The Faithful Witness of the Moon

The Faithful Witness of the Moon

The Creation of God bespeaks His wisdom, power, love and goodness. Concerning this, the Scriptures say, “what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)  Consider a thing we often take for granted, but which manifestly demonstrates the presence of a creator: the moon.

moon witness

Indeed, the moon is a witness to its Maker.

In Genesis 1, we read of the creation of the Sun and the Moon: “Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night.” In Psalms 89:37, the moon is called a faithful witness, and this is true: the moon is indeed a faithful witness to its Maker.

We see the moon in the sky each night and oft forget what a wondrous thing it is. It is a massive chunk of rock which keeps time for us and helps to sustain the life on this planet.

Our moon is an oddity in the galaxy, being proportionally oversized when compared to those satellites possessed by our neighboring planets. This allows our moon to do some rather interesting and important things, to our benefit.

The moon is positioned from the planet at exactly the right distance from the planet to be proportionally, to the eye, the exact same size as the sun in the sky. This equity of apparent size, an optical illusion on a grand scale, allows the shadow of the earth to mark perfect time upon the moon, in a 28-day lunar cycle of waxing and waning moons. At the same time, the proximity of the moon is of such a distance as to create a constant, moderate tidal effect.

If the moon were closer to the earth, the tides would overwhelm the land. Great floods would daily sweep back and forth across most of that area of the earth we now inhabit. Life on such a planet would be impossible. If the moon were much further from the earth, we would not have the tides we now have, and the oceans would begin to stagnate. Likewise, the tides help move heat from the equator to the poles, preventing ice from overwhelming the land. There are other things the tides do, but in a nutshell, the tides created by the moon play a rather significant part in maintaining life on the planet.

The moon does one other thing that many people don’t pay much attention to. Our planet is at a particular tilt to the sun, allowing for the creation of seasons across the majority of the globe. The moon helps regulate those seasons, a thing the Bible testifies to in Psalms 104:19.

Because of the size of our moon, and its proximity to the planet, the moon acts as a stabilizing agent upon the planet, as we rotate around the sun, so that the tilt of the planet only ever shifts by no more than a single degree. Without the moon’s stabilizing influence, our planet could shift back and forth by, we are told, 10 degrees or more, creating havoc with every ecosystem we have as the seasons fluctuated wildly throughout the years.

When you start to add up all of these things, one must start to be rather impressed by how exactly and perfectly positioned the moon is to the planet. It is exactly the right size, at exactly the right distance so as to make life possible on this planet. So much so that even nonbelieving scientists, who do not give God the credit for any of this, debate whether or not life is even possible on other planets without a moon such as ours.

The moon, is but a single witness to the power of God, but night after night, it stands high in the sky, keeping time, sustaining life, and speaking to the glory and wisdom of God. (cf. Psalm 8:3-4) When we start to have doubts, we can look to the night sky and think about those powerful testimonies to the majesty of God we see in the sky above us.

God has provided well for us. He has left us a multitude of myriad witnesses to His care and affection for His creation. You can have confidence that God wants you to have life. He wants to sustain you, in this world, and in the next. Which is why He sent His Son to die for you, that you might have salvation, the forgiveness of sins, and hope for eternal life. (cf. John 3:16) God has done mighty things for us, and if we will trust in Him, He will continue to work on our behalf.


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The Bible Praises Doctrine

The Bible Praises Doctrine

The disdain some have for doctrine in our day stands in marked contrast to the way the Holy Spirit exalts it. Instead of having little regard for doctrine, the early church proclaimed it. Do not lose sight of the charge brought against the apostles, “You have filled Jerusalem with this doctrine” (Acts 5:28).

Doctrine builds faith

Stand strong in the doctrine of the scriptures.

The Holy Spirit Commands Preaching Doctrine

What does God want to be the nature of preaching in the kingdom? When Paul wrote young Timothy he answers this question. “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…” (2 Tim. 4:2-3). Any teaching that does not involve doctrine is seen by God as a departure from sound doctrine.

Without Doctrine Teaching Is Incomplete

Look at the verse immediately preceding the instructions to preach the word. In the Old Testament, the phrase “the man of God” was used to refer specifically to the prophets, who were the men of God. This phrase is part of Paul’s instruction to Timothy. He affirms that all Scripture comes by the inspiration of God and then lists what this inspiration gives. The Scripture is “…profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God man be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). If the man of God ignores the doctrine found in the Bible, he is imperfect, and he will never equip those who hear him for every good work.

Doctrine Nourishes the Christian

Listen to Paul’s words again. “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (1 Tim. 4:6). Instead of doctrine being detrimental to spirituality, it nourishes!

Other Words About Doctrine

The Bible exalts doctrine. Doctrine is part of exhortation and conviction (Titus 1:9). We are to continue in doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16). We are to carefully follow doctrine (2 Tim. 3:10). Ignoring doctrine results in disputes, arguments, strife and wranglings (1 Tim. 6:3-4). There is so much more which could be added to this.

The next time you hear anyone talk about focusing only on the positives aspects of Christianity and ignoring the rest, you should be aware of what he has done. He has ignored sound teaching, departed from the faith, and kept others from God’s way of nourishing us to spiritual perfection.

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Branding Christianity? Keep It Simple

Branding Christianity? Keep It Simple

Branding. Themes. Programs. Hashtags. These are some of the buzzwords that are currently circulating within the church. The thrust behind these words is that maybe if we come up with something catchy enough or fun enough, then people will come to our buildings.

Countless man-hours have been spent coming up with new internal programs that are aimed at pleasing the masses.

Branding Christianity

Are you simply relying on the Word of God or not?

When is our smartphone App going to be ready? Is our livestream up and running? Are we putting our worship on Facebook live or YouTube? What’s sermon-sound bites can we #hashtag on social media? Has anyone ordered banners with our new theme on them?

These and many more questions like them are now a regular part of congregations all across America. I appreciate good marketing—after all, part of the reason we started Think magazine was because we were tired of good sound Bible material looking like it was produced in the 1950s.

But I fear many Christians have taken it too far. Today it’s ALL about the marketing, instead of the Gospel message. In fact, I am familiar with preachers who spend more time worrying about their marketing campaigns than they do studying God’s Word and preparing a sermon.

Do we really need all of that marketing to teach people the Truth?

Here’s what I intend to teach my children regarding simple Christianity.

All you need to worship the Creator each Sunday is a Bible, some unleavened bread, and fruit of the vine. Seriously, that is it! Song books and PowerPoint songs are nice, but many of the songs we sing we already know by heart. Pews are especially nice—especially the older I get and the more my body creaks when I get up from the floor—but they are not required. A pulpit is not required—and interestingly many congregations are moving away from them. Even a collection plate is not required. Members could simply hand their contribution to an elder or place it in an empty box.

When you get right down to it even buildings are not required. We could just meet in a park or someone’s home. I’ll say it again so that it really sinks in: All you need to worship the Creator each Sunday is a Bible, some unleavened bread, and fruit of the vine.

I fear that sometimes the Gospel message is lost in the clutter of all our marketing and programs. I don’t think Jesus ever intended for worship to be that chaotic. Adding all of this stuff often takes our attention away from Him and away from self-reflection.

As you mature and grow you may feel a yearning to make things bigger and better at your local congregation. Your desire is admirable and I’m glad you want to grow the Kingdom. But rest assured you are not the first person that looked for ways to increase numbers. Anytime you feel this urge I pray you will remember to keep religion simple.

Keep looking back at the pattern we were given in Scripture. Jesus commanded eleven men to go make disciples. He didn’t say anything about themes, slogans, or banners. It was all about disciple-making. Jesus did not want men to be converted because of glitz or glitter, but rather He wanted them converted to the Gospel!

The power is not in some hashtag or slogan. The power is in the saving blood of Jesus Christ! If the Apostles can convert the lost with the simple power of His Word, then so can we!

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The Simplicity of the Way of Jesus

The Simplicity of the Way of Jesus

Not too long ago, I saw on Facebook an article about an almost pristine Caddo canoe that was discovered in Louisiana. Archeologists were examining it, but it looked to be authentic. Such discoveries thrill us because they give us some insight into the history of our area and how native people’s lived hundreds of years ago. We believe that we can learn from the past, and so we invest energy into discovering things of the past and studying them. We also value primitivism. This is the notion that the peoples of the past did things better than we did. We may view their lifestyle as superior to ours because of its simplicity, resourcefulness, and originality.

simplicity way

The way of Christ is the beauty of simplicity.

While the things that we learn from a Caddo canoe are limited, we can certainly apply these principles to our spiritual life. We look to the teaching, example, and life of Jesus as the one who did things better than we do them. His was truly a superior lifestyle being simple, resourceful, and original in its spirituality. Jesus didn’t complicate things like we do; He didn’t seek all the worldly pursuits that we engage in; He trusted in the blessings of His Father one day at a time. His plan is simple, resourceful, and original, and it is best to stick with Him. This is why He said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Let’s not complicate things with so-called “contemporary” spiritual pursuits, but trust in the primitive, simple words of Jesus.


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Friend: Face to Face with God

Friend: Face to Face with God

Question: No man has seen God at any time (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12). However, Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face” (Gen. 32:30). Moses said the Lord spoke to him “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11). Moses, Aaron, Nadab & Abihu, and 70 elders said they saw the God of Israel (Ex. 24:9). Please explain.

In modern times, we tend to use words and phrases in many different senses. Likewise, in Scripture words and phrases are often used in a variety of ways.  With that in mind, consider that the gospel of John says that Jesus, the Word, was God (John 1:1). John then said that Jesus, the Word, “became flesh and dwelt among us” (v. 14)…but then just a few sentences later said that “no man has seen God at any time” (v. 18; 1 John 4:12).

friend face

As a friend, can you see the face of God in the Bible?

Was Jesus God? Yes. Did man see Jesus? Yes. So in what sense has man not seen God?

The Bible says that God is spirit (John 4:24). Jesus is God, but no man has ever seen Jesus in his true image as a spirit Being, in all of his fullness, glory, and splendor.  Paul told the Philippians in Phil. 2:6-7 – “who, though (Christ Jesus) was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

When God the Word, Jesus Christ, appeared on Earth two thousand years ago, he came in a veiled form. He had existed in heaven “in the form of God,” but made himself nothing and took on “the likeness of man.” So when mankind saw Jesus, they saw an embodiment of deity in the form of a man…the Word who became flesh.  Likewise, when Jacob struggled with God in Genesis 32, he saw only a form of God…not the spiritual, invisible, omnipresent God who fills heaven and earth.

But what about those statements which indicate that man saw or spoke to God “face to face”?  Remember, Moses and Jacob and others who made those statements, while they witnessed great and awesome things, still only saw manifestations of God and a part of his glory, not the fullness of his glory.

God specifically said as much in Exodus 33:18-23 when Moses asked God to show him his glory. God replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you…but…you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” God then put Moses in a cleft in the rock and covered him with his hand until he had passed by. Then God took away his hand, and Moses saw his back, but not his face. Moses saw a manifestation of God, part of his glory, but not the fullness of his glory.

Remember also that the terms “face” and “face to face” are used in different senses in Scripture. Exodus 33:11 says that God spoke to Moses “face to face,” but just nine verses later God tells Moses, “You cannot see my face, for no man shall see me and live.” Was the author of Exodus so misguided that he contradicted himself in the same paragraph? Not when we realize that these terms are being used in different senses, in different ways.

Numbers 12 shows us the difference. In Numbers 12 Aaron and Miriam had complained about Moses and arrogantly asked, “Has the Lord only spoken through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” (v. 2) God then appeared to Aaron and Miriam. Notice what he said to them in vs. 6-8:  “If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. I speak with him face to face, even PLAINLY, and NOT IN DARK SAYINGS (RIDDLES).”

Notice the contrast. God spoke with the prophets through visions and dreams, but to Moses he spoke not in dark riddles, but plainly, directly. In other words, God…who never showed his face to Moses, nevertheless allowed Moses to see some unmistakable evidence of his glorious presence by letting him see his back, and spoke to him “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11), in other words, plainly, directly. That’s what “face to face” means.

Look at it this way. If you can work “side by side” with someone without literally working inches from him, and if you can see “eye to eye” with someone without ever literally looking into their eyes, then God can speak “face to face” with Moses without literally revealing to him his full, glorious, spiritual “face.”

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