How Much Do You Love the Word of God?

I was at church last night and was seated behind an older gentlemen who, for lack of a better term, is very “lively” during church sermons.

He’s that guy that comments (fairly loudly) along with the sermon and finishing bible verses from memory that are being read from the pulpit. At one point there was a boy’s choir singing a song in English (I was in a Romanian church) and he celebrated and praised God throughout the entire song. At the end of the song he said to himself, but still out loud, “Praise God for you little men the song that you sang so beautifully. I have no clue what you said but I’m sure it was glorious!”

He was entertaining to say the least.

We stood for the reading of the word of God. That’s when I noticed his Bible. It looked to be easily 30 years old, housed in a ratty fo-leather zip case. His bible was open to Ephesians 2. As I glanced over his shoulder, I noticed that the pages themselves were almost smokey in color. Hmm. Old paper. There were small water stains on the open pages of what could only have been at one point tears. There were hectic highlights of pen and pencils of every color, and scribbles dotted the edges of the page. Sometimes the scribbled notes looked like they were trying to squeeze into a specific verse as they were carefully written in the small blank section between the lines.

The pages looked like they had been bent every which way at one point. The dog-eared corners appeared to be clinging to the rest of the page for dear life. One third of the page containing Ephesians 2 was held together by clear packaging tape. Through the tape I could see that a whole section the size of a half-dollar had at one point actually detached from the paper and was only held together by the shiny packaging tape.

The page edges were charcoal in color. Not by design as I’m sure they were once white, but by being handled with the dirty hands of a laborer who flipped through them after a day of hard work for years on end. The poor ribbon (if you can call it that) reminded me of thick, used dental floss. I’m sure at one point it was red, but now it was a dull pink, with intensely frayed edges that appeared to have endured one or two bouts with a scissor.

Through all of that, this man held that bible gently in both hands and looked at it as if it was made of silk and rubies. He delicately turned the pages as to not pull off a dog-eared page corner, and when he closed his bible for the night he did so with the utmost care.

As I was sitting behind him watching him, I glanced down at the brand new Allan bible laying in my lap. The pages were so white they almost sparkled. The regal art gilt with the gold on top of the red begged for attention. My 3 perfectly cut Allan ribbons shimmered as the light hit the royal blue fabric. My fingers melted into the soft highland goatskin leather as the bible shifted in my lap causing it to move in my hand. And through all that, the only thing I could think of was, “I hope one day you look like that ratty, tattered, well used bible”.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying the beauty in the design of all of the wondrous bibles available to us. But I was reminded of a valuable lesson last night. What is truly sacred in the bible is not the cover, the pages, the art gilting, or the ribbons but the unchanging words of the Creator. I for one would rather the words live in my heart, than on the pages on which they were printed.

“….my heart stands in awe of your words. I rejoice at your Word like one who finds a great spoil.” – Psalm 119: 161-162

written by Delight in Truth friend, Paul Tanca

The Bible is not Fiction

The good news is that you can buy a Bible at Costco for $14.99.

The bad news is that you will find it under the fiction label at the Costco in Simi Valley, CA. The sticker on the back says “fiction” along with the price. That’s what Costco would have us believe.

I would understand if they disagree with the Gospel message found in the Bible, if they do not agree with the theology found there, and if they do not believe in God.  But by definition the Bible is not a work of fiction. Fiction is nothing more than imaginative writing which is not based in reality.

The Old Testament contains a code of living, the Law which we believe was given to Moses from God. It is a “how to live” guide that points forward to Christ.  It also contains songs, poetry, detailed historical accounts, artistic lamentations, prophecies, and many more types of non-fictional writing.

The New Testament contains the three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) giving a somewhat parallel account from different perspectives on what Jesus said and did in His ministry.  The Gospel of John is a detailed account focusing on the divinity of Jesus Christ.

The book of Acts is detailed historical account of the way the Holy Spirit worked in the early church.  Many of Paul’s epistles are elaborate commentaries on the Old Testament and theological discussions on various subjects like human depravity, grace, faith, eschatology, etc.

Many of the other epistles contain exhortations and encouragements written to Asia Minor churches.

I could go on and on.

The Bible is not a work of fiction and anyone with a shred of honesty would agree.

But I believe the good news overshadows the bad news by a long stretch.  Costco is selling the Bible. The Word of God is making its way to the body of Christ and the masses by various means.

Costco may be doing it for the wrong reason (profit?).  But I will echo what Paul says: “in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” Phil 1:18


The Bible Has Gone Hollywood

Or perhaps Hollywood has gone… biblical?

Hollywood has a long history of digging into biblical story lines to come up with epic productions like Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, and The Passion of the Christ.  And now, Hollywood mega couple Roma Downey and Mark Burnett (producer of popular shows like Survivor) have come up with the highly acclaimed and well reviewed miniseries “The Bible,” which will run this Spring on the History Channel.

The docudrama will present 10 episodes with major stories from the Old and the New Testament, and evangelicals like Rick Warren are not only endorsing it, but Rick Warren himself is presenting a preview and a behind-the-scenes look at the series.

Unlike Rick Warren, I personally do not endorse Hollywood efforts depicting aspects of the Judeo-Christian faith and stories from the Bible.  This is a personal decision, and I understand that many Christians are eager to promote movies such as The Passion in an effort to extend the Kingdom of God.

There are several reasons why I do not get excited about these projects, and have serious reservations about recommending them:

1. I have a difficult time receiving a Bible story, especially one that encapsulates the gospel, told by directors and actors who do not know the LORD.  Some may know the LORD, but I suspect that their numbers are very low, or perhaps almost non-existent.  Again, this is a personal stumbling block for me.  Generically speaking, how can an actor “become” a depraved character in one movie, and then turn around and depict Christ in the next movie?  How can a depraved director depict for us the inspired word of Scripture in a film?

2. Every year around Easter and Christmas (I stopped watching TV for the last few years but I assume the trend continues) the Discovery Channel and History Channel present shows about Jesus and various aspects of our faith which are plain wrong.  Various forms of heresies are presented mixed in with fragments of truth as was the case with the all the shows surrounding the Gospel of Judas and the Da Vinci Code a few years ago. Moreover, authorities from all kind of backgrounds are interviewed, from Universalists, to Catholics, to atheist historians who weigh in on Christian doctrine, and these are people who do not know the LORD.  Having been illuminated by the Holy Spirit to understand God’s Word, it becomes a difficult exercise watching these “everyone-has-an-opinion” on the Bible shows.

3. Many of these shows and movies are not done with the intent of spreading the gospel message but with the intent to make money.  Lots of money.  The masses of Christians out there soak these projects up like they are supposed to soak up the real thing: God Word.  For example, the Passion of the Christ is the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time (yes R-rated in the same sentence as Christ).  It made $600 million just during its theatrical release, and many millions since then.  Producers are getting very wealthy from these “Christian” films.

4.  The gospel message and the Word of God as a form of entertainment is a turn-off for me.  Many Christians do not have a problem with this aspect, but the Holy Spirit speaks to me when I read Scripture, and I feel that the Word is profaned when the depraved of this world take advantage of it to create films… whatever their motives are.

So, starting next week I will not hold my breath for “The Bible” miniseries to entertain me.  “The Bible,” the real thing, is sitting right here on my desk ready to receive my delight.  It’s a delight in truth.

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Scientific and Medical Facts Found in the Bible (part 2)

read part 1 here

In this post we continue to explore scientific facts and principles mentioned in the Bible, validating it as a book containing truth.

The primary purpose of the Bible is not to reveal science but to reveal God and salvation, but nevertheless, biblical scientific revelations are a good addition to the armamentarium of the Christian apologist.

Twentieth century discoveries have solidified our understanding of space and matter in that we understand that all matter is composed of invisible molecules, which are made of smaller atoms, which contain subatomic particles, and many of those subatomic particles are not… particles at all, but quanta of energy orbiting other particles and so forth.

The point is that these atomic and sub atomic building blocks are invisible and detected only using special equipment in university research labs.  These invisible atoms make up everything that is visible.  And of course we know this from Hebrews 11:3 where it was clearly written 2000 years ago:

“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

In Old Testament times when various sources declared that the Earth was fixed on the back of an elephant or a turtle, the book of Job revealed what science now affirms as true: that our planet is not supported by anything except the invisible gravitational pull of the sun.  It hangs free of physical support while orbiting the sun!  What a radical idea first presented thousands of years ago by Job!

Here is what Job 26:7 says about God:  “He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.”

Starting in the last century, we came to understand the complex anatomy and physiology of blood.  As an anesthesiologist, one of my most important jobs is to monitor a patient’s circulating blood volume and blood loss during surgery, because the most important function of blood (and there are about a thousand such important functions…) is to facilitate cellular respiration.  It delivers oxygen to organs and tissues while removing carbon dioxide and other metabolic waste.

Without this critical function, in a matter of 2-3 minutes cells begin to die, with brain cells being the most sensitive to lack of oxygenated blood.  That is why in the Emergency Room we say “time is brain” in the case of a stroke.  We must restore blood flow to the affected tissue immediately for that tissue to have any chance of survival.

But wait… as recently as 150 years ago contemporary medicine was practicing “blood-letting” for nearly every illness, with many patients dying of severe anemia resulting from repeated intentional hemorrhage.

If they only would have read Leviticus 17:14 “For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life,” this bleeding practice would not have persisted throughout the middle ages!

And so… for a long time in the case of “blood-letting” people were also perishing physically not only spiritually from not knowing the word of God… Hosea 4: 6  “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

to be continued…

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Scientific and Medical Facts Found in the Bible (part 1)

The Bible is not a science book but it contains TRUTH.  And yes, it contains stunningly precise guidelines and statements based on scientific facts which have been discovered only in the recent past.

In Genesis 17:12 God instituted circumcision on day 8 of life.  Why day 8?  Why not day one? It turns out a critical physiologic development happens between day 2 and day 9 of life with respect to platelet function and clotting.  A leading pediatric hematology book describes the phenomenon of platelet hyporesponsiveness which spontaneously resolves by day 8 of life! It takes about a week before these circulating cellular fragments called platelets develop their full “stickiness” and are able to help prevent hemorrhage during circumcision.  It is more than a mere coincidence that God would command Abraham to perform this ritual when platelet function reaches physiologic maturity.

Before humans understood the concept of a solar system with the Sun found at the center and the Earth rotating on its axis around the sun, Jesus knew this all too well.   The Earth’s 24 hr rotation and exposure to the Sun is responsible for the simultaneous presence of night and day on opposite sides of the planet.  Luke 17:34–36 tells us that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will occur while some are asleep at night and others are working at daytime activities in the field. This is a clear indication of a revolving earth, with day and night present on the planet at the same time!  People had no concept of such phenomenon back then!

The prophet Isaiah also receives revelation from God that the earth is round: “It is he that sits upon the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). This is not a reference to a flat disk, as some skeptics maintain, but to a sphere. The Hebrew word used here  literally means circle or circuit.  Secular man discovered this many years later.  It was in fact Scriptures that inspired Christopher Columbus to sail around the world.

In a written statement from Columbus’ own hand, he testified that it was from reading the book of Isaiah that he discovered that the world is round.  He wrote (from his diary, in reference to his discovery of “the New World”): “It was the Lord who put it into my mind. I could feel His hand upon me …  there is no question the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit because He comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures.”

Medical and scientific principles first mentioned in the Bible are many, and we will explore them in upcoming posts.

to be continued…

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Muslim Friendly Bible Translations Present a False Gospel

Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) are one of the most renowned Bible translation companies in the world. They are continuing the tradition of John Wycliffe, the great pre-Reformation theologian who broke away from the Catholic Church, and translated the first Bible in English risking his life in the process.

To the disappointment of many Christians, WBT are not following in the footsteps of Wycliffe with their most recent attempts at translating the Word of God into certain Arabic and Bengali translations.

I would go further and say that WBT are attempting to “help” God “sell” His Gospel by changing the names of God in order to make them more palatable to Muslims.  Since when does God need us to change his Word in order to win souls for His kingdom?

The changes are not slight.  They are in fact abominable.  They distort the most important doctrines found on the pages of the Bible: the doctrines about God the Father, the doctrine of the Trinity, and Christology.

Muslims do not accept the concept of Trinity, the idea of Son of God, and the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and WBT is now changing the Bible to be more fitting with their theology… and therefore more acceptable to them.

Here are some critical changes:

  • “Son of God” replaced with “Messiah of God”
  • “God the Father” replaced with “guardian.”
  • the removal of any references to God as “Father,” to Jesus as the “Son” or “the Son of God.”
  • replacing “Father” with the Muslim name for God, Allah

For example, it changes Matthew 28:19 from: “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” to: “cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit.”

Allah is NOT the Triune God of the Bible.  Allah is a singular entity in Muslim theology, and the name of this false god should never be used to replace the Triune God revealed in the Bible, especially in a Bible translation!  Such an act amounts to a false Gospel.

Presenting a watered down Gospel via an altered Bible, is no Gospel at all.  How can Muslims ascertain the dramatic difference between our God and their god if the Bible they receive does not present that difference?  We are certainly not aiming to convert Muslims to Chrislam… or are we?

WBT must come back to the foot of the cross and repent because they have made themselves guilty of the terrible sin outlined in Revelation 22:18-19:

“18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

New Year’s Resolutions Centered on God*

There is just something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. In reality, there is no difference between December 31 and January 1. Nothing mystical occurs at midnight on December 31. The Bible does not speak for or against the concept of New Year’s resolutions. However, if a Christian determines to make a New Year’s resolution, what kind of resolution should he or she make?

If God is the center of your New Year’s resolution, it has a chance for ‘success’, depending on your commitment to it. If it is God’s will for something to be fulfilled, He will enable you to fulfill it. If a resolution is not God honoring and/or is not in agreement in God’s Word, we will not receive God’s help in fulfilling the resolution.

  • 1.   More Bible reading
  • 2.   More Prayer time
  • 3.   Draw closer to God
  • 4.   Journaling and Bible note-taking

We need nourishment from God’s word to grow.**

We need to hear from God daily.

We need the Word which is our best defense against sin.

We need to be corrected when we sin.

We need encouragement and comfort.

  • 5.   Do not become proud or vain, but give God the glory!

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” ( Psalm 37:5-6)

The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.” ~ A.W.Tozer

*This post is authored by Delight in Truth follower and commentator Manuela, with inspiration** from an excellent blog, Agnus Dei