our faith in Christ?  Our ability to walk boldly into our Daddy’s throne room must never be measured by how good we are.  If it is we can never enter.   

People say that hind sight is 20/20.  Yet we all know those who fail to learn the lessons of History are doomed to repeat it, and all around us we watch as History repeats itself over and over.  We who’ve confessed Jesus as Lord and who believe in our heart God raised Him from the dead have the benefit of revelation.  We’re given insight into the shadows which still lie over this vale of tears like a fog.  We can see the forms which to those without Christ are nothing more than shadows dancing on the wall of a cave. 

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens 

 

 

 

 

Lead Me Not Into Temptation August 8, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

This line from the model prayer Jesus taught us something the Apostle James also points out, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God;’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”  Or, as it says in the Message, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, ‘God is trying to trip me up.’ God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust.”

It’s us and only us who choose to sin, to turn our backs on the good and embrace evil.  “Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.”

Just like everyone else who’s wandered this earth since the fall of man I struggle with temptation.  It matters little that I know these struggles come from my own lust.  I still have a battle on my hands.  And just like everyone else I can stand strong against most temptations but I do have those sins which so easily ensnare me in their web of momentary pleasure and future guilt.  These are the things I struggle with.  Anyone who’s honest with themselves will admit they have the same situation.

Recently after a service I had a man asked for counsel about this very thing.  All I could do is all I can ever do; share my witness.

When I’m faced with the temptation to fall into my pet sins, which I face on a daily basis, I admit I’m not strong enough to resist the temptation.  These sins have years, decades even of practice in enticing me to wander from God’s path of obedience.  My own lusts have their spiritual hands on all the right levers to pull me away.  How can I resist?  Who’ll save me from myself?

Christ has come to set us free and when He sets us free we’re free indeed.  I know that’s what the word says.  But how do I get in on all this freedom when I’ve spent so much of my life as a willing slave to these sins?

The first step is to admit my inability to resist the sin.  And to realize that these thorns in my flesh are there to protect me from pride and to shape me into what the Lord intends me to be.  It’s the act of surrender, of admitting my inability to resist that makes a way.  You see when I get to the end of my rope if I give up my struggle and ask Jesus to use His strength to resist the temptation for me I can walk unscathed through the fires of my lust.  When I’m weak then I’m strong because Christ’s strength is perfected in weakness.

We’ll never be tempted by more than we can endure and in every temptation there’s a way of escape.  This is one of the many promises we can hang on to when we face our pet sins across the gulf of temptation.  Think of how the Lord himself resisted temptation in the wilderness.  He used the Word of God to rebuke Satan.

In the same way we need to have the Word of God in us if we want to have the strength to admit our weakness so we can find His strength.

Walking with God can sound and feel like walking backwards to anyone steeped in the wisdom of the world.  For the wisdom of God is foolishness to the wise of this world.  Just as the weakness of a sinner becomes the strength of the saint as hand in hand with the Man who stilled the sea we give it all to Jesus so He can give it back to us.

Those who seek to keep their lives lose them and those who give their lives away keep them for all eternity.

So how do we resist temptation?  We trust Jesus to do it for us since every sin was paid for at the cross.  Accept Him as your Lord and Savior.  Believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead.  And you will be saved.  That isn’t pie in the sky.  That isn’t a hollow promise for the great by-an-by.  That is a constant reality for the here and now.

So when those pesky old sins reach up and try to drag us down remember we aren’t out here all alone.  Once we’ve given ourselves to God in and through Jesus it’s no longer just us facing these struggles it’s Christ within us the hope of Glory.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

 

The Two Witnesses Who Helped Change My Life July 30, 2019

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

If it’s my way or the high way I choose the High Way; God’s way.  You see I tried my way and it led to depression, despair, and loneliness.  The best I could figure out is if this is all there is let’s roll out the barrels and have a party.  My life before Christ was like the meaningless forever party at The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe in Douglas Adam’s iconic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  The band plays on, the people careen through life in a mad dash to nowhere, everyone is laughing, smiling, miserable, and heading toward oblivion. 

In the doomed life without Christ people mistake happiness and laughter for joy, and waste their lives trying to tickle themselves to death. 

So after thirty wasted years sacrificed on an altar of senseless, self-indulgent, self-destructive tickling I chose the High Way.  I chose to make Jesus the Lord of my life because I believe in my heart God has raised Him from the dead.  I came to believe Jesus offered Himself up as a sinless sacrifice to pay the price of not just my sin but of everyone’s sin.  I came to understand that the wall of separation caused by sin between humanity and God was broken down and we can all be united with Him.  I embraced the truth that we can become His children.  We no longer are strangers but members of His family welcome to walk boldly into our Daddy’s throne room. 

Have you ever felt as if there’s no hope?  Don’t be fooled by the god of this world. There is hope.  Have you ever felt like you were too far gone, too wrong to ever be right again?  Don’t be fooled by the confusing systems of laws that litter this world, or by gnawing feelings of guilt.  We can be right with God.   

Christ told us to take His light to the world and in our finite wisdom we constantly attempt to build lamps.  They may provide light but it’s not His light.  The bewildering mazes of religious laws are paths built by men.  The feelings of guilt that inform us we have a consciousness of sin are themselves pinpricks and poundings delivered by God to prod us into the way, His way, the High Way.  They don’t mean we’re lost forever.  It’s just the opposite.  They mean God hasn’t given up on us yet.   

And if God hasn’t given up on us why should we give up on God? 

Happiness can be affected by what we had for dinner last night.  Did it taste good?  Did it sit well or did it give us indigestion?  Happiness can be impacted by whether or not we’re rich or poor, sick or healthy or any combination of things that are here today and gone tomorrow.  Laughter can be a mask to hide the tears. 

But joy is something else again.  Joy is rooted in our relationship with God, and since the world didn’t give it to us the world can’t take it away.  That’s why it’s called the joy that passes all understanding.   

This God given joy is a powerful life changing thing. 

Seeing this joy in action when I was an unbeliever is one of the things that eventually convinced me the Bible was true, salvation was real, and I could have it if I wanted it. 

When I was at the depth of my unbelief, calling myself an atheist and a hater of all things godly I witnessed people live through the birth of a very special child.  One whose physical challenges led to a short life among us but a life having a major impact on at least one life I know of: mine.  His parents loved that child.  They praised God for that child.  They gave all they had to care for that child.  And when that child passed leaving them physically, emotionally, and financially drained they held a celebration to praise God for blessing them in such a great way. 

I can remember thinking they were crazy.  I shook my head and wondered how anyone could be so different from everyone else I’d ever known.  I didn’t know it at the time but I was a witness to people living out the reality of a passage from the book of Job who was the greatest of all the people of the East.   

After Job lost everything; his home, his children, and all his wealth he was struck with painful boils from the sole of his feet to the crown of his head.  While sitting in the midst of the ashes of his life he took a broken piece of pottery to scrape off the scabs his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” which is what the world was screaming at the two followers of Christ with their family disrupted, their finances destroyed, and their child dead.  These born-again believers said with their actions to the world what Job replied to his wife, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.  Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” 

Years later as I reflected upon whether or not it was possible to live for God in a fallen world the memory of those two saints, Judy and Harry, praising God for blessings in the middle of what the fallen world saw as a curse I knew it was possible.  Now after forty years of walking with my hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the sea I know it from personal experience. 

Choose God and accept His gift of salvation not for what we’ve done but because of what Jesus did.  He paid the price for our lifetime membership in the family of God, but we still may have to pay some dues down here.  If we trust in Him when the wind and the waves smash against us we’ll stand like a house built on a rock.  If we choose to give our lives to God in Jesus we get them back again better and brighter than we could ever imagine.  If we instead try to keep our lives for ourselves we lose everything, and when the wind and the waves smash against us we’ll crumble like a house built upon the sand. 

We never know who’s watching.  We never know what someone else may see.  So let’s quit tickling ourselves to death, find the joy of the Lord which is our strength and let the joy, joy, joy of the Lord down in our souls and watch our lives become the witness He’s called us to be. 

Thank you Judy and Harry for being two witnesses who helped change my life.  I praise God for you both, and I love you with the love of the Lord. 

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com   Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens 

 

 

  

 

%d bloggers like this: