Tag Archives: new testament

Time management

alarm-clock.jpgI am a mixed bag on time management.  Some things I do really well, which creates plenty of time to do a variety of things.  But then I’ll waste some of it because I’m not prioritizing well.  And by “waste” I don’t mean that it is bad to just do nothing sometimes and rest.  I mean that I end up doing things that aren’t that important, like TV or Internet surfing.

How is your time management?  Remember that if you aren’t doing what you say you want to do (Bible study, prayer, family time, reading, exercise, volunteering, etc.) it is because you consider that the least important thing you actually do is more important than the things you say you want to do.  You may not have those conscious thoughts, but it is an accurate assessment.

In other words, if you are not reading your Bible and praying daily it is because you have decided not to.

A couple of tactical things help me: The O-H-I-O (Only Handle It Once) approach to emails and tasks works well when I use it.  Instead of going over a message multiple times when I’m not sure how I want to handle it, I try to deal with it the first time (respond, file, etc.).

On the flip side, knowing when to carefully analyze a situation to anticipate consequences saves a lot of time at work.  As I like to say, I don’t like to overkill things but I do like to kill them.  By that I mean that I want to get it done right the first time and not have to waste time later because a “shortcut” left someone out of a communication loop.  Sometimes you have to “brake to go faster.”  The discernment to know when to do it is the key.

I also take a Zero-Based Budgeting approach and analyze all that I do.  I realized a while ago that watching sports took a lot of time and didn’t bring that much enjoyment anyway, so I’ve cut it out almost completely.  The Steelers won the game?  Release mild amount of endorphins.  The Steelers lost?  Great, I just wasted 3+ hours of my life.  That isn’t an indictment of sports watching.  If you aren’t consumed by the process and have a net enjoyment, or perhaps it is a family activity, then good for you.  But if watching your college team lose spoils your weekend then you have a problem.  (Friendly reminder: Those “student athletes” and pros some people worship probably don’t care about you at all and are likely to have vastly different worldviews.)

Consider these words then try this exercise by Randy Alcorn.

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff which life is made of.”

Over three thousand years before Benjamin Franklin said those words, Moses said these:

Teach us to number our days aright,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

The New Testament speaks the same message: “Redeem the time,” or “Make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5b).

Best. Playlist. Ever.

I’ve really enjoyed a new Bible playlist on a my iPhone.  It took some time to set up but it was worth it.  It covers the entire Bible in 150 days (with Proverbs repeating every 30 days — one chapter a day except for the first day, which has two).  It includes a variety of areas each day.  It is roughly 36 minutes per day, which is about the length of my morning commute.

Each day has:

  • 1 chapter of Proverbs
  • 1 Psalm
  • 4-5 chapters of the Old Testament (I used the chronological version)
  • 1-2 chapters of the New Testament (basically in order, though I spread the Gospels out so it has Matthew, then Acts, then some letters, then Mark, then some letters, etc. and ends up with John)

For example, day 1 had chapters 1-9 below, day 2 had 10-17, etc.  To state the obvious, you could still enjoy the variety even if you don’t listen to 8-9 chapters in one day.

itune

You can get free audio Bible downloads in a variety of translations at Faith Comes By Hearing.  You can also contribute to them to help get the audio Bible out in hundreds of languages around the world.  This is vital for people who can’t read.  If you ever go on a mission trip be sure to take some of their Proclaimer audio devices.

If you haven’t tried listening to the Bible, give it a try — even if it is just a chapter per day.  Redeem your commute, or your workout, or your chores, or whatever else you do!

What was he thinking?

Update: From the “this is awkward” category, the Vatican clarified that not only do they believe that atheists go to Hell, but so does anyone outside the Catholic church.

So the Pope is taking a Second look at letting atheists into heaven?

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

The Pope made one of two mistakes. The first is really bad, the second is off-the-charts bad.

1. He was very sloppy in his use of “redeemed.” If he didn’t mean it in terms of eternal salvation, then he mislead a lot of people.  He was basically channeling Major Burns from the M*A*S*H TV show and saying, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.”  It could logically lead to a conversation like this:

Pope: You, my atheist friend, have been redeemed by God with the blood of Christ!  Let’s do good works together.

Atheist: Huh?  You mean that even though I don’t trust in Jesus and don’t even think God exists that I’ll spend eternity in Heaven with him with no punishment for my alleged sins?

Pope: Oh, no, my bad — you are still going to spend eternity in Hell as punishment for your sins.  But in the mean time we’ll do a few good deeds together and your torment in Hell will be slightly less unpleasant!  When I said “redeemed by the blood of Christ” I meant _________. [Sorry, this blogger can’t even think of a pretend way to finish that sentence.]

2. He ignores that the New Testament has over 100 passages noting that Jesus is the only way to salvation (it isn’t just John 14:6). That isn’t what makes it true, of course. His resurrection does that. But it does mean to claim to be a Christian means that you should hold that view. Anything else would be silly.

I don’t expect good theology from him (OK, more specifically, I expect bad theology from him), but I do like his pro-life and pro-family views.  But once again he fails on the salvation issue.

The Reformation happened for a reason. Actually, 95 of them. And they haven’t changed.

—-

Update: More from the Pope’s speech.

“They complain,” the Pope said in his homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of ​​possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation”

He appears to be twisting the passage about people casting out demons in Jesus’ name (Luke 9). But that wasn’t some random good deed that atheists might do (even though it wouldn’t be truly good if done out of self-interest). They were <em>casting out demons in Jesus’ name</em>. He implies that atheists are regularly doing that!  I shouldn’t be surprised when people like him can’t get the simplest passages right.

And then there is this:

Today is [the feast of] Santa Rita, Patron Saint of impossible things – but this seems impossible: let us ask of her this grace, this grace that all, all, all people would do good and that we would encounter one another in this work, which is a work of creation, like the creation of the Father. A work of the family, because we are all children of God, all of us, all of us! And God loves us, all of us! May Santa Rita grant us this grace, which seems almost impossible.

We are not all “children of God.” John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

And the article wraps up with him praying to a dead person.  In an odd way, I appreciate that the guy who is allegedly God’s #1 man here on earth is so clearly and profoundly anti-biblical.  It removes any doubt about core Catholic doctrines being false — at least for those who actually read the Bible.

Book recommendation: Cold-Case Christianity

Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by J. Warner Wallace was even better than expected.  I figured it would be a good refresher on some basic apologetics, but he offered a lot fresh angles and was very interesting to read.

A few highlights  . . .

He noticed how John’s Gospel never refers to Jesus’ mother by name, and then points out how that would be logical given that Jesus asked John to take her as his mother.  He wrote the Gospel a few decades later, so it might have been odd for him to call her by her first name.

The differences between the Gospel writers made so much sense when the texts were analyzed forensically.   For example:

Mark used specific titles to describe Peter, gave him priority in the narrative, uniquely included information related to Peter, and copied Peter’s preaching outline when structuring his own gospel. These circumstantial facts support the claims of the early church fathers who identified Peter as the source of Mark’s information. By hanging on every word, we were able to construct a reasonable circumstantial case for the gospel of Mark as an eyewitness account. When combined with the testimony of the early church, this evidence becomes even more powerful.

He does a great job of annihilating the conspiracy theory angle of skeptics.

Don’t get me wrong, successful conspiracies occur every day. But they typically involve a small number of incredibly close-knit participants who are in constant contact with one another for a very short period of time without any outside pressure. That wasn’t the case for the disciples. These men and women either were involved in the greatest conspiracy of all time or were simply eyewitnesses who were telling the truth. The more I learned about conspiracies, the more the latter seemed to be the most reasonable conclusion.

As a VP of Internal Audit, one of the roles of my team is to investigate thefts and other issues, so I found the interrogation and evidence-gathering parts to be fascinating.  I have a 70 yr. old investigator who is amazing at what he does.  He is a committed Christian and will enjoy this book!

Did the Apostles Lie So They Could Die as Martyrs?

Short answer: No.

Medium answer: Read the rest of this post.

Long answer: Read Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace, former homicide detective

As a skeptic, I believed that the story of the Resurrection was either a late distortion (a legend) created by Christians well after the fact, or a conspiratorial lie on the part of the original Apostles. It wasn’t until I started working homicides (and homicidal conspiracies in particular) that I decided an Apostolic conspiracy was unreasonable. I’ve written a chapter in Cold Case Christianity describing the five necessary elements of successful conspiracies, and none of these elements were present for the Apostles. But even more importantly, the Apostles lacked the proper motivation to lie about the Resurrection.

My case work as a homicide detective taught me something important: There are only three motives behind any murder (or any crime, or sin, for that matter). All crimes are motivated by financial greed, sexual lust (relational desire), or the pursuit of power.

If the Apostles committed the crime of fraud on an unsuspecting world, they were motivated by one of these three intentions. Most people will agree that none of the Apostles gained anything financially or sexually from their testimony, but some skeptics have argued the Apostles may have been motivated by the pursuit of power. Didn’t these men become leaders in the Church on the basis of their claims? Couldn’t this pursuit of leadership status have motivated them to lie? Wasn’t it a goal of early martyrs to die for their faith anyway?

The Apostles Knew the Difference Between Ministry and Martyrdom
The Book of Acts and the letters of Paul provide us with a glimpse into the lives of the Apostles. The Apostles were clearly pursued and mistreated, and the New Testament narratives and letters describe their repeated efforts to avoid capture. The Apostles continually evaded capture in an effort to continue their personal ministries as eyewitnesses. The New Testament accounts describe men who were bold enough to maintain their ministry, but clever enough to avoid apprehension for as long as possible.

The Apostles Knew the Difference Between a Consequence and a Goal
These early eyewitnesses were fully aware of the fact that their testimony would put them in jeopardy, but they understood this to be the consequence of their role as eyewitnesses rather than the goal. That’s why they attempted to avoid death as long as possible. While it may be true that later generations of believers wanted to emulate the Apostles through an act of martyrdom, this was not the case for the Apostles themselves.

The Apostles Knew the Difference Between Fame and Infamy
It’s one thing to be famous, but another to be famously despised. Some of us have attained widespread fame based on something noble (like Mother Teresa). Some of us have attained widespread fame because of something sinister (like Jerry Sandusky). The apostles were roundly despised by their Jewish culture as a consequence of their leadership within the fledgling Christian community. If they were lying about their testimony to gain the respect and admiration of the culture they were trying to convert, they were taking the wrong approach. The Apostles only succeeded in gaining the infamy that eventually cost them their lives. This was obvious to them from the onset; they knew their testimony would leave them powerless to stop their own brutal martyrdom.

As I examine the motives and consequences related to the testimony of the Apostles, I still find their martyrdom to be one of the most powerful evidences related to the veracity of their testimony.

Think about it for a minute: Twelve designated eyewitnesses travelled the known world to testify to the Resurrection. Not a single one of them recanted their testimony. Not a single one of them lived longer because of their testimony. Not a single one benefitted financially or relationally. These folks were either crazy or committed, certifiably nuts or certain about their observations.

“Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels”

Update: This is no longer free, but still a great read!

Go to Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels to get a free Kindle version.  Even if you don’t have a Kindle you can read it on your PC or tablet.  Whether you are a skeptic or a believer you should study this topic.

Go now!  I’ll wait here.

Written by an L. A. County homicide detective and former atheist, Cold-Case Christianity examines the claims of the New Testament using the skills and strategies of a hard-to-convince criminal investigator.

Christianity could be defined as a “cold case”: it makes a claim about an event from the distant past for which there is little forensic evidence. In Cold-Case Christianity, J. Warner Wallace uses his nationally recognized skills as a homicide detective to look at the evidence and eyewitnesses behind Christian beliefs. Including gripping stories from his career and the visual techniques he developed in the courtroom, Wallace uses illustration to examine the powerful evidence that validates the claims of Christianity.

A unique apologetic that speaks to readers’ intense interest in detective stories, Cold-Case Christianity inspires readers to have confidence in Christ as it prepares them to articulate the case for Christianity.

The book was even better than I expected it would be.  I figured it would be a good refresher on some basic apologetics, but he offered a lot fresh angles and was very interesting to read.

A few highlights  . . .

He noticed how John’s Gospel never refers to Jesus’ mother by name, and then points out how that would be logical given that Jesus asked John to take her as his mother.  He wrote the Gospel a few decades later, so it might have been odd for him to call her by her first name.

The differences between the Gospel writers made so much sense when the texts were analyzed forensically.   For example:

Mark used specific titles to describe Peter, gave him priority in the narrative, uniquely included information related to Peter, and copied Peter’s preaching outline when structuring his own gospel. These circumstantial facts support the claims of the early church fathers who identified Peter as the source of Mark’s information. By hanging on every word, we were able to construct a reasonable circumstantial case for the gospel of Mark as an eyewitness account. When combined with the testimony of the early church, this evidence becomes even more powerful.

He does a great job of annihilating the conspiracy theory angle of skeptics.

Don’t get me wrong, successful conspiracies occur every day. But they typically involve a small number of incredibly close-knit participants who are in constant contact with one another for a very short period of time without any outside pressure. That wasn’t the case for the disciples. These men and women either were involved in the greatest conspiracy of all time or were simply eyewitnesses who were telling the truth. The more I learned about conspiracies, the more the latter seemed to be the most reasonable conclusion.

As a VP of Internal Audit, one of the roles of my team is to investigate thefts and other issues, so I found the interrogation and evidence-gathering parts to be fascinating.

For Jewish people only

As a Christian I seek to share the Good News of Jesus with anyone, including Jewish people.  I realize that many things have been done to Jews that go against the teachings of Jesus, so it can be a sensitive subject.  And I know that Satan has done a great job of making Jews think the New Testament is an antisemitic manifesto (it is anything but).

However, from an apologetic standpoint I would love to have them read the New Testament and ask themselves if the types of Jews they see represented there are similar to the Jews shown in the Hebrew Bible (aka the Old Testament).

Here’s what I mean: Yes, there were some good Jews in the OT (and the NT).  But if you actually read the entire OT you can’t miss the non-stop cycles of rebellion from beginning to end — even though God had chosen them, set them apart and given them special revelation.  Scan the book of Judges.  Scan the history of the kings.  Scan the prophets.  It couldn’t be more clear.

So historically speaking, if the Jewish leaders had such a spectacularly awful track record, would it be surprising that the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time would reject their Messiah and persecute his followers?

Please note that I’m not committing the error of thinking that I would have done any better.  It is human nature to look at the bad guys of history and think we would have done the right thing.  Sure.  Sans the Holy Spirit, I’m sure I would have been yelling, “Crucify him!” and “Release to us Barrabas!”  I would have denied Jesus more than 3 times.  And so on.

But I do challenge Jewish folks — and anyone else, for that matter — to read the entire Bible carefully. It isn’t anti-Jewish.  It is pro-Good News for lost sinners of any kind.  Please don’t reject your Messiah.  Eternity is a mighty long time.