Cross Politic

What does the bible say about politics? Have you ever wondered what God has to say about the credentials leaders should have? What are his explicit commands to those in authority? What about separation of church and state? What are the implications for a Christian that’s interested or involved in politics? How should we address our leaders that are not Christians? If you’re curious about that, this podcast is for you.

From the website: “CrossPolitic (Christ over politics) mixes the taboo formula of faith, culture, and politics to bring the clarity of the gospel into muddle America. We are a community of Christians who desire to see the Lordship of Christ in every corner of our culture, reigning over every politician, and changing every individual for our good and His glory.”

They’ve also had some notable guests like Walter WilliamsJeff Durbin, Marcus Pittman, Voddie Baucham, and Sye Ten Bruggencate. The subject matter of the episodes takes on a wide variety of issues such as hip-hop, education, apologetics, immigration, race and economics. There’s something for everyone that’s looking to apply the Christian worldview to the political area of life. There are answers to questions the opponents of Christianity might have afforded by this podcast as well.

Also from their site: “Our hosts are pastors, deacons, and filmmakers, who long to see our fallen and broken nation recognize Jesus as our redeemer. Our hosts have interviewed notable presidential candidates (such as Senator Ted Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson), written books, preach the Gospel, make films, and utilize every avenue possible to declare the gospel of our Lord to the whole world.”

You can find all these free resources on their own website, on Facebook, on Itunes, or the Google Store.

 

Streetlights Bible

One of the best things about living in this age is our access to so many different mediums to get our fix of God’s word. We have our traditional bibles, audio bibles, digital bibles on the web, bible apps for our smart phones, and a endless supply of gospel presentations streaming on various websites. It’s an amazing time for Christians to arm themselves with truth so that we can honor God in ways that please Him and effectively love one another. Even if you don’t have time to read or stream, there’s something out there that’ll help hear the words of God.

All that said, dramatic readings of the bible typically aren’t my cup of tea. I normally don’t like the music that accompanies some scenes or I just feel like the inflection of the reader doesn’t match the tone of the passage being read and I just get really distracted. The plain readings literally bore me to sleep, so that doesn’t help me either (I’m not saying those aren’t generally useful, they just don’t work for me). Luckily for me, I found something that I think is a really creative way to share the scriptures.

Streetlights

From the website: “Producing an urban tailored audio Bible with multimedia tools is a monumental task. It requires vocalists, musicians, producers, videographers, writers, and editors working in conjunction to produce the multiple projects Streetlights offers. The result of professional gifts merged with the powerful content of the Word of God is dynamic! You have to listen, watch and engage to truly understand. The driving force behind Streetlights is our passion to see youth with low reading levels and limited knowledge of the Bible engage and learn the Word of God.”

Streetlights is an audio bible read by professional vocalists over hip-hop beats. These aren’t poorly produced tracks voiced over by lazy rappers looking to make a quick buck, either. The tracks are all really high quality. As for the readings, I think they’re really well done. There are even different vocalists for the different characters in the stories being told, which is really helpful when you’re listening and not reading.

Best yet, that’s not all they do. About their mission from the website: “We believe in life-on-life discipleship. Our tools are created as simple studies to help spark Biblical conversations in your discipleship relationships. We see our lessons to serve as a spring board for deeper conversation.”

All the readings are free. The only thing that costs is the discipleship program they offer, which is comprised of 32 lessons. There are 16 Old Testament lessons and 16 New Testament lessons. Their material is available on their website, on Spotify, and on their mobile app. Did I mention this is all free?

As of this writing, they have not yet recorded the whole bible. There’s a good bit to get some conversation started, though. And, for those curious, they read the NLT translation. These guys are also affiliated with Humble Beast! Go give this project a listen. It would make for a great conversation starter among friends.

Christianity and Tarot Cards

tarot-reading

This image via The Inquistr.

An interesting conversation happened on a friend’s Facebook page recently. She was venting about her frustrations of dealing with Christians that don’t understand why tarot readings are a forbidden practice for us. It’s a pagan practice, for sure. I don’t think anyone would argue against that fact. But, in light of scripture, why is this something that’s regarded in such low regard? Before reading this thread, I didn’t know the answer to that question (besides the obvious idolatry).

From the thread:

“Question: “What are tarot cards? Are tarot cards evil?”

Answer: Tarot cards are associated with divination—unlocking the secrets of the future by occult, supernatural means. Divination is strictly prohibited in the Bible.

Tarot cards come in a deck of 78 individual cards. They were developed about 600 years ago for gaming. However, some mystics, psychics, and occultists began to use the cards for divination, and today the cards and the ability to “read” them are seen as elements of fortune-telling. To receive a tarot reading is to attempt to find out things about one’s life or future through the occult.

Usually, the practice of reading tarot cards starts with the questioner cutting the pack of cards or sometimes just touching it. The psychic or card reader then deals out some cards, face down, into a pattern, called a “spread,” on the table. As the cards are overturned, the psychic or reader constructs a narrative based on the cards’ meanings and their position on the table. Obviously, reading tarot cards places a heavy emphasis on fate, “hidden knowledge,” and superstition.

God warned His people, the Israelites, against divination when they were on the verge of entering the Promised Land. He lists divination among such evils as child sacrifice and casting spells in Deuteronomy 18:9–12. Leviticus 19:26 puts is succinctly: “Do not practice divination or seek omens.” Tarot card reading definitely falls within the scope of this prohibition. In some cases, tarot card reading can be guided by demons. In Acts 16, Paul meets a fortune teller, a slave, who earned her masters a lot of money by fortune-telling (verse 16). The Bible attributes her ability to having a demonic spirit, which Paul was able to cast out of her by the name of Jesus Christ (verse 18). The Bible does not mention the tools the slave girl used to tell the future, but, whether tea leaves or dice or lots or cards of some type, the items used in that context brought honor to demonic spirits.

The spiritual dimension of our world is real, and it is not to be taken lightly. The Bible tells us that Satan seeks to destroy us. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Lions are not to be toyed with.

Many people seek out supernatural knowledge about their future because they fear the future. The Bible tells believers not to fear the future; rather, we should trust God, the Source of peace (Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:6–7).

Solomon, the wisest person ever, offered this wisdom about knowing the future in Ecclesiastes 7:14:

“When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
anything about their future.”

And in Ecclesiastes 8:7 he writes this:

“Since no one knows the future,
who can tell someone else what is to come?”

Only God holds the future, and only He truly knows what will happen (Isaiah 46:10).

If you desire to have peace about your future, turn to the Lord Jesus Christ. The future is bright for those who know Him (Romans 8:17).

Recommended Resource: The Kingdom of the Cults, revised and updated edition

To add this, I need to say again that this is a form of idolatry. It’s trusting in man made schemes to tell what our future is and, to some extent, tell us something about who we are and why are the way that we are. God has told us this already plainly from the beginning. Will we ignore His words and trust in tarot spreads instead?

 

It’s Not Enough

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” – 1 John 2:15-17

Some people have the world at their disposal. They could have any and everything imaginable that rests under the sun. Glamour and luxury is commonplace for them. Flashing lights, social status, first class flights, professional chauffeurs in the most extravagant vehicles, the most exquisite food and drink is an every day reality for them. Even the common person, happy with their means can feel like they have everything under the sun that they could ask for. So, why do we want more?

For some, it might be the bigger house. It might be the fancier car. It may be that potential promotion that’s so diligently worked for. It might be that dream home or vacation. Some of us dream of a perfect wedding ceremony and a family thereafter. Athletes determine to score more points, musicians aim to sell out arenas, actors pursue that illustrious Oscar nod, and it goes on. No matter what your occupation is, there’s a desire to do better and want more from it than what you started with.

“They tryin to get they ones, I’m tryin to get them M’s
One million, two million, three million, four
In just five years, forty million more
You are now lookin at the forty million boy” 

“One million, two million, three million, four
In eighteen months, eighty million more
Now add that number up with the one I said before
You are now lookin at one smart black boy
Momma ain’t raised no fool
Put me anywhere on God’s green earth, I’ll triple my worth” – Jay-Z in “U Don’t Know

Some of us are insatiable like Jay-Z. What’s he got to prove? Why is he still hustling? What does he really have want for? Some of us squander our resources like the countless celebrities that have lived outside of their means and ended up with nothing. Then there are the thrill seekers. Nothing fulfills them enough to satisfy them, so they start pursuing stimulation in bizarre places (think about all the celebrities busted with prostitutes). Lastly, and most tragically, there are those that have the world at their finger tips but feel so empty, that they don’t hold on to the life that they have. Those people are the suicide cases no one understands.

I’ve seen it in my own life. I’ve traveled over a lot of the country and it made me happy, but it was not enough. I’ve been to concerts in the hundreds, something that I love to do, but it was not enough. In the worst parts of my life, I drank a lot. I never found a bottle big enough to satisfy me. I gave myself over to lust and there was no lasting pleasure to be found in sex. I couldn’t make enough friends or throw enough parties. My very soul cried out for more. This unsettling feeling of needing more out of life and it feeling like an unattainable goal led me to behave very recklessly. I’m lucky to be alive to share this right now.

What I had to learn was we’re not made for these things. They’re not supposed to fulfill us. Finding your identity in things and/or activities cannot satisfy. It’s a false premise to build your life off of and those things will eventually fail you. What’s left for you when the very thing that you define yourself by fails you? For me and and some others, it led to what felt like an endless despair.

Material things, money, relationships, success, entertainment, transportation, a home, security, fashion… all those things are good things. Those are things we can use to make life better for ourselves and for those around us. All those things can potentially be blessings. But, we must see those things for what they are and see ourselves for who we are.

Who are we? We’re people made in God’s image. God freely gives us all of our blessings. It’s consistent that this same God says “it’s more blessed to give than to receive”. That’s why we celebrate the charitable and chastise the greedy. We were made to build one another up with our blessings and find our lives in Christ. Anything less will never truly satisfy. Anything less is not enough.

The RTS App

rts

Looking for another app that’s a great resource for learning about doctrine, theology, and practical application? I think I found one that could be of help! With the RTS app, you have access to seminary level courses via audio stream complete with the required reading material for the students that actually attended. There are about 20 courses available all completely free of charge! The entire package is included!

The lectures, the syllabus for each subject, and a list of the required textbooks all completely free of charge. They even tell you how many credit hours each course is worth! Not only that, but there’s a list of credentials each professor has, information about the various campuses this material is coming from, news articles & blogs on issues the church is facing today, and enrollment information for those that are considering pursuing a degree. You can even virtually browse their library right from the app!

Also included in the software is a daily bible reading program, an audio bible, and a bible in text format (I think the translation is ESV).

To top it all off, there are even more lectures from guys like Al Moler, Timothy Keller, and John Frame on many things from church history, preaching, to biblical counseling. If all that doesn’t sell you on this, I don’t know what will!

Come All You Weary

“All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:27-29

What makes you weary? What do you struggle with? We live in a world wrought with sin. People become sick and die. Fathers abandon their wives and children. The rich oppress the poor. People love things and use people. Addictions can take hold of a person and change who they are. The innocent are punished in place of the guilty. Sickness, disease, and famine afflict a land. Our hearts are broken by those close to us and far away from us. So, I ask again: What makes you weary?

Are you wrestling with the guilt of some sin in the past? Are you not able to forgive yourself? Are you wrestling with a sin that has a grip on your life right now? Have you hurt someone or has someone hurt you? Are you bearing the consequences of someone else’s sin? Do you ever find yourself not able to sleep at night? Is it you that’s sick? Are you bearing the burden of some permanent physical impairment?

We all have to face tremendous struggle in this life. Sometimes, we have to face more than we’re capable of handling. It’s in these times, the words of Jesus in Matthew can either make or break us.

How many of us have ever felt the way this man has? You can have everything your heart desires and still not be satisfied with this life. That’s why suicide is so common among the wealthy. Of course, it’s not limited to them. People that are young, beautiful, and full of potential do it too. There are people among us that throw away our lives. We just give up in the face of adversity. It seems as if there is no real rest. There’s no hope. Things will only continue to get worse. For those of us that go down this unfortunate path, it’s here that we’re broken by the words of Christ, because we don’t heed Him.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:1-2

For those of us that do come to Him, we have these words of assurance. If you cast your burdens on Him, you will find rest. Let no one coddle you with sugar coated lips. The struggle won’t end until we meet up with Him again, but the hope and spirit within is what fundamentally changes our reactions to very same struggles we came to Him with. Suddenly, meaning and purpose is given to our circumstances. Love covers a multitude of sins.

There can be love in the place of pain, love in the place of sorrow, love in the place of hatred, love in the place of addiction, and so forth. There’s no need to bury your pain. There’s no need to throw your life away. There’s no need to wrestle with guilt. All who come to Christ will have their bondage taken. That’s His promise to His sheep that have not entered His flock yet and that’s His reminder to those of us that have wandered away. Be set free to live free. Come all you weary.

Bible Reading Plan

Reading the entire bible can feel like a daunting task. It’s easy to get distracted with commitments to family, work, or our social lives. The busyness of life can prevent us from doing one of the most important things we can do which is to sit down and read the bible. The urgency of the issue can’t be understated. Who is God? How do we know what pleases Him? What does it mean to be a Christian? How can we know that Jesus is the messiah? How do we answer the challenge of skeptics? What is the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives? To answer those questions, we must read the bible.

To successfully complete this endeavor, it’s best to start out with a plan. In my case, it was my New Year’s resolution to do this. I got myself a reading plan that would take me through the bible from the beginning of January to the end of December by date. You can see the plan that I chose to use here. Although that’s the one I used and found helpful (especially when I started getting behind), I’d actually suggest another method of getting through the bible.

I found this website a lot more convenient from a glance. It has different plans that are specific to what you may be looking to accomplish. There are plans for particular books, just the old or new testament, there’s both testaments in a year, there’s both in three months, there’s a plan that ties themes together that are told throughout the bible, and more plans of varying difficulty. There’s even a two year plan for those of us that are really busy or are slow readers. It’s a tool for the young and mature in the faith!

No matter what plan you decide to go with, the important part of all this is to stick to it. You need to know what’s in the bible. You need to know what you believe when you confess Jesus as Lord. One read through isn’t going to give an in depth knowledge of everything, especially not in a one year plan. That is true. There’s not enough time to sit and meditate on the truths of scripture when you’re on a schedule like this. Nevertheless, it’s good to intake it all and be exposed to it. Think of it as a foundation to build on.

After you’re done with your first read through, then you can pick a more thorough reading plan for the book or topic of your choice. Personally, I decided not to go with another rendered plan. I read books of the bible at my own pace, and then I’d either find a podcast, sermon, or website that addresses parts of the text I’m wrestling with (NOT suggesting at all that it’s something everyone can or should do, but it’s been helpful for me).

Besides the two websites I have listed here, there are plenty of other options available. Check out the many bible apps for your smartphone or mobile device of choice. Both Google Play and Itunes have a plethora of them that have plans and reminders included in the software. If you’re a slacker like me, you can use an audio bible while you’re on the go to catch up. Faith comes by hearing, right?!

Once you get into some deep study, then the fun stuff like commentaries, concordances, and journaling come into play. None of those things are necessary as they aren’t biblical practices, but they sure do help with engaging the scriptures.