The Parable of the Prodigal Son

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube

In Luke 15, we find Jesus’ famous Parable of the Prodigal Son.  This story is a favorite among Christians, but as is often the case with favorite Scripture passages, this parable is rarely taught in its original context.  Once we strip away context and start treating portions of Scripture as stand alone thoughts, we often start reading meanings into the text that the original author never meant.  This is certainly the case with the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and today you can find Christians squeezing all kinds of absurd lessons and promises out of this parable that aren’t at all valid.  You see, as magnificent as our glorious Lord is, He simply isn’t speaking to any of us in Scriptures. Instead, He’s speaking to folks who lived thousands of years before us—folks whose cultural values, customs, and priorities differed from our own.  Continue reading

Understanding Jesus: The Bread of Life (John 6)

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To understand many of the bizarre things Jesus says in the Gospel books, you need to start by understanding that Jesus spends a lot of time pushing people who are content with their current religious beliefs to change those beliefs.  To understand how uncomfortable this is, consider how you would react to the idea that God lies, or that He intentionally creates tumors in the brains of some babies, or that He likes Hell, or that He is the One who has helped the sadistic ISIS terrorists pull off countless torture fests without interruption.  You see, once you have an understanding of God that works for you, you’re naturally going to resist having that image changed.  And once you refuse to have your view of God changed, you will reject any new truths about Him that make you uncomfortable.  In other words, you decide that God is only going to function as your woobie—something you value only for the comfort that it gives you.  Today many Christians are in a woobie mentality with God, which is why they get very hostile to any teaching about God which makes Him seem less cuddly than a kitten.    Continue reading

Understanding Jesus: What does it mean to be born again?

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Do you refer to yourself as a “born again” Christian?  If so, why?  Because that’s what it says in the Bible, right?  But have you ever looked up the passages in which that term is used and studied the original context?  Probably not, so let’s do it now, because it’s really quite interesting. Continue reading

Understanding Jesus: Hate Your Family & Count the Cost

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In the second half of Luke 14, we find Jesus making many extreme statements which can easily be misinterpreted to mean that He is impossible to please.  And yet when you know that you sincerely care about pleasing God, and something you read in the Bible makes you feel like a spiritual failure, that’s your cue that you’re letting demons guide your application.  Demons always lie, and when it comes to souls who sincerely care about pleasing God, their top goal is to beat such souls down into hopeless despair.  The basic strategy of demons is to constantly push a reversal truth.  When they see a soul is pleasing God, then they heap on the condemnation.  When they see that a soul is being rebellious, they heap on the encouragement.  So which group are you currently in?  You know whether you care about pleasing God or not.  If you do care, and all you’re hearing in your head is an unending refrain of how displeased God is with you, is that message really coming from Him?  Nope, it’s demons trying to sell you a reversal of truth.  Demons are very good at accurately assessing your soul’s attitude towards God.  They know who He’s pleased with and who He is displeased with.  So if you want to know the truth about how God feels about you, just listen to what demons are telling you and reverse it.  If they’re telling you that you’re a total spiritual zero, then you’re probably doing very well.  If they’re telling you that you are a spiritual superstar, then you’re probably neck deep in rebellion.  Demons always lie, and we can use their consistency to our advantage. Continue reading

Understanding Jesus: Take Up Your Cross

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Sadism is a dysfunctional mindset in which a person takes delight in inflicting suffering on others.  We are all born with the necessary components to turn into vicious little sadists.  When someone wrongs you, and you secretly delight in seeing them suffer later on, you feel like your joy is justified because they wronged you first.  Among humans, it’s very common to pretend that sadism is not sadism as long as we’re calling it by the labels of revenge or justice.  But justice is supposed to be about keeping morals alive in your society so that order can be preserved.  The point of executing certain criminals is to protect society from their poisonous influence.  There are many ways of quickly executing a man so that he ceases to be a threat to others.  And yet in real life, human societies often refuse to use the most efficient methods of exterminating threats to social order.  Instead, we seem to take delight in coming up with ways to prolong the suffering of our victims as long as possible.  We also like to turn executions into public shows that everyone can watch.  In America, the absurdly complicated electric chair is just one big sadism fest.  Instead of instantly killing a man with a bullet to the brain, we film him being electrocuted to death and then we invite others to watch the whole thing live.  Or we go for lethal injection, in which we use toxic chemicals to make a body shutdown in stages.  We could just use one drug that works instantaneously, but instead we put together a ridiculously complicated cocktail of hard to get chemicals just to drag the whole show out longer. It’s sadistic, and sadism is sick.  Promoting sadism also has a very detrimental effect on human societies by encouraging citizens to celebrate and wallow in their basest instincts.  Continue reading

A Mouthy Messiah: Why the Jews in Nazareth Tried to Kill Jesus

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

In Luke 4, we find an interesting sequence of events. Jesus stands up in a synagogue, reads a portion of Isaiah 61, and when He sits down, everyone’s staring at Him like He just said something shocking.  What’s that about?

Well, first realize that there wasn’t an “Isaiah 61” to the Jews because their Scriptures weren’t divided into chapters.  Isaiah’s entire book would have been one long scroll for them.  Chapters were not added to the Bible until the 13th century A.D., and verses were then added in the mid-16th century.  All of the stuff you read about in the New Testament happened during the 1st century.

Now even though there weren’t chapters, Isaiah’s book is a series of visions and speeches which are stand alone thoughts.  To understand the context of a single verse, you need to find the start of the speech that it’s a part of, and read the whole speech.  Chapter headings can actually get in the way because they make you feel like a new speech is starting when sometimes the chapter break happens in the middle of the speech.  Either way, in the case of Jesus, He didn’t come anywhere close to reading a whole speech.  He just read a few lines from the middle of a long speech.  He really wasn’t modeling a good use of context—but then again, that wasn’t His purpose.  Continue reading