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    The Apostle Paul for President

    Monday, December 12, 2011, 1:41 PM [General]

     

    The Apostle Paul For President

    The most controversial statement in the 2011 Republican debates may have come from Paul, and I don’t mean the diminutive libertarian from Texas, Ron Paul. The teachings of the apostle Paul became an issue in the 2012 presidential campaign when former National Review writer Byron York asked candidate Michele Bachmann about a comment she made five years ago:

    YORK: In 2006, when you were running for Congress, you described a moment in your life when your husband said you should study for a degree in tax law. You said you hated the idea, and then you explained: “But the Lord said, be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husband.” As president, would you be submissive to your husband?

    The crowd booed and Bachmann’s supporters are crying foul; they shouldn’t be. It’s a fair question to ask of her because of her previous statement. As anyone in politics knows, your words will always come back to you in some fashion. But it does say something that the writings of Paul, written nearly 2000 years ago, are still so controversial, within and without the church, largely because they are either misinterpreted or because people tend to stop short when reading the actual text. Here is the passage in Ephesians that was referenced by York:

    Ephesians 5:22-24

    Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

    At there is where the debate typically begins and ends. Wives, it is claimed by critics of the doctrine, within and without the church, are commanded to be subservient, virtual slaves to their husbands! How can any modern, liberated woman adhere to such an archaic, phallocentric dogma? In the post-sexual revolution era, the very idea is heresy. But, such a superficial reading of the text just invites misinterpretation.  

    First of all, how are we all commanded to “submit unto the Lord”? Are we slaves, held against our will, contemptuous of a master who uses and abuses us? Not at all. Sure, Paul does use the word “slave” and that may be where the problem starts. The image that the modern man has of a slave is not the same as the manner in which Paul uses it. In the first verses of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he refers to himself as a slave, or a “bond slave” of Jesus Christ. Some translations use the more palatable word “servant” but Paul had a greater meaning in mind when he called himself a slave of our Lord!

    A bond slave is not what we educated, modern men think of when we hear the term slave. Its not plantations and forced labor and unwilling prisoners. A bond slave is a person who owed a debt to another, a debt that they could not repay, so they volunteered to serve, as a “slave” as repayment, in the creditor’s house. Now, in Deuteronomy, God instituted what was called the Jubilee Year. A year in which ALL debts are to be forgiven. The reason for this law is to be merciful to the poor and to give all those in debt a chance to start anew:

    "At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release . . .

    So, upon the Lord’s command, all the debtors were released from servitude, but some chose not to leave their master’s house. If the debtor was lucky enough to have served in a home where the master was a kind and benevolent person, the debtor often chose to stay and become a duolos, a bond slave. This is a person who willingly chooses to be a part of a house, to serve. Its not involuntary servitude, it’s a show of gratitude. To be a slave, as Paul means it, is an act of love. It is to acknowledge a great gift and to know that you can never repay your debt and your only recourse is to serve in a spirit of love and thanksgiving.

    Beyond that, the debate all too often misses out on the most important and probably even more controversial part of Paul’s message: the role of husbands to their wives. Men aren’t meant to be domestic taskmasters, sitting by haughtily and lording their power over their wives. Quite the opposite:

    25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

    As Christ loved the church…. That is not a master/slave relationship! Jesus never demanded blind, groveling obedience. As a matter of fact, in Matthew we see that He came to serve.

    “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

    And again in Mark:

    45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

    And in the second chapter of Philippians:

    5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

    6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,

    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

    7 rather, he made himself nothing

    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,

    being made in human likeness.

    8 And being found in appearance as a man,

    he humbled himself

    by becoming obedient to death—

    even death on a cross!

    Husbands are not meant to be their wife’s master. They are meant to be her spiritual leader and means to lead by example and to serve. And if she is obeying Christ by following you but you are not obeying Him by following His example, you will leave your wife bitter and resentful toward you and toward God. If anything, what Paul is describing is a marriage of two people, submitting themselves to God and serving one another in love. Come to think of it, in these times, an accurate understanding of Paul’s words is probably more controversial than the prevailing misconceptions!

    Also available:

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Having found God, then what?

    Monday, December 12, 2011, 1:33 PM [General]

    Its easy for us to sit comfortably in a faith that has been handed down to us over generations, surrounded by a society in which we are the majority and say, "I have the Truth and I would be able to find my way back to this Truth no matter what the circumstances into which I happen to be born." But is that really true? Now, we can say that God would, or we hope that he would, simply reach down imbue us with His word, but there are billions of people around the world who haven't had that experience, at least not in a way that they have been willing to accept. So, is it arrogant, self-righteous to say that we somehow would be different? That we are anything more than just lucky to have been born in the right place at the right time? The number of people who are born into one faith and then convert to another, especially if they are born into Islam, is relatively small. So, what makes us so special and them so not? We have been given a lot and, as a result, we owe a lot; a lot is required of us. Some of what is required of us, I believe, is to know what we believe and why we believe it. That, having Jesus, to continue searching for Him as if we had Him not.


    Some of us approach our faith much like the fearful servant in the Parable of the Talents. We take what little we have been given and bury it, never seeking to grow it into some thing more, certainly not a faith that would lead Christ to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things; I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."

    Sadly, for many people, their religion is largely a matter of proximity. Author and noted atheist, Bertrand Russell, said this:

    "…people choose the book considered sacred by the community in which they are born, and out of that book they choose the parts they like, ignoring the rest."

    It is hard to argue against that point. Do we really choose our faith or is it largely chosen for us by our parents and the culture into which we happen to be born?

    Excepted from The Four Pillars of the Kingdom

    Available now on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

    bit.ly/joesbookshelf

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Why Do you Believe?

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011, 8:57 AM [General]

    If you take the average Christian and ask them why they believe in God, you are likely to get a blank stare or, if you do get an answer, it will probably be a rambling spiel about how they just “feel” it to be true or that it is just the way they were raised. The truth is that most Christians in the Western world are Christians because the West is Christian. If these same people had been born in Riyadh, they would probably be using the same justification for believing in the inerrancy of Mohammed. If they had been born in New Delhi they would probably “feel” the same certainty about their sacred cow. The truth is that most Christians don’t know why they are Christians outside of the fact that that is the culture into which they were born. We were simply born Christians in the same way that we are born Americans, or Texans, or New Yorkers. But, if the Christian’s Great Commission is to take the redemptive promise of Christ to an unbelieving world, how effective can we be if we don’t know why we believe what we believe? If an atheist, a Muslim, or a Scientologist comes to you and says, “Why should I believe as you believe,” what will you say? Now, I realize that Christ tells us in Matthew:

     

    But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak. For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you.

     

    Moreover, I firmly believe this to be true. However, I also know that we are not meant to be benchwarmers, sitting listlessly on the sidelines, waiting for the Spirit to call our number. We need to dedicate ourselves to knowing what it is that we believe, like the Bereans. In the book of Acts, Luke tells us of the people of Berea who received the word with a ready mind but also searched the Scriptures daily to prove whether the things they were being told were true.

     

    Excerpted from The Four Pillars of the Kingdom

    Available now on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

    bit.ly/joesbookshelf

     

     

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    The Blessed Ascension of the Soul

    Monday, November 21, 2011, 5:15 PM [General]

     

    Mankind is geared to believe in a creator and to believe that the creator is still involved in our lives on some level and atheists are the one’s swimming against the stream of truth.  John Calvin also believed that we are made with a natural inclination to believe and it was our sin nature that blunted this predisposition towards God.  I would also add willful ignorance to the list of things that can separate us from our Creator, an ignorance born of and magnified by pride. The atheists like to think they are independent thinkers and they, like the man who tore free of his bonds in Plato’s “Parable of the Cave,” are the ones to walk out of the darkness and into the light.  However, in reality, they are fighting against the nature instilled in us all to turn towards our Creator.  Locke’s slate is not so blank, after all, but the doubters are doing there best to wipe away the truth and rewrite man’s story with a secular god of their own making.

    Our soul's natural inclination is towards God, to tear free of the earthly and temporal bonds of this life and to rejoice in the timeless presence of Him for whom it was created. Sadly, our soul and our will are often working towards different goals.     While  our  souls  desire  divine union  with  the  Everlasting,  our  will  is often  driven  by desires of the moment, of the here and now. As the old hymn goes,  this  world  is  not  our  home;  therefore,  the battle that must be won is the earthly submission of the will, usually against its own desire, to God. Only once the will is placed in His hands, under His control, can the soul begin its blessed ascension.   

     

    Excepted from The Four Pillars of the Kingdom

    Available now on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats. 

    bit.ly/joesbookshelf

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    The a la carte Christian

    Monday, November 21, 2011, 5:13 PM [General]

     

    Our nation is defined by the a la carte Christian who seeks comfort and affirmation and by the institutional pastorate that gives it to them in a doctrine-lite message meant to offend as few as possible.   By prosperity preachers whose message is that a good life is one of material success and that the size of one's bank account is a reflection of your closeness to God; pastors who are afraid to stand up for the Word out of fear of offending their "mega-congregations" and thereby reducing their own "closeness to God," aka their cash flow.    We have diminished and marginalized God and His principles in order to create a belief system that is about us, that is driven by daytime talk show hosts who peddle books by the latest guru and who pad their bank accounts by adding leaven to our already bloated sense of self-worth.

    We  are  too  seeker  friendly  and  not  Christ-centered nearly enough.  We have more pastors concerned about winning congregants for themselves than we have those who  are  driven  by  a  passion  to  bring  people  to  God. Rather than being a corporate body that takes the Word to society, we are a Society of Individuals that infuses our own priorities into our religion.   In doing so, we create a God   based   around   ourselves;   a   protean   deity   that surrenders the truth to us only after it takes on our shape.

     

    Excepted from The Four Pillars of the Kingdom

    Available now on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

     

    bit.ly/joesbookshelf

     

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    The Four Pillars of the Kingdom

    Monday, November 21, 2011, 5:10 PM [General]

    It is  easy  to  lose  track  of  the  simple  fact  that  we are here to sh ow o n e a no ther love ; to  be  each  other’s support, each other’s shelter, each other’s refuge from the negativity of the world that we so often create ourselves. We are a creation of love, we have been saved by love, every new morning that we are allowed to greet, every smile from our children, every touch from our lover, every little bit of hope that remains in us is a product of the love of God and it is our responsibility, our honor, to share that love with others in the same way that God has shared it with  us.    Love  is  a  dynamic  thing;  it  cannot  be  still,  it cannot be quiet.    It must be expressed.    A love locked away, limited, is fated to darken and wither like a plucked rose.   It can survive for a while, retain its vibrancy, its color, its aroma, but once its cut off from its source of nourishment, its fate is set.   Therefore, we are to cultivate it, nourish it daily and, most of all set it out before the world, for all to see its beauty.

     

    Christ died so that ALL may be saved, not just an acceptable percentage.  However, what we must not do is to become so satisfied with our own salvation that we choose to coast towards eternity.   That is not lo ve, it certainly is  n o t  indicative  of  someone  filled  with  the  spirit  of God.  His heart should be our heart; a heart that desires that all be saved.   Love reaches out to all and not just to those we deem as worthy, love is tireless unto the end, it is hopeful even  when  there  is  no  earthly  reason  to  hope, it  is  a reason  to  praise  even  in  the  darkest  of  nights, it  is  a reason to look up when the whole world seems to be dragging us down. Love,  when given,  grows exponentially.   The smallest seed can become a great abundance.  This is our task: to plant the seed so that He may reap the harvest.

     

    Excepted from The Four Pillars of the Kingdom

    Available now on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

    bit.ly/joesbookshelf

     

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Three Reasons I Hate Twilight

    Friday, November 18, 2011, 11:38 AM [General]

     

    Okay, maybe hate is a strong word. I don’t necessarily hate it but I do have, let’s use the word “concerns.” I have concerns with the Twilight franchise.

     

    As I write this I’m waging a glorious campaign to not have my senses assailed with the sights and sounds (and probably the rancid smell of bubblegum lip gloss and Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds intermingling with the salty goodness of popcorn and the stench of unrequited maturity) of endless lines of eager ticketholders who probably told their bosses they were sick and left their job early, or never even went to work at all, so they could stand in queue like unaware slaughterhouse cattle, waiting to see the current installation of Stephanie Meyer’s never ending ode to necrophilia/bestiality, Breaking Dawn, Part something. So far; so good.

     

    Okay, maybe hate isn’t too strong of a word.....!

     

     

    Read the rest here

     

    0 (0 Ratings)

    As a Christian, what makes your faith different than that of a Muslim, a Hindu, or even the “non-faith” of an atheist?

    Thursday, November 17, 2011, 9:58 AM [General]

    The Four Pillars of the Kingdom

    As a Christian, what makes your faith different than that of a Muslim, a Hindu, or even the “non-faith” of an atheist?  Are we able to properly explain our faith to each other, let alone someone who is desperately in need of the healing power of the forgiveness of Jesus Christ?  The Four Pillars of the Kingdom is an attempt to help us do just that by laying the groundwork, in an accessible manner, of what it means to be a Christian. The pillar of belief: why do we believe as we do? The pillar of knowledge: how we obtain our knowledge through scripture, prayer and even praise.  The pillar of life: what is the proper Christian life and how our actions represent Christ to the rest of the world.  And the pillar of love: how all love comes from God and should flow from us to those around us.  The Four Pillars of the Kingdom will challenge your relationship with Jesus but, in doing so; make it stronger and closer than you ever thought possible

    Available now on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

     

    bit.ly/joesbookshelf

     

    The First Pillar: Belief – “Our soul's natural inclination is towards God, to tear free of the earthly and temporal bonds of this life and to rejoice in the timeless presence of Him for whom it was created.”

    “… this innate  belief is more than a manmade construct devised to control our actions or to explain away natural phenomenon.  There seems to be a shared “experience” across all of creation that has left an indelible imprint upon who we are as a creature…  It is a fact that there is, among nearly all human beings, an idea that there is something that makes our existence purposeful.  Perhaps, embedded deep down in our genetic make-up, there is the imprint of a maker, much as an artist signs his paintings, which says, “This is the product of my labor and I call it my own.”

     

    The Second Pillar: Learn –  “You and I are in an amazing position.  Why? Because the creator of the universe and everything in it wants so desperately to have a close relationship with us.  That should make you stop in wonder.  God, who simply spoke EVERYTHING into existence, wants us to be his friends. That is what they mean by “friends in high places.”

    ”From the most complex life forms down to the simplest organism, the sharing of information is an integral part of life.   In the scope of human relations, it is simply impossible to love another person and not want to communicate with them, to share information.   It seems that is how we are hardwired.  Perhaps this is our nature because it is also God’s nature.  He wants us to come to Him, to share, to talk.  Moreover, he wants us to hear His voice, to listen attentively to His words of guidance, of solace, and of compassion. “    

     

    The Third Pillar – Live:  Once you acknowledge  the  kingship  of  Christ,  you  are  a representative of Him.   And as a representative ,  He expects us to appropriately represent Him to the world, to be the living embodiment of the one who has saved us so  that  others  will  want  to  know  the  source  of  our happiness. To do any less is to defame God.    

    The image of God that the world knows is largely that which is provided by His followers.  What sort of image are we creating in their eyes by our actions?  Is it one of love and hope, of forgiveness and a humble heart?    On the other hand, is it condemnation, of being judgmental? Is it one of hypocrisy and double standards, where we say one thing on Sunday mornings and do something entirely different  the  rest  of the week?   

    Too many people are being turned off by the church, not because of doctrine or lack of a willingness to believe, but by Christians themselves.  As the saying goes, "I like Jesus; it’s his followers that I can't stand." Many of us in the church appear as either holier-than-thou prudes who look down on everyone as “Sinners.” Alternatively, we are WINO's, Witnesses in Name Only, Christians who put a fresh coat of paint on every Sunday morning but are indistinguishable from the world the other six days of the week.  Rather than being set aside for God's purpose, we do our best to fit in, to conform to the world around us. The result being that our personal hypocrisy taints many people’s opinion of the entire body of Christ.

     

    The Fourth Pillar: Love - It is  easy  to  lose  track  of  the  simple  fact  that  we are here to sh ow o n e a no ther love ; to  be  each  other’s support, each other’s shelter, each other’s refuge from the negativity of the world that we so often create ourselves. We are a creation of love, we have been saved by love, every new morning that we are allowed to greet, every smile from our children, every touch from our lover, every little bit of hope that remains in us is a product of the love of God and it is our responsibility, our honor, to share that love with others in the same way that God has shared it with  us.    

    Love  is  a  dynamic  thing;  it  cannot  be  still,  it cannot be quiet.    It must be expressed.    A love locked away, limited, is fated to darken and wither like a plucked rose.   It can survive for a while, retain its vibrancy, its color, its aroma, but once its cut off from its source of nourishment, its fate is set.   Therefore, we are to cultivate it, nourish it daily and, most of all set it out before the world, for all to see its beauty.

    Love, when given,  grows exponentially.  The smallest seed can become a great abundance.  This is our task: to plant the seed so that He may reap the harvest.

    3.7 (2 Ratings)

    My Bookself - New works available. Essays: Political, Social and Religious

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 4:31 PM [General]

     

    Available and upcoming titles currently featured on the Bookshelf:

     

    Essays: Political, Social and Religious

    A collection of essays running the gamut from God's existence outside the space-time domain and the Apostle Paul's unlikely inclusion in the 2012 presidential election to the effects of illegal immigration on the American psyche and the dangerous philosophy of Lady Gaga.

     

    Contents: Space-Time and the Ultimate Sacrifice

    The Apostle Paul for President

    The Reasonable Martyrdom of the Self

    Lady Gaga's Original Sin

    Praising God in the Dark Nights

    What the Heart Wants

    American Hubris

    The New Immigrant and the Death of the Melting Pot

    Same-Sex Marriage and the Gay Agenda

     

    Available now on Kindle

     

     

     

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    My Bookself - New works available. The Four Pillars of the Kingdom

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 4:27 PM [General]

    Available and upcoming titles currently featured on the Bookshelf:

     

    The Four Pillars of the Kingdom

    With The Four Pillars of the Kingdom, author Joe Brooks challenges us to assess whether our relationship with Christ is a chosen faith or an inherited dogma. Is it a growing passion or a stagnant obligation? The Four Pillars of the Kingdom seeks to start the conservation that leads to an understanding of what we believe and why we believe it.

     

    Excerpt: “Do we really choose our faith or is it largely chosen for us by our parents and the culture in which we happen to be born? Most Christians in the Western World, especially those of us in the United States, live in a state that approaches blasphemy. We live in a self-perpetuating cycle wherein we are handed a faith that is nothing more than a cultural or family institution. We then take this set of beliefs for granted and are content to go through the motions, never aspiring to a real relationship with Christ or with our fellow believers. We are sleepwalking towards eternity, being lulled by a complacent institutional Christianity rather than seeking an active, vibrant one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ One has to wonder, how many people, self-proclaimed Christians, many of whom we see in church with us every week, never really even made a conscious choice to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior. How many people inherited their faith, have maintained it, and adhere to it publicly, but have never actually asked Jesus to be lord of their lives? How many of us are unwittingly destined to hear Christ tell us, 'I never knew you; depart from Me.'"

     

    Available now on Amazon and in bookstores.

     

                                       

    0 (0 Ratings)

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