Something that distracts me when I’m on social media or the Internet is reading about facts. Especially those lists of things that you see – you know, lists of 9 or 11 or 15 or 22 facts that are somehow related.
If the topic seems at all interesting (and sometimes even if it’s not really), I often read them. Don’t know why – I just like to know stuff. Not sure if it’s honest intellectual curiosity, or if sometimes it just doesn’t seem I’ve got anything more interesting to do.
So, when I saw a post that said, “People Always Get These 18 Facts Wrong,” I was intrigued. And also challenged: like in school, when the teacher gave a test it seemed to me they were saying, “Bet you don’t know this,” and my response is, “Bet I do.”
So I read the list. It had facts like, ‘The arrow next to the pump icon on the fuel gauge points to the side of the car with the filler cap.’ OK, I was aware of that. Another one was, ‘Seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth as it orbits around the Sun.’ Yes, learned that in grade school science.
Then, I got to the 15th one: it said. ‘The Bible doesn’t actually say that Adam and Eve ate the fruit.’ What?!? Wait a minute. (Que the sound of a phonograph needle scratching across a vinyl record: “Scriiiiitch” – that’s the sound I imagine when it’s time to stop everything.)
That doesn’t seem right – I’m pretty sure that’s not correct. Well, I have an app for that.
Start up my Bible app, select the book of Genesis, think it’s chapter 3 so I tap that: yes, that’s the right chapter. Scroll down to verse 6, which says, “she took of its fruit and ate.” The following sentence says “and he ate.”
Later God asks them if they ate the fruit. In verse 12, Adam replied, “and I ate.” Then He asks her, and in verse 13 she says, “and I ate.”
Seems pretty clear to me: and this fact is pretty obviously incorrect.
Don’t believe everything you hear, read, or see shared on social media or the Internet
— Faith and Victory (@FVChurchAuburn) February 25, 2017
My first thought was, “Well, you can’t believe everything you hear.” In fact, we hear that constantly. We laugh at the girl in that old insurance commercial who said, “You can’t put anything on the Internet unless it’s true.” And few us fall for that famous quote going around, “You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. – Abraham Lincoln”: we know he died more than a century before the Internet was developed.
But still, people do tend to believe what they hear, what they read, what someone tells them, and usually without questioning it.
What if the person reading this list wasn’t very familiar with the story of Adam and Eve? If they didn’t have Bible app handy? If they didn’t know it was in Genesis, and probably chapter 3? Would they have believed a ‘fact’ that wasn’t true?
Also, how could this happen? How did this get published on a Web site, did the writer not even bother to check? Did they not care, or are they that careless? How could any research or fact check at all miss this error?
It is possible, though, that this whole thing was intentional. The writer may written a bunch of unimportant facts, like ‘Napoleon was 5′ 7″ tall, so he wasn’t actually very short.’ Then, once the reader has gone through more than a dozen reasonable sounding facts, they throw in an untruth, figuring it will be believed too. Is their intention to have the reader question the Bible, disbelieve the truth being taught from the Bible, and ultimately reject God? We don’t know, but it could be.
I actually checked the six English translations available in my Bible app, and they all said that Adam and Eve ate it. There was one exception: instead of “ate'”, the KJV says “did eat.” I like this phrasing in the old King James version – when it says they “did eat,” I want to say, “Oh, no, they didn’t!” “Oh, yes, they did!”
the truth is, the Bible does say that Adam and Eve ate the fruit.
— Faith and Victory (@FVChurchAuburn) February 25, 2017
Of course, it means the same thing – the truth is, the Bible does say that Adam and Eve ate the fruit. But, maybe that article was ‘spin’ or ‘slant’. If you interpret “Bible” to mean the King James Version in particular, and “ate” to mean literally saying the exact word “ate”, than technically they could make a case for claiming it doesn’t say Adam and Eve “ate” the fruit: since it actually uses the words, “did eat.” Of course, this is a technicality without any real difference, and clearly is intended to deceive the reader into believing something else.
However, when you encounter ‘spin’ (often in politics) or ‘slant’ (in reporting), the intention is to mislead while being able to claim (and maybe convince themselves) that it is ‘true’.
Is this false information caused by carelessness, a blatant lie, or ‘spin’ with intent to deceive? It’s hard to say – but I’ll say what I suspect.
As far as the writer is concerned, they just want you to read their article so you’ll be exposed to the advertising on their Web pages. If they have a catchy headline, they’ll get more people: and if it has controversial content it’s more likely to get shared with other readers. It doesn’t matter if it’s true, as long as they attract people. So, they don’t care.
But behind that, there’s more. John 8:44 says, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
Satan is perfectly willing to use the carelessness, immorality, or greed of the writer of this list and the Web site owner to slip out a thinly disguised attack on Biblical truth. When he gets people to question the Bible, they’ll question God: and when they disbelieve what God says, then they’ll accept Satan’s lies.
In fact, that’s what happened back in Genesis – the serpent asked, “Did God really say …?” (“Has God indeed said, …”, verse 3:1 NKJV). That was followed up with a blatant lie, “You will not surely die,” (verse 4). But of course, they did die: although not immediately, due to God’s mercy. And all human beings since then die as well.
And then Satan, that old serpent, put some ‘spin’ on it. He said (verse 5), “For God knows … you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” First question God’s motives, then claim that the sin will actually be a good thing. Of course the problem is, while we are now aware of good and evil (although more about evil than good), we are not like God. Instead, people became like Satan – opposing God, lying, and trying to lead other people astray from Him.
So, brothers and sisters, friends and countrymen, and anyone reading these words, I beseech, I beg of you –
Don’t believe everything you hear, read, or see shared on social media or the Internet. People and organizations lie: whether carelessly, intentionally, or just as a matter of course. And “that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan” (ref. Revelation 20:2) is working hard with his lies to destroy people and the world, trying overthrow any good and tear down God.
Be careful out there!
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This is a question that’s been in my mind for some time – What is worship?
The word “worship” is used in many different ways in different churches. And it’s used in the Bible over 100 times. But what exactly does it mean?
While researching it I was struck by Psalm 66:4, which says –
“All the earth shall worship You
And sing praises to You;
They shall sing praises to Your name.” Selah
This is a common use of the word, to describe songs sung to God. And doing a little more research (I don’t know ancient Hebrew, but I can look things up), I found that the word for “sing” here can also mean to make music in general. In fact, the word may have come from the idea of striking, like with fingers on a stringed instrument. (So, those of us who sing and play guitar may have it covered both ways.)
I play on the Worship team at our church. When we play and sing, and the music is beautiful, it feels like an offering to the Lord. We are giving Him what we have, offering our best. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.
However, worship is not necessarily music, and music is not always worship. Many times in the Bible when the word “worship” is used it does not involve music. Even the verse above from Psalms 66 says to worship AND sing. They can go together, but they’re not the same.
The churches that I’ve attended in the past have all had music: they’d have a song leader, a pianist, maybe an organist and even a choir director, possibly a guitar player and sometimes people playing other instruments, and might have had someone like a Director of Music Ministries.
But this is the first church I’ve attended that referred to the people who sing and play music as the Worship Team.
I understood the concept, of course: of music being a significant part of the worship, using it as a gateway to worship. And our Worship leaders do a great job of leading people into worship through the music and the songs.
However, hearing the word used this way left me wondering what exactly it means. That brings us back to the original question, What is worship?
A little more research, and I found that “worship” in the Bible means literally to “bow down.” That’s a different way to see it.
To me, this means to put God in His right place in our hearts and our minds, and ourselves in our right place. As one of our pastors said, “He’s God, we’re not.” He is the Creator, we are His creation. He is Eternal and Perfect, we are mortal and flawed. He is Infinite and Righteous, we are limited and born in sin. (And so on, you get the idea.)
So, for us on the Worship team, we need to remember that we’re there to worship God, and be an example of worship to the people in the service, not just to play music or sing. The purpose is to worship, not just to make music. We need to be worshipping first.
Everyone on our Worship Team loves music: if not, we probably would have chosen a different ministry. All of us are talented, and have musical skill. That’s as it should be – God gave us the ability, and the opportunity to develop it. We are giving back to Him from what He gave us.
But we do need to guard against our love of music becoming the reason we’re doing it. It could be a very subtle thing: we should be doing our best, singing or playing to the best of our ability, because God deserves our best. However, if we put our concentration on that, rather than remembering that it’s to Him and for Him, we risk it becoming about the music, not worship. And ironically, I think we would find that doing it for the love of music rather than love of God will be less enjoyable, because we miss out on the blessings and sheer joy that can come from worship.
Sometimes we will find that God uses us to do even more than we are able. I know that there are times when playing during worship I find myself playing things I didn’t know were possible, or that I’ve never been able to do before. It has to be the Spirit of God supernaturally using my limited ability to do something greater than I am capable of. It’s amazing, and awe inspiring.
But the awe has to be for what He did in His power, and not what we did. That brings us to another temptation that we may face as well, which is to be proud. We may be proud of our voice or our playing, or of our talent and abilities, forgetting Who it was that gave it to us, whether it’s natural or supernatural. We might want people to notice us, to get the attention for ourselves, instead pointing to the One who created us. We’re losing our worship. Fortunately, God gives mercy and grace, so when this happens occasionally he forgives us and still can use us in the ministry. However, we can’t stay there, if we’re going to worship.
Sometimes, though, the pride could make a person completely self centered, and wanting the glory for themselves. They can become a “diva,” who has to have everything be about them, always get their way, and to be “front and center” in the limelight. It’s no longer about worship, or probably even about the music, but about gratifying and building up themselves. This makes me think of something I once heard a young man, a Worship Leader for his church say, “I try to remember that Satan was the Worship Leader of Heaven.”
Fortunately, I don’t believe anyone on our Worship Team is like this. I understand that it has happened on the team in the past, though, and have heard of it in other places. We need to be careful not to “think higher of yourself than you ought,” as the Apostle Paul warned. Anyone who serves in a ministry position that’s noticeable or up in front of people may face the same temptation: but we’re speaking specifically about ministry in music, where it requires some native talent and skill gained by practice – the temptation may be greater there than in some other ministries.
So, to sum it all up – music can be an important part of worship, but music itself is not worship. And it’s the worship that’s truly important, not the music.
And, finally, while you may not be a part of the “Worship Team,” such as a singer or musician, you still can worship God. As it says in Psalms 66:4, “All the earth shall worship You.” The next time you’re in a place or a time to worship, remember to “bow down”. Whether it’s singing songs or meditating on Him, raising your hands because He is greater than you or bowing your head in humility before Him, dancing in joy or falling on your face before in Him in awe and wonder, worship Him. In your heart and mind put Him in His place above you, because He is the great God and you are His creation.
That’s what worship is.
I’ve heard several people speak recently about the same thing, the time Peter and John went into the temple and encountered the man who was begging at the gate.
You probably have heard it before, starting at the beginning of Acts chapter 3. We’re told that the man was lame from birth, and was laid daily at the gate to beg for alms from the people entering the temple. When he begged from Peter and John, Peter said to him “Look at us.”
So, the man gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
And Peter took his hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankles received strength.
So the man leaped up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them – walking and leaping and praising God.
And all the people saw him walking and praising God. They recognized him as the man who had sat begging at the gate, and were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
It’s a beautiful story, of the first miracle recorded after the day of Pentecost. There are many things to see in it. For example, the power of Christ to heal, and how Peter called on the name of Jesus for that power. Another is that the disciples had just been filled with the Holy Spirit shortly before (see Acts chapter 2), and now they were healing and performing miracles just as Jesus had.
Also, look at the complete healing the Lord did: not only was the man physically healed, but immediately was able to walk and leap, even though he was born lame, and all without weeks or months of physical therapy or needing time to learn to walk the way a baby does.
There’s even the events following, later in the same chapter, how this amazing miracle of God and beautiful act of healing for a man without any other hope, ended up resulting in the first persecution of the church.
These are all good and powerful things to see in this account. What struck me about it recently is a simpler thing, though, there in the words that Peter said.
I love the way it is worded in the good old KJV: “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee”.
Look at what he said again – “Silver and gold have I none”. I’m sure that other people passed by the poor, lame beggar, and feeling compassionate (or guilty, or magnanimous, or maybe self righteous), reached into their purses (this being the first century, probably before the invention of pockets) and gave the man some money. They had some, so they gave him a little silver.
But Peter and John did not have any money. They were at the point where they had nothing: no silver, like working people would have, or gold, like wealthier people – nothing.
How many of us are in that state? Do you have nothing in your pockets, or wallet, or purse? No money, no cash, no debit card or credit card? But that’s where Peter and John were, and God used them to perform miracles.
Maybe part of the reason we don’t we see miraculous moves of the Holy Spirit is because we have too much – money, and credit, and government assistance, and aid agencies, and family, and friends, and GoFundMe, whatever. We’re not depending on the Lord for everything, for even our next meal, like Peter and John seemed to be. We always have some other way to take care of things, to handle things ourselves, to whip out some money (either cash or credit) to solve any problem.
What if Peter and John did have some money? Maybe they would have tossed a coin or two to the lame man, and then walked on in to the temple. It might have provided means for the man to buy another meal, but would it have changed the man’s life? I don’t think so.
Would it have set him free of a lifetime of disability and humiliation begging for his sustenance? No, it wouldn’t have.
Would this story have made it into the Bible? I doubt it.
But Peter and John had nothing. Or actually, nothing else but the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus. The only thing they had, they gave him. And it resulted in a supernatural and miraculous change in the man’s situation, in his condition, and in his whole life. It reached from the physical (his no longer lame feet and ankles) into his heart, his soul and his spirit. What did he do when he was healed? He walked into the temple, leaping, and praising God. He was changed completely.
Do we have too much? Are we relying on our ‘silver and gold,’ our money and credit, to handle life and even to minister in the Lord’s name? Or are we relying on Him and the power of His Spirit for what we need for everything in our life? It’s something to consider for each of us.
There’s another part to this story, though. After Peter said, “Silver and gold I don’t have,” he then also said, “But what I do have I give you”. If you aren’t seeing miracles happen, is it because you don’t have that power of God that Peter and John had? You can’t give what you don’t have. It’s another thing to consider.
But that’s a different issue, for another time.
Every year when I go to the Men’s Advance, I’ve noticed the same thing.
This thing I’ve noticed is not something about the guys there, or the events, or the teaching, worship or fellowship.
Those are all fine – no, it’s something else.
I know this sounds a bit strange, but bear with me. I am going somewhere with this.
On the path to the dining hall at the conference center, there are a couple of places where there are almost always ants on the sidewalk. Sometimes it appears to be hundreds of black ants, going every which way.
I don’t know if other people notice the ants, but I try to avoid stepping on them. (Even ants deserve a chance to live.) Sometimes, though, it’s virtually impossible to avoid it completely because there are so many of them. You can’t go off the path on one side, because of the bushes, and it’s probably no better walking through the grass, because you can’t see if there are more ants there.
And I haven’t noticed other people going out of their way to avoid the ants either.
So, this weekend we had 80 men, three times a day, going both ways to and from the dining hall, right through the ants. How many dozens or hundreds of ants were crushed over the two days? Yet, every time we went by, the ants were there.
And this isn’t the first time – I remember ants in the same place in years before. On top of that, the conference center is a popular place – there are people there almost every weekend year round, and often all week long in the summer.
So the ants are trampled regularly by possibly thousands of people every year, but they never change. Year after year, two or three times a day or more the same thing happens, but they don’t move their location, change their paths, or alter their schedule.
At times I wish I could say to them, “Watch out! Get off the path, a bunch of guys are coming!” But I know they won’t listen.
They are just ants, of course: we can’t expect much. But aren’t we about the same sometimes as people?
Do we do the same thing over and over again, even if it turns out badly every time, or we get hurt or someone else does as a result?
Do we make no attempt to avoid the injury or even destruction that’s approaching, because we pay no attention to what’s coming?
Are people trying to warn us about consequences of what we’re doing or potential danger, but we won’t listen?
Do we run here and there wrapped up in our own little things, until we suddenly get trampled into the ground, figuratively or literally?
As humans we are so much bigger than the ants that I don’t know if they can even see us well. And by the time we’re close enough for them to see the danger, like a foot coming down on then, it’s probably too late to get out of the way.
And if I wanted to warn them, I don’t know if they can hear us. Even if they can hear they wouldn’t understand me, because I’m sure the ants don’t speak English. We have no basis for communicating.
We are far larger than the ants, and have little in common with them. However, the difference between us and the ants is much less than the difference between us and God. We are finite created beings, and he is the infinite Creator. While we may be thousands of times bigger than ants, God is infinitely larger than we are.
Pick any number to try to express the magnitude of the difference between God and us – millions of times, or billions, quadrillions, 10 to the googolplex power – it’s still much, much more.
What’s the chance of us being able to hear or know the infinite God when we are not even able to communicate with other finite creatures like ants?
But, we’re not God. He can do what we can’t.
From the beginning, He intended to communicate with us, to commune with us, and He created us that way.
In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;” so there is something in us that resembles God, some kind of similarity built in to us that gives us a basis for communicating.
Besides that, His Son came to earth, became a man, God in the flesh, and experienced life as one of us.
Speaking about Jesus, Hebrews 5:15 says, ‘For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.’ John 1:14 also says, ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.’
So, God understands us, not just as the One Who created us, but also from becoming like us.
He made us like Him, and then even made Himself like us. Amazing!
But it also means that we know He knows how and is able to communicate with us.
We as humans can see the mob of hungry men coming down the sidewalk while the ants go about their day to day activity with no clue of the impending danger. In the same way God can see what’s heading our way, impending danger, whether from natural forces or supernatural.
Unlike me, who’s no longer there at the conference center and probably won’t be back for months, God hasn’t left you. I really don’t care too much about the ants: not enough to put in any real effort to save them. But God loves you: enough to make Himself like you, then even die for you. And He did.
If you’re like those ants, wrapped up in yourself and your things, your life, and your way, with no thought of what may happen or the consequences of your actions, you should stop:
Stop going every which way;
Stop being absorbed in your own things and yourself;
Stop living oblivious to impending destruction.
Turn to God. Jesus bridged that infinite divide between us and our Creator. He knows and understands what we go through and what we are, but being both God and man He sees what is coming, when there’s danger, and the best way for us to go.
The ants would be so much better off if they just knew when to get off the sidewalk. Let Jesus do that same thing for you.
A couple of weeks ago, we had a bunch of friends over. It was beautiful weather that Sunday afternoon, and we ended up with the whole group, all 18 of us, sitting out on the patio and enjoying the lovely fall sunshine.
The next day, it rained. Then it rained again the next day, and the day after that. I knew that it meant that the rainy season is here – for next nine months or so, we can expect to have mostly cloudy weather and often rain. And in case you’re wondering: yes, we live near Seattle.
Actually, many of us who have lived here a long time secretly welcome the return of the clouds and rain. Some don’t even keep it a secret: they love it. Maybe it’s the coming back to comfortable and familiar weather, or maybe the soft, gentle daylight, or the cool, moist air, or all the green growing grass, plants and trees. It might be something different for each person, but they all enjoy and appreciate the rain.
It made me think of a quote I’ve heard, “He sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Usually it seems when someone says this, they’re talking about something bad happening. They use it to mean along the same lines as the old saying, “Into every life a little rain must fall.” But I think that’s a misunderstanding of what it means.
The last of these two is just an old saying. But the first one is the words of Jesus, from Matthew 5:45. He’s talking about God, and says, “… for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” This sounds different: it’s a good thing.
Think about what rain would mean from the point of view of someone who has a farming or herding lifestyle. If you’re a farmer, no rain means crops don’t grow, and you don’t have food. Rain is a blessing. Or, if you herded sheep, goats or cattle, no rain means no grass or plants for your herds to eat, and then no meat, or milk, or wool to trade or sell to get food. You would need the rain: it’s a necessity for life.
That is the context, the idea behind, rain in this case. It’s about God caring for, providing for, everyone – evil and good, just and unjust. It’s not about “Raindrops keep falling on my head,” to quote the song from the 70s. It’s about the love of God: and more than that, about the fact that everyone, righteous or unrighteous, owes their existence, their life and that they’re still alive, their food, clothing, shelter, even water to drink and the very air that they breathe, to God. Everything that’s good comes from God, as it says in James 1:17.
So, the next time you see rain, or think about it, remember how it represents God’s love and blessing. Then, take a deep breath, and thank Him that you’re alive.