Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas in 2011

I think this has been one of the fastest paced years that I can remember. Do you ever feel like it was just yesterday since you were celebrating Christmas? This year feels that way for me. There has been a lot that has impacted our family in different ways throughout the year. But today, I want to put this world in park for a while. Today is the day to celebrate the birth of Christ and I do not want anything, good or bad, to stand in the way of that celebration.

So, today let us go back over 2000 years ago to an event that established the greatest celebration this world has ever known, the birth of Christ. Luke 2 records...

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (Luke 2:1-20 KJV, emphasis mine)

Why is this so special? Today we celebrate the birth of the Savior this world needs. I hope that you spend some time thinking about and celebrating the birth of Christ.

Merry Christmas!
Doug Johnson

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Eating While Driving

Eating while driving is never the safest activity one can do, but we see it everyday. What makes me want to write about this? Check the picture out.

This person has a sandwich in one hand and a drink in the other. You may have to zoom in on the picture to see it a little better. The ironic thing is that this is an insurance company. Aren't they the ones who tell us this is a dangerous distraction? I wonder if this person's insurance company would pay if this driver had an accident because of this.

Doug Johnson

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Entertainment Platform versus the Pulpit

Spending numerous years in the entertainment business allowed me to see the best (or probably the worst) in people. The entertainment platform is centrally focused around selling tickets or advertisement. In the process of increasing ratings there is a parallel that takes place. The entertainer has a tendency to become self-focused and prideful. This is partially due to the fact that the personality or actor essentially plays the "popularity" game. The more popular, the greater the ratings.

There is a vast difference when it comes to the pulpit and the one who occupies it. Even though the pulpit is a platform that stands before groups of people, the central focus is not the speaker but rather God Himself. Therefore, there is no room for a self-focusing spotlight. Pride cannot even play a part in the life of the minister. If by chance he becomes self-focused and self-presenting, then there is great potential to create a congregation who will be just like him. The result is an attitude to be served rather than to serve.

C.S. Lewis once said "to humble oneself before God means becoming so aware of the greatness and reality of God that the self falls into its proper perspective, certainly not at the center, but infinitely worthy and precious because God is fully present and in control."

Christian, you also have a platform. You can either point to yourself or point to Jesus. Think about the message you are conveying and ask yourself the question "who am I pointing to?"

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Carson Newman Communications

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon speaking to some really great communication students at Carson Newman College. Much of the time was spent discussing social media and the use of blogs for corporate, political, and individual reasons. I want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Mark Borchert for the opportunity and I want to thank all of the students who endured the hours I stood before them.

I look forward to seeing the work that will be produced from the class over the next couple of months.

Doug Johnson

Influential Media

Have you ever thought about the influence of media? Too often I have asked the question in a public forum whether or not people believe they are influenced by the media. The answer by most is no. People do not like to believe they are influenced or controlled by their use of entertainment. Therefore, I want you to think about the following questions.

How is it a fad catches on nationally in a short period of time?
How do clothing manufacturers succeed by offering only one or two styles of their product each year?
How do young children want the latest toy for Christmas and it hasn't even hit the shelves yet?

The answer to all of those questions is by the use of the media. It does not have to be just commercials, but it can also include sitcoms, movies, books, or magazines. We are Influenced by what we see. So, the next time you are in the middle of the greatest movie of all time, ask yourself "what am I taking away from this movie?" Do I want what they have, or, have I been conditioned to believe the lifestyles they portray is really okay?

So, let me leave you with this question. What is your greatest avenue of influence? I hope it is the number one best seller of all time.

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dating the Destruction of the Temple in Matthew

A very interesting debate in modern circles concerns the dating of the destruction of the temple that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:2. Upon Jesus’ sorrow of the inhabitants of Jerusalem in chapter 23 verses 37-39 He proclaimed Jerusalem’s future condition of desolation including the temple. Jesus stated that “not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982)] Intrigued by His comments the disciples came to Him with the following two questions:
  1. When will this (the temple being destroyed) happen?
  2. What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?
The response of Christ resulted in what is known as the Olivet Discourse in chapters 24 and 25. The debate concerning this event questions whether Jesus was talking about the destruction that occurred in A.D. 70 or a future destruction that would occur in the last days before His return. Scholarship by Robert Hughes and Carl Laney believe that this event has already occurred in A.D. 70. However, the scholarship of Roy Zuck and John Walvoord presents additional options for a later event than that of A.D. 70.

It is interesting to note that Matthew does not record Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ question on the dating of the destruction. The answer is found in Luke’s record in Chapter 21 verse 20. “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982)] The account does not give a particular time period or generation so the reader must look at other information concerning this event. The only prophetic information concerning this may be found in Zechariah 14:1–2 which says:

Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982)]

These verses pose a period of destruction against Jerusalem that happens in what Zachariah calls the “Day of the Lord”. Scriptural references to the “Day of the Lord” always refer to the wrath of God; and in this case is the tribulation period. Therefore, Zachariah’s account refers to a destruction of Jerusalem that happens in the last days. This time period is different from the destruction that happened in A.D. 70.

So, how can the reader harmonize the period in which Jesus is talking about when He refers to this great destruction? If the reader puts himself in the shoes of the disciples then the event is future, without a doubt. However, Roy Zuck in his book “A Biblical Theology of the New Testament”, states the following in thinking within the line of though where Jesus references the flood of Genesis 6:

Readers of Genesis 6 may wonder how the destruction of Jerusalem can be compared with the catastrophe of the Flood. But this is the sort of comparison envisioned, as the evocation of Noah’s milieu at Matthew 24:37–39 shows. Even allowing for some metaphorical exaggeration, the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 is not easily squared with the description of events which Matthew portrayed. To see that disaster as a prefigurement or an anticipation of a yet future destruction seems more in keeping with the tone of the passage. [Roy B. Zuck, A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 60.]

Keep in mind the discussion concerning these events is in the setting of the end times. The question at hand comes from the possibility to a shift of time or thought between verses 2 and 3 of Matthew 24. If there is no break of time or interruption of thought between those two verses then Jesus’ references to the destruction must be held to the last days. However, if there is a break then there includes the possibility of reference to the A.D. 70 date. Reading the account through Mark, the shift does not appear to be as pronounced as the possibility in Matthew. Beyond that the only difficulty to that conclusion is posed with the prophesy of Zachariah. To harmonize Zachariah with Matthew’s account then the date would refer to the tribulation period.

To conclude the question of date, there was a destruction in A.D. 70, however, Jerusalem will be posed with a fall in the last days.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

How Fast are We Going?

Recently my daughter and her friend went to Dollywood so Rhonda and I decided to hang out and watch a few shows at the park. It was a really hot day so we were not going to be in a hurry exiting the theaters after the shows. We might as well enjoy the air conditioning as long as we could before walking back into the heat. One thing I noticed was how quickly the crowds exited the theaters. It seemed as if they were in a desperate need to get somewhere else very quickly.

As I was watching one group leave, I noticed another family waiting until the theater was cleared before they exited. This family had a little boy who was disabled. It took some time to get him situated and ready to leave. There was also a difference in this family's demeanor in comparison to most of the others who were in a hurry to leave. This family did not seem to have any worries. They made sure that their son had everything ready to go and they weren't in a hurry. When they left, they were smiling as if they knew something that everyone else didn't.

How odd that the family with the greatest load was the family that appeared the happiest. I took a moment to lift up a small prayer for them as we walked out. God used that moment to teach me some great truths about happiness and His provision.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Gal 5:22-23

Sometimes we have to wait upon the Lord to see the things that bring true happiness. If we would just slow down a little, we would have time to experience the things He wants us to experience. Keeping your foot on the accelerator only allows you to experience the thrill of your desires not His.

In Christ,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Your Words Begin in the Heart

Like a dog on a broken leash, sometimes some things get away from us. I seemed to have dropped the ball on my twitter Bible Study so I have made it a point to finish what I started. In the process, I have seen a passage from a fresh perspective. It comes from James 4:11-12 which says:

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

This passage immediately brought three things to mind. First, it connected me to a series I have been developing over the past few weeks on the subject of conflict. I have been focusing on Scripture that deals with Biblical conflicts. The Bible has plenty of examples of conflict and how to deal with situations that we sometimes find ourselves in. Some conflict arises from our selfish and prideful attitudes. If we focus in the book of James a few verses before the passage quoted above, we find an intense push to rid ourselves of pride and selfishness.

God's desire is for us to focus, first and foremost, on Him. Too often our desire is to spotlight ourselves and undercut anyone who may attract that spotlight. That is a true example of pride and selfishness and usually leads to conflict. Our pride leads us to talk about others and say things that may hurt or harm. It is amazing how many times I see this happen on Facebook. [side note: be careful what you put on the Internet, it is like a good history book, it will never go away, no matter how hard you try]

Second, this passage connected me to Ephesians 4:29 which says:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Uplift others is the focal point of that verse. Don't put them down. This is true not only for the person's benefit, but also for others who may hear you. If someone knows you are a Christian and all they hear you do is bash others, then what do they think of Christ? Our words toward others may lead a hearer to see the love of Christ, so be careful.

Not only does James and Paul focus on how we treat others but we can also find parallel passages from the Apostle Peter as well. This seems to be a recurring theme in Scripture. Things that are recurring in Scripture must be focused on in great detail.

Finally, James' comments falls directly in line with Jesus' words to Love the Lord God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. If we don't love our neighbor as ourselves then we are disobedient and illustrate that we do not love God with all that we are. You see if God is our center focus, then loving others will also become a priority. As James says, we are not the Judge, God is. Only He can save AND destroy.

Watch what you say, as it says a lot about you!

In Christ,
Doug Johnson