Archive for the Excerpts Category

Standing Fast in the Last Days DVD Back in Production

Nov 12th, 2013 Posted in Book/DVD Reviews, Conferences/Lectures, Excerpts, new releases, PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT | Comments Off on Standing Fast in the Last Days DVD Back in Production

Lighthouse Trails is pleased to announce that it has brought Warren B. Smith’s lecture DVD Standing Fast in the Last Days back into production.

Standing-Fast-in-the-Last-DaysOn June 5th, 2008, former New Age follower Warren Smith spoke to 800 pastors at the Calvary Chapel Senior Pastors’ Conference in Murrieta, California. This took place because of a personal invitation by Chuck Smith, the late founder of the Calvary Chapel movement. Integrating his compelling testimony, Warren shared his deep concerns regarding the spiritual deception taking place in the church today. Covering topics such as the Emerging Church, Purpose-Driven, the New Age, and what is being called the New Spirituality, Warren exposed what may be the signs of a great falling away that the Bible has predicted will happen in the days before Christ’s return. Some of the topics Warren addressed were: the influence of Oprah Winfrey and Robert Schuller, a growing hostility toward biblical Christians, a plan for a false world peace, how mysticism is becoming an integral part of today’s society, and the interspiritual, ecumenical movement that is gaining momentum and deceiving many.

See two 10-minute preview video clips of the Standing Fast talk by Warren B. Smith:

Music Credits

Music “I Won’t Wait” Buck Storm Songs for the Road Home, Vol. 1 “One Day” Buck Storm Gracias
Used with permission by Buck Storm.
For research information on the topics discussed in this DVD, check out Lighthouse Trails Research Project at

Two New Music CDs and New Concert DVD From Canadian Gospel Songwriter and Singer, Trevor Baker

Aug 12th, 2013 Posted in Excerpts, new releases, PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT | Comments Off on Two New Music CDs and New Concert DVD From Canadian Gospel Songwriter and Singer, Trevor Baker

Trevor BakerTrevor Baker, the Saskatchewan Gospel songwriter and singer who tells it like it is, has just released two new music CDs and a new in-concert DVD.  You can listen to 30 second clips of each song on the CDs. The DVD is a recent concert Trevor did in the United States. Lighthouse Trails is carrying several other CDs and one other DVD from Trevor. We love them all, but we must admit, we especially love the new one titled The Road Less Traveled. Trevor’s music isn’t just any music – Trevor writes songs about the things Lighthouse Trails writes books and articles about: spiritual deception, America’s moral condition, Christian leaders leading in the wrong direction, the emerging church, etc. God is using this humble man to spread a powerful message and warning.



The Road Less Traveled – by Trevor Baker – CD

Click here to listen to 30 second clips of each song from The Road Less Traveled or for order information

The Lonely Road

Drop the Act – by Trevor Baker – CD


She Wears My Name – by Trevor Baker – In Concert DVD


John Foxe (1517-1587) and His Book of Martyrs – An Introduction

Aug 20th, 2012 Posted in Excerpts | Comments Off on John Foxe (1517-1587) and His Book of Martyrs – An Introduction

By Lighthouse Trails Editors

The book commonly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and originally bearing the title Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days, Touching Matters of the Church has been an invaluable addition to the libraries of faithful Christians for almost five centuries. Chronicling the suffering and brutal deaths of those who have sacrificed their lives for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, John Foxe has captured the Spirit-inspired courage of these noble souls. Though sometimes difficult to read because of the inhuman cruelty depicted in its pages, the images which truly endure are those of the victorious faithfulness of these heroes.

John Foxe was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1517, and educated at Oxford University. During his residence at this place, he was distinguished for the excellence and acuteness of his intellect. It appears that the first display of his genius was in poetry; and that he composed some Latin comedies. But he soon directed his thoughts to a more serious subject—the study of the sacred Scriptures. To divinity, indeed, he applied himself with fervency. He discovered his partiality to the tenants of the Reformation, which had then commenced; a circumstance which proved to him the source of both his troubles and his fame.

His first care was to look into both the ancient and modern history of the church; to ascertain its beginning and progress; to consider the causes of the controversies which had sprung up and to diligently weigh the shortcomings of those doctrines and practices.

Before he had attained his thirtieth year, he had studied the Greek and Latin fathers and other learned authors, the transactions of the councils and decrees of the ecclesiastical courts, and had acquired a very competent skill in the Hebrew language. In these occupations he frequently spent a considerable part or even the whole of the night; and in order to unbend his mind after such incessant study, he would resort to a grove near the college, a place much frequented by the students in the evening on account of its sequestered gloominess. In these solitary walks he was often heard to render heavy sobs and sighs, and with tears to pour forth his prayers to God. These nightly retirements gave rise to the first suspicion of his alienation from the Church of Rome. Being pressed for an explanation of this alteration in his conduct, he scorned to call in fiction to his excuse. He stated his opinions and was, by the sentence of the college, convicted, condemned as a heretic, and expelled.

By and by, life in England became more and more unpleasant for the adherents to the Protestant Reformation. Foxe, seeing the dreadful persecutions then commencing and warned of his impending doom and imprisonment, fled his home and landed in Germany. There he found a number of English refugees, who had quitted their country to avoid the cruelty of the persecutors. With these he associated, and began to write his History of the Acts and Monuments of the Church, which was first published in Latin in 1554, and in English in 1563.

In the meantime, after the death of Queen Mary, the reformed religion began again to flourish in England and the popish faction much to decline. This induced the greater number of the Protestant exiles to return to their native country.

Foxe resettled in England and employed himself in revising and enlarging his admirable Martyrology. With prodigious pains and constant study he completed that celebrated work in eleven years. For the sake of greater correctness, he wrote every line of this vast book with his own hand and transcribed all the records and papers himself. But, in consequence of such excessive toil, his health was so reduced and his appearance so emaciated and altered that his friends and relations, who only conversed with him occasionally, could scarcely recognize him. Yet, though he grew daily more exhausted, he proceeded in his studies as briskly as ever, and he could not be persuaded to diminish his accustomed labors. The papists, foreseeing how detrimental his history of their errors and cruelties would prove to their cause, had recourse to every artifice to lessen the reputation of his work. But their malice was of little use, both to Mr. Foxe himself and to the church of God at large, as it eventually made his book more intrinsically valuable by inducing him to weigh, with the most scrupulous attention, the certainty of the facts which he recorded and the validity of the authorities from which he drew his information.

Although the recent recollection of the persecutions under Bloody Mary gave bitterness to his pen, it is singular to note that he was personally the most conciliatory of men, and that while he heartily disowned the Roman Church in which he was born, he was one of the first to attempt the concord of the Protestant brethren. In fact, he was a veritable apostle of toleration.

When the plague or pestilence broke out in England, in 1563 and many forsook their duties, Foxe remained at his post, assisting the friendless and acting as the almsgiver of the rich. It was said of him that he could never refuse help to anyone who asked it in the name of Christ. Tolerant and large-hearted, he exerted his influence with Queen Elizabeth to confirm her intention to no longer keep up the cruel practice of putting to death those of opposing religious convictions. The queen held him in respect and referred to him as “Our Father Foxe.”

Mr. Foxe had joy in the fruits of his work while he was yet alive. It passed through four large editions before his decease, and it was ordered by the bishops to be placed in every cathedral church in England, where it was often found chained, as the Bible was in those days, to a lectern for the access of the people.

At length, having long served both the church and the world by his ministry, by his pen, and by the unsullied luster of a benevolent, useful, and holy life, he meekly resigned his soul to Christ, on the eighteenth of April, 1587, being then in the seventieth year of his age.

Foxe’s legacy, his Book of Martyrs, consisted of well over 2,000 pages in the final edition published in 1583. It contained intricate woodcuts such as scenes depicting triumphant saints singing as they perished in flames.* Foxe had these included so that even the unlearned and illiterate could know the truth of the history of the church and the difficult path many had to tread.

Most of the editions of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs that are published today (including this one) are quite obviously greatly abridged. For this we owe thanks to the labors of William Byron Forbush (1868-1927) of Philadelphia. Forbush’s contributions were threefold: he greatly reduced the size of the manuscript; he modernized the language; and he provided additional material including a biography of Foxe and accounts of incidents that occurred after Foxe’s demise.

Lighthouse Trails Publishing, in seeking to add Foxe’s Book of Martyrs to our book collection, has sought to maintain the eloquent word pictures painted by John Foxe, while at the same time making the stories understandable to our readers. We have omitted some accounts and shortened others. Some archaic words were substituted with their modern-day equivalents. Great care was taken to not alter the original meaning or intent of the author in the editing process. It was a difficult task to decide who among these glorious martyrs we would leave out. We have tried to include accounts that exemplified true martyrs of Christ in each period of history and in each nation, as well as stories of both the well known and the unknown.

The stories told here are painful and may seem most unbearable. But let us remember the words in Scripture, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). May the memory of these martyred Christians live on in the minds and hearts of believers today. (From the Introduction of the Lighthouse Trails Edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)

From The Color of Pain – Myths About Boys Who Are Abused (and the men they become)

May 19th, 2012 Posted in Excerpts | Comments Off on From The Color of Pain – Myths About Boys Who Are Abused (and the men they become)

By Gregory Reid

Author of The Color of Pain (Lighthouse Trails)


It is not a widespread problem.


One in every ten men & boys, and some say one in six has possibly been molested in some form.


Most molesters are dirty old men.


Most predators are highly intelligent career people with community respect and a good income.


Most predators are stranger to the child.


Stranger molestation is the exception, and most boys know their molesters well, as relatives for whom trust comes naturally or family friends or people in authority who have pursued the child to seduce them over a long period of time.


Abuse must be forced or violent to be called rape.


Any time an adult lures a child to sexual acts it’s rape.


If the abuse was pleasurable for the boy, it was not rape.


Sex is a biological stimulus. Feeling pleasure may be a natural, but it is still a crime that a powerful, older person took an underage child or teen and used them for their own gratification and the psychological and emotional damage done to the child is still just as real.


Most victims become abusers.


This is largely a jailhouse excuse for predators. Some do go on to abuse: some become violent but most just live self- destructive, miserable lives until they get help. But the fact is most boys who were molested do notgrow up to molest. Furthermore, when a victim of abuse commits himself to the Lord and God’s Word as a born-again Christian, an avenue for true healing is opened. (Quote by Patrick Crough (Retired police sargeant NY, Seducers Among Us, LT, Fall 2012: While being abused as a child has caused many to suffer from depression, anger, and mistrust, I strongly believe that it doesn’t cause the person to become an offender when they are an adult. I know too many victims of child abuse who would never consider abusing a child. In fact, many survivors would seriously consider killing a predator if they discovered one abusing a child close to them.)


Non forced abuse makes the boy responsible.


No child is ever responsible for being raped.


It happens to other people’s kids.


Molestation of boys is one of the most unreported crimes that exists. It COULD be your child. Communication, unconditional love, and acceptance is the only way to keep the door open to your son if something does or did happen.

Excerpt from The Color of Pain (Lighthouse Trails)

A Boy Who Was Abused – A God Who Delivered

Feb 21st, 2012 Posted in Excerpts | Comments Off on A Boy Who Was Abused – A God Who Delivered

By Greg Reid
(author of The Color of Pain)

In my autobiography, Nobody’s Angel, I tell the story of my life, and how the first eleven years of my childhood were a black hole of emptiness. Things had happened, but they had been so horrific I had entered into a world of Forget. I went from a once polite, gentle, God-loving child, changed overnight into a slovenly, sexualized, angry, hard-drinking, rebellious, destructive, secretive, occult-addicted pre-adolescent. My father asked me once,“Whatever happened to that neat little boy I used to know?”

“He died a long time ago, Pop,” I replied, though I knew he couldn’t understand.

Starting at eleven-years-old, I entered the world of the occult. I was drawn into the darkness of it and never could grasp why. I was exploited by predators, raped, and abused and experienced all types of evil. This went on until I felt that I was at the brink of death. A staggering sense of loss and grief had become my constant companions. By the time I was fifteen, I had lived what felt like an entire pathetic life.

I guess my parents should have asked more questions about the changes in me, but at the time they were struggling with serious health issues, and their lives couldn’t take on anymore than what was already consuming them.

In the spring of my 15th year, I met a man hitchhiking who turned out to be a Christian. He gave me a copy of a book called The Cross and The Switchblade. It was the story of Dave Wilkerson, a skinny Pennsylvania preacher, who went to New York and faced down the worst, most deadly gang leader in New York, Nicky Cruz, and told him Jesus loved him. Nicky beat him up. Dave kept on him, and Nicky finally became a Christian.

Eventually, after some very dramatic events, I too surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and became a Christian. Had that not happened, I believe I would have died before ever reaching the age of twenty. I had been on a road to destruction.

Over the next few years, I continued to heal under the protection of some dear Christian friends and a seventy-six-year-old Baptist saint who took me in and loved me and taught me about God’s unconditional love. I devoured the Scriptures, and they broke the lies. I fought a vicious battle with sexual issues, depression, unhealthy relationships, deep loneliness, and a smoldering rage.

I went immediately into “ministry” at sixteen, and before I was twenty-six, had been around the world. The occult, and demonic influence, had wrapped itself in every fiber of my being, and God gently and firmly took me out of it all.

The-Color-Of-PainHow was I to know that everything inside me would fall apart in my twenties, when as a respected teacher and youth leader, I would have to face a nightmare worse than anything I could imagine? God was now ready for the ordeal to come to me that I know broke His heart, but would be the final deliverance and revelation of who I was and where I had been. I was about to go to the gates of hell—not as a warrior—but as a wanted man, a traitor to the devil, and a terrified child. Those first forgotten eleven years of my life were about to intrude into my adult existence. I had to go back into the dark and empty corridors of my forgotten past to retrieve the truth and, in so doing, become fully prepared to go to war against the satanic powers, organizations, and occult rulers who continue to destroy the lives of thousands of innocent children today.

It was the summer of my twentieth year, and I was home from Bible school for three months. It was the beginning of the crack in the wall that would lead to my descent into the mouth of my satanic past. Nearly a decade would pass before all of the horrible ugly truth came out. But the Lord was with me all along the way; and today I can say that He has healed me. Yes, there are and always will be scars, but His love and His Word have been my Deliverer.  (from chapter 1, The Color of Pain, Greg Reid, Lighthouse Trails)

Strength for Tough Times – Being Grateful to God

Feb 13th, 2012 Posted in Excerpts | Comments Off on Strength for Tough Times – Being Grateful to God

By Maria Kneas
(from her book, Strength for Tough Times, Lighthouse Trails, 2010)

We need to develop the habit of being grateful for who God is and what He has already done for us. It is easy to take things for granted. For example, you are reading this book. Have you thanked God for the fact that you are able to see, and you know how to read?

If we look for things to thank God for, we will find more and more reasons to be grateful. And if we look for things to complain about, we will find more and more reasons to complain.

When the Israelites came out of Egypt and went to the Promised Land, they kept complaining. They got bored with eating manna every day and wanted to eat something more flavorful (with garlic and leeks). So they complained about the miraculous food that God provided. They complained when they had no water. God miraculously supplied water for them, but we have no record that they were grateful for it.

And what was the end of the matter? That generation died in the wilderness because they refused to enter the Promised Land when God told them to. They didn’t trust God to deal with the giants there.

This is an example of how a lack of gratitude can result in a lack of trusting God. And that can lead to a lack of obedience (i.e., rebellion against God).

Compare this with the attitude of King Jehoshaphat. When he and his people were threatened by a huge army, Jehoshaphat prayed:

O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. (2 Chronicles 20:12)

And God came through for them. He miraculously delivered them from their enemies.

We can choose to develop the habit of thanking God. We can look for things to thank Him for. We can thank God and praise Him even when we don’t feel like it.

We can deliberately choose to be grateful, and we can ask God to give us a grateful heart. The Apostle Paul exhorted us to have that kind of attitude when he said:

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy were sent to a Nazi concentration camp because their family hid Jews during World War II. Betsy died in that camp, but Corrie was released.1 After the war, Corrie traveled the world, telling people about God’s love. She knew first-hand how difficult life can be, when she said:

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.2

Betsy ten Boom was able to love the Nazis and pray for their salvation even while surrounded by the horrors of a death camp. Instead of seeing the prison guards as being monsters, she saw them as being trapped and tormented. She saw their need for God’s love and forgiveness. She prayed for their salvation, and by her example she led other prisoners to do the same.

Betsy reminds me of Stephen, who was the first Christian martyr. While he was being stoned by an angry mob, he prayed for his persecutors:

And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60)

At first Corrie hated the Nazis, but eventually she was able to forgive them. After the war she heard that Jan Vogel, the man who had betrayed her family, was in prison and was to be executed. She wrote to him, telling him that she forgave him, and telling him about the love of Jesus Christ. Shortly before he was executed, Jan Vogel wrote back to Corrie, telling her that he had become a Christian.

When Corrie was ministering in Germany, a man came up to her after the service. He had been a prison guard in Ravensbruck, the death camp where Betsy died. He held out his hand to Corrie, asking if she forgave him. At first, Corrie was overwhelmed by memories from the prison camp, and she froze. Then she asked God to help her love this man. She forced herself to put out her hand to take his. When they held hands, God’s love flooded Corrie’s heart, and she and her former tormenter embraced one another as fellow children of God.

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:5)

Corrie’s love wasn’t strong enough to love that prison guard, but God’s love was. God filled Corrie’s heart with His love for that man, and broke down the barrier between them.

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us. (Ephesians 2:14)

(from Strength for Tough Times, Lighthouse Trails, 2010)

Corrie ten Boom – From Generation to Generation

Nov 21st, 2011 Posted in Excerpts | Comments Off on Corrie ten Boom – From Generation to Generation

By Corrie ten Boom
(from chapter 1 of In My Father’s House)

Willem ten Boom, my grandfather, was not strong like his father, so he chose a work which was not physically difficult. In the year 1837, Grandfather purchased a little house in Haarlem for four hundred guilders and set up shop as a watchmaker.

It was in 1844 that Grandfather had a visit from his minister, Dominee Witteveen, who had a special request. “Willem, you know the Scriptures tell us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the blessing of the Jews.”

“Ah, yes, Dominee, I have always loved God’s ancient people —they gave us our Bible and our Savior.”

Beginning with this conversation, a prayer fellowship was started, with Grandfather and his friends praying for the Jewish people. This was an unusual idea among Christians at that time. The Jews were scattered throughout the world, without a country or a national identity; Jerusalem was a city torn by centuries of conflict. The attention of the world was not upon the Middle East, and yet a small group of Dutch believers met in a little Haarlem house, a watchmaker’s shop (later called the Beje), to read the Scriptures and pray for the Jews.

In a divine way which is beyond our human understanding, God answered those prayers. It was in the same house, exactly one hundred years later, that Grandfather’s son, my father, four of his grandchildren, and one great-grandson were arrested for helping save the lives of Jews during the German occupation of Holland.

Another strutting dictator, more arrogant and insane than Napoleon, had planned to exterminate every Jew in the world. When Holland was controlled by Hitler’s troops, many Jews were killed.

For helping and hiding the Jews, my father, my brother’s son, and my sister all died in prison. My brother survived his imprisonment, but died soon afterward. Only Nollie, my older sister, and I came out alive.

So many times we wonder why God allows certain things to happen to us. We try to understand the circumstances of our lives, and we are left wondering. But God’s foolishness is so much wiser than our wisdom.

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:25)

From generation to generation, from small beginnings and little lessons, He has a purpose for those who know and trust Him.
God has no problems—just plans!

Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. (Psalm 40:4)

(from chapter 1 of In My Father’s House by Corrie ten Boom)

Fear No Evil . . . Except – by Corrie ten Boom

Aug 22nd, 2011 Posted in Excerpts | Comments Off on Fear No Evil . . . Except – by Corrie ten Boom

In-My-Father-s-HouseFrom In My Father’s House by Corrie ten Boom
(released 2011 by Lighthouse Trails Publishing)

A child is not fearless, contrary to what his parents may think at times. A child is often a bundle of unexpressed fears, unknown terrors, and shadowy worries. I was afraid of the doctor’s office, my family’s leaving me, and the mystery of death.

Nollie’s nightgown was my contact with security. We slept in the same bed, and I can remember clinging to Nollie’s nightgown as long as she would allow me. Poor Nollie, when she would try to turn, she would be anchored by my little fist clasping her tightly.

One time, Mother took Nollie and me to visit a woman whose baby had died. I wished Nollie had been allowed to wear her nightgown on that journey, because I needed desperately to hang onto it.

We climbed a narrow staircase and entered the poorly furnished room of one of Mama’s “lame ducks” (the name we children had given to her protégées). Although we often did not have sufficient money for ourselves, Mother always found someone who was in greater need.

In that shabby little room was a crib with a baby inside. It didn’t move at all and its skin was very white. Nollie stood next to the crib and touched the baby’s cheek.

“Feel that,” she said to me, “it’s so cold.”

I touched the little hand and then ran to my mother and buried my face in her lap. I had touched death for the first time, and it seemed that the impression of cold remained with me for hours and hours.

When we returned home, I ran up the narrow stairs to my bedroom and leaned against the antique chest of drawers. There was an enormous fear in my heart—almost terror. In my imagination, I pictured the future in which I saw myself all alone, my family gone, and I left desolate. My family was my security, but that day I saw death and knew they could die, too. I had never thought about it before.

The dinner bell rang downstairs, and I was so grateful to go to the big oval table, get warm again, and feel the security of being with my family. I thought how stupid the grown-ups would think I was if I told them about the fear which was still in my heart.

I ate dinner quietly that night, which was not easy when you are in the midst of such a lively family. Our dinner table spilled over with conversation.

After dinner, Father took the Bible, as he always did and began to read the lines from Psalm 46:2:

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.

I sat up straight in my chair and stared at my father. I didn’t know much about mountains, living in flat, flat Holland, but I certainly knew a lot about fear. I thought Papa must have known exactly what my problem was that night.

My faith in Papa, and in the words he read from the Bible, was absolute. If they said not to fear, then God would take care of it. I felt secure again. (from chapter 2 of In My Father’s House)

My Father’s Footsteps – Imprisoned for his faith – The third time

Jun 20th, 2011 Posted in company information, Excerpts | Comments Off on My Father’s Footsteps – Imprisoned for his faith – The third time

Courtesy Kjos Ministries

From A Small Price to Pay by Harvey Yoder

The prison door shut behind me with a bang. I heard the key turn in the huge lock, then the guard’s footsteps faded away. Three days of solitary confinement. That was the usual procedure before being admitted into a prison. I was alone.

But not really. Christ was present with me. And I had another reason not to feel alone. In fact, I was rather excited. Memories were flooding my mind. After nearly eight years of relative freedom, I had once again been arrested. This time, I had gone to visit a Christian woman in Leningrad. When I returned to my sisters’ house after midnight, they had come out to greet me. Two officers had appeared out of the shadows and told me I was under arrest….

At the trial, the usual accusations were held against me—teaching minors about God, holding meetings without permission from the state, not registering our churches with the state.

This time, they added a new charge. I was charged with creating an unhealthy environment because too many people had crowded into one space. Some expert had come up with the idea that it was not sanitary for so many people to be breathing the same air for an extended period of time. I wanted to ask them who was going charge the government with creating an unhealthy environment the trams, buses, and trains. Those public transport vehicles were far more crowded than our meeting places. But I knew it was hopeless to say anything….

Now, here in my cell, I was reflecting on what my mother had told us after Papa had been arrested. “He is in Sverdlovsk in prison.” This was all we knew for some time.

Now I was in Sverdlovsk. I was in the same prison my father had been in! This excited me, for my mind went back to my memories of Papa. Had he spent time in this very cell?

Even though my breath was quite visible in the cold air, I eagerly examined the cell walls. Had Papa left some message behind, scrawled on the wall? Had he stood here, looking up at the barred window that let in a small patch of light from the waning day?… It was quite possible that my father really had been in this cell. It was one of the cells that held all the new inmates.

Forty years had passed since Papa had been in this prison. When I had been unloaded from the Black Raven, I imagined my fatherwalking through the courtyard, standing at attention on the granite slab as his sentence was read. When I stood on that slab upon my arrival, I tried to fit my shoes into the worn spaces that marked the granite. So many thousands of prisoners had stood there that there were actually small hollows where the shoes had worn away the surface of the hard stone. Here was where my father had stood!  (Excerpt from A Small Price to Pay – courtesy Kjos Ministries)

Common Sense & The Bible

May 31st, 2011 Posted in Excerpts | Comments Off on Common Sense & The Bible

By Maria Kneas
Author of Strength for Tough Times

We can’t live biblically unless we have confidence that the Bible means what it says, that it is reliable, and that it is credible.

Many problems that people have with Scripture are caused by heeding Scripture “experts” who don’t use common sense. For example, Jesus gave the “Sermon on the Mount” and the “Sermon on the Plain.” Some “experts” consider that to be a contradiction. Was it a mount or a plain?

They have forgotten something. Jesus was a traveling preacher who taught for three years. Therefore, He taught from many mounts and many plains and from ships and from seashores and in houses and from every kind of place that a person could preach from.

Similarly, some people raise questions because Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have different versions of a parable or a teaching. Again, they have forgotten that Jesus was a preacher. And in real life, traveling preachers use the same teachings and illustrations many times, with small variations in how they present them.

Some people are troubled if Matthew, Mark, Luke or John have differences in how they relate something that happened. For example, with the blind beggar Bartimaeus, one of the Gospels mentions two blind men but the others only mention one blind man.

Well, in real life, if you had four people witness an event and write about it, you would have variations in the reports. Different people would focus on different things. So, with the four Gospels, we have four independent eyewitnesses writing of their observations rather than four story tellers comparing notes and copying from one another.

As far as the number of blind men goes, there were many beggars on the roadsides, and some of them were blind. It would not be unusual for a blind beggar like Bartimaeus to have friends who were also blind beggars, and to want to be with his friends. So one account mentions Bartimaeus’ fellow beggar, and the other accounts don’t. There is nothing unusual about that. It’s the kind of thing that often happens in real life.

Another thing that causes problems for some people is differences of writing style in Paul’s letters. In real life, writing style and vocabulary depends on whom we are writing to and on the subject matter. We should expect Paul to write to Gentiles differently than he writes to Jews. We should expect him to write to mature Christians differently than he writes to immature Christians who are having a lot of problems. We should expect him to write to Timothy (a fellow minister who was close to him) differently than he would write to people he hasn’t met.

Think about your own letters and e-mails. Would you write to your boss the same way that you write to your son or your daughter? Would you write to a nonbeliever the same way that you write to your pastor? Would you write about a football game the same way that you write about a research project you are doing at school?

Sometimes Greek verb tenses can cause confusion. For example, 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” So John is saying that we all sin. But later, in 1 John 3:6 he says, “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” Now that could be confusing. The problem is the Greek verb tense. 1 John 3:6 is saying that if we abide in Him we do not keep on sinning—it’s not a one-time event but a lifestyle. Any Christian can sin and repent. That is very different from purposefully making a habit of sinning.

Some scholars say that the Sermon on the Mount is a compilation of teachings rather than one sermon. They have forgotten something. We live in a televised world where many people have short attention spans, and many preachers have short sermons. Back in 1858, when Abraham Lincoln debated Stephen Douglas (the famous Lincoln-Douglas Debates), each debate lasted for three hours. So people in those days were able to do serious listening for three hours straight.

I did an experiment. I read the entire Sermon on the Mount out loud, at a slow, conversational pace. (It’s the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5 through 7.) It only took 15 minutes. Surely Jesus preached longer than that to people who may have traveled several-days journey to listen to him. He was only going to be with those particular people one time. So He had to get as much truth to them as He could during that one time of preaching.

We know that Jesus and His followers did some lengthy preaching. On one occasion, the Apostle Paul preached all night long, until daybreak (Acts 20:7-12).

Therefore, I would expect that what the Bible gives us from the Sermon on the Mount is only a selection out of many teachings that Jesus gave on that occasion. And the quotations from Jesus that we have may only be the conclusions that He gave following longer teachings about those issues:

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. (John 21:25)

Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount is the result of the Holy Spirit showing Matthew which of the many teachings that Jesus gave should be included in the report, and which statements Jesus made should be quoted. It is also the result of the Holy Spirit enabling Matthew to remember accurately. Jesus promised His disciples:

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

Jesus’ Teachings Made Sense
Matthew 5:38-42 is a good opportunity to use some common sense. Jesus basically told people to be loving and forgiving instead of quarreling and vengeful. For example, He said:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:38-39)

First he said, don’t try to get revenge. Then he said to allow someone to slap you on the cheek. Being slapped is unpleasant, but it is a relatively mild degree of pain and hardship. Jesus did not say that Christians should passively allow people to rape their wives and murder their children. He didn’t even tell Christians to passively submit to persecution. He said:

But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another. (Matthew 10:23)

Similarly, Jesus said that if someone sues us for our tunic, we should let them have it, and even our cloak as well (Matthew 5:40). That is just some clothing. Although clothing was more difficult to obtain back in those days than it is now, it was still just clothing. Jesus did not say that we should allow people to take our home and our farm or business, so that we and our family become homeless and destitute. By comparing Scripture with Scripture, we can see that Jesus had a very balanced view of how to live at peace with our fellow man.

Here is another example of interpreting Scripture with Scripture. It also comes from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Matthew 7:1)

Some people interpret this as meaning that we should never criticize anything that other people say or do. However, that cannot be the meaning of this passage because later on in the same chapter Jesus said:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. (Matthew 7:15-17)

How can we beware of them if we can’t recognize them? How can we warn our friends and family to beware of them if we aren’t allowed to say anything negative about anybody? According to what Jesus said, He expects us to be able to recognize false teachers and to discern the difference between good and bad fruit in a person’s life.

How do we reconcile that with not judging people? According to my study Bible, Jesus warned us against condemning the motives of others because only God knows their hearts and their motives. We cannot condemn people. However, we are expected to be “fruit inspectors” who can tell the difference between people who teach Christian truth and false teachers (Matthew 7:15-20). This is why Paul did not hesitate to name names when it came to identifying those who teach destructive heresy (2 Timothy 2:17). In addition, Jesus commanded us to “judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

Here is a practical example from real life. If we have reasons to question someone’s morality and their level of responsible behavior, we cannot condemn them because only God knows their heart. However, we should not let them babysit our children. And it would be foolish to become business partners with them.

If we come across a passage in Scripture that doesn’t make sense to us, we can ask God to help us understand it. If we pray, and consider that passage some more, and we still can’t understand it, then we can just set it aside and go on reading. There have been times when a Scripture passage that I didn’t understand before suddenly makes sense. It’s like a light goes on, and I can see it.

Reading Scripture is a lifetime adventure. What we do understand is more than enough to guide us and help us know the Lord better. Let’s use what we can understand and trust God to take care of the rest of it in His own good timing. (From Strength for Tough Times, pp. 35-41)

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