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What’s All This “In” Christ Business About?  August 31, 2020

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Religion, Uncategorized.
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Sometimes we born-again believers talk in such a closed-circuit Christianese dialect that baby believers, old line denominational members, let alone your everyday garden variety sinner has no idea what we’re talking about.  We throw around words that carry massive meaning to us but sound like in-crowd jargon to those hearing them from the outside.

Propitiation, justification, and salvation are all words that trip up nonbelievers as they tiptoe around the cross.  Then there are phrases we think say it all that leave those we want to reach scratching their heads and standing off instead of kneeling down.  Phrases such as:  substitutionary death, pleading the blood, I’m born-again, I’m Filled with the Holy Ghost, and here’s one that throws them all, in Christ.

A dictionary will help with the words.  The phrases usually take a little time in fellowship with others to sort out and understand.  I can’t try to explain them all here, but I will try to address one of the most cryptic phrases to the uninitiated, in Christ.

“In Him.”  This is a major theme of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and of the whole New Testament.  It’s a central teaching and a foundational truth.  If for some reason this sounds strange to your ears or is a new concept study to show yourself approved.  We should follow the example of some early believers who upon hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

We can’t allow our development as believers to be the responsibility of anyone else.  Yes, it’s good and advisable to have teachers and mentors; however, we can’t rely on them alone.  In his letter to the Philippians Paul told them to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” and this is advice that we should also take to heart.

This major theme echoes through the New Testament: we are “in” Christ.  Thousands of years after it was first presented to humanity it continues to ricochet through this verse into our spirit.  The born-again believer resonates like a tuning fork to this life-giving message.  The message, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” floods down the corridors of time like an avalanche of hope.

The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ is the living parable of love for all to see.

The birth of Jesus set forth in scripture, is a graphic portrayal of prophecy fulfilled.  The Incarnation is the union of deity and humanity.  It was divine love’s invasion into the realm of human selfishness.  That which had been foretold for millennia finally arrived.  Or as the author of Hebrews tells us, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.”

This invasion wasn’t by an army of angels though it could’ve been.  It wasn’t by raising up Israel to conquer the world and imposing belief in the One True God by force though that could’ve happened.  Instead this invasion took the form of a tiny, defenseless Baby born in a manger on the poor side of town.

His parents called Him Jesus and His name has filled hearts and souls of humanity with songs and praise ever since.  The love brought by God through this one birth has given hope to the defeated, healing to the sick, liberty to those in bondage, and salvation to all who confess Him as Lord and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead.

All this is based upon the finished work of Christ.  This finished work is the ultimate revelation of divine love.  Jesus gave His life freely in place of ours.  He voluntarily became sin in our place so that we could become the very righteousness of God.

And we become that righteousness when we claim our place as a part of the body of Christ, the church so that when we stand before God He doesn’t see our sins and our shortcomings, instead He sees the absolute righteousness of His own Son.  This is how we can stand before a holy God with no sense of shame, guilt, or inadequacy.

The New Testament describes this well, “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one-part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one-part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.  You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.”

And this is what we mean by being “in” Christ.  We have accepted our place as a member, or part of Christ’s mystical body: the church.  It is no longer we who live but Christ lives in us and through us.  And now that we know, let’s go forth and be all that God has called us to be, let’s allow Christ to live in us as we live in Him.  Let’s allow Him to reach through us and minister to a world in need.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2020 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 Do I Get To Heaven? August 20, 2020

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Many people believe they can find their own way to heaven.  They think they can figure it out on their own.  That’s sort of like trying to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps.  I’ve often offered a one-hundred-dollar bill to anyone who can do that.  I still have that hundred-dollar bill.

Some people think they’ll get to heaven by being a good enough person.  Some may even fool others into thinking they’ve accomplished it.  But in our heart-of-hearts we all know who we are and where we’re lacking in this department.

Some think they’ll have the “Christ” experience and transcend from the normal to the paranormal.  I once attended a church that started preaching this as doctrine.  Instead of rising into the heavenlies they descended into blatant sin and error calling that which was bad good and good bad.

Some think that belonging to the “Right” church, following the “Right” rules and the “Right” regulations will do the trick.  Others follow philosophy, psychology, or sociology, biology or some other “ology.”  Still others think that education will enlighten them to the point of revelation or evolution will grow them into the presence of God.  We can’t think our way to God.  He’s bigger than our mind can conceive or our intelligence can comprehend.

Then again, some don’t even believe in God.  Some think they can accept or reject Christ, ignore God and still end up with God when they die.  An old saying goes, “You don’t prepare for heaven by raising hell here on earth.”  Some think someone else is going to pray them into heaven.  And then there are those who think there are many paths to heaven.  Another old saying goes, “I know there is no Heaven and I pray there is no Hell.”

Some treat Jesus as just one of many avatars along with Buddha and Muhammed.  But when they do this, they call Jesus a liar and how could a liar be a reliable spiritual guide.  Because Jesus doesn’t mince words, He claims to be the only way to heaven, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

To understand this and to appropriate its power into our lives we need to take a leap of faith.  We need to confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead.   For as the passage continues, “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”   Those who reject the claims of Jesus say, “Show it to me and I’ll believe.”  However, the way it works is: believe and you will see.

These scoffers might want to check the company they keep.  When Christ hung on the cross paying the penalty for sin the Chief Priests, the Scribes, and the Pharisees laughed at him saying, “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”

Before we can stand on solid enough ground to take such a great leap of faith we need to arrive at certain realizations.

First, we must realize that God is a person.  By this I mean He is a personal God not just a “Force.”  Some believe that the mere idea of personhood when applied to God implies some sort of limitation and therefore should never be applied to what is supposed to be an omnipotent and omnipresent reality.

I think this belief arises because these people unknowingly agree with a statement by the ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras, “Man is the measure of all things.”  This is usually interpreted to mean that the individual human being, rather than a god or an unchanging moral law, is the ultimate source of value.  This belief is taught and ingrained throughout our modern Godless education system to the point that when most people graduate from secondary school this forms part of their subconscious foundation of so-called “Common Sense.”

Based on this erroneous belief people assume since our personalities are limited therefore, personality in and of itself is limited.  This, however, is wrong.  We are a flawed example.  God is the only perfect personality, and though He is endless in all ways we are but a pale reflection.

This realization of God’s personhood is vitally important.  Without this knowledge it’s impossible to be convinced of His utter supremacy.  If God is not a person how can we sin against Him?  And if instead of sinning against a person we are merely violating the rules of some system, that sounds like something we should be able to appeal.  If there’s no sin and we’re either working with the “Force” or against the” Force” we might ask, “Is there only one Force or are there multiple “Forces” out there?”   And if there are multiple “Forces” can we chose to be ruled by one that supports our lifestyle choices, so we don’t work against it?

This type of thinking easily becomes circular and leads to philosophical tail chasing.

When we acknowledge that God is a person we’re almost assuredly convicted of our sins.  We instinctively realize that there’s no way for us to measure up to the holiness of God.  We understand intuitively that there is a barrier created by our abject unworthiness and God’s all Holy presence.  Anyone who recognizes the vastness of the gulf between our sinfulness and God’s sinlessness sees that we need to be forgiven if we stand any chance of ever entering His divine presence.

Conversely, if we deny God’s personhood it’s easy to fall prey to the spirit-of-the-age and its apparently easy going, “I’m Okay You’re Okay” attitude.  Everything is beautiful.  Who needs forgiveness if there is no personal God and there is no sin?

The true message of Christian evangelism is to the sinner: the one who is conscious of God.  If there is no acknowledgement of God as a person as an individual separate reality the word of God will fall like seeds on the street that birds quickly snatch up and take away.

As a former atheist I can personally attest to the fact that unless and until we come to an acknowledgement of God as a personal reality there’s no way that we can be open to the Gospel.  To the sinner who faces his total inability to approach a Holy God the first and foremost message of the cross is, “You’re forgiven through His sacrifice and grace.”

And that’s how we get to Heaven.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2020 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

 

 

Resurrection Reflections  April 14, 2020

Posted by Dr. Robert Owens in Politics, Religion, Uncategorized.
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As we hunker in the bunker and wait for the Death Angel to pass over it’s good to remember that being negative is positively one of the worst things we can do.  Not only is it a waste of time, it’s depressing.  God tells us in many ways “Do not worry” more times than He tells us “Do not steal.”  And we all know what stealing is.  Can any one of us by worrying add a single hour to our life or add an inch to our height?

As with almost anything that happens it doesn’t take long for Christians to start asking, “Do you think these are signs of the End Times?”  The Bible tells us we’ve been in the End Times at least since the writing of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament.  All I can do is repeat what Luke told us so long ago, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Wars and pandemics shake our world.  In a moment we’re in a brave new world wondering, “Will we ever get back to the way it was?”  Things can seem so dark, so forbidding, so bleak it’s easy to lose our focus on Christ and the life He’s given us in the middle of so much sickness and death.  If we focus on the negative, we may lose sight of the positive reality: Christ triumphed over death.  He conquered it through His death on the cross where He died so we may live.

He lived a life of love and perfection.  He died a death of hate and rejection.  He rose to share joy and perfection.  Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Accept Him and find life.  Reject Him and reject life.

God is so vast yet so personal, so sublime yet so simple.  We are His creation, yet He adopts us as children.  He sustains the universe and all that’s in it, yet we ask Him to find us a parking space at MegloMart.  The wisest humans who’ve ever lived could never devise a system of religious rules or disciplines that can lead us through the snare of the flesh to the liberation of the spirit.  Or, as Paul expresses it, “For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”

In these times of stress, we need to stand strong, keep our eyes on the prize, and refuse to waver.  The government may try to become our all in all but believing that will be the surest way to fall.  We may be riveted on the daily briefings and the emergency alerts in the natural, but in the spirit we need to turn our eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace

Don’t be misled no one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others — ignoring God! — harvests a crop of weeds.  All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds!  But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.”

Here’s some good advice from the days of a war long ago which was also based on truths from the Bible:

Johnny Mercer began his #1 hit by saying, “Gather ’round me, everybody.
Gather ’round me while I’m preachin.’  Feel a sermon comin’ on me. The topic will be sin and that’s what I’m ag’in’.  If you wanna hear my story
then settle back and just sit tight while I start reviewin’ the attitude of doin’ right”

Then he crooned:

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
But don’t mess with mister in-between

You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
have faith, a pandemonium
Libel to walk up on the scene

To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the Whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
just when everything looked so dark

They said we better
accentuate the positive
eliminate the negative
latch on to the affirmative
But don’t mess with mister in-between.

As I reflect upon the Resurrection, I can see this is still good advice today.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2020 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

 

 

 

A New You for a New Year  January 8, 2020

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Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?  Are you facing a new year and thinking, “Why?”   Have you ever looked at your life and thought, “I wish I could start this all over again”?  When we come to the end of ourselves, we have the chance to find the beginning of everything else.

Every person is the center of their own universe simply because that’s the only vantage point available to anyone who has ever lived.  Usually by the time we’re old enough to know anything we’ve figured out that just because we’re the center of observable reality that reality doesn’t revolve around us.  And it doesn’t take long to realize that the cold machinery of the space-time continuum takes as little heed to us as we do to the microbes in the ground we walk over every day.

The cold impersonal avalanche of happenstance leads any thinking person to the question, “What’s it all about?”  The inscrutability of the carnival mirror maze we perceive as reality leads many to conclude there is no meaning, there is no point, and there is no reason.  All there is is what it is and that’s all that there is.  A sort of Popeye philosophy that leaves us constantly wandering about looking for the magic can of spinach that’ll make us strong enough to break through the mirrors to scan an open horizon with a clear vista.  On our own it always seems to be just around the next corner.

This is where revelation comes in.  A mouse in a maze never sees the whole picture.  It only sees the corridor it happens to be in at the time.  And though it searches and searches it always seems like someone has moved the cheese.  Only through revelation can we see enough of the puzzle to learn which piece needs to go next to which piece to make the picture whole.

Lucky for us there is a God who created all this and He wants to allow us to see behind the curtain of the physical giving us a glimpse of the spiritual, which is the essence of it all.

I’m a Christian.  By that I mean I have confessed Jesus Christ as my personal Lord, and I believe in my heart that God has raised Him from the dead.  Because of that I believe I am saved, I am born-again, and I have a free pass out of hell and into heaven.  And on a daily basis I do my best to follow Christ: loving and forgiving myself and the world around me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

This wasn’t always the case.  Until I was thirty years old I was an unapologetic reprobate, and an atheist who cursed a God I proudly declared I didn’t believe in.  Then I had a personal encounter with Christ which led me to study the Bible, which led to my confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and my unswerving belief that God has raised Him from the dead.  Through this I was born again receiving a brand-new life here and now and that afore mentioned free pass out of hell and into heaven.

I immediately transitioned from hopelessness to hopefulness, from despair to joy, from dread to expectancy.  This is such a good deal I can’t bear to keep it to myself.

My words and my testimony will not get you anything.  They can’t give you a new you.  Only God’s Spirit can do that.  We can’t think our way to God.  It’s only through His revelation that we can get beyond the example of a blind man trying to picture an elephant by touching its trunk or tail.  The only way I have found to find God is through His word.  Think about it. If God only wrote one book out of all the billions of books in the world doesn’t it seem logical that it would be the most important thing we could possibly read?  If we deny that His word is His word we close the door and throw away the key.

You might say, “Why do I need to be born again?

Here are some reasons and their biblical support

  1. Jesus Loved you enough to die for you

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

  1. You cannot even please God if you’re not born again.

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

  1. You will be living under God’s wrathif you’re not born again.

Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything: life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn’t see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that.

  1. You’ll be under the control of the devil if you’re not born again.

In which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

  1. You will experience the second death if you’re not born again.

Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire, and if anyone’s name is not found in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Jesus Christ is always there for us. He’ll answer us anytime we call him. He stands at the door of our heart and knocks.  Open the door today and He’ll come in.

As a new year begins, we can all begin a new life.   The mistakes of our past don’t have to be the blueprint of our future.

One of the most important truths in Christianity is that God loves us so much that He sought us out before we even start trying to find him.  Referring to Himself in a title reserved for the Messiah Jesus said, “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  He also said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.”

Since He chose us, all we must do is choose Him and that new life starts right now.  That is the Way.  I have shared what the Bible says we must do to be saved; confess and believe.  But it isn’t about a formula.  Being a follower of Christ is much more than that.  It’s following Christ.  He said “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  because as He also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  Christ doesn’t show us the way.  He is the Way to a new you for a new year … or any year … any time.

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

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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 

 

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

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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 

 

 

  

 

We’ve All Had an Apple Out of That Sack July 16, 2019

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When I first gave my life to Christ I felt so incredibly clean, so new, and fresh it was truly like being born-again.  My old life was washed away and I was a babe in Christ. 

Then as I devoured His Word reading, meditating, and praying it into the very fabric of my life it changed me even more.  I was miraculously healed of alcoholism.  Lifetime habits of chemical abuse and drug addiction were washed away in the life-giving flood of Christ’s love. 

I was saved reading and believing the Gospels.  The New Testament starts with the birth of Jesus.  It tells the whole story of His sinless life.  It reveals His sacrificial death.  And it imparts life changing reality of His life giving resurrection and ascension into heaven.  But it doesn’t end there. 

After the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the New Testament continues with the story of the spreading of the sin shattering story of Jesus from Jerusalem to Rome in the Acts of the Apostles a God breathed History that is truly His Story.    

Secular History tells us that the few followers of Jesus shared the good news of freedom from the curse of sin, the empowerment of holiness, and the joy of salvation and that this message of hope spread like wildfire.  It couldn’t be contained by persecution.  It couldn’t be squelched by religion.  Yes, this secular History tells us that this obscure faith movement birthed in an out-of-the-way corner of a vast empire marched from person-to-person and within 300 years became the official religion of Caesar.   

Secular History can tell us what happened; however, it takes the New Testament to tell us why.  We’ve all heard it said that the Gospel is good news.  As one popular song tells us today, “It’s not good news.  It’s the best news ever.” 

In the beginning, back in the garden, man chose not to obey God but instead to follow his own lusts and desires chasing into a path that has forever led us away from God.  We can blame Satan who the Bible tells us tempted Eve into disobedience but it was Adam whose willful choice to follow his own desire to be with his wife instead of with God that crossed the threshold and saw a barrier of sin separate us from our sinless God.  There was no way back.  There was no way to wash the stain from our spirit.  We were no longer united with our creator we were instead united with the father of lies. 

Now here’s the why: God in His unsearchable love came Himself in the form of Jesus born of a woman to live a sinless life that He willingly sacrificed to pay the price.  Now anyone who will confess Jesus as the Lord, the leader, the master of their life and who believes that God raised Jesus from the dead is forgiven of all sin and re-united with God.  That’s it.  That’s the best news ever. 

I was changed by systematic and prolonged study of the Epistles: the letters of the first followers of Jesus to those who believed through their ministry.   

After this saturated my life and I began taking my first steps into a world which was now the Kingdom of God I began my study of the Old Testament.  

When I read the story of Jacob and Esau, the children of Isaac and the twin sons of Abraham that expands the promise of God to send a Savior which is the essence of the entire Old Testament, I came across the line, “I loved Jacob and hated Esau.”  This was a puzzle.  Because when you read about these two brothers it soon becomes evident that Jacob was a lying, cheating, deceiving, schemer and Esau was a nice guy who obeyed his parents and seemed to live a godly life.  Why would God choose Jacob over Esau? 

Esau esteemed his birthright, which was the promise of God flowing into its third generation so lightly he was willing to trade his place as the eldest child and heir for one single bowl of stew.  He threw away eternal blessing for instant gratification. 

Seeing this I thought what a fool Esau was.  How lacking in faith and fortitude it was no wonder God chose Jacob to be the child of promise, the heir whose bloodline would one day produce Jesus. 

It was only as the years passed as I began to live out my own version of the Book of Judges I stumbled and fell.  God renewed me over and over.  It was then that I came to realize how easy it is for the followers of Christ to find themselves in the path of easy going Esau instead of climbing the ladder of faith with Jacob. 

We may not trade our eternal inheritance for a bowl of stew but how many of us choose the things of this world over the things of God?  How easy it is to find ourselves drowning in diversions instead of immersed in the Word?   Majoring on minors instead of dedicated to doing the works God has called us to do.  Perhaps we should ask ourselves, “Are we consumed by the news or devouring the Word?”  “Are we serving ourselves at the all-you-can-eat buffet of modern culture or are we helping to seat others at the wedding feast of the King?” 

When I first read the Book of Judges and how the Israelites of old after generations of miracles culminating in finding the promised land turned away from God, fell under the heel of oppressors, begged for deliverance, and then after God delivered them forgot about God and wandered off again, and again, and again I felt if I’d been God I would’ve written them off and started over.  In the first flush of my regenerated life of joy I couldn’t understand how God could just keep kissing the hand that abused Him. 

In time my own book of judges taught me that it’s God’s love that keeps Him constantly ready to accept us back.  I also learned that I was really happy that He never gave up on those Israelites and that He nave gives up on me. 

Esau gave away an eternal promise for something that looked good, smelled good, and tasted good.  But it was also something that perished with the using.  He was weak, he was a fool, and we’ve all had an apple out of that sack. 

If you’ve wandered off into the dead-end trails of self-indulgence in the trackless waste which is the world as I have time after time don’t despair.  We shouldn’t give up on ourselves because God will never give up on us.  As many times as we turn away from the world to face God He’s there ever ready and eager to take us back.  Or as a current song tells us, “You can never fall too hard, so fast, so far that you can’t get back when you’re lost.  Where you are is never too late, so bad, so much that you can’t change who you are.  You can change who you are.” 

How do we change who we are?  We Let Jesus in and He does all the remodeling for us.  That’s that best news ever you’ve been hearing about. 

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 

 

 

 

A New You for a New Year January 2, 2019

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Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?  Have you reached the end of your rope only to find out that it’s much shorter than you imagined?  Was last year as good as you hoped it would be?  Was it as bad as you feared it would be?  Does the uncertainty of the future leave you anxious?  Has your own mortality entered like a crack in the ice in your youthful belief in personal indestructibility?

But wait there’s more…

Does the randomness of good happening to bad people and bad happening to good people leave you wondering if there’s any rhyme or reason to reality?  Is looking for answers to these and many other questions like looking for needles in haystacks?  Is the quest to find meaning in life like trying to nail fog to the wall?

If you’ve rejected Christ because of Christians don’t mistake the messengers for the message.  Christ told his followers to lake His light to the world and most have spent the last 2018 years trying to build a lamp and pretending it was the light.

The message is as simple as receiving it: Confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will be saved.

That’s it.

It’s not about joining the right club or following the right rules.  We don’t need a seminary degree or someone with one to walk us through learning the secret handshake or the Abra Kadabra password.  And there is no magic decoder ring.  We don’t have to read the Bible from cover to cover.  We don’t have to wear the right clothes, beard, or haircut.  We don’t have to vote for the right candidates.  We don’t have to take an oath to believe the same things that everyone else who confesses Christ as Lord does.

It isn’t about being good enough.  That’s one of the great miracles of God’s economy.  While we were yet sinners Jesus came and died so that we could live.

It isn’t about becoming a religious robot who says the right things at the right time to the right people in the right place.  God is the One who created us with free choice, so we’re free to choose.  It isn’t about conformity.  God is the One who created us to be an individual and He doesn’t make junk.  We are who He created us to be.  He has placed us in a certain time and place so that we can become all He designed us to be and do all that He has called us to do.  And that means what He created, placed, and called you to be will be different than what He created, placed, and called me to be.  You see it isn’t about cookie-cutter, repeat a formula, and follow the rule book club membership.

It’s about each of us individually confessing Jesus as Lord and each of us individually believing God raised Jesus from the dead and then learning to commune with God, to hear Him speak to us as individuals and then doing what He tells us to do.

If the questions at the beginning of this article float through our minds like storm clouds in a cloudless sky obscuring what should be clear.  Let’s give up the battle to do it on our own.  Let’s surrender and find victory in allowing God to count the victory of Jesus over sin and death to our account.

It’s so easy we can do it right here right now.  We don’t need to be in a meeting, at an altar, or in a special building.  We don’t need anyone to hold our hand or even know what we’ve done.  We will know.  God will know.  And once we’re in his hand no one can snatch us out.

I confess Jesus as Lord and I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the Dead.  That’s it.  All done.  The battle is over.  The war between us and God is over and we are one with Him.  Welcome to a new you for a new year.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, 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

 

 

Faith is the Answer and Prayer is the Key November 13, 2018

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It’s time for us to grow up, to put away childish things and delve into the deep things of God. 

Some may ask, “How do I do that?” 

We need to study to show ourselves approved rightly dividing the word of God for it’s sharper than a two edged sword or a surgeon’s scalpel.  It divides soul and spirit and it reveals all things.  We need to speak to God and listen to God.  We need to learn to hear His voice and recognize it.  In other words we need to be in a constant conversation with God so that we can be about His business in this world.   

Often we pray for God to guide our steps and then do nothing as we wait.  God cannot guide our steps if we aren’t stepping.  Step out in faith and He’ll sustain us as we work for Him. That’s right.  It may have been free admission but it isn’t a free ride.  God has called us to work.  And He has given us the tool to do the work: faith. 

Don’t believe me believe Him. 

It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.  And part of that faith is knowing that He didn’t send us out to work for Him without equipping us with what we need to accomplish that work.

Jesus said, “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.” 

And He didn’t just say it once or twice.  He said it over and over, “This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you.” 

Jesus wasn’t keeping this ability to accomplish the work He’s called us to do miraculously through the power of His Name a secret.  He told us numerous times that praying in His Name, in line with His purposes was more than just effective it’s powerful. 

He also told us that we’ve been chosen to do His work in the world in His Name, “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.” 

The time for hesitation is through.  Once we confess Him as Lord and believe that God has raised Him from the dead we are born again.  There’s no time to linger at the edge of the pool waiting for someone else to do the heavy lifting.  Dive head first into the deep end.  Turn away from the weak and beggarly elements of this world and embrace life in His eternal presence which begins the moment we’re born again and translated from the kingdom of darkness in this world into the kingdom of light in His presence. 

We all have questions for God.  I know my first was “Why me.”  Then once we’ve taken up residence in His city on a hill we move on to, “What do You want me to do?” quickly followed by “How am I supposed to do that?” He isn’t looking so much for ability as He is for availability.  And remember: where God guides God provides.  If He’s called you to it you can do it.  Just have faith, talk to Him, listen to Him, and watch as He turns your life into Acts Chapter twenty-nine.

Whatever questions, whatever problems, whatever opportunities we face in this life prayer is the answer and faith is the key. 

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2018 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 

 

 

Here’s a Free Gift July 25, 2018

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As a retired pastor I am still amazed at the number of people who came forward week after week repenting of sins and seeking salvation.  It was often the same people week after week.  No matter how much I preached it, no matter how much I taught it, so many never seemed grasp the idea that the cleansing of sins, salvation, and righteousness are free gifts given to us by our Father. 

People would cry, “I’ve been seeking after God for years.  I’ve laid at the altar and pleaded over and over for God to guide me, to save me, to help me, and nothing happened.  I leave the altar the same poor sinner as when I went up there.”  

My heart breaks for any and all who labor under such beggarly results. 

My mind would scream as my voice would say, “Salvation is a gift.  It isn’t necessary for you to go anywhere to get it.  You can find it anywhere.  It isn’t what you do, it’s what Jesus has done.  All there is to getting saved and to becoming a child of God is to receive something for free.  You can’t earn it by doing anything.” 

Most of us have been taught and have accepted that it was all about giving up, surrendering, and confessing sins.  It isn’t.  It is receiving Jesus Christ as our Savior and confessing Him as our Lord.  

I have had people say, “It can’t be that simple.” 

It is that simple.  It’s free and it’s available to everyone, everywhere, at all times. 

Some have asked, “But don’t we have to do something about our sins?” 

No, He has done everything that ever could be done.  And this isn’t some new teaching or revelation.  Our Father God told us about it through His prophet Isaiah long ago, “We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.  And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him.” 

This is speaking about all of us.  We have all gone our own way, done what we wanted without any reference to what God wanted us to do.  We were stubborn and willful yet the Father laid the penalty for all that on Jesus.  Notice there was nothing we had to do to save or help ourselves. 

So how do we get from knowing this in our heads to having this become life in our hearts?  John tells us, “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” 

Once again we do nothing except receive a free gift. 

John also tells us “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  This is the Father giving His Son Jesus as our substitute, as our Savior and all He asks is that we accept Him for what He said He is.  There is nothing for us to do except believe that He paid the debt owed for our sin and that He rose from the Dead to bring us life.  Or as Paul put it, “who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” 

God delivered Jesus to pay the punishment for our sins and He was raised from the dead when He had paid the full measure, and all we have to do is accept that.  We don’t have to do anything to earn what He has already paid for. 

Paul sums it all up well in the next verse when he says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Now besides salvation we have peace.  There is nothing standing between us and God we are at peace and still there is nothing for us to do is there? 

Paul tells us as clearly as can be how this all comes about and what the result is when he says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 

Look at that a little closer: when we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord that should be the end of us going our own way and doing our own thing.  If you’re anything like I was before I did this that shouldn’t be too hard considering where our own choices and our own things have brought us.  In other words if I relinquish being the Lord of my life and give that place to Jesus I will no longer be separated from God and I will become His child, a member of His family with all the rights and responsibilities that means. 

If we do this what does the Word say?  It says that we will be saved.  When does it say we will be saved?  It happens as soon as we believe.  This isn’t pie-in-the-sky.  This is here and now reality.  What does the Word say we are when we believe?  It says we are now children of God.  Does that mean now or someday way over there in the future when we get to heaven?  No it says we have it now even if we don’t know fully what that means.  Or, as John put it, “now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 

How do we know all this is true?  How do we know that as soon as we confess and believe we are born again into a new life right here right now?  John tells us, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”  

Having learned this do you believe in the Name of Jesus? 

If you do then you have eternal life.  Eternal life is the nature of God.  That means you now have the nature of God.  You are no longer a fallen sinner who needs to beg forgiveness you are filled with the very nature of God.  Peter put it very clearly when he said, “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”  That corruption is spiritual death and we have escaped it by receiving the divine nature: eternal life. 

So don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to get good enough to get saved, or to see your life change. None of us could ever be that good.  It isn’t about what we do.  It’s about what He has done.  It isn’t about who we are. It’s all about who He is.  He paid the price.  He purchased the freedom of all humans from the grip of Satan, and he extends that freely to all who believe He is who He said He is, that He rose from the dead and that He is the Savior of all who believe in Him. 

Come on.  It’s free and it’s yours for the taking.  Why wait another moment.   You can have it right here right now.  Confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and it’s yours. 

Got it?  Done it? Now tell someone.  Shout it from the rooftops you are a child of God living an eternal life in fellowship with our Father.  Welcome to the family. 

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com  © 2018 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

 

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