If You Think A Budget Doesn’t Work, You’re Doing It Wrong

Budget

It sounds so trite, but no one gets ahead financially without a budget. It’s like a law of nature. If you are not getting control of your money, I bet you don’t have one.
I can hear the complaints going up now. “Budgets are crap. They don’t work. I tried one once and it was a disaster.’ I believe you. But the problem was with you. You did it wrong.
I’ve worked with hundreds of people. I know what I’m talking about. Most of the time, it goes something like this. One member of the family makes a budget and presents it to the family. Usually it starts with the house and car payments, then credit cards, electricity, gas, maybe gasoline, etc. At the end, after they total everything, what’s leftover goes for groceries. And it’s usually about $25 a week for a family of four.
Even though groceries were budgeted last, they go grocery shopping early in the week and spend over $100. On Friday or Saturday, they go out to eat and blow another $60 and the budget is over.
If that describes you, don’t beat yourself up. You’re in good company. It happens to most people. The problem isn’t with budgets, you’ve just done it wrong. When you do a budget the right way, it’s much easier to make it work.
First, sit down together if possible. Even if one partner does the budget, get the other person’s buy in. If a couple are not together, it won’t work. Write the budget down on paper. Write it in pencil in case you need to erase. Don’t put it in your laptop, phone or tablet. Write it out. You’re trying to master your finances not practice your typing or software skills. Besides, writing this stuff down makes it feel more real. It really does.
I created a set of forms for my wife and I to do our budget. I had two budget forms in that set. I had a basic budget form to use while we were in debt. Then I had another one for after debt. Each of them had everything on a single page. I believed then and believe now, that if I can’t do my budget on a single page, I’m not going to do it.
Note: If you want one, I’ll send you a free .pdf of the basic form. You can make as many copies as you need. Just do one of two things, either use the Contact Us button, and ask for a budget form, or send an email to me at sam@samburtonpresents.com. Make sure you include your email address.
The method to doing a budget begins with a 4-category plan. It’s that simple.
1. God. I really believe that unless we give first, before we spend, we’ll never get control of our funds. B and I are Christians. We believe that God gets the best of the first and the first of the best. We give 10%. We started with 5% because our debt load was so bad. I’ll tell that story later. If you don’t believe in God, I urge you to consider Him. Feel free to email any questions you have, and I’ll try to answer them. But, find a charity, some cause you believe in and give.
2. Food. You’ve got to eat. You’re going to eat. If you don’t you’ll starve. And if you don’t eat right you’ll be unable to function properly at work. If you’re in debt, make it a basic budget. Don’t be buying T Bones and Lobster if you owe big car payments and Credit Card companies. Make your budget more basic until you break the debt trap. I’ll share details of how we did it in a future post.
3. Household expenses. Your family, you know, spouse, children, your dog Muffin, they all like having a roof over their heads, so budget your house payment next, followed by electricity, gas and insurance. Don’t budget things like phone bill, cable, and internet at this time. They are luxuries and don’t count yet.
4. Transportation. You must get to work to earn money. You need a car. You don’t need a car payment. If you have one right now, so be it. You have to put gas and oil in it and have it insured. You don’t need a new car. I don’t care who you are, you don’t need a new car. Go ahead, argue with me, but you don’t need one.
These 4 things occupy what I call your perimeter. These things are the must haves. And they should be budgeted in this order. These are must haves. Netflix is not a must have.
If you will begin your budget with these items, in this order, you’ll be way ahead of the rest of the pack. And, like I said earlier, just contact me if you want my basic family budget form absolutely free.
You rock. You can totally win.

My UFO Close Encounter – A True Story

I think that since I started my mind thinking about supernatural things and cryptids last week, I would continue with that thought today. Why not, right?

We moved several times when I was in Jr. High and High school. I couldn’t even begin to tell you the names of the roads we lived on during that time, except for one, Middlesex Drive. I remember it not because of the odd name, but because of a strange event that happened to me while we were there. Frankly, it changed me forever.

The house was brand new as were all the others in the neighborhood. Lexington was a fast growing city in the seventies and new houses were going up everywhere. Most of these new homes were split levels and split foyers. Ours was a split level. On the ground level were a single car garage, the kitchen, dining room and living room. Upstairs were three bedrooms and a bath. Below ground were a family room, an extra bedroom and the utility room that also contained a bath. My bedroom was below ground. Probably every teenage boy in the neighborhood had a below ground bedroom in those days, because we were not civilized. Our rooms smelled bad. Probably mostly to do with unwashed socks hiding under our beds. I know it didn’t have anything to do with unwashed bodies, because I took at least two showers every day. One before school in the morning and one in the evening. At least three days a week I took one in the afternoon at school after gym class as well. I hated the thought of smelling bad. I was terrified of smelling bad in front of, you know, girls.

We also played our music too loud. Apparently, 20th century parents weren’t keen of Black Oak Arkansas, The Edgar Winter Group, or even Elvis. They kept spinning in my room along with Elton John, the Bee Gees and a wide range of Southern Gospel Quartet music. I had a nice collection of Motown favorites like Marvin Gaye, and the Stylistics for variety. Man, my hair is growing back just thinking about it.

One of the features about downstairs living I liked best was the fact that I had my own entrance to the house. There was a door from my bedroom to the backyard. That was great because I had a white German Shepherd, Rajah. I could easily sneak him into the room, not that I would ever do a thing like that! Anyway, after we were done playing, I could open the door and let Rajah out. He would stare in the back door for a while, then lay down and sleep right outside. It was comforting for me to know my big dog was right outside.

One summer evening, August, to be precise, I was listening to the radio late on a Tuesday night. I kept it low enough not to disturb my parents or sisters upstairs. Rajah lay outside my door. The radio was tuned to WKYT radio as it pretty much always was.

The time was ticking away, well past midnight. It was dark out. Because there were no houses behind us, just a corn field, the back of our neighborhood was always particularly dark. There were lots of stars lighting the sky, but no moon that night. Whenever there was no moon, the darkness of the cornfield was particularly creepy. I was glad Rajah was out there. I was thinking about letting him inside when it all happened.

First, the radio stopped. It just shut off mid song. So did the clock. At first I assumed it was a breaker. Then I saw Rajah. He was sitting up just outside the door with his eyes fixed on the sky. He was frozen like a statue. I called to him. He didn’t move a muscle.

I got up and looked out at the sky. All I saw were stars. Then one star began to move, but instead of moving across the sky, it moved towards me. It began like a white pin prick and grew larger as it moved closer. In just a few seconds it was as big as a full moon and lit up the back field. But it wasn’t done. It kept coming closer until it was in our back yard. Technically, it was in the corn field, but very close to the yard. It was very large and very bright. The thing just sat there pulsating and watching me.

I did what any 16 year old would do. I jumped back in bed and hid under the covers. There was a hum coming from the orb, but that was the only sound in the night. There were no dogs barking. There weren’t even any insects or frogs doing their usual serenading of the darkness. It was terrifying.

I don’t know how long I stayed under the covers. Probably around 10 minutes. By that time it was getting pretty hot under there and the oxygen was pretty stale. I was trying to decide what to do when I sensed a slight change in the brightness, so I pulled my head out from under the blanket.  The craft was now moving off. It flashed once, then slowly but steadily retreated the way it came until is was just a tiny pin prick, then disappeared.

The moment it was gone, the radio came back on. Rajah shook and turned to face me. I got up and let him in. He whined and lay down by the bed. I let him sleep there the rest of the night. I didn’t sleep much. I kept watching the sky, afraid the thing would return.

The next morning I said nothing to my sisters. Neither of them have ever said they saw anything. Eventually, like a year later, I told my parents. They never saw anything. My dad poo pooed it.  My mom stayed quiet. She was open to anything.

On the school bus, and at school, nobody saw or heard a thing. It was like I was the only witness to the event. And that made no sense to me.

In order for you to fully understand my discomfort, you should be aware that even back then I was a Christian, and did not believe in men from outer space. I was convinced we were the only inhabited planet in the universe. There were no grays or lizard people. But what I had experienced was real. And it shook me to my core.

Those were days before the internet so Google wasn’t an option. I was forced to go to the library and go through the card catalogue with a fine tooth comb. I did that at my school library and at the public one, checking out everything I could find on UFOs, encounters, the Bible, and anything else I could find.

Eventually, I found a book written in 1972 by an Australian Christian Writer, Clifford Wilson, called, Crash Go The Chariots. It was a response to Erich Von Daniken’s, “Chariots of the Gods”. I don’t remember much about the text of the book, but Wilson seemed to answer most of my doubts. He set me on a path that I still walk. These days, I call UFOs, and most other supernatural events. Demonic Practical Jokes. They are designed to trick us and to cause us to take our eyes off of God and His message to us.

For example; the teaching that every single person has brought back from a kidnapping encounter with ‘aliens’ is a denial of the Gospel’s core teaching. What’s also true is the message is almost exactly the same as from those who have near death experiences. What a coincidence.

Now this episode is getting a bit long in the tooth, but as I unfold these stories to you, I’ll also unpack what I think is happening. For now just let this thought sink in. I believe that UFOs, The Loch Ness Monster, Dogmen, and even ghosts, are ‘real’. I believe they are trans dimensional and enter our dimension with evil intent. I believe that’s why they can do things that seem so odd to us. Because we are used to our 3 dimensions.

Yes, there are loads of hoaxes. But there are too many serious stories that cannot be discounted or disproved. We must take them seriously.

For now, think on those things. I’ll be back soon with more.

 

Cryptids – A Big Risk

Dogman

Every once in a while, we have to take a risk, a gamble in life, or we don’t make any real progress. This is one of mine. I’m going to spend some time in this space telling you some pretty weird stuff. Things that many people would choose to be quiet about. I’m not going to do it all at once, but along with more traditional stuff like my usual Bible related stories, and things like gardening and money management, I’m going to tell you about UFO’s, ghosts, dogmen, bigfoot, and more.

I know it sounds crazy, but I’m doing it because more and more people are having encounters. I hear them. And folk are scared and confused. They are often disbelieved and made fun of. I want to change all that. In fact, I want to change your mind about these things too. I’m going to tell you about several of the adventures my family has had with the unknown. I know these encounters are real. As you’ll see, most of them happened to me or my parents. I won’t try and convince you. I’m just going to tell you what happened and what I think it means. You are totally free to call me a crazy nut, but most of you know me well enough to know that I’m not lying to you.

I hear podcasts and see the folk on YouTube and I know people are scared and scarred. I want to tell you, I believe you. And I believe that what you have experienced seems so odd to you because what you have experienced is a supernatural or transdimentional event. Because of it’s nature it won’t make sense on many levels. Back when I was in High School, which wasn’t yesterday, I coined the phrase, ‘a demonic practical joke’ to explain my own interpretation of these events.

UFO encounters, hauntings, attacks by cryptid creatures, are all designed to frighten us and cause us to question truth and reality. To take our eyes off of God. And I believe that as we get closer to Christ’s return, these events will increase as part of ‘a great delusion’ that’s going to draw a great many people away from Him.

Anyway, I hope you’ll stick around and read some of my posts. I’m giving you fair warning today. I know that mixing words like Jesus, Bible, and Faith with UFO, Ghost, and Bigfoot will seem weird and contradictory, but when all is said and done, I think you’ll get it.  What I’m hoping is that those of you who have followed my podcast and preaching ministry won’t panic or worry about my orthodoxy with some of these stories. And I’m hoping that some of you who are comfortable with talk about Dogman or UFOs won’t write me off because of my faith. Stay tuned. You rock.

 

Help, I Just Can’t Make Sense Of The Bible. Oh, By The Way, It’s Boring

Rediscover CoverDoes that headline resonate with you? It wouldn’t surprise me. Nearly every week, I am asked about the best way to read the Bible, or asked why the Bible is so hard to understand. I totally get that. It can be frustrating when your new to it.

One of the reasons the Bible seems so hard is that it’s not in the best order for reading. Say what? I’m serious. If you’re new to the Bible, or have just never seemed to make sense of it, I’m going to clear some of that up for you right now!

The Bible is actually a collection of books; 66 of them to be precise. And they are grouped into categories just like a library. In fact, we should think of the Bible as a library of books in a single volume. Just like we wouldn’t go to a public library and start with the first book and read them in order all the way around the walls, we get the most out of the Bible if we don’t read from beginning to end (Genesis to Revelation) the first time we read it.

If you want to know more about that, I recommend my book, “(Re)Discovering the Bible Vol. 1”. It’s available on Amazon as an e-book, but you don’t need a Kindle to read it.

In the next two paragraphs, I’m giving you a suggested order in which to read the Bible. I am convinced you will get more out of your personal study if you do this.

The Bible is divided into two major segments, Old Testament and New Testament. As you can see, I’ve recommended the New Testament first. If you read the NT first it will help you understand the Old Testament much better than if you begin there. Trust me.

I highly recommend reading the Gospel of Luke first, followed by the Book of Acts. The reasons are two fold and quite simple. The Gospels tell us who Jesus is, which is the most important thing you and I need to know. The Book of Acts tells us what to do about that knowledge. It’s the only book in the Bible that describes how people became Christians.

The second reason I choose Luke and Acts, when there are 3 other Gospels, is that Luke is the author of both books, so they flow very smoothly. See, I told you it was simple.

In the next paragraph, you’ll find a recommended order for reading the entire New Testament. Essentially, I tried to put easier to read books first and the more difficult ones towards the end.

One more thing; I encourage readers to read through the New Testament twice before moving on to the Old Testament. Mainly, that’s because it really will make the Old Testament easier to grasp.

Here’s the full NT reading list in recommended order:  Luke, Acts, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Matthew, James, Mark, 1 and 2 Timothy, John, 1,2,3 John, Galatians, Philippians, Titus, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, Romans, Jude, Revelation.

Ok, now it’s time for the Old Testament. What I’ve done here is simply put the Old Testament books into an order that breaks up the harder to read ones by including some of the easier to read ones in between the harder ones. That gives our brains a rest. You’re welcome.

I do have one more suggestion. Before beginning your Old Testament reading, go through the New Testament Book of Hebrews one more time. I call Hebrews the ‘key to understanding the Old Testament’. It really will help. I promise.

My suggested Old Testament reading plan looks like this: Genesis, Joshua, Psalms, Isaiah, Exodus, Judges, Proverbs, Jeremiah, Leviticus,Ruth, Job, Lamentations, Numbers, 1 Samuel, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel, Deuteronomy, 2 Samuel,Song of Solomon, Daniel, 1 Kings, Hosea, 2 Kings, Joel, 1 Chronicles, Amos, 2 Chronicles, Obadiah, Ezra, Jonah, Nehemiah, Micah, Esther, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

There you have it. Obviously, you can read the Bible in any order you want, but I did this to help those having trouble staying focused and those who were inexperienced with the Bible. As you become more familiar with its message, you may create your own reading plan, or simply go front to back. It’s your call.

I hope this helps; I really do. If you have any questions, please use the comments section and ask.  Again, I refer you to my book, and encourage you to tune into the (Re)Discovering the Bible Online Radio Show podcast.

You can also email your questions to me.  Thanks, as always. You rock.

Fish Dinners and Good Wine – How John Uses Jesus Miracles To Prove Both His Deity And Humanity

Episode 46

Listen HERE

 

It’s another gorgeous autumn morning here at the farmstead. I thought last week that I would wait until we got to Scotland to do this weeks show, but at the last minute I’ve decided to record a brief broadcast before we leave tomorrow since I’m not exactly sure when I’ll get a chance to record over there.

So, in the words of Sherlock Holmes, ‘Let’s crack on.’

Last week I announced that we would look specifically, and in depth, at John’s account of Jesus feeding the 5,000. As I studied, my direction was altered a little bit, so I’m calling an audible.  We ARE going to look at the feeding of the multitude, but we’re going to look at it in the context of some of the other miracles John writes about, including Jesus turning water into wine, the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda in chapter 5 and the raising of Lazarus in Chapter 11.  I’m doing it, because after 60 years on this planet, I finally see that John chooses these miracles, because they are perfect illustrations of Jesus’ humanity as well as his deity.

Joh 6:1  After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.

Joh 6:2  And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.

Joh 6:3  Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.

Joh 6:4  Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Joh 6:5  Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”

Joh 6:6  He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.

Joh 6:7  Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.”

Joh 6:8  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,

Joh 6:9  “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”

Joh 6:10  Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number.

Joh 6:11  Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted.

Joh 6:12  And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”

Joh 6:13  So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.

 

Jesus performed a lot of miracles during His ministry. In fact, John writes in his last chapter that if all of them were written down, the entire world wouldn’t hold the volume of books about it. So with all Jesus deeds to choose from, all 4 Gospel writers chose to record this one. It obviously had a profound effect on them.

First, it establishes Jesus as lord of Creation. He somehow manages to make 5 loaves of bread and two small fish stretch to feed a crowd of up to 25,000 people.  Secondly, He is the Lord of Abundance. There is not only enough to eat, but there are leftovers. It reminds me very much of the old testament story of the widow’s oil. He is the Lord of provision.

There is no doubt, this act of creation and multiplication is evidence of Jesus’ Deity, but the similarities to his miracle of water into wine, showed me evidence of His Humanity as well.  So I looked at some of the other Miracles recorded in John’s Gospel and realized that each one, as well as many of His encounters with people, note the woman at the well in Chapter 4, the woman caught in adultery in Chapter 10 and Jesus’ conversation with Mary and John in chapter 19, show clearly Jesus compassion and humanity. Remember, John’s purpose to persuade others to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Everything he writes is to demonstrate Jesus dual nature as the Word who became flesh.

Why did he turn water into wine? On the surface, it could be interpreted as showing off. At least until you think about the event for more than a few seconds. With a deeper look, we see not only His creative power, but how much He cares for the potential embarrassment of the ‘master of the feast’, the newlyweds, and His own mother.  Jesus is not just interested in the Big things, like sin and salvation, His humanity shows His care for the little things, the mundane, the ordinary. He is paying attention, and it matters.

At the pool of Bethesda in chapter 5, Jesus is knee deep in needy people. Some of them pious, some probably profane.  But He finds an individual in the mass of humanity and interacts with him, changing his life forever.

Jesus doesn’t miss the forest for the trees. He cares about the tree in the forest. He sees you. He knows your name. And He cares deeply for you.

The story of Lazarus shows us that Jesus has friends. He tenderly interacts with both Martha and Mary, and before he raises Lazarus, he weeps. He raises Lazarus in part to show that death is an illusion and under His control. But also because of His deep love for two grieving sisters.

It’s as clear as crystal for me that each of these events are obvious, intentional stories John includes to illustrate both the divinity and humanity of Jesus. And it makes me Love Him more and more. I hope it inspires you to dig deeper into who Jesus is, and ultimately to follow Him, if you don’t already.

That’s it for now. I need to catch a plane. Next time we’re going to look at Jesus’ promise of Eternal life from John 14, in an episode I’ll just call, “Trust me.”

Talk to you soon. If you want to follow some of our Scottish adventures, simple join our Facebook group, ‘Scotland Rising’ and you’ll get all the photos and updates during our time there. Have a great week. Be blessed and be a blessing.

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Nic At Night

Episode 45

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Once again, John tells us Nicodemus was a Pharisee.  From this we can infer that he is a well respected member of the community.

Why at night? – Down through the centuries, scholars, lay people and skeptics alike have debated why Nicodemus came to see Jesus under the cover of darkness. Many have speculated that this was because Nic was unwilling to risk being seen openly praising Jesus because of the risk to his status and reputation. While this interpretation cannot be discounted, I tend to reject it because in chapters 7 and 19, Nicodemus is overt in his support of Jesus. In my opinion, it may very well be nothing more than the Pharisee wanting some private conversation which was unlikely to happen during the daytime.

Jesus being obscure….again. – After Nicodemus pays Jesus a nice compliment, Jesus takes over the conversation.  He goes right into, ‘unless a man is born again…’  There are a few times in the Gospels where Jesus comes across like one of the old Shao Lin masters in 1970s Kung Fu movies. He makes these obscure declarations that blow up the conversation and take it in a direction He wants it to go.

In this case He says, Unless a man is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God, which naturally confuses Nicodemus. This idea of Rebirth is new. It’s not an extension of the Mosaic covenant.

Jesus clarification is just as cloudy, even 21 centuries later. He reply, Unless a man is born of the water and spirit, he cannot ender the Kingdom of God.

Jesus words born of water and Spirit…. Have thrown generations into bewilderment. Several, though not all, scholars have tried to make born of water refer to physical birth , as in the amniotic fluid that accompanies a baby during birth, while Spirit refers to rebirth.  For the life of me, I cannot see it that way. Both contextually and grammatically, both water and spirit refer to the second  or rebirth. I read this passage in multiple translations and even went back to the Greek and translated it myself.  Admittedly, my Greek skills have atrophied over the years, but fortunately, verse 5 is in rather simple Greek so it wasn’t difficult. It is clear that a natural reading suggests water and spirit and are a phrase in themselves.  There are no definite articles separating the nouns, or any other differentiators. Also,  the human birth experience called born of water does not exist in Greek literature. This is an invention of the Church to try and explain a very difficult and obscure declaration.

It is my conclusion that Jesus is foreshadowing conversion, which would not be fully understood until Pentecost.  The conversion experience, called here a birth, refers to our human response to the Gospel which is summed up in our obedience in Baptism while Spirit refers to what is unseen, the hard part, as it were, that can only be performed by the Holy Spirit. In Romans 6, Paul also uses baptism as the picture of the human response to the Gospel and describes it as death, burial and resurrection. Here Jesus is foreshadowing conversion by comparing baptism as birth rather than death.  In light of the Book of Acts, the understanding is simplified.

Jesus explanation of New Birth does not clear up Nicodemus’ confusion. The Pharisee asks, How can this be?  At first, Jesus reprimands him for his lack of understanding, then He shifts gears and makes simplifies the subject by going way back to basics. He spends the verses 11-21 by saying, it’s all about me, Nicodemus. Just like Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:9), so the Son of Man will be lifted up.  Again, this is a foreshadowing of His crucifixion, that Nicodemus would simply not understand at this time.

But He makes it a bit easier by saying He came as an expression of God’s love rather than His Judgement. He has come to bring light to the world, but in our attraction to sin, and it’s associated darkness, many will reject him. But there will be others, and revelation tells us it’s a multitude that cannot be numbered, will literally come to the light.

And with that, the story ends. Abruptly, and to some degree incomplete.

That’s because at this point in the Gospel, the whole story is not yet known. It’s not until after the resurrection that the story is complete and the pieces of the puzzle can be fit together.

We have the benefit of the Bible. We can figure these things out. Salvation requires a conversion, a new birth than can only be achieved by coming to Christ, the light of the world. He came to offer light and light in place of darkness and judgement.

You don’t have to understand all of it to get started. You can simply start with John 3:16-18

Joh 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Joh 3:17  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Joh 3:18  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God

Probably most of you listening, have already accepted that promise and followed him, but there might be a few who are sitting on the fence. My challenge to you today is JUMP. Take Jesus at His word and ‘Believe in Him.’

I’m going to pray for you right now.

If you took that first step into Jesus arms, well done. I’m so excited. Please let your Pastor know right away so he can guide you into your next steps. If you don’t have a good Church, email, tweet me or  use the comments feature on the website with the show notes and I’ll get back to you right away with some material and with the name of a good Church in your area.

Next week, we’re going behind the curtain of one of Jesus most remarkable miracles and what it means in a lesson called, ‘Fish Sandwiches all round, no coupon required. No limit.’

Until then, be blessed and be a blessing.

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Jesus Unmasked – His True Identity Revealed

Episode 44

Listen HERE

I hope things are going well with you wherever you are.  It’s a beautiful day here at the farmstead. It’s a very emotional week as our remaining animals are going to their new homes as the week goes along. By next week’s show, all the animals will be gone. It’s a very surreal experience. If you could remember Brittan and me during your prayer time, I’d sure appreciate it.

On the other hand, It’s just a couple weeks until we head for Scotland. We’re so excited about the trip.  I hope you’ll follow our adventure on Facebook. All you need to do is search for ‘Scotland Rising’ on Facebook and like the page. We will update that page regularly with stories, photos, and prayer requests.

Today, we’re going to John Chapter one. Last week we started our journey in John with a look at the end of John’s gospel where he explained WHY he wrote what he did. His overt goal was proselytism. He wanted readers to not just know about Jesus life and teachings, he wanted readers to place their faith in Jesus as ‘the Christ, the son of God.’

Now, it’s time to go back to the beginning of the Gospel and look at the claims of Jesus, as recorded by John.

Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Joh 1:2  He was in the beginning with God.

Joh 1:3  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Joh 1:4  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Joh 1:5  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

These 5 verses must be some of the most elegantly written pieces of Theology in existence. It is an extremely controversial set of statements in the  21st century, because it categorically declares the Deity of Christ.

Liberal and humanist minds have always chafed at these verses… They identify Jesus as God, as eternal, as creator and as redeemer.

First, John says Jesus was ‘In the beginning’.  John is deliberately identifying Jesus with ‘Elohim’ of Genesis 1.  Somehow they are different but somehow they are the same. The word was with God, suggesting some distinction. In fact, I found a translation called, “The Scriptures 1998” that actually translates the word, God as ‘Elohim’. Wild.  The word was God, suggesting equality. I’m not a theologian, nor do I play one on TV, but I can clearly see John is undeniably calling Jesus, God.

Those who argue against the deity of Christ, have worked hard to come up translations to try and make John say something less direct, but their arguments fall pitifully short. Even the extremely liberal RSV, is forced to translate verse one correctly. It’s simply impossible to do otherwise. The Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation tries to translate it the word was ‘a god’ with small g. And sometimes you might see it translated the word was divine or ‘godlike’.  But to do so is simply allowing theological bias to drive the translation rather than the other way round.  Sadly, I see this play out in a few other NT verses, but with this passage, only overtly pseudo Christian groups are bold enough to mistranslate John’s opening declaration.

By saying He was in the beginning, John is teaching the Eternality of Jesus. Before creation, only eternity and the eternal existed. Creation is the beginning of the bubble we call time. Jesus was there at the emergence of time. He is eternal.

John clearly identifies Jesus as creator when he says, By Him all things were made, and nothing was created apart from Him.

Finally John identifies Jesus as Redeemer when he says, In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

Quite frequently, light and darkness are considered opposites. You know, the opposite of light is darkness. In movies the Dark Force is often portrayed and the polar opposite of light, sometimes as even a necessary requirement to create balance in the universe. eg. The dark side of the force.

In both Scripture and in Science, darkness is not the opposite of light, rather it is the absence of light. They are not equals and it is never a fair fight. Light ALWAYS dispels darkness. And darkness can’t overwhelm light. No matter how deep the darkness, even the smallest light will send it running. In fact, the heavier the darkness, the more effective the light.

No matter what darkness does, nor how dense, it is impotent against the light. So John can say with confidence, a light has shined in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

I believe this is a reference to sin. Sin covered all the human race and it seems so omnipotnent. But Jesus sacrifice shined a light into the darkness and conquered it.

Many, maybe most of us are afraid of the dark. Darkness hides many secrets, many dangers, many monsters. And as long as the darkness reigns, they seem so powerful, but the instant a light shines in the darkness, the hidden is revealed. Some dark creatures, like rats and cockroaches go scurrying for cover and others are able to be dealt with in the light of illumination.  The monster is slain, the bogey man is unmasked as a fraud. And in the same way, sin is defeated by the light of Christ. That’s why John can say in his first letter, ‘we want to be in the light, as He is in the light.

Right there my friends is the Gospel. Christ is the conqueror of darkness. It is defeated once and for all. The darkness is exposed. And that is Good News.

I could probably end here, but there is one more verse we absolutely MUST look at, and that is verse 14.

Joh 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

If the first verse is controversial in the 21st century, it is verse 14 that caused all the arguments in John’s day.

We’ve talked on and on about Gnosticism but John 1:14, must have caused blood to come out of their eyes and ears. And the Word became flesh was in conflict with everything they believed.  John does not say the word took on flesh, or the Word appeared to be flesh, but the Word BECAME flesh. The eternal became mortal. It is the perfect complimentary verse to Philippians 2 Php 2:6  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Php 2:7  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

 

The true identity of Jesus of Nazareth has now been revealed. The mask is ripped off. He is the God Man, the one of a kind, full of Grace and Truth.

You can reject Him, but you can’t dilute the claim.

 

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