Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Can Explain...

I was walking around a store in the mall the other day while my daughter was trying on clothes. Oh what fun walking around in the girls clothing department (sarcasm). I was looking at all of the shirts and came across one that made me laugh out loud.

Of course this shirt uses the who is naughty and nice line in the "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" song as a basis for a laugh. But let's take this a step to the serious side for a moment. We know that we don't have to worry about Santa's list, but is there something else we need to worry about? Will we ever feel the need to try to justify our actions when we are in the wrong?

Too many times we convince ourselves that a particular action is not as bad as others make it out to be. Before you know it we have given in to something that we shouldn't have done. Then, when we are caught we try to justify our actions. The question is can we justify our actions before a holy God?

Will He say it is ok if we claim our actions are not too bad? I seriously doubt it. 1 Kings 11:4 tells us that King Solomon compromised His beliefs and God responded harshly. Solomon was not faithful to God and the result was the loss of the kingdom. Can you imagine Solomon saying to God "I can explain". God had already warned Solomon but Solomon refused to listen.

Do we heed the warnings of God? Do we even know what His requirements are? You can find them in His Word. Don't put yourself into a situation where your only hope is "Lord, I can explain". You may not get the reply you hope for.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Questions from Teens (Part 2 - Other People in Genesis)

Today's teenage question is the following:

"In Genesis, when Cain is sent away to other people, who are the other people. I thought Adam and Eve were the first people created."

This question is not only posed by teens but it is a question among many adults. The question, however, is slightly off from Scripture but even in focus it poses the same inquiry. The passage being referred to here is Genesis 4:16-17 which says:

Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ge 4:16–17.]

The question more accurately should read "Where did Cain get his wife from?". The passage does not say that Cain is sent away to other people. It has just been an assumption that Cain had to get his wife from "another people" group. Keep in mind the question arises out of an assumption. This is an important question to answer because it is a key passage that many attempt to discredit the Scriptures from. Therefore, we must make sure we are not making any assumptions and we must know what Scripture says.

In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we see that God created Adam. This creation is the the first man on the planet. In these two chapters we don't see the text that states Adam was the first man, however, that statement is in Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 15:45 we see the following:

And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), 1 Co 15:45.] (underline emphasis mine)

Therefore, from Scripture, we can understand there were no other men on the face of the Earth before Adam himself. Now, how about women? Scripture tells us in Genesis 3:20 that Eve is the mother of all living.

And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ge 3:20.]

We know that Eve was created from the side of Adam (Genesis 2:22-24) and before this event there was no suitable helper like him found.

So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ge 2:20.]

If Scripture says there was no helper comparable to Adam found on Earth and next we see that God created Eve from Adam's side then we can connect Genesis 3:20 [above] to know that there were no others before Adam and Eve. We also know from Scripture that Eve is the mother of all living. Therefore, we can rightly say that ALL mankind started with Adam and Eve. There were no other people groups.

If there were no other people groups then Cain had to marry a relative, probably a sister or niece. For some of you, reading this article just became troublesome because it immediately raises the following question. Does the Bible say that we cannot marry relatives? The answer to that question is yes it does in Leviticus 18:6-18. This law was not given until much later. We also know that Abraham was married to his half sister (Genesis 20:12), some 400 years before the law in Leviticus 18 was given. Another example was Rebekah, Isaac's wife, who was Isaac's second cousin (Genesis 24:15) (also before the law in Leviticus 18).

Inbreeding was not a problem early in the human race because the genetic line was pure. However, because of Adam's sin, God cursed the world and everything began to decay. Therefore, God established the law in Leviticus 18 to prohibit incest when the genetic decay started to become a problem.  

We also know that in Genesis chapter 5 that Adam had other sons and daughters and he lived 930 years. There was probably a decent selection of girls that Cain could have chosen for a wife. To focus only on Scripture to answer this question they would have all had to be relatives.

Make sure we know how to answer these questions because these are key passages to those who desire to discredit Scripture.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Monday, October 25, 2010

Questions from Teens (Part 1 - Evolution)

As we begin our series "Questions from Teens" we are going to start off with a very tough question. Yes, this is a question from a teenager. This is not the typical question that you would normally hear but it illustrates an important element of what teens face and think about. When you read it, ask yourself how you would answer it.

"Are evolution and Christianity compatible? Are there alternatives to neo-Darwinian evolution in the realm of evolutionary theory?"

First, I want to ask is how a high school student is asking about evolution and neo-Darwinian evolution. To answer, understand that our teens are faced with these subjects starting in middle school and reinforced throughout high school. Some of these terms may not look familiar to you so we are going to define them.

The first term we are familiar with but we must understand there are different facets of the term. In light of the question we will narrow the subject to human evolution and define it from The Encyclopedia of Christianity.

Human Evolution: A very large field that can only be mentioned here is the history of human evolution, which studies the emergence of the human species among the other primate species. This field, which brings together primatology, paleontology, anthropology, genetics, and molecular biology, offers new ways to describe the relationship between humans and other animals.
Even this brief sketch of the range of sciences that deal with evolution indicates that evolution is today one of the most critical and fruitful ideas governing our understanding of human life and thought. Evolutionary science confronts philosophy, ethics, and theology with a formidable range of deeply significant issues. [Erwin Fahlbusch and Geoffrey William Bromiley, vol. 2, The Encyclopedia of Christianity (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leiden, Netherlands: Wm. B. Eerdmans; Brill, 1999-2003), 230.]

The next term we will deal with is a rather new term and we will get the definition from the Concise Oxford Dictionary.

Neo-Darwinian Evolution:  Biology relating to the modern version of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, incorporating the findings of genetics. [Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).]

One doesn't hear too much about the second defined term, however, it is something we need to be aware of. Neo-Darwinian Evolution takes the standard evolutionary theory to the next level. Darwin's original theory was presented before the discovery of genetics. This discovery created problems for the theory itself. Therefore, a modified theory was created and is known as the Neo-Darwinian Evolution theory. This new theory adds individual genetic traits transferred to successive generations.  Without getting too involved in the theory's explanation we could add that it includes the differential transmission of alternative gene alleles for species characteristics. These characteristics are passed to the offspring.

If you still have questions in regards to the terms there is plenty of information on the Internet to help see the theories clearly.

Let's answer the questions posed by the teenager. The first question is "Are evolution and Christianity compatible?" My first reply is that evolution does not fit the facts of science. For evolution to be credible science has to support the theory. Look at the following chart from Defending Your Faith by Dan Story:

[Dan Story, Defending Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 146.]

Just the basic elements of evolution cannot be considered factual because the evidence does not support the theory. If we do not have transitional fossils then evolution has a problem. If mutations result in a negative result then evolution has a problem. Thermodynamics and the Anthropic Principle both creates a huge problem for evolution.

Let's look at the second question. "Are there alternatives to the Neo-Darwinian Evolution Theory in the realm of evolutionary theory?"

If the basic elements of evolution are flawed and unsupported by scientific evidence then any building block placed on top of a flawed foundation will also fail. So, the answer to the question is "no".

In summary, I believe the words of Dan Story summarizes it quite well when he said the following:

When all the evidence is in, one fact stands out. Believing in atheistic evolution demands an enormous amount of faith. In fact, in light of the scientific evidence, it takes much greater faith to believe in evolutionism than it does to believe in creationism. Evolution requires us to believe that out of chaos, time, and chance arose order, design, and harmony. It teaches that life came from nonlife, that human ethics and morality came from amorality, that human intelligence came from irrationality. By comparison, creationists look out upon the orderly universe, the design and harmony in nature, human morality and rationality, and see their source in an intelligent, moral, all-powerful, creative God. Which requires the most faith to believe? [Dan Story, Defending Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 150.]

As a student begins to ask questions about what they are learning in school we as parents, ministers, and Christian educators must be ready to understand and discuss the differences between evolution and creationism. Too often we don't have the answer and we don't act like we want to find the answer. Our students and children will see that we don't know and accept the teaching of the evolutionist. Which do you want to happen?

I know that some of you reading this may have adopted the idea of Theistic Evolution (the idea that God started the creative process, and allowed nature to take its course through macroevolution). This post is not designed to answer every element of evolution but to only answer the question posed by the teens. We may discuss the flaws in that theory in the future.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Friday, October 22, 2010

Questions from Teens (Introduction)

Over the next few weeks I want to share with you some of the many questions that teens are asking today. As a matter of fact, the questions that will be posted are questions from my own youth group this year (2010). As I post the question I will also post my answer which will be Biblically based.

I want to take this moment to talk about a staggering statistic that illustrates what happens when teens, who were once involved in church, leave the home. The statistics say that over 60% of teens will leave the church after graduating from High School and entering college. These statistics are not positive on them ever returning.  The question that immediately arises is "why". Why are college students leaving the church at a staggering rate? I believe the answer is very complex but is founded in the fact that we are not answering their questions. First, our families are being torn apart by Satan. He is the father of lies and the Bible tells us that he is a thief who wants to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to destroy the family unit and in the process he wants to remove any "Spiritual" influence from the children.

Families today are in a crisis. Families are dealing with broken homes, a multi-parent workforce, unemployment, debt, and the list goes on. With the high-demand, fast paced, lifestyles that we are living we do not have time to operate as a family unit and therefore offer no Spiritual guidance and assistance to our children. We, in turn, take our children to church hoping the pastor, youth pastor, or Sunday School teacher can change their behavior and lives. We allow the world to influence our children 164 hours a week and hope the remaining 4 hours of "church time" will keep them on track.

Parents, it is time we take the Spiritual responsibility that God has given us (especially fathers) and step up to the plate. We have to answer the "life" questions of our children from a Biblical perspective. If we do not know the answers to the tough questions, we must FIND the answers and be responsible to our children's inquiries. When we do not care to find the answer (Parent, Sunday School teacher, Youth Pastor, or Pastor) then I guarantee the Ph.d professor at the University will offer them an answer. The result is devastating.

So over the next few weeks please allow me to share with you the questions of our teens in today's culture. I hope you take time to see and understand they have questions that need answers. Also, in the meantime a post I wrote recently certainly draws a connection to this subject. It may be worth reading again.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Characteristics of a Godly Person (Part 3 of 3)

Today is our final look at the Characteristics of a Godly Person using Psalm 1:1-3 as a guide. We have already explored the first two verses so now we will jump on the last verse.

Psalm 3:3 states: "He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper." [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ps 1:3.]

This is an interesting verse to compare the characteristics of a Godly person against. We have to remember up to this point that the characteristics of a Godly person included following God's ways and desiring time in God's Word. Now, verse three illustrates the result of the first two verses. This person shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. He shall bring forth fruit in his season and he shall prosper.

A person who desires God's Will and Word for his life, the Bible says, shall be prosperous. Whatever he does (because his desire is God's desire) shall prosper. Keep in mind here that the prosperous part is directly related to a life overflowing with God's desire. God, therefore, will grant the desires and actions of a godly man because he is controlled by God's law. So, if a person studies and meditates on God's Word he should have godly actions. Those actions will prosper because it is what God wanted to begin with.

It is always exciting that God gives us the standard where we can measure ourselves against. Are we prosperous as a result from following God and His Word?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Monday, October 18, 2010

Characteristics of a Godly Person (Part 2 of 3)

Today we are going to look at verse two in this three part series of the Characteristics of a Godly Person.

Psalm 1:2 states: But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ps 1:2.]

We can say that verse one spoke about not being under the influence of ungodly people. This second verse follows by instructing us as to what we need to be under the influence of. We need to delight in the law of the Lord. We need to read, study, and meditate on the Word of God. The word delight in this verse gives us a key to studying God's Word. Delight essentially means to look forward to or to desire. We will not truly study God's Word unless we desire to study His Word.

I am not a big fan of "reading the Bible in a year" type of programs because I don't feel that reading large quantities each day gives you ample time to study and learn. There is a difference between reading to achieve time\quantity goals and studying. Too many times we find ourselves reading to achieve the quantity goals. We read two or three chapters because that is what today's reading guide told us to read and we miss the truths that the Scripture is trying to teach us. We need to take a different approach to God's Word. We need to study it. We need to slowly spend time in a handful of verses each day and seek God's direction on how to apply them to our lives.

When we spend time in God's Word it becomes alive and deals with issues we are facing. Experiencing God's Word within our own lives brings excitement and draws us closer to the Father. That draw essentially becomes our delight. When we begin to experience God's Word we desire it day and night. Our influence needs to be from God's Word.

Another characteristic of a Godly person is that he or she loves spending time in His Word. Who are following today?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Characteristics of a Godly Person (Part 1 of 3)

I was listening to a message the other day on a CD and the individual challenged the listener to read Psalm 1 and determine the characteristics of a Godly person. In reading the first three verses of the passage I believe we can summarize what a Godly person should look like. I have broke the three verses into three different posts. Here is verse 1.

Psalm 1:1 states "Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;" [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ps 1:1.]

Just this one verse has three different examples of someone who is considered to be blessed. The way this verse is setup is that there are three different parallels of the same subject and they intensify the expression of the message.

First, do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. In other words, do not be influenced by ungodly people. Do not be taken in by those who mock Christianity. If others are living their lives in rebellion to God, then don't be a part of it. Your lifestyle need not to be the picture of a dead end road. God has given you abundant life and you need to live a life of hope because He has given that to you.

This verse also tells us not to sit in the seat of the scornful. It is too easy to hang out with others who laugh at the mockery of Christianity. When God saved you, He set you apart for a purpose. That purpose is to glorify the Father. Your life should look different than before you were saved. When others scorn Christianity then you need to take a stand and not give your vote of acceptance by your silence.

Verse 1 is essentially saying that to be a Godly person you have to live a life that is different than the world. You cannot do this on your own but only through the blood of Christ. If He has saved you, then your life should look different than the world. My prayer is that you desire to be more like Christ everyday.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What are you doing here?

I spent some time this week reading in 1 Kings chapter 19. If we know anything about Elijah we know the story of the defeat of the 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. That event happens right before this chapter. Immediately in chapter 19 we are taken to a conversation between King Ahab (King of Israel) and his wife Jezebel (who brought Baal worship to Israel). Ahab tells his wife what just happened and she becomes angry. Her immediate response is to threaten to kill Elijah.

Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), 1 Ki 19:2.]

Elijah, the awesome prophet of God, does something quite unexpected. He flees the area. He runs for the hills. This is the prophet who has just witnessed the hand of God against the prophets of Baal. Why would he do such a thing? I believe that we can ask ourselves the same question. If we have been born again why do we fear the threats of this world? Elijah wound up in a cave on the side of Mt. Horeb. It was here the Word of the Lord came to him and said "What are you doing here, Elijah?". I believe his response is a lot like ours. He replied that he had been working his heart out and he felt all alone and afraid for his life.

A lot of times we feel alone in this battle. We feel that our decision for the Lord sacrifices friends of whom we desire the attention. We, however, must never forget, the one who loves us the most is always there with us. The one who sacrificed His only Son is whispering our name. It was in that "still small voice" that Elijah reconnected with the Father and was told that he was not alone. God loved him and there were seven thousand others that He had reserved in Israel who had not given in to the Baal worship.

What are you doing here? Are you feeling alone? Reconnect with the Father in Heaven through His Word. Listen for His still small voice. Don't walk through this life without the power of God's Word and the Spirit on your life.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where Have You Been?

Sometimes when we talk we don't think anyone is listening. A pastor friend of mine was talking yesterday about preaching a sermon and not feeling as if it was getting past the pulpit. Talking with a friend of mine today reminded me that I have not posted anything in the last few weeks. Was it because I felt as if no one was listening? No, I think it was because I have been a little busy and out of focus. I must say that it is easy to get sidetracked and let things slip away. Do you ever let things you value as important move to the back burner of life?

I do feel that this platform is important in helping others connect better to our Heavenly Father. However, sometimes I let it slide to the lower position of priorities. That is a lot like our Christian faith. Sometimes we let life get in the way. Before you know it, you have sacrificed your daily worship for the "busy" of the day. I wonder how our Heavenly Father feels when we neglect our time with Him. I am reminded of a verse in Acts which says:

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:25

Paul and Silas were not in the best of circumstances. As a matter of fact, they were in the center of the jail-house, chained and locked away. If I would have been there, I would have been singing the blues. Paul and Silas, however, were singing hymns. They were in direct communication and communion with the Father. They did not see their circumstances as being such to distract them from their worship. Their love for God was the sole reason they were put away, and they knew that He would take care of them. Do you think the Father heard their prayers and songs of praise? Absolutely!

When life is unfair or becomes too busy, what do you do? Do you cling to the Father or cry in the shower? We can learn a lot from Paul and Silas. Their feet were in the stocks but they still went before the heavenly throne. They were locked in the center of prison but they sang from the pinnacle of their hearts. Their focus was always on the Father, no matter what the circumstances. The result of their actions was a very attentive prison population and a saved family. As a matter of fact, you may never know who is listening or watching. We must always be about the Father's business. It may change a life.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Problem / Sin Relationship?

There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. [Luke 13:1-5 NKJV]

It is interesting to hear people compare other's sin to the problems they experience. For example they may say that since John Doe is having so many problems it is because of the magnitude of sin he has in his life. Not only do we hear this today, this was also a common Jewish belief of the time. We have to understand a few things about sin and consequences. Never forget that we face the consequences of our decisions. This is true, however, it is not the case that all problems are in proportion to the level of sin we are in the middle of.

Think about Job. He was a man that the Bible says was upright and blameless. He was a man of complete integrity. If you read the book that bears his name you will see the he loses almost everything in his life. He loses his kids and all of his possessions. What did he do wrong? He did nothing wrong. Remember the Bible called him blameless.

So, what do we make of all of this? Sometimes we go through trials in life as part of satan's attempt to steer us off course. Sometimes we are allowed to experience trials to build faith or character. But through it all we experience the power and hand of God to guide and comfort us. We may not know why God allows up to experience certain trials in our lives but we can be sure that He loves and cares for us and has our best interest at heart.

Remember, God sent His only Son to this world to live a perfect life and become the sacrifice for the sins of this world. Through His death, burial, and resurrection, He conquered death and the grave giving anyone who believes in Him everlasting life (John 3:16). This gives us comfort to know that God loved us so much that He provided the way for us to live eternally with Him. Sin, however, does create a problem for mankind. Without repenting and coming to Christ as Jesus said in Luke 13 we will perish no matter how great or how small the sin.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Divided Interest (Part 3)

And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him,  “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Lk 9:61–62.]

In the third part to this series of Divided Interest we are going to look at the third man in Luke 9:57-62. The third man responds to Christ that he will follow Him but he first wants to go home and say good-by to his family. We might not think that this is too great of a request but Jesus throws the man a curve. He says that no one who has his hand on the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.

What may not be evident in this passage is the knowledge of the Jews who would immediately have recalled the situation between Elijah and Elisha. Elijah had allow Elisha to do this very thing when Elisha was plowing (1 Kings 19:19-20). So why does Jesus seem harsh with this man? First, Jesus is placing a great emphasis on the kingdom. He is essentially saying that the kingdom is more important than anything, even family. The message of the Messiah cannot wait. In comparison to Elijah's message, the message of Christ is far more important and demands complete and total allegiance.

Followers of Jesus cannot have a divided interest. How much of our time do we sacrifice kingdom things in light of good things? I believe that we can learn a lot from Jesus' attitude toward the priorities of man. Are there things that we need to lay aside for Christ?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Divided Interest (Part 2)

Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him,  “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Lk 9:59–60.]

I have been asked many times about this passage. Most people are concerned that Jesus apparently did not allow this man to bury his father. The people who interpret the Scripture in this manner may be overlooking the fact that if this man's father was already dead, then he would have already been involved in the burial process. This passage is better interpreted that the man's father was not already dead and thus he preferred to wait until his father passed before committing.

It is interesting that Jesus used the same words ("Follow Me") to call this man to follow Him as He did His disciples. To compare the disciples response, this man was not willing to leave on Jesus' terms but rather his own terms. Jesus' reply illustrated that his response was not acceptable.

The priority placed on the message of the kingdom is apparent. Jesus is calling people to be radically changed followers committing themselves to His will. Is our commitment pleasing to Christ or do we have other commitments that take priority?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Divided Interest (Part 1)

Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him,  “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Lk 9:57–58.]

I have been studying Luke 9:57-62 this week. This has always been a fascinating passage of Scripture. Jesus, His disciples, and three individuals are presented in verses 57-62 of this passage. The first person who enters the picture tells Jesus that he will follow Him where ever He goes. Jesus replies that foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. At first glance the meaning may not be as obvious to the reader without some thinking into the situation.

Jesus and His disciples are on their way to Jerusalem. We find earlier in the chapter that Jesus gave His disciples instructions on how to find rest and food when entering into a new city. He told them about His coming death and the cost of being a disciple. As we come to the close of this chapter a man approaches and expresses his desire to follow Christ. Jesus' reply expresses that anyone who desires to follow Him must be willing to give up the necessities of life. Essentially, Jesus was asking if the man was willing to give up everything to be a follower.

We have to ask ourselves the same question. I feel too many people expect to live the life they have always wanted while calling themselves a Christian. When the trials come they reply that this was not what they bargained for. Jesus wants us to know that the cost of being a follower may not be the life that we expect. Being a follower of Jesus involves sacrifice and sometimes hardships. However, when we truly see our relationship to Christ as the result of the sacrifice that was made for us then it is not too difficult to face whatever may come before us.

Our love for Christ should not be second to our love for the luxuries of this world.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why Logos?

I know many of you recently have heard me talk about Logos software. I am usually not one to advertise other's products on my blog, Facebook, twitter, etc., however, this one product is one of my greatest helps to the study of God's Word. Here are some of the questions that I am routinely asked that has partially prompted me to write a post concerning this subject:

  • What is your opinion of the best Bible software on the market?
  • Is there a really good Bible app for the iPhone?
  • What Greek language helps are there on the market?
  • What do you spend most of your time studying in preparation for teaching or preaching?
Let me try to answer each one of these briefly. First, to the question of the best Bible software on the market, I would have to answer Logos Bible Software. I used to be a big fan of the PC Study Bible, however, in seminary I was introduced to Logos and life has never been the same. In my opinion there is no comparison between the products. Logos will allow you to search every book in your Logos library (you can have thousands of books consisting of Commentaries, Bible Dictionaries, Bibles, and others) and link all of the search results to the Bible passage you are studying. As you move through the Scripture, the results move with you. It is absolutely incredible! You can search your entire library in just seconds.

Second, is there a really good Bible app for the iPhone? The answer is Logos. It is a free app, but if you own the Logos Bible Software version 4 then most of your library comes with you on the iPhone. The app is also for the iPod Touch and the iPad. You just have to overcome the feeling of people thinking you are text messaging while you are sitting in the services. 

Third, what Greek language computer helps are available? Logos offers the Greek and Hebrew texts (depending on the level your purchase) and has the ability to present, not only the Strong's Numbers, but a complete reverse interlinear against the English text! To me this has become one of the greatest tools for understanding the original language of the Scripture. It walks me through the grammar, tense, and other language difficulties that I have. I don't know any other software that currently does this. 

Finally, what do you spend most of your time studying when preparing to preach or teach? The first answer is the Bible. I always start with God's Word in print in front of me when I am studying. Second, I have my laptop open with Logos Bible Software running. Not only do I have all of the commentaries open but I also have Greek or Hebrew open as well as any other supporting information found within the Logos library. I can compare translations as well as understand the historical and grammatical context of the Scripture. 

I say all of this as a help to others. If I did not love and use the product, I would not back the product. But let me also say that it is a learning curve. Out of the box will require some time to really tap into the power this software has to offer. Don't worry though, the website has a ton of training videos to help you through the process. The software runs on Mac, PC (a beefy one I might add), and the devices listed earlier in this post. As a matter of fact the company is in the process of releasing version 4 to the Mac community as of this writing. 

If you want to know more information you can check out their website at If you are really interested, make sure you understand what you get in each different level. Information can be found on the comparisons page.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV

Have fun studying!
Doug Johnson

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Dark Side of Change

Most change happens slowly over time. From day to day this seems to be unnoticeable, but in comparison over a decade or a century, it can be drastic. As we grow older we look into the mirror and we don't see a change from one day to the next. But, heaven forbid, when someone pulls out the photo album we run into the next room hiding from the pictures of our past. I had a teenager recently see me in an old high school yearbook. With the laughter and the comments and I had to come to the realization that I don't look like I did 25 years ago.

Understanding that change constantly happens how can we apply this to Christianity? Life surrounding the Old Testament illustrated that the family was responsible for the training of a child in the areas of Spiritual things as well as a trade. From the times of the New Testament Church to the 21st century we have deviated from a home educational environment to a government controlled public school setup.

In the last 2000 years one of the major changes that happened was during the Industrialization period. It was in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that industry began to arrive on the scene which demanded the attention of a larger workforce. Young people left their home towns and moved to metropolitan areas to fill the demands of new jobs. By doing this they broke close contact with extended families and their beliefs. It was during this time that the learning of new trades began to be taught within the workforce or public institution.

Our current educational system was greatly influenced by Charles Darwin and John Dewey. In 1859 Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species was published. This became revolutionary in the school system and could be felt in almost every discipline of education. Born in the same year was and American educator and philosopher by the name of John Dewey. He was brilliant in educational methods and structure, however, his influence to the system was one of naturalism. He left no room for God or creationism. This did not happen overnight. In fact the Industrialization period practically paved the way for Dewey and Darwin to darken the view of God and creation by first weakening the influence and structure of the family.

In the twentieth century our public school system managed to practically remove any element of God and creation out of our public schools. Textbooks scream with evolution and its philosophical disciplines and teachers risk their jobs by presenting Biblical truths as its opposition within their classrooms.

Therefore, if we take a photo album that spans the course of 2000 years we will see a major shift in what influences our children and our society. I am sure that from one year to the next the change that happened could not be seen. But the fact is, we live in a world where Christianity and its foundations are being challenged by unsupported theories and people who desire no connection to a Holy and living God. Darwinism, naturalism, and any other theory that attempts to blind the individual of the truths of the foundations of this universe is only a ploy by the father of lies. His objective is to deceive and destroy without allowing for the reconciliation between man and a Holy God.

So, did all of this happen naturally? No. It was a plot of Satan himself, the father of lies. Even today he will use people to twist the truth and steer others off course. Therefore, we need to be awake and prepared for those who will try to deceive.

2 Peter 2:19 says of those teaching a false gospel: While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Scoffers, fleeing to the hills and rocks!

I have just finished studying 2 Peter 3:1-9 and have spent some time on the subject of "scoffers". Verses 3b-4 say:

that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), 2 Pe 3:3–4.]

A scoffer is one who "mocks" or "makes fun of" the Word of God or His messengers. We all have seen them; they are the ones who like to ridicule you about your faith. Since they do not want to be accountable to a Holy and living God who is both loving and just, they want to ignore anything that has to do with His existence.

The question posed in Peter's letter is interesting. The question is one of continuing normality. For example, a scoffer says since nothing has changed over the past generation then that proves there is no God. We must be careful with this logic. Our measurement of time is not God's measurement of time. We measure time by the Earth's revolution on its axis and its orbit around the sun. God, who created the universe, created both the Sun and the Earth. He put the Earth on its axis and into its orbit. If God created the Universe and we know that our time reference is related only to our solar system then we must admit that God is outside of the time element as we know it.

Peter sees this the same way. In verse 8 he says: But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. [NKJV, 2 Pe 3:8]

Therefore, we must be careful setting time markers for God's movement. Peter reminds us to focus on the prophets (of the Old Testament) and the apostles (in the New Testament). By doing so, we will see how God is working through mankind and His plan for eternity. Why haven't we seen the second coming yet? Because God is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." [NKJV, 2 Pe 3:9]

As for the scoffers, I think Charles Spurgeon said it best in his 1857 sermon "Secret Sins" when he said:

When Christ comes a second time, there will be a marvelous change in the way men talk. Me thinks I see him; there he sits upon his throne. Now, Caiaphas, come and condemn him now! Judas! Come and kiss him now! What do you stick at man? Are you afraid of him? Now, Barabbas, go! See whether they prefer you to Christ now. Swearer, now is your time; you have been a bold man; curse him to his face now. Drunkard, stagger up to him now! Infidel, tell him to his face that there is no Christ now that the world is lit with lightning and the earth is shaken with thunder. Tell God there is no God now; now laugh at the Bible, now scoff at the minister. Why, men, what is the matter with you? Why can’t you do it? Ah! There you are: you have fled to the hills and to the rocks. ‘Rocks hide us! Mountains fall on us! Hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne.’ ‘Ah! Where are now your boasts, your vaunting, and your glories? Alas! Alas! For you in that dread day of wonders!’

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Temporal vs. Eternal

Col 3:2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

How many times do we plan for the here and now? It is interesting to ask Christians the goals they are working toward. For example, some may say they want to be the president or CEO of a major international corporation. Some may want a house on the beach or a European sports car. Most people at least plan for a retirement where they can enjoy peace and security until they die. These things are great aspirations, however, it leads me to ask a question.

Do we sacrifice our faith to obtain those goals?

Please don't misunderstand my comments here. I am NOT saying that being the CEO of a company, having a nice house, having a nice car, or planning for retirement is wrong. What I am saying is we need to be checking our focus. Does that position at your job stand before God's will for your life? Does the desire to own that expensive sports car consume your thoughts and control your actions? Is your focus on the temporal?

Colossians tells us that we need to set our minds on things above rather than things here. Paul was not telling us to have a disdain of material things. We know that God created all and His work is good. However, when we let our (fleshly) desires take over it turns bad.

Paul is saying that what we gain here is only temporary and has no eternal benefit, however what we do for God is eternal. We forget that if we are fortunate we will walk this planet for 70+ years and then we will arrive into the eternal realm. When we finish our lives here we will not take anything with us. Nothing physical can go beyond the grave. So, in the time you have here are you building your treasures for rust and decay? Or, Christian, are you building your treasures for eternity? Think about the following: while on earth people invest large amounts of time and money into a retirement plan so when that time comes they can reap the rewards of their investments. Christian, we should be spending the 70+ years investing for eternity.

It is all about the temporal vs. the eternal. What are we doing that really matters?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Destin and Qualified Community Responders

The oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico caused a lot of people to change their plans about vacationing along the shorelines of the Gulf. Part of my plans were to spend a week here with family and enjoy the beautiful water and sands of Destin Florida. The thoughts of vacationing on oily beaches and not being allowed into the water plagued my mind for weeks before our scheduled trip but that did not stop us from going.

We were surprised with what we found when we arrived. There was no oil and the waters were perfect. We also noticed a reduction in the amount of people vacationing here this summer. As a matter of fact, this week we have yet to wait longer than 15 minutes for dinner (and that only happened 1 time). What a pleasant surprise.

What I did notice was people daily combing the beaches for oil. These guys are Qualified Community Responders and are paid by BP.

Look at them closely. They are wearing rubber boots, rubber gloves, long pants, and carrying what looks to be butterfly nets. They are walking up and down the beach everyday sifting through seaweed looking for oil deposits. What is interesting is where they are walking. These two are looking for oil 5 yards from the highest point water normally gets during high tide. Do you think they will find anything there? I don't. First of all I don't think there is anything to find in Destin. I applaud BP for training and hiring unemployed people at 18 dollars an hour to do this job (supervisors are getting 32 an hour) but it seems to be a blind task here in Destin.

These guys will tell you they are finding it in the seaweed but I have yet to locate any. Their response to this would be that I am not trained to see it. In any case, for what seems to be little to no oil there are a lot of people working at 18 dollars an hour to clean it up. I counted 14 this past Monday.

So if you come to Destin look for the little tents with people in yellow boots sitting underneath. There should be a four wheeler close by.

Every now and then a couple will make a trek through the beautiful white sands looking for tar-balls. They are the Qualified Community Responders.

Come to Destin where the beaches are white and the water is clear. I have enjoyed an awesome vacation with my family at the most beautiful beach in the country.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Location:Hwy 98 E,Destin,United States

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hopeless people, suicidal pigs, and angry farmers.

I just recently challenged my Facebook friends to look at Matthew 8:28-34 and to find application in those verses. I thought I would share it on my blog as well. Before reading the rest of this article read those verses and see what you can find.

Glad you are back! Let's look at a couple of things. To the Jewish mindset farmers should not be raising animals that are unclean to eat. Therefore, the loss of a herd of pigs was not a great loss to a Jewish audience. Remember, Matthew's account was written with a Jewish flavor because that was his background. From the view of the farmers, however, this was a great loss.

There are different reactions by different audiences. The Jews focused on the pig farmers and felt there was no great loss because they were doing something they were not supposed to be doing in the first place. The application here is to make sure to be focused on what is important to God rather than our personal desires. Sometimes we can't see those (the individuals) who need to be freed from sin because we are more concerned with their actions (the sin itself).

The farmers, on the other hand, suffered a great loss (their livelihood) for the liberation of two men. Obviously, they were angry and reported this to their families and friends who in turn asked Jesus to leave the area. The application here is to be careful what you deem to be important in your lives. We must be careful to follow Jesus no matter what the cost. Are we willing to give up everything to follow Jesus or are we more concerned about our "stuff"?

Finally, in this passage we see that Jesus can free us from the realm and control of the unseen. Satanic control and influence are real and we must be sure of whose side we are on. Have you been freed from the chains and bondage of sin and death? This is not something you can do on your own, but rather is is only through the power of Jesus Himself.

It is a great passage to study. Hopeless people, suicidal pigs, and angry farmers. Jesus certainly "stirs things up"!

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Lamp of the Body

In my devotion time this morning two verses stood out above all the rest. The verses were the following:

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23 NKJV)

Jesus makes reference to a major problem of the Pharisees. They believed that wealth was an outward sign of God's blessing and they wanted to make sure that everyone saw how "blessed" they were. Therefore, they became consumed with financial gain. We see that almost everything the Pharisees did was for "appearance". Jesus had just finished talking about the wrong motive of giving, fasting, and praying. Practicing these with the goal of being seen would produce no Spiritual benefit. Therefore, we must keep check on our motives for our actions.

The use of our eyes will reveal what is most important to us. If our goal every waking moment is to watch ESPN then we will have the tv on and set to that channel every day. If our love is horror movies then we will rent them or go to the theater to watch them. Whatever our heart's desire, our eyes will consume.

Jesus said that if our eye was good our whole body would be full of light. If Christ is in your heart and Lord of your life then your eyes will be focused toward Him and His ways. You will be reading His Word and seeking His Will. The result will be a life that illuminates Christ.

What are your eyes are focused on? Is it Christ or something else?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Restricted Worship

Each year after going to camp I realize that there is a missing element in our lives when we are in the routines of our everyday world. When we go to camp we are removed from the "routine" schedule. We do not have cellphones to text our friends. We do not have TV to consume our evenings. We do not have iPods or MP3 players. We do not have any of the things that we depend on every day. The purpose of this is so we can completely focus on our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

In that "zone" we are more likely to be serious about connecting with Jesus. We spend time studying the Word. We spend more time in prayer. We spend more time listening and meditating on the sermons we hear. This brings an interesting result into our lives. We experience true worship.

In our churches today and in our everyday lives I don't believe we see much true worship. When we are sitting in the pews we may sing some songs and throw some cash in the offerings but we never experience the Spirit of God. In our daily lives our quiet times are so cut and dry we never hear from or are touched by the Spirit. Unfortunately we spend more time in front of our TV's and listening to our iPods than we do in the Word. What is the result? Restricted Worship.

I posted a video last week of part of a worship time at camp. The audio is a little distorted (it was the best I could do with a cell phone) but you will see the concept of public worship without reservation. The majority of vocals is from the students. What really hit home was the question from a student that asked why we don't worship like this in our churches. My answer is probably because we are not prepared to worship. There are too many distractions and we are too concerned what others might think or say.

If our distractions hinder our worship then are our distractions becoming our god? How do you worship? Is it unrestricted and daily?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Friday, June 18, 2010

Love, the top building block above faith

2 Peter 1:7b says " and to brotherly kindness love".

Peter has given us a list of characteristics to work on within our journey of sanctification. Love is the last one that he brought to the table. Does this mean that it is the least significant? Absolutely not!

It may appear that Peter is geing a little repetitive with the love virtue, because he just mentioned brotherly kindness (or brotherly love). What is the difference here? The previous characteristic, brotherly love, is a love that we show within the walls of the church. It is a love that we exhibit to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Today's characteristic is one that is shown outside of the church walls.

Jesus was very specific about showing love to this world that is around us. He told us to love our enemies. He told us to love those who persecute us. He told us to love our neighbor. As Christians do we love our enemies and neighbors? Better yet, do we even know the names of our neighbors?

Love is the final virtue for a very special purpose. Love is the fruit of faith. When your faith is strong and growing, you will find it easy to love. So as we are going and as we are growing let us express the love of Christ in all we do. The Southern Baptists recently had a slogan that said "Love Out Loud". Let me follow that by saying "crank it up"!

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Brotherly kindness, a building block above faith

2 Peter 1:7a says "to godliness brotherly kindness".

Brotherly kindness comes from the Greek word philadelphia and carries the meaning to show love to your brothers and sisters in Christ. This showing of love should come from the heart and not be just meaningless actions. There is a lot to say in the Bible about how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Matthew 22:37-39 says "Jesus said to him, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’"

It is interesting that we can plug all 10 Old Testament Commandments into these two that Jesus gave us. Note that we first must love God with all of our being and then we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Sometimes I wonder how much the Christian loves himself when I see how they treat their friends with disrespect.

Romans 12:10 says "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another". In other words we need to be showing our brothers love in all that we do. We need to have a genuine concern for our brother caring for their needs and well being.

One of the most compelling verses in the New Testament about loving our brother is found in 1 John 4:20 which says "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?"

These words speak volumes concerning our love for our brother. What are your actions saying about the condition of your heart?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Monday, June 14, 2010

Godliness, a building block above faith.

The last part of 2 Peter 1:6 says: "to perseverance godliness". This is our next building block to add to the foundation of faith. Yesterday we saw that perseverance meant to remain under God's direction in any situation we encounter. It is interesting that Peter now adds the element of godliness to the mix.

Godliness essentially means to live "godly lives". In light of the fact that we are to persevere within all circumstances, we are also to live our lives in a godly manner. If we mess up and make bad decisions or unwise choices we could ruin our reputation and destroy our witness. Therefore, it is critical that we strive to live godly lives in the face of a corrupt and dark world. It is too easy to "give in" or "give up" when times are tough, which is exactly what satan wants.

Maybe you have already messed up, given up, and allowed the enemy to shut you up. This doesn't mean that it is over. It means that you need to allow God to pick you up, dust you off, and get you back on track. Make a concious effort to live a life that is honoring to the Father. Be in His Word and under Biblically sound teaching and preaching. Think about the incredible opportunities which are before us. (Matthew 9:37)

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Perseverence, a building block above faith

Within verse 6 of 2nd Peter chapter 1 we see the next building block to add to faith after self-control. It says: "to self-control perseverance".

This is another element that we need to add to the mix in our Spiritual growth. Keep in mind that Peter is getting ready to talk in detail about false prophets and false teachers. The word used for perseverance is "hypomenen". This word essentially means to "stay under". It gives us the impression that we need to hold fast in the face of adversity and to stay steady no matter what challenges us. We do not need to give up in these troubled times.

As we approach the last days, there will be more and more false teachings. There will be more opportunities for deception and evil. We must be sure to remain in His Word and remain steadfast in our faith. As we are to be self-controlled, we are to persevere. As we are to live a life above reproach, we are to persevere. As we learn more about our Savior and apply His truths to our lives, we are to persevere.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Self-Control, a building block above faith

2 Peter 1:6a says "to knowledge, self-control..."

As we continue look at the list of characteristics that Peter emphasizes that must be added to the foundation of faith, we quickly realize that the process of sanctification is becoming evident. The life of the Christian must always be growing and maturing and this involves self-control.

Do we have issues with self-control in today's society? Absolutely! We find it difficult to keep ourselves from getting seconds or thirds at the dinner table. We have difficulty putting down the remote control when we know that we would be better off spending the time in the study of God's Word. We find it difficult not to say what is on our mind when someone rubs us the wrong way. In general, we struggle with self-control.

In the Hellenistic world of Peter's day the idea of self-control is related to athletics. When an athlete would begin to prepare for competition, he would become very disciplined and exercise great self-control. He would obstain from certain foods and drink. He would carve out long periods of his day preparing and training for the events that were before him. He would make sure his actions before the days of competition would not disqualify him from competiton or tarnish his reputation (too bad today's athletes don't do this). Self-control was serious for the one who was preparing for competition.

The apostle Paul compared the Christian life to a race. In 1 Corinthians 9:25 he said: And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

Our journey of spiritual growth requires self-control. Like the athlete who carves out great amounts of time each day for training, we also need to focus our day on the Lord. Like the athlete who obstains from certain food and drink, we too need to be careful what we take into our minds and hearts. Like the athlete who watches his actions, we too need to be careful what we do and where we go as not to destroy our witness or fall to temptation. The careful thought and control of our actions is part of maturing in the faith.

In your life what will it take to be self-controlled?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Friday, June 11, 2010

Knowledge, a building block above faith

2 Peter 1:5 says "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge"

You might think this one is obvious in meaning. However, I think there may be a little more to it than surface value. For example, the original term in the Greek for the word knowlege could mean understanding the moral compass of others, having insight in all circumstances, and the ability to use our minds in whatever we do.

It would be easy to take this verse and say that we need to be always learning. However, learning without application is pretty useless. I could learn all I wanted to about a person's human nature but if I do not use that knowledge to help me relate to others or to forsee an event that I need to help them avoid, then it is only knowledge.

What is interesting is the fact that knowledge can strengthen our faith. It has also been said that knowledge is rooted in trust. The more you know about God, the stronger your faith will become. The more you understand the nature of God the more you will trust Him.

This should be a driving force for our quiet time or daily devotion time. We should desire to be in His Word learning more about Him. As we learn more about Him then our trust will naturally grow. Therefore, as the Scripture says, to our faith we need to add virtue (outstanding moral character). On top of virtue we need to add knowledge (having insight in all circumstances). Are you growing in your faith?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Virtue, a building block above faith.

2 Peter 1:5a says the following: But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue...

The Christian life is full of challenges and as I continue to learn more and more about my faith I am coming to the conclusion that I must continually grow in my faith. I cannot sit still and do nothing. The question that comes to mind is "how can I grow in my faith"? 2 Peter chapter 1 gives us an idea of things we need to be adding to our faith in our daily walk with the Lord.

First, it says we must add virtue to our faith. What is virtue, and how do I add it to my faith? The word used for virtue comes from the Greek word that can also be translated "excellence of character" or "goodness". It is interesting that immediately on the top of our faith we need to add a characteristic that reflects the nature of God. We know that God is good and as be strive to become more like Christ, our nature should be good as well. We should strive for moral excellence.

That means we need to seek to remove anything from or lives that would not reflect the nature of God. This is no easy task because it requires knowing Him and understanding His ways. We have to be in His Word daily and be seeking Him through prayer.

Spend a few minutes thinking about adding moral excellence to your list of characteristics. Can it be said of you that virtue is a characteristic that you hold? I hope and pray that is true for your life.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What is your motivation?

Have you ever been in a hurry to get home and realized that you were on empty and had to stop and get gas? That is what happened tonight. I had just picked up my daughter from practice and we made one quick
stop and I still had to fuel the car. I stopped at one of the local convenient stores and put my debit card into the pump and the message on the screen read "see cashier". That will make your day.

The wind is picking up and the sky seems to be threatening rain and I want to get home. I don't need to see the cashier, I need to get gas. However, to be able to get gas I will have to see the cashier. As I make my way into the store I notice that there are multiple lines in front of the cashiers. So, I decide on the like that looks the shortest and the fastest. I picked the best line. This lady was moving the people through quickly. I get to the number two position and when the person who is in front of me finishes I am thinking "my turn". At that very moment a lady from the other line cuts over in front of me. I am thinking "why did you just do that"? I am sure the look on my face was one of shock and unbelief. I do remember my mouth being open when she turns around and gives me one of those "what are you going to do about it" looks. To make matters worse, when she finishes she backs up two steps and allows a person who was behind her in the other line to get in front of my line. Now I opened my mouth. I asked "excuse me" to which she replied "I have been here longer than you have". My response was: "you were in the 'other' line".

While she is telling me how much time she has been in line the cashier rings up the new person at the front of the line (Why did the cashier do that?). To add icing to the cake, once the new customer finished her transaction, the original line cutter begins a conversation about the weather with the cashier. Give me a break! How many more interruptions can there be? I just want to get some gas and go home.

My question here is "what problems did I actually encounter"?
  • A technology problem.
  • A impatient person.
  • A rude person.
  • A cashier who doesn't care about forcing fairness.
This combination with my impatience could have led to a really bad scene. I kept thinking about the whole scenario throughout the process. This is a picture of western culture today. People are self-centered, rude, have no concern for their neighbor, and unwilling to make a stand for what is right. However, I do believe we need to address the issue when presented but we need to watch how we present our objections in the process. This could have been handled in three different ways:
  1. I could have cleared the twinkies off the shelves while yelling at the top of my lungs what I felt about each individual and their part in the process. (Ask me about my Lowes experience)
  2. I could have done nothing.. (It is called passiveness. Not always the best option)
  3. I could have expressed concern over what had happened in a non-threatening manner to everyone involved. (Is this what you would do?)
There are a few things that come to my mind when I encounter these types of interactions with others. They are:
  1. Man has been created in God's image. (If we hate someone, do we not hate the image of God?)
  2. Ephesians 4:29 says: Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (Too often when we feel wronged, this is not they way we want to react.)
  3. James 3:13-18 says: Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (Wisdom only comes from the father in heaven. Therefore, our reactions need to be driven by Him as well.)
These notes show an example of motivation. What motivates you to do the things you do? If you are defending your faith - make a stand at whatever cost. If you are defending someone or something for their safety or betterment - make a stand at whatever cost. However, if our motivation is self-centered and self-focused then there is very little we can do to make things better in that situation. It is wise to make your concerns known, but understand that if someone has done something wrong they will usually stop at nothing to save face. That night, to me, wasn't a hill worth dying on.

Check your motivation then count the cost.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Crowd Gathered

Have you ever witnessed a fight? Or, for that matter have you ever been in a fight? I honestly believe that pride and stubbornness are the two contributing factors to getting one's teeth knocked out. Let me explain. When two people have a disagreement on something and refuse to walk away from the issue then it can escalate into something more. The following points seem to be consistent during this escalation time period:

  1. One of the two parties will begin to raise their voice. (This seems to happen especially if one party believes they are at a disadvantage.)
  2. When the volume of the conversation begins to rise people begin to gather. (This is usually a key element to allow pride to force either side NOT to back down. When you are in the middle of an argument and there are a bunch of people standing around, you will do about anything to save face.)
  3. If the disagreement continues into this stage, then one party may become physical by shoving the other.
  4. If no-one steps in, then it is on!
Does this sound familiar? It seems like this is usually the way it goes.

As I am writing this on my phone, something similar just happened. (What timing!) I was watching a basketball game when a player was ejected from the game. Someone on the player's team just challenged the official's supervisor about the actions of the referee. Neither side was giving in and the gentleman who initiated the challenge began to raise his voice. The supervisor, noticing the attention of the crowd, asked the man to move out into the hallway to continue the discussion. He was able to get the guy out of the spotlight and therefore reducing the opportunity for a bad conflict.

I just stopped on a passage in Scripture where one may see a glimpse of the beginning stages of conflict. The passage is found in Mark 9:14 and it says:

And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. [NKJV]

Imagine the scene in this passage. A father was looking for Jesus to heal his son from demon possession. Not finding Jesus he did find His disciples. He asked them to see if they could heal his son. If you recall the power granted to the disciples in chapter 6 you would remember that they were given power to heal and to cast out demons. However, in this situation they were not able to do so.

The scribes were obviously present when this happened and upon their failure they took the opportunity to challenge the disciple's authority. The Scripture also tells us that there was a crowd with them. It is starting to sound like trouble is on the horizon.

What causes people to welcome conflict? The answer is pride. In the situation with the disciples they began to take their power for granted. They began to rely on themselves rather than God for the miracles which resulted in failure. This failure probably led them to attempt to "save face" in the midst of the dispute. This could be a possible explanation for the gathering of the crowd.

The same thing happens today. When we rely on our own actions and turn our backs on God we set ourselves up for failure. Once in the middle of failure, pride takes over pushing us to save face. The result could make the newspapers.

Don't get me wrong, we must always stand for truth. However, if we are making a stand for God without selfish ambitions then the battle is Gods and not ours. The result is entirely different.

In Christ,

Monday, April 26, 2010

Slow Down!

O had one of those "ah-ha" moments today while I was watching a video that a guy by the name of Mark Barnes created illustrating how he uses Logos 4 to help him prepare sermons. I was interested in understanding how others use the software for Bible Study since it is complex and very powerful. What really caught my attention was the fact that he still uses a paper method of breaking down the important areas of the text. I am not sure I will go back to a paper method even after watching his video; however, I did find it intriguing.

What really struck me as interesting was the fact that using the paper method slowed him down. I use the software so I can use a greater amount of resources in a shorter amount of time. Why would anyone want to slow their technique down? The answer to that question is very important. He said it is like getting an airplane ticket from the east coast of the states to the west coast of the states. How long would it take to get from point A to point B? Not too many hours if you are fortunate. Now compare that amount of time with the time it would take to drive the same distance. Driving would take a person days!

Everyone wants to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible; however, we must ask if speed is always the best. What does a person lose by taking the plane? The answer is the details of the countryside. These details would include the towns, the sights, and the people. If you drive you will gain a lot more information about the route of travel.

Let's apply this principle to Bible study. Do you have a plan to read through the Bible in a year? If so, good for you. However, does this method create any problems for understanding Scripture? I would have to answer that question with a yes. Too often we get caught up in reading the text and not studying the text. Studying the text takes time. Sometimes I get into a few verses and spend a couple of hours trying to understand them.

If you are on a reading plan be sure to take time to go through it. Using a plan is not about "checking off" the Bible reading from your day planner. It is about getting you into a habit of studying God's Word. When Scripture becomes alive before you then it means so much more. Therefore, slow down and see the big picture.

Doug Johnson

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Response of the Crowd

Have you ever felt like making a stand for Jesus but were worried about what others might think? Have you ever been convicted of your sins and felt Jesus calling you to repent and follow Him but you were afraid that you would lose friends?

Mark 10:46-48 says:

As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mk 10:46–48.]

I want to focus for a few moments on verse 48 which says "that many warned him to be quiet". In other words, they were saying "we don’t want to hear from you". You don’t know what you are doing. Who are you to be demanding the attention? People were rejecting Bartimaeus's cry to the Savior. I am sure this picture is like the thoughts that go through our own minds. The exciting thing we see from Bartimaeus is is the fact that when the crowd rebuked him, he cried out all the more. "Son of David" have mercy on me!"

That day, Jesus stopped and commanded Bartimaeus to be called. What is so awesome about this account is that the crowd's response changes. They no longer say, be quiet, but rather, be of good cheer, Jesus is calling you. Get up and come to Jesus. Isn't it amazing?

When we stand against the crowd for Christ, Christ will get the last word. Not only that, once you cry out to Jesus, nothing or no-one can stop Him from responding. We know that Jesus will respond but the question becomes "are you willing to take a stand for Him no matter the circumstances?" Think about the following:

Matthew 10:32-33 says: Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. [Ibid., Matt 10:32-33]

What do you believe to be the greatest decision?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Choices of Mary and Judas

Matthew 26:6-13 says the following:

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:6–13.]

This passage deals with a couple of people. The first person is Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, as recorded in John 12:3-4. The second person is not really seen in this Gospel account, however, in the Gospel of John we see that it is Judas who makes the objection. Therefore, we have two different people contrasting what should be done with the expensive oil. Mary seized the opportunity to serve Jesus by anointing His feet with this costly perfume. Judas Iscariot, however, chose to criticize this woman for her act. Judas, being the disciples' treasurer, is more concerned about the cost of the oil rather than Christ Himself. Who do you think made the better choice?

Most of us would probably answer Mary. Why is that? Because what she did was a sacrificial act for the Lord. Judas, however, could care less about the anointing of Jesus' body, but rather desired to have the money that was equivalent to the oil's value. Sometimes we make the decision of Judas when it comes to service. Sometimes we choose to focus on the material rather than Christ. We may have a motive that seems "spiritual" but we miss the Will of Christ. We know that Judas missed Christ altogether.

Let me challenge you today to focus on Christ before anything else. It may mean the difference between obedience and disobedience.

In Christ,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


We are all faced with choices. Every day you are bombarded with choices. Some choices are simple and some are complex. For example, do you find yourself asking the following questions?
  • What will I wear today?
  • What will I eat today?
  • What will I watch on TV today?
  • Will I go to the movies tonight?
Some choices are a little more complex than others. For example:
  • Do I take this new job opportunity that is before me?
  • Will I choose to make a stand for what I believe today?
We have all had opportunities and made choices that we have liked and disliked. Sometimes we regret the decisions that we made while other times we have been excited about those choices.

Matthew 26:1-5 says the following:

Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:1–5.]

In this passage, the Jewish Leadership, chose to reject the message of Jesus and began to plot how to kill Him. The leadership had come face to face with the Messiah but refused to believe that it was Him. The result of that unbelief would be to their downfall. I must ask the question why would those who were religious leaders not see that this was who they were looking for? Was it because they were more focused on the position rather than the person? Was it because they were corrupt and this created a problem for them? Would it have been an embarrassment to them to realize they had missed the mark and led others to do the same?

These questions can apply to us today. Have you had an encounter with Jesus? Was it a life changing encounter? In other words, did you surrender when you realized that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and without Him there was no hope? It is a choice that you have to make. You will not be given forever to make that choice and doing nothing with that choice essentially is to deny.

In Christ,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Will You Compromise II

Back on January 23rd I posted a blog article that was entitled "Will you Compromise". As I finish studying Daniel chapter 6 this subject continues to be on my mind.

Remember, Daniel is in captivity. Daniel, because of his obedience to God has been spared. Daniel, because of his refusal to compromise has been granted God’s blessing. Sometimes I believe that we don’t experience the great blessings God has for us because we are too quick to compromise. We compromise when we throw our friends out in front of the bus. We compromise when we start using profanity, or looking at Internet pornography. We compromise when we jump into bed with our boyfriend or girlfriend. We compromise when we neglect studying God’s Word everyday. We compromise and therefore we do not experience God’s blessings.

Daniel is faced with an extreme trial. The men who wanted Daniel removed took the information from their decpetive plan to the king and presented it before him. Not only that, they reminded him that the law could not be broken. The law of the Medes and Persians cannot be changed..

The king was upset but followed through with what the law demanded and threw Daniel into the den of lions. This really bothered the king. The Scripture records that he did not eat or sleep that night. He was greatly troubled. Early the next morning the Scripture records that the king went to the lions den and called out for Daniel who replied:

Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982).]

You see God saved Daniel. The lions did not even touch him. Why? Because he was found innocent before God. The Bible promises that whosoever believes upon Jesus will be saved. He did not know if he was going to be saved from the physical, but he had nothing to worry about.

We see something else in this verse. It says: I have done no wrong before you. Have you compromised your faith? If so, what is it going to take to change? A person living an unfaithful life is a person who is powerless before the enemy.

I am afraid we are living in a country that has compromised her beliefs.

In Christ,

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Faith of Daniel

I am still studying Daniel chapter 6 and just focused on verse 4 which says the following:

So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Da 6:4.]

The princes and other governors were jealous. They did not like the fact that Daniel was in the position he was in and they probably did not like the fact he was a Judean. They wanted to destroy his reputation and knock him out of his seat of authority. Imagine the jealousy! But you know something? They could find no fault against Daniel.

The Scripture said: they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.

People have a difficult time finding fault in someone who is morally upright, especially against someone who is living for the Lord. As a matter of fact, these princes had to attack Daniel’s faith in God to attempt to get him removed; however, there was not even fault in Daniel’s faith. We have all seen an ugly political campaign but just imagine if a candidate was living a faithful life like David. What would the campaign look like? It would be completely different than many we see today.

Let me ask you a question. What does your faith look like? Do you have the faith of Daniel, where others cannot even point out that you have a lacking faith? Or, is your faith lacking? Would people have a difficult time knowing that you are a Christian?

Our desire should be to glorify God by our love and obedience to His will. When we are fully dedicated and devoted to Him our actions will be morally upright to a point that it would be difficult to find fault. Let me challenge you not to just live right but live for God. Be in His Word daily.

In Christ,

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Siren's Cry

I was listening ot the radio this morning and the personalities were asking people to call in and tell about the preparedness their towns have for emergency situations. The station I listen to was K-Love which is syndicated across the United States. I am guessing that the reason they were talking about this subject was because a storm system is moving across the country bringing heavy rains, storms, and tornados. In any case they were talking about the sirens that accompany storm warnings in many cities. You may or may not live in a city that is equipped with a warning system for such emergencies but many have loud sirens to warn people of an imminent threat.

It is an interesting subject in light of my Bible study this morning. I was reading Isaiah and came across verse 6 which says:

Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Is 13:6.]

In Biblical reference, "the Day of the Lord" refers to the time period before the return of Christ. This period is called the tribulation and will be a time of great judgment on the wicked. This period will follow the rapture of the church and is a seven year period which no-one will want to experience. However, those who have rejected Christ and are still living on the Earth when this time period happens will experience this tribulation. The Bible warns that no-one will want to be here during that time and it has given us signs to look for. These signs tell us that the rapture of the Church and the tribulation is imminent. Therefore, the Christian's cry should be that of warning. Unfortunately too many are complacent and apathetic.

If a tornado or hurricane was fast approaching, would we not want everyone to be out of harm's way? We know that the end is coming soon as we watch our world spiral in many areas. Therefore, we need to sound the alarm and warn others of the approaching storm and show them how to be saved from destruction.

CBN - Sexually Indulgent Now, Marriage Ruined Later?

CBN had a great report recently that presents scientific research showing how sexual permissiveness can do great damage to future sexual happiness. Take a look at the video. (If you are viewing this entry on an RSS feed or another source outside of my blog, you may have to go to my blog to see it.

The statistics of STD's and teen suicide are disturbing.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why Did Daniel Stand Out?

I am continuing to study a bit in the book of Daniel. In chapter 6 Darius restructures the governing authority of the kingdom. He appoints 120 princes, also known as satraps, to rule the kingdom. Above these princes, he sets up three governors, and one of those is Daniel. The text also tells us that the king gave thought of setting Daniel in control of the whole realm. I have to ask a question. Why did he do this? Why did Daniel stand out above the rest? I think the answer falls into two categories: what he did not do, and what he did do.

Here is what Daniel didn’t do:
  • He did not fight to get to the top.
  • He did not pull the spotlight on all of his great achievements. 
  • He did not try to undercut the achievements of others. 
  • He did not have jealousy in his heart for anyone else on the candidate list.
Here is what Daniel did do:
  • He set his priorities in order.
  • God first
  • Others second
  • (Where is the list of stuff?)
Daniel had character.

  • Definition of character: the inherent complex of attributes that determines a persons moral and ethical actions and reactions
  • You’ve heard: It is who you are when no-one is looking!
Think about the following questions:
  • Q: Do you change who you are when around certain people?
  • Q: Would you be ashamed for others to know your secrets?
  • Q: If we made a movie of your true character, would you mind having it played on prime time TV?
I have to admit we live in a world that is self-centered. People do all kinds of crazy things to "get to the top". But one thing is sure, to have a respectable and desirable character, you have to do it God's way. It is what Daniel did.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 6:33.]

In Christ,

Monday, April 5, 2010

They Try to Explain it Away

With the resurrection of Jesus Christ fresh on our minds it is amazing how many cable channel documentaries try to explain it away.  Obviously, the resurrection creates a problem for an unbelieving world.  A former professor of mine referenced the following YouTube video on his blog and I wanted to share it with you. It shows how ridiculous the theory is that states Jesus did not die after His crucifixion and two days later he was walking 7 miles to Emmaus.

(Note: the images at the end of the video illustrate what an unbelieving world calls goofy; however Christians see those events as factual. If you cannot see the video because you are viewing this through an RSS feed or another source please go to my blog to see it.)

Jesus did die on the cross for the sins of the world but He did not stay in the grave. He arose on the third day conquering sin and the grave. He became the sacrifice for our sins and whosoever believes in Him will be saved. My challenge to the Christian is to prepare to stand in defense of your faith. The time is here.

In Christ,