Articles


Informed Decision Making

posted Jan 11, 2015, 11:33 PM by hbchurch org

12/14/2014

“No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God .' Everyone who has heard and learned from the  Father, comes to Me.”

John 6:44-45

   We spend a major portion of our lives gathering information so that we can make informed decisions. Granted, there are a few folks who were vaccinated with an impulsive bend who typically act with little or no thought about the outcome of their decisions. Advertisers are well aware of the average consumer’s desire for information and spend millions of dollars trying to educate potential buyers and users hoping to woo and wow them so they will by “it”. Motivating consumers is an enormous and crafty trade. Ironically, most of us actually enjoy learning about items we are genuinely interested in.

   One of the great mysteries in the world of human enterprise is the relative lack of desire by most people to want to know more about our Creator. Some have zero interest, but most have, at the least, a curiosity or a slight interest in spiritual things. But very few truly crave a deep and rich knowledge of Almighty God and His word.

   For most, knowing God and His Word is not all that important. Even  those who “believe” in God see little or no need to grow in their knowledge and understanding. They are wholly content with what they already know. As long as they think they are going to heaven, they see no need to exert the effort to grow. Naiveness and ignorance are a lethal combination. Peter warned that such a condition would result in certain destruction (of the soul) 2 Peter 3:16-17. On the other hand, the way to avoid this destructive device of the devil is to GROW (2 Pet. 3:18).

   Growing spiritually is hard work (2 Tim. 2:15). It requires resolve and determination. But isn't being taught of and learning about God’s will worth more than any other kind of knowledge? (John 6:44-45) Doesn't the assurance of a heavenly home eclipse the domain of mundane facts and figures? Why wouldn't one want to know all he or she could about the great God who made it possible for us to be with Him in heaven?

   Paradoxically, we are a nation drowning in information, and yet we are woefully ignorant of God’s will. It is impossible to make an informed choice from ignorance. Tragically, the most important decision one will ever make is often made out of ignorance or prejudice. Learn of and get to know God. Enrich your soul. Be informed; decide for Him.  KD

Be Thankful For Truth

posted Jan 11, 2015, 11:30 PM by hbchurch org

11/22/2014

There is much to be thankful for, but in a world of bountiful blessings it is easy to just focus our attention on the stuff we have or aspire to have. Thankfully, many of our things add immeasurably to the comforts of life, but there’s more.

A brief sojourn into the early part of the last century via a documentary on The Roosevelts recently reminded me of the breadth and depth of hardship during the dark days of the Great Depression. We do indeed have a good life. God has been good to our nation. But every economic crisis should serve to remind us of the real possibility that all this prosperity could vanish in a heart beat. If that happened, could you still be thankful?

Of course, every student of scripture has learned from our Savior that life is not about the abundance of one’s possessions (Luke 12:15). Things are only temporary, as is our earthly existence. That which transcends our material universe is describe by Jesus as life eternal and He is the Way one can acquire that life (John 14:6).

In this same verse Jesus also said that He is truth. But isn't truth an intangible, merely an antonym for falsehood? NO! Jesus was not speaking of a mere concept. He is the essence of all that is real and meaningful. HE IS TRUTH.

Because of who He is and what He did, He can be trusted. He is the great, eternal constant. He is the “...same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). In a secular world awash in uncertainty and untruthfulness, it is comforting to know that real truth exits and that it is liberating (John 8:32). This stupendous reality enables us to courageously and confidently affirm that “...The Lord is my helper; I will not fear…”. (Hebrews 13:6). If we knew nothing more about Him than this, our hearts should be erupting in thanksgiving.

As we pause this coming Thursday to celebrate a national holiday, let’s be especially mindful of the value of genuine truth. It is so easy to let our minds get swept up in the spirit of all the festivities, ball games, and black Friday and lose our perspective. Remember too, to “...look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Ken Dart

Are you Living to Eat or Eating to Live?

posted Nov 12, 2014, 12:18 AM by hbchurch org

11/09/2014

Some people absolutely love to eat. It seems like they are never satisfied; food is the focus of their lives. It is normal to want to eat regularly, but a life lived for the sole satisfaction of the flesh is futility. It’s no wonder that when the writer of Ecclesiastes looked at life without God (i.e., life under the sun), he concluded that all is vanity and striving after the wind. One thing he saw that led him to his conclusion was the following: “All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.” (Eccl. 6:7) If our appetite is normal, we keep wanting to eat every day. Is this life? Are we just living to eat?

Yes, eating is necessary and some degree of satisfaction accompanies sharing a meal with friends and family. But sometimes we don’t feel like eating. An “upset tummy” can eradicate our desire for food. This phenomena is not something we have to think about. It is an involuntary physiological process and when our “bug” is gone our appetite automatically returns. Our “want to” returns and we need little prompting to resume eating. Our body tells us we must eat to live.

But there is another kind of hunger and thirst that we must think about if we want to live. Jesus spoke about “a hunger and thirst for righteousness” resulting in being both filled and blessed. (Matthew 5:6) The word righteousness occurs over 300 times in scripture. It comes from a root meaning right. Knowing that what is right inheres in God makes it easier to understand why Paul would say that real living requires one to have faith in God (Rom. 1:17). Jesus and Paul are stressing the same truth: if we want to live (spiritually), we must have a gnawing hunger and voracious thirst for God’s way of being righteous.

Some may be thinking, “I’m living just fine without ever thinking about hungering and thirsting for righteousness.” There is no denying the fact that one can live for no other purpose than satisfying the flesh. However, anyone making this choice should consider Proverbs 12:28: “In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death”. Being right with God is the only way to escape (spiritual) death.

The opposite of spiritual death is eternal life (Rom. 6:23) which is inextricably connected to Jesus (1 John 5:11). In Christ Jesus we can apprehend the grace of God that accomplishes the forgiveness of our sins and puts us in a right relationship with Him (Romans 5:21). In you want to live, really live, you must choose to hunger and thirst for righteousness, i.e., “Eat” to live!

Ken Dart

Thankful for Consequences

posted Nov 3, 2014, 11:21 PM by hbchurch org

11/02/2014

   Very few people think of consequences positively. Maybe the old radio / TV show, Truth or Consequences, is partly responsible for our negative perception of consequences. The premise of the show was: “Tell the truth or suffer the consequences”. Hence, consequences were always “bad”, and it is true that they often are.

   On the other hand, consequences can be good. Consequences result from actions. For example, bad eating habits, we are told, can result in poor health. Good food and exercise is more likely to have a positive impact on our general physical condition. We should be thankful that modern nutrition enables us to have the information needed to help us make choices which may improve our overall health.

   But, as we all know, there is no guarantee that by eating right and exercising regularly we will escape the ravages of cancer or some other terrible disease. Also, no diet or exercise regime will enable any of us to bypass death. “Everyone must die once…” (Hebrews 9:27). So, is death good or bad? That depends on the choices we make while we are still alive. Just like the old radio and TV show, we need to consider the consequences in the light of the truth about our soul and our relationship to God.

   Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26) Choosing to live in and believe in Jesus (Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life — John 14:6) is the only way to “never die” (spiritually), i.e. be separated from God. But the action Jesus describes here is much more than a mere thought process. Simply thinking about a change in our diet or exercise routine will not produce the desired results. In the same way, the belief that results in the salvation of our soul is belief that requires action. 

   But the actions cannot be based on our own ideas (Jeremiah 10:23). And, unlike diets, we cannot get by with cheating or modifying the plan. People who go beyond the teaching of Christ are separated from God and Jesus (2 John 9); i.e. they are dead  (spiritually). This is why the life that is in the Son (1 John 5:11) is inextricably connected to our obedience to Him in whom Truth resides (Ephesians 4:21) and who is also the source of our eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:8-9).

   Obedience coupled with Divine mercy produces guaranteed results — life. Can we be sure? Absolutely! Jesus’ victory over death assures us of God’s power to deliver us from spiritual death (Hebrews 2:14). His promises never fail or disappoint. Although many of life’s choices end in disappointment, living in and believing in Jesus produces a result that no one will ever regret — eternal life.

Be Thankful for this Consequence!

KD

What Will You Leave Behind?

posted Nov 3, 2014, 11:19 PM by hbchurch org

10/12/2014

Even a casual reflection upon the passions of some rich men who have made a mark on our nation’s history can be mind-boggling. A visit to Hearst Castle can cause one to ponder the question posed in the title of this article. William Randolph Hearst certainly left his mark on the twentieth century as well as a hilltop above San Simeon, California.

In the eyes of most folks like us, people might think, “He had it all”. Yes, he had and spent a lot of money. His father, George, struck it rich in California in the early 1850’s. Gold and silver interests allowed his only son, William Randolph, to learn all the ins and outs of how to be a rich kid. He was so good at it that he got booted out of Harvard. Neither his father’s money or influence were enough to get him readmitted. He could have cared less. He had bigger “fish to fry”.

He wanted to build an empire of newspapers so he could influence people’s thinking. He was a pioneer in “yellow journalism”, i.e. sensationalizing news reports coupled with crude exaggeration aimed at turning people to his political bias. It appears that he used these techniques to get the U.S. into a war with Spain in 1898.

In 1919 he decided to build “a little something” on the hilltop campsite at the ranch. Hearst and architect, Julia Morgan, produced the “castle” millions visit today. The structure is only part of the story. His assortment of ancient artifacts housed there is probably worth more than the real estate. Many are priceless. Experts come from all over the world to examine them. His collection of Greek pottery is unequaled.

Pictures of Mr. Hearst with celebrities and famous people portray a happy man. He seemed to enjoy the life style that very few can afford, although he almost lost it in the Great Depression. But what did all this opulence really get him and what did he leave behind?

Because of his selfishness, his family was a wreck. His wife and five sons had money and he had his mistress. His sons were tormented by their father’s infidelity; a tragic legacy to leave behind. Hearst was an avid reader and his library was nothing short of spectacular. His brain was saturated with facts including many he could quote from the Bible, but the word of God did not prick his heart. He certainly loved things and perhaps some people, but he did not love God.

Hearst’s “stuff” often causes men to “ooh and ah” when they see the visible marks of his sojourn on earth. But when he left this world he left it ALL behind. When he stands before the Lord, he, like all of us, will be judged by the same standard — the word of the Lord (John 12:48).

In 1937 he was able to sell 20,000 objects from his collection and also get a million dollars from family to avert bankruptcy. But there are no rescue lines beyond the grave; death severs them all (Heb. 9:27). When we die we must be ready to meet the Lord in judgment; there are no second chances. All that we have done and seen and accumulated in this life will be left behind. Only one thing matters, our relationship to God. Jesus is the only way to Him (John 14:6). The gospel alone will save us (Rom. 1:16). Are you ready to leave everything in this world behind and stand before the Lord in judgment?

KD

He Who is Wise Wins Souls

posted Nov 3, 2014, 11:13 PM by hbchurch org

10/05/2014

    The last line of Proverbs 11:30 brings to light one of the greatest needs of any age, the need to reach lost souls. Every period of history is populated with its majority lost in sin.  Only the most ignorant or naïve would dispute this fact.

   Scripture attests to the fact that many people are lost in sin. In the first three chapters of his letter to Rome, Paul shows how all have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standard (Rom. 3:10, 23). Regarding this tragic condition, Jesus reminded His disciples that the fields “are white unto harvest” (John 4:35), “but the laborers are few” (Mat. 9:37). What should we do with these chilling truths? This question takes us back to Proverbs 11:30. Let us look at the whole verse. It reads, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls.”

   In the first line of the verse the inspired poet compares the life of a righteous person to fruit on a tree of life. What kind of fruit could the life of a righteous person produce that has something to do with life? The remainder of the verse answers the question; he wins souls. Note too, that this influential life style is no accident; it is the product of wisdom. Wisdom dictates that every righteous person live his or her life with a view to the positive impact such a life might have on other people. A corresponding thought is brought out in Proverbs 12:26 where we read, “The righteous is a guide to his neighbor, But the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

   In the light of these two verses, each of us needs to honestly ask ourselves, “Where would my life lead another person?” “Would they see Christ living in me and thus be pointed in the direction of life, or would they be lead astray?” These are hard and sobering questions, but worthy of our consideration. By using the word of God to probe the depths of our soul we can uncover the intentions of our heart (Hebrews 4:12). This will help us identify our motives and allow us to make the necessary adjustments so that we can be good guides to our neighbors and hopefully “win souls”.

   At this point we should be reminded that we are not responsible for the response of others to good examples of righteous living. We know that because some people hate light and love darkness, they may reject the way of righteousness (John 3:19-20). We should not take this reaction personally. When people spurn godliness, they are rebelling against the Lord (Jn. 15:18). Such experiences can be discouraging, but we must not let Satan get the upper hand. He would like nothing better than for us to give up and stop trying to win souls. This would be unwise.

   Let us make the wise choice and do our best to point precious souls to the Savior. Be a “soul winner”!

KD

What is Man?

posted Nov 3, 2014, 11:10 PM by hbchurch org

9/28/2014

“What is man that you are mindful of him,

And the son of man that you care for him?

Yet, you have made him a little lower than the  heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”  Psalm 8:4-5 

 

The age old question, “What is man?” has given people pause for a few thousand years (Job 7; 15; Psalms 8; 144). Many have attempted to find the answer via human wisdom. One of the most widely accepted explanations promoted today is rooted in evolutionary theory. Essentially, man is nothing more than an advanced form of some ancient ape-like creature. This is a lie!

There is no credible evidence that points to lower forms of the animal world which even begin to corroborate the evolutionists’ assertion. An honest scientist must admit this, so his come-back is “there must be a missing link”. They will spend a lifetime looking for that which does not exist. At the same time they willfully close their eyes to the glaring evidence for God, and keep telling themselves, “there is no God”. The Psalmist said only a “fool” would do that. (Psalm 14:1; 53:1)

Why did the Holy Spirit use such a strong term in referring to atheists? Perhaps it is because of the utter absurdity of refusing to accept the obvious? The most basic, accepted truth of science is being scorned when someone rejects the Genesis account of creation. Genesis 1 identifies both the cause — GOD and effect — CREATION.

There is no other logical choice. If God is not the cause (creator), the only other option is that matter created itself. One of the basic laws of science requires that every effect MUST have an adequate cause. Something cannot come from nothing. God created everything in this universe. Genesis 1 is a factual, literal account of the creation of all that is. It is not a fable or fairy tale.

Genesis 1:26 reveals that man (human beings) are also the product of God’s creative power and wisdom. We are the only ones that were created in the image of Deity. We are unique. Our glory and honor are not shared by any other. But what makes us so different and special?

Mankind alone has the ability to reason and choose to believe in God. We can ponder his creation (Psa. 19:1; Rom. 1:20) and see evidence of His power and God-hood. Animals can’t think like us. Nor can an animal make a moral choice. Have you ever heard of dog calling 9-1-1 when another dog swiped his favorite bone? Moral awareness is unique to mankind.

Because we are who we are, God has also made special provisions for us. Only man has an eternal soul and God wants everyone to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). His love for man made that possible. But first we must “come to a knowledge of the truth” and that is a matter of choice. Thankfully, we have the unique ability to choose to know Him and His word. What an honor. Think about it — we can choose to live for our great God who not only created us, but loves us so much! Seize the opportunity to love and obey Him.

KD

A Vote For Independence

posted Oct 10, 2014, 12:11 PM by hbchurch org

9/21/2014

   There seems to be something in the human psyche that is automatically drawn to the idea of independence. Last Thursday’s referendum in Scotland is one the latest examples of how people treasure the idea of self-rule. I have no intention of arguing the case for or against the political independence of Scotland, but I am gravely concerned about how many people let Satan convince them that autonomy is preferable to submissiveness to the Lord.

   The devil had been advocating self-determination as a way of life since Adam and Eve were in Eden. Rather than depend upon and trust in their Creator, they chose to spurn His love and reject His infinite care. The trail of tears, misery, heartache, and pain which has plagued sinners since that time should be all the evidence we need to open our eyes to the folly of seeking independence from God. But we never seem to learn the most critical lessons.

   A ravenous appetite for freedom from being bound by the decisions of others has fueled a number of revolutions like our own nation’s. Those who feel unduly restrained by the limits of man-made laws, often fight for freedom / independence.

   But why would anyone chose to reject the directives of an infinitely wise mind who has graciously revealed what to do and how to live in order to avoid the consequences of their own lawless deeds? (Rom. 3:23; 6:23) The only possible explanation is precisely the same as the one Paul gives when describing those who choose to listen to the agents of Satan and perish. Paul said of them, “...they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” and believed a lie because they “had pleasure in unrighteousness”. (2 Thes. 2:10-12) The lure of complete independence is a lie!

   Satan will say, “Do your own thing and you will be happier. Never let anyone tell you what to think, especially God. ” Although this sounds good, he lies. The rich man who chose perceived freedom from law over submission to his loving law-giver, learned that he was wrong after it was too late to change his mind. (Luke 16:19-31). Listen to God, not Satan.

   There is no such thing as absolute freedom. We are all slaves; either we serve sin or we serve righteousness (Rom. 6:16). There is no neutral ground. The lure of outright independence is a lie. We are dependent beings. Almighty God is the one in whom “we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Satan will try to convince you otherwise. His campaign slogan is FREEDOM. Don’t believe it! A “vote” for independence from the Sovereign Ruler of the universe is a vote for death, i.e. eternal separation from God. Choose rather to serve God and live; live eternally.      

Ken Dart

40,000 "Christians" Threatened

posted Aug 23, 2014, 12:44 PM by hbchurch org   [ updated Oct 8, 2014, 5:42 PM ]

8/24/2014

   The terrible human tragedy in northern Iraq is undoubtedly tugging at the heart strings of many people. You have likely heard about 40,000 “Christians” trapped on top of Mt. Sinjar with little more than the clothes on their backs, being torn between two unthinkable choices. They can die (either by starvation or beheading at the hands of the Islamic State) or convert to Islam. Daily appeals are being made to “Christians” all over the world to help these people. Solicitations for aid are being sought from individuals and churches. How should we respond?

   Students of the N.T. know that we have scriptural authority for churches to take money from a congregation’s treasury and send financial assistance to another congregation where there are needy brethren (1 Cor. 16:1-3; Rom. 15:25-26). Question: “Should we, as a congregation, send money to help the stricken people in Iraq?”

   The need is real; that’s not the issue. Do we have the ability to help? Yes, we have money in our treasury. That leaves us with one question, “Are these people needy saints (Christians)?” Maybe this is a good time to be reminded of God’s description of a Christian.

   Most people think of a Christian as anyone who believes that Christ was a real person and they probably are connected with some group having a similar conviction. This makes for a cozy conglomeration of religious people often referred to as believers. But with no definite guidelines for one’s beliefs, anything goes as long as it can be tied to Jesus in some way. The result is what the world calls “Christendom”. Is this what we learn about Christians from reading the New Testament?  No!

   The first use of Christian is in reference to those who had been “added to the Lord” in the city of Antioch (Acts 11:24, 26). We know from Acts 2:47 that the only ones who were added to the Lord on Pentecost were believing, penitent, baptized people who responded to the apostles’ teaching. People who heed divine instruction (the New Testament) are also disciples. This is why the true Christians of Acts 11 were also known as disciples. They obeyed the Gospel (2 Thes. 1:8), i.e. the divine pattern for their salvation as it was preached by inspired men in the first century (Rom. 6:17).

   Since Jesus saves those who obey Him (Heb. 5:8-9), then those who are not obeying are not really His true followers or disciples. They are not truly Christians even though they are referred to as Christians by many people. Here is the problem: Satan has convinced myriads that it is possible to be a Christian and follow a man’s teaching instead of adhering to the Lord’s will. Today, the world uses Christian generically just like medicine refers to a variety of very different items.

   Christian is NOT generic; it is used three times in the N.T. referring exclusively to disciples of Christ. A disciple is literally a “learner or follower” of Christ who must “abide in His teaching”. Those who don’t are cut off from God (2 Jn 9). 

   So who are the people on Mt. Sinjar? Reportedly, they are Yazidis “the world’s oldest and smallest monotheistic minority”. They “worship one god and honor seven angles” while rejecting the idea of sin, the devil, and hell. They obviously do not follow the teaching of Christ or His apostles. They are not Christians, but this does not mean that we don’t care about them. They are fellow human beings in a desperate situation. Even though they are not Christians we still have the opportunity to help. But how? 

   We would be violating God’s will if we used money from the church’s treasury for general benevolence, i.e. for anyone who is not a needy saint. This sounds cold and hardhearted to most people. What they don’t realize is that as individuals we can contribute to any worthy cause from our own personal resources. In fact, God holds people accountable for their charitableness (or lack thereof) cf. Romans 1:31. Also, we can pray for political leaders who might be able to use national resources to help (1 Tim. 2:1-2). God ordained civil government as an instrument for protecting the rights of innocent people and punishing evil doers (Rom. 13:1-4). Human wisdom may question the limitations God’s word places upon our collective actions, but to “go beyond” His teaching is tantamount to disbelief. Trust Him. His way is always right.   

Ken Dart

I Don't Get It

posted Jul 3, 2014, 10:35 PM by hbchurch org

6/29/2014

Haven’t we all failed “to get it” a time or two along life’s wandering way?  It may have been when we were grappling with one of those pesky word problems in a math class. Or we might have heard our mom or dad screaming, “I don’t get it” while they tried to understand why we made one of those typical bonehead decisions teenagers are famous for. The daily news supplies us with an endless variety of reports about the choices people make which can cause us to scratch our head in amazement and incredulity.

I wonder if God felt like shouting, “I don’t get it” when Adam and Eve ignored Him and believed Satan’s lie instead of Him?  This was just the beginning of an endless record of incredulous choices that defy logic.

It is almost unbelievable to think that those who had seen God’s power at work in parting the Red Sea, would, just 3 days later, question His ability to provide water for them (Exodus 15:22-24). They obviously didn’t “get it”. About a month later Israel complained again about a lack of food, so God gave them manna (Exodus 16). God wanted them to learn a crucial lesson.

Forty years later Moses told the next generation of Israelites that the lesson from the manna was “that man does not live by bread alone, ...but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”. (Deut. 8:2-3).

Given the history of the nation for the next 1,500 years, it does not look like very many “got it”. Was the lesson just too complicated to comprehend? No. The problem was pride. Moses told them that if they didn’t get it that when they became prosperous and “...your heart becomes proud” that they would forget God (Deut. 8:14) tragically, they didn’t “get it”.

They, like Adam and Eve, chose their way instead of God’s.

Not much has changed. People still don’t “get it”. Math teachers are still trying to open the eyes of their students. Parents of teenagers are still pulling their hair out.  But the most puzzling phenomenon of the modern age is really not new. It’s man’s willingness to “exchange the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1:25). Why would anyone prefer a lie to truth? Here is God’s answer: People perished “because they did not receive the love of the truth...but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thes. 2:10-12) Those refusing to have God in their knowledge (Romans 1:28) are choosing wrath, tribulation, and anguish over eternal life; hell over heaven (Romans 2:5-8). I don’t get it, do you?

Unlike life’s obscure conundrums, there is no excuse for not knowing God (Romans 1:20). We can know Him and His plan for us IF we want to. Doesn’t it make a lot more sense to submit to the one who loves you (God) than to a murderer (Satan) set on your destruction? Get it?   Ken Dart

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