Conclusion

Truth or Dare (Intro)

Cup 1 In this study, called Truth or Dare, we have been examining the various chalices that mankind may choose to drink from while searching out eternal life. We have explored seven of the more poisonous libations found in the world’s chalices, and compared them to the life giving liquid that exists in the cup of Christ.

The first three chalices were filled with three very similar toxicants:

Physical Wealth

Physical Power

Physical Pleasure

These three particular vices, we discovered, are very closely linked because any one of them will aid us in acquiring any one, or all, of the others listed.

In other words, if I were to suddenly become a billionaire, and had access to more physical wealth than any one person could spend in a lifetime, then I could use my money to acquire positions of power over others and enjoy any physical pleasure my mind could conceive. Also, if I managed to gain a position of power first, then I could begin to use my influence to gain the monetary wealth I desired and consume the pleasures of my worldly heart. Then again, if one intently chased after the numerous pleasures that this world has to offer, that overwhelming desire to find satisfaction in such things could goad one along until they were wealthy enough or powerful enough to access them.

Physical wealth, power, and pleasure — all three available to humanity. All three are a part of our human condition, but all three can be very toxic and deadly if consumed from Satan’s chalice. As each of these three articles showed, it’s only when we quench our thirst for physical wealth, power, and pleasure from the “cup of Christ” that we can really be satisfied and escape their harmful side effects. Poison 3 Why? Well, just like with any hard drink if you don’t regulate how much you consume (either by drinking very little of it or by “watering” it down) the potency of that beverage will eventually overtake you. In Christ’s cup, all of our natural, physical desires become mixed with spiritual living water — God’s divine “fruit of the vine” — the holy, blameless blood of Jesus Christ. Consuming this recipe ensures us of life; life filled with an abundance of real joy.

In the three articles that followed physical wealth, power, and pleasure, we discovered that there were other dangerous drinks awaiting our consumption. The three additional toxicants examined were:

Religion

Philosophy

Knowledge

Within these three special vices we saw traces of the first three toxins, but also examined some very dangerous ideologies specific to each of these issues.

For example, from within religion, philosophy, and knowledge you can find traces of our desire for physical power. Humanity’s lust for control will drive mankind to abuse their search for spiritual guidance, mental peace, and understanding of all things spiritual and physical. Thus the resulting concoctions reveal a variety of poisonous drinks, as false or legalistic religions appear, worldly ideologies that promote self-centeredness become our focus, and empty teachings that lack the wisdom of God ultimately destroy our lives.

Then our final article disclosed the main ingredient, the base substance, mixed into each drink served up in the chalice of Satan. What’s this staple element of potency? Selfishness. No matter what drink Satan chooses to tempt you with, it will always be heavily lined with a huge portion of selfishness.

Selfishness is the one ingredient certain to remove our gaze from God and His statutes, and place them inward towards our own desires and wants. As long as we continue to over indulge in the libation of selfishness, then Satan knows we will never successfully surrender our lives over to God (Proverbs 18:1; Romans 2:8; James 3:16). Yahweh will never be respected as our sovereign Creator, Jesus will never truly be our Lord, and the Holy Spirit will never really be our guide.

Humanity, as we stated in our introductory article, has a choice. We can embrace the dares that Satan dictates to us, and then experience eternal death, or we can choose to embrace God’s truth, and live forever.

Drunkeness 1 By drinking from Satan’s chalice, our spiritual senses become dulled, forcing us to look death in the face and act as if nothing is wrong; as if all is right and normal. Those that make this choice act on the lie that truth is relevant to their own wants and desires. They accept Satan’s lie that says absolute truth is really the biggest falsehood of the ages. The one really big problem with that — you can’t make the truth go away, and escape it’s consequences, by simply choosing to not believe in it. Famed American science-fiction author Philip K. Dick acknowledged this when he said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Merriam-Webster defines the chalice as a: (noun) a drinking cup — goblet. Wikipedia says a chalice is “a goblet or footed cup intended to hold a drink. In general . . . it is intended for drinking during a ceremony.” Most chalices are formed from a precious metal or made of crystal, then they are lined with precious stones and jewels. The reason is they are meant to “wow” and impress people. These aren’t cups for every day use. These are special vessels meant to be used for special occasions.

The term “poisoned chalice” exists, because somewhere in human history someone figured out that the glitz and the glamour of these goblets, used during a celebration or feast, is so distracting that no one would ever consider questioning the liquid being served in it. Today this term is applied to a thing or a situation which appears to be good, at first, but when it is received or experienced it becomes, or is eventually found to be, dangerous. This is why I refer to the lies humanity receives from Satan as a “chalice filled with poison.”

Scripture also compares the truth of God and the lies of Satan as drinks to be consumed by us. Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too.” (1 Corinthians 10:21a) Real truth can only be consumed from the “cup of Christ.” Why? First, because Jesus spoke of Himself as being real truth (John 1:17, 14:6, 18:37) and second, because Christ calls us to consume His truth from His cup (John 4:1-26, 6:53, 7:37-38; 1 Corinthians 10:16).

People cannot find the way to experiencing everlasting life by partaking of any old drink from within any old vessel. Not even if the world decorates their vessels with precious metals, stones, and jewels. No matter how much gold and silver is shaped and formed; no matter how many fine and rare stones or jewels adorn the chalice, it won’t make the poison in it any safer for our consumption.

Cup 9 Christ’s cup appears simple. It’s not adorned with fancy jewels and other distractions. The “cup of Christ” is plain, understated, and accessible to all. Christ’s cup is absent of fancy decor, because it’s not the drink of selfish, pious, and pompous people. Christ’s cup is to be consumed by the selfless, sincere, and humble human. Men and women capable of surrendering their lives to God, in exchange for the substance that grants them eternal life — the blood of Christ. It’s only by drinking in the sufferings of Jesus — now, in this physical world — that we can be allowed access to the wondrous inheritance of God’s Son.

I’ll close with this thought concerning mankind’s endless search for truth and eternal life. It will require us to return to the chamber of the Holy Grail, that we spoke of in our introductory article. As we all stand there, contemplating the various chalices we could drink from, remember this phrase — low probability verses high impact.

No matter how many religions, doctrines, philosophies, ideologies, and studies perk your interests and pleasure your spirit, consider the probability of their being true verses God’s Word being true. Consider the impact these religions, doctrines, philosophies, ideologies, and studies will have on your eternal soul verses the impact that God will have on your soul. If you believe there is at least a one percent probability that, when you die, you will be judged by this holy God spoken of in the Holy Bible, and in this series, then you had better seriously consider the cup of Christ. It only requires that you look past the glitz and the glamour of all the other chalices in the chamber, and (as the guardian said) choosing your cup wisely.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article III, part 2

Truth or Dare (Article 3)

In part one, of Article III, we began looking at what can happen to us when we allow wanton, hedonistic pleasure to rule our lives. We learned, just as the fabled character Pinocchio did, that there are consequences to satisfying our ungodly pleasures. God, however, has provided a way for us to be free from such wrongful desires. All we need do is believe in the LORD, Jesus Christ, and live according to His plan. Pleasure 5 In this article, we will look into the various types of pleasure.

There are pleasures of the mind, which consist of:

Solving the unknown (appeasing ones curiosity)
Using a unique skill to its full potential
Nurturing someone or something, or being nurtured by someone or something
Being apart of a community (a.k.a.: sociality; finding companionship, etc.)

There are pleasures of the body, which include any stimulation of the five senses:

Sight
Smell
Sound
Taste
Touch

And, there are the pleasures of the soul, which incorporate the nine “fruit of the spirit,” found in Galatians chapter five, verses twenty-two and twenty-three:

Faithfulness
Gentleness
Goodness
Joy
Kindness
Love
Patience
Peace
Self-control

Our pleasures can be to our advantage, and promote a healthy lifestyle. It can also bring about disastrous consequences, when acted upon without discretion or outside of God’s boundaries.

One example of a healthy pleasure is proper sleep. A lack of sleep has been found to cause anxiety, depression, and weight gain. You see, our bodies use sleep to perform important routine maintenance at a cellular, and metabolic, level. Proper sleep boosts our body’s immune system, and our brain’s means to store, and recall, details from our memories. Approximately seven to nine hours of sleep, each night, is necessary. Too little or too much sleep and our health begins to decline.

A second example of a healthy pleasure is consuming foods that you enjoy, and that also have healthy benefits to them. Something like chocolate. Yes, chocolate. Did you know that chocolate contains powerful antioxidants? It seems that cacao, which is taken from the cocoa bean during the manufacturing process, has been shown to improve the flexibility of blood vessels. This flexing of the blood vessels help us reduce our risk of heart disease, and heart attack, but note: not all chocolate is going to be beneficial. You must choose only dark chocolate, and make certain that it contains a minimum of seventy-five percent cacao, and you must limit yourself to one or two squares a day.

A third example of a healthy pleasure, and one in which I will focus the remainder of this article on, is sex. Healthy, monogamous sex is probably the most incredible experience that humanity will encounter in a life time. When men and women, by way of the marriage relationship, participate in regular, monogamous sexual relations, they experience an amazing form of pleasure that appeals to their entire beings. Rarely can a pleasure, other than sexual pleasure, appeal to a person’s body, mind, and soul. Though human sexual relations primarily function as a means of procreation, God also carefully and concisely designed it to be a deeply satisfying form of pleasure.

Healthy, monogamous sex, between a married man and woman, is also a special kind of physical work out; a beautiful act of tandem exercise that can burn as much as eighty-five calories per coupling. Pleasure 4 This physical exercise is unlike any other, as it results in the intermingling (or combining) of two bodies into one, and it results in the release of “feel-good” endorphins through out the human brain. When these endorphins release, the couple becomes less likely to experience depression, individually, and they are less likely to experience dissatisfaction with their marriage relationship, due to their deeply intimate connection with their spouse. A healthy, monogamous sexual relationship, within the confines of marriage, will not solve all the problems that a couple will face in their lifelong alliance, but it does bind them in such a way as to help strengthen their resolve to work through these issues.

Another benefit for married couples who participate in healthy, monogamous sexual relations, at a minimum of once or twice a week, is that their immune responses are improved. According to the Oxford Journals, and other medical magazines, our sex hormones positively affect our immune response toward such illnesses as the common cold, flu, and other more serious infections. It’s a pretty interesting arrangement, isn’t it?

Our bodies actually produce higher levels of an antibody (a.k.a.: immunoglobulin, or IGA) that can thwart colds, and flus, where those very germs most often enter the body. Ironically, our bodies can use the very act that can transmit germs and disease (sexual intercourse) to help prevent such illnesses from manifesting. This ultimately allows men and women, who are married, the freedom to enjoy more intimacy. God wants us to enjoy our spouses, passionately. He designed us that way; it’s only when we abandon God’s design for human sexuality that sexual intercourse becomes painful, and dangerous.

Did you know that the number one way to get a sexually transmitted disease (a.k.a: STD) is by having sex with multiple partners? Sounds odd to have to say, but societies all around the globe live as though this were some type of myth, or fairy tale. In fact, ninety-five percent of U.S. citizens under the age of thirty are sexually active. Thirty-three percent of the men polled, and nine percent of the women, stated that they had more than ten sexual partners in their lifetime. It is also believed that one out of every four non-married, sexually active Americans, by the age of twenty-four, will have contracted an STD. Furthermore, about sixty-five million people in the U.S. are now living with an incurable STD — sixty-five million! Bottom line, STDs such as Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Gonorrhea, Human Papillomavirus, Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, as well as other life-threatening conditions (ex.: prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and oral cancer), are more common among people who have sexual intercourse with more than one person in a lifetime.

Sexual relationships affect more that just our physical bodies, though. As stated earlier, they also affect our minds and souls. Many psychologists, and religious counselors, have found that having multiple sexual encounters with a variety of partners places men and women at a higher threat of making risky choices on a regular basis. This cycle of making dangerous choices can lead to a life filled with unhealthy and risky sexual experiences (a.k.a.: homosexuality, pornography, prostitution, and other perverse sex acts), multiple unsuccessful relationships, which can nurture a lower self-esteem, and even lead to manic depression. Again, when we abandon God’s design for human sexuality, sexual intercourse becomes painful, and dangerous.

King Solomon, known as the wisest ruler in the history of the world, wrote this concerning uncontrolled, physical pleasure:

I [King Solomon] thought in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly — my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well — the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2: 1-11)

To gain worldly pleasures, of any kind, will never bring about real contentment, or gratification. No amount of excessive laughter, drinking of alcohol, or reckless abandon will ever fully appease us. Completing some great project, for yourself, won’t satisfy; owning a successful business, or some huge ranch, or farm, won’t fulfill. Access to the world’s richest treasures can’t gratify, nor can the world’s greatest library of music. Not even multiple sexual encounters with the world’s most beautiful people can quench what you long for — No. True fulfillment only comes through experiencing pleasures, not as the world defines them, but as God has defined them.

Worldly pleasures look similar to many of the pleasures God provides us. They appeal to our minds and bodies, but what the world can’t gratify is our souls. Only God can supply that kind of gratification. Note Proverbs chapter ten, verse twenty-three:

A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.

You see, when we seek to please ourselves, and ignore God’s plan for us to be rightly satisfied, we become nothing more than ignorant jerks. Dumb as a wooden stump with no true happiness to be found. This is what King Solomon was trying to say. Though he sought after foolishness, God allowed Solomon to remain wise enough to know it was indeed foolishness. Though he looked to gratify his own selfish desires, God allowed Solomon to remain wise enough to know that self-gratification always comes with a consequence and those consequences can never be avoided. Sexual pleasure, that is intended to please one’s self, will never really satisfy. Sexual intimacy requires two people, one male and one female, for a reason. That reason is for the man to gratify the woman, under the blessing of marriage, and for the woman to please the man. This is as our Creator intended.

I’m reminded of an interview from 1975. In this interview, Phyllis George, from the old CBS NFL Today show, asked Roger Staubach — then the starting quarterback for the American football team Dallas Cowboys — to reveal what he felt about his image as an “All American, straight guy” (he was very well known as a “clean-cut,” family man). Roger’s image was in stark contrast to another very popular American football quarterback, named Joe Namath. Joe, who also had been recently interviewed by Phyllis George, had become just as famous for his playboy lifestyle as he had become for his ability to quarterback the New York Jets. Roger Staubach responded by saying:

Roger Staubach You interviewed Joe Namath — everyone in the world compares me to Joe Namath. You know, as — you know, the idea that off the field he’s single, bachelor, “swinging.” I’m married, and family, and — you know, he’s having all the fun, [a smile crosses Roger’s face] and — I enjoy sex as much as Joe Namath [Phyllis begins to laugh], only I do it with one girl. You know, I mean it’s still fun.

A monogamous relationship is not a life sentenced to lamentation and sorrow; not at all. Sexual intimacy, as God intended, is free of disease, despair, danger, and worry; it’s both exciting and healthy.

True pleasure — the kind that really brings joy to a person’s whole being — can only exists when we experience it God’s way. And if we will, then we can also bring pleasure to our Creator, and others. You see, genuine pleasure is not about self-gratification at all, but about gratifying God and the other people in our lives. Let’s all strive to drink from the cup of Christ, and let’s all live merrier lives.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article III, part 1

Truth or Dare (Article 3)

The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi, an Italian author from Florence, has been told in many different ways since it was first printed in book form in 1883. Though the story began, in 1881, as a series of children’s stories being printed for a newspaper in Rome, it has since been translated into several languages, and has become a play, television show, musical, and movie. Pleasure 3 Of these variations, none have been as well received world wide as the 1940 motion picture, animated feature, from Walt Disney Studios.

Released to theaters by RKO Radio Pictures, this children’s story, now simply known as Pinocchio, became Walt Disney’s second full length animated film to receive an Academy Award. In fact, Pinocchio received two Oscar’s and was only Disney’s second attempt at a full length animation. It will be Disney’s version of this popular story that I will use to illustrate why it is important to consider the “cup of Christ” before giving into the “chalice” of hedonistic pleasure.

Pinocchio was a wooden marionette carved by a poor, lonely wood carver named Geppetto, and brought to life by a compassionate, blue fairy. The blue fairy, upon bringing Pinocchio to life, tells the puppet that he can become a real boy if he proves to be “brave, truthful, and unselfish.”

To help Pinocchio along in his quest, the blue fairy appoints a cricket to be the puppet’s official conscience. The cricket, named Jiminy, is eager to oblige, but it doesn’t take long before Pinocchio is ignoring his friendly conscience and following a whole host of unsavory characters right into trouble. Two of the most dangerous, and reoccurring, tempters in Pinocchio’s life were the fox and the cat.

Honest John (the fox) and Gideon (the cat) weren’t the most dangerous because they were the most evil and vengeful — No. The fox and the cat were most dangerous because, unlike the other characters, they had convinced Pinocchio that they were trust worthy friends. Strong confidants. Friends that only wanted to give Pinocchio the best advice and counsel that any one could give, and they were so good at their con that they were able to get the little marionette to ignore his appointed conscience, Jiminy.

One of Honest John’s, and Gideon’s, most fiendish lies came about from a deal they had struck with a sinister Coachman, in a local tavern. The Coachman tells the fox, and the cat, about a side business of his. You see, the Coachman went about “collecting stupid little boys” and taking them to a place called Pleasure Island. The Coachman then offers Honest John, and Gideon, a cash reward for every boy they bring to him. Well, it’s not long before they set their target on Pinocchio, and trick him into a trip to Pleasure Island.

So, what is so very bad about a place called Pleasure Island? Nothing at first. Pleasure Island was simply a place where little boys could enjoy a carnival-like atmosphere. It was a place where there were no adults to supervise, or discipline. A place where little boys were encouraged to enjoy all the pleasures that their little hearts could contend with. Even if it was something like gambling, smoking, getting drunk, fighting, or wanton destruction. What ever they wished to do, they could do. Sounds pretty incredible. Do what you wish — no “strings” attached. Well, no strings that they were able to see.

It seems that once on the island, and once these little boys had partaken in their wanton hedonism, these little boys, including Pinocchio, would partake in a dastardly transformation. A transformation that would begin from within and continue until it had over taken them completely. You see, as these little boys began to behave like little proverbial “jackasses,” they actually — magically — transformed into real jackasses. Yes! Long ears, wiry, fur-covered skin, buckteeth, hooves — the works — and once transformed, they were sold either to work in the salt mines or as exhibits in the side shows, with the circus.

How many of us can relate to this puppet’s plight? We want to do right by our Creator, but we constantly choose to listen to the Devil’s lies, rather than the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice of truth. We choose to allow our desire to be happy today — now — this instant to rule our every thought. We so want to be gratified, mentally and physically, that we forget about the needs of the spirit. We sacrifice the eternal for the temporal, and then awaken one day as slaves in Satan’s “salt mines” or “circus side shows.” We cry for help, but our plight is only heard by the physical world as nothing more than the brays of a jackass.

Pleasure, in and of itself, is not the real issue. Pleasure, alone, didn’t trap Pinocchio and the other little boys. No, the real issue for us, Pinocchio, and the little boys in the story, is our lust for self gratification. Self gratification says, “You’ve worked hard for this money, and they didn’t pay you what you deserve. Go ahead and steal the money — you’ve earned it.” Self gratification will tell someone, “This person’s been flirting with you long enough. You know they like you, so go ahead and do with them what you wish. They’ll appreciate your having made the decision for them.” The gratification of one’s self always — ALWAYS, mind you — comes with a consequence to both others and yourself. Those consequences can never be avoided.

When we live to please ourselves, without thought of others or the ramifications that will transpire, then we leave ourselves open to the sweet, yet dangerous, enticements of hedonistic pleasure. We like pleasure. We want to trust that pleasure is our friend, that it only wants what is best for our well being. But it’s only when pleasure is contained in the eternal truths of God’s Word, Jesus Christ, that it can be to our benefit. Pleasure, achieved by way of self gratification, is simply going to cause hurt, pain, and possibly even death. Sure, it may be sweet ambrosia at it’s climax, but you will come down from that peak and step into a valley of disappointment or even fall into a chasm of destruction.

The dangers of pleasing one’s self is a lot like how Eskimos supposedly rid themselves of wolves. It’s said that Eskimos will create a “pop-cycle,” from frozen animal’s blood, and a large, sharp hunting knife. Once the blood has been frozen onto the knife’s blade, the handle of the knife is frozen into the ground. This leaves the savory, yet dangerous, treat exposed above the icy turf.

Wolf 1 Wolves, passing by, will smell the blood and begin to lick at the sumptuous goodie, never realizing the danger at it’s center. By the time a wolf’s tongue meets the sharp blade of the knife, its too numb to know that it is no longer licking the blood of some other animal — no — the blood it is now feverishly enjoying is the very blood from its own sliced and mangled mouth. The more the blood streams onto the blade the more excited the wolf gets until nothing remains but a severely maimed mouth and a very dead wolf.

Satan uses physical pleasure much in this way. Each of us are hunted by him (1 Peter 5:8). The Devil watches us and learns of our enjoyments. Then Satan sets up a customized “pop-cycle” of deadly pleasures, just for us. We smell it, and look it over, but if we pursue the consumption of it, before listening to the council of God, we will certainly bear the pain of it. We may even die while trying to enjoy it.

Pinocchio learned his lesson the hard way, but through a selfless act, and the kindness of the blue fairy, he was able to receive redemption and became the real boy he was purposed to be. You and I can’t sacrifice enough to receive redemption (Romans 6:23a), nor do we have a kind, blue fairy waiting to help us, but we do have a benevolent Creator, one Who became as one of us (John 1:1-18). Our Creator over came the temptations of Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). God, in human form, endured pain and suffering for us. God suffered and sacrificed Himself for our redemption (John 3:16-17). All we need do is believe in the LORD, Jesus Christ, and we too can become the true worshipers of God, we were purposed to be.

In part two, of our study, we will look at several types of pleasure. We will discuss both the good and the bad that revolves around sexual pleasure, in particular, and we will reveal what King Solomon discovered after he drank heavily from the chalice of pleasure.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Pinocchio © 1940, 2009 Buena Vista and Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article II, part 2

Truth or Dare (Article 2)

In Article II, part one, we began looking into the choice we have in life to embrace the chalice of power or the cup of Christ. In this introductory article we saw how power, apart from God’s intent, is raw, roguish, and destructive; very much like a cancer cell is to a healthy cell. Grace 1 We also ended the article by naming the cure for this cancerous force, and that cure is God’s grace. But, what is grace, really?

The word “grace” holds a variety of meanings. Sometimes grace is an attitude of refinement, politeness, and other times it’s a reference to ones apparent flawless muscular coordination. From a financial perspective it’s a time in which a delinquent payment can be paid without penalties being accrued; politically it can become a title. From a perspective of spirituality the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines grace as both a noun and a verb:

(noun) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings//a divinely given talent or blessing: the graces of the Holy Spirit//the condition or fact of being favored by someone: he fell from grace because of drug use at the Olympics.

(verb) do honor or credit to (someone or something) by one’s presence: she bowed out from the sport she has graced for two decades.

In the book entitled Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine, by Max Lucado, the word “grace” get’s this description:

Grace is simply another word for God’s reservoir of strength and protection. Not occasionally or miserly but constantly and aggressively, wave upon wave. We barely regain our balance from one breaker, and then, bam, here comes another!”

Grace, real godly grace, is strength. God’s grace is power! That is why grace is both a noun (person, place, or thing) and a verb (being and doing). Grace is free, and can only be acquired from God. Grace is a divine blessing from God and mankind can honor Him, and others, with godly grace just as He has honored us with it. Grace truly is God’s chemotherapy for Satan’s cancerous perversion of power.

I have discovered that humanity will meet with three types of power, while living here on earth. These three types of power are very closely connected, and are as follows:

– Physical: anything involving the human body, its senses, and its sexuality.
– Mental: anything involving the human mind.
– Spiritual: anything involving the human spirit/soul; things of a religious nature.

Physical power can be manifested in several ways, but these three particular forms are most prevalent. First, it can appear to us as political power (governmental affairs of a given country), second is monetary power (financial affairs involving currency), and third is emotional or sexual power (affairs relating to the most basic of human instincts, physiological processes, and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate physical contact).

Mental power is exhibited when someone manages to gain influence or control over someone else’s thought processes. Advertisers use mental influences to sell products. Politicians use aspects of mental control to gain your support. Men and women, alike, use this type of sway to connect with one another and mate. Psychologists utilize this type of power to help heal their patients. Hypnotherapists do the same, all be it in a more invasive way.

Spiritual power, just as these other two-forms of power, are used for the soul purpose of controlling the unseen. Satan attempts to stay in power over mankind by influencing our spirits to rebel against following God’s statutes. Religious leaders make use of this power to attract people to their churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues, and to promote their belief systems. God uses His powers over the unseen to restore humanity to Himself, through the gift of His divine grace, and to make us the true worshipers that He originally created us to be.

Power, both perverse and pure, exists all around us. No one form of power is ever initiated without the use of the other forms. Though we see ourselves as physical beings we still use mental and spiritual powers, either for good or for bad. Though we conceive ourselves as mentally superior, we still tap into the body and soul to achieve virtue or malice. Whether you believe in the power of the spirit of mankind, or not, the mind and body play a part in the power of the righteous spirit or the evil spirit. Power is everywhere, but apart from God’s purpose it becomes rogue — out of control — cancerous.

The world received yet another horrible display of this rogue power, all too recently, in Newtown, Connecticut, USA. For what ever reason, a deranged young man decided to go on a killing spree and attempt to destroy countless lives. Newton-CT 1 This wasn’t just physical brutality on display, or mental issues too long undealt with. This was a cold reminder of what can happen when God’s power is removed from the spirit of humanity.

All too often, when a tragedy like the Sandy Hook massacre occurs, people want to analyze the symptoms they think are at the core of the incident without really diagnosing the problem. They want to attack the tools used during the offense, and help promote some political agenda, while yet again avoiding to understand the real issue involved. It’s only when we open ourselves up to understanding why power has become so corrupt that we can hope to overcome such tragedies as this one in Connecticut, USA.

Mankind has to embrace an understanding of its fallen nature, and in turn give its corrupt nature to its Creator to correct. Only through God’s grace can we ever hope in a brighter tomorrow. Without embracing God’s grace in our lives, we can never overcome Satan and his demonic power. Only by returning our lives to God’s holy influence can humanity escape being nothing more than puppets in the hand of an evil puppet master.

Even Jesus, the very begotten Son of God, had to overcome the powers of Satan before He could become our pure and holy sacrifice. Look with me at Matthew, chapter 4, verses 1-11: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’’ Then the devil took Him to the holy city and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’’ Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’’ Then the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him.”

Did you pay attention to the process that Satan followed to draw God the Son away from God the Father? The Devil first attacks Jesus’ humanity. This is an attempt to split the flesh away from the spirit. Mental power is being used by Satan to get Jesus to focus on the fleshly things (namely Christ’s physical need for nourishment) in order to remove His focus from His purpose. Christ quotes a Scripture verse (Deuteronomy 8:3) and Satan loses this first attempt to dethrone the Prince of heaven.

The next temptation confronts Christ’s spirituality. Satan couldn’t get Jesus to focus on the flesh, so he tries to use Christ’s deity against Himself, even quoting Scripture (Psalm 91:11-12) to the incarnate Word of God. In doing this, the devil is wanting Jesus to use His godly powers for His own personal gain. After all, Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, and the Father would never let anything bad happen to His own child. This attack didn’t work either, and after Jesus completes another Scripture quote (Deuteronomy 6:16), Satan has to attempt a third attack.

The final temptation, was a last ditch effort to lure Christ from His Father’s purpose. Satan offers Jesus all of creation. Yes — all of creation! The Devil couldn’t get Jesus to focus on His physical needs. Satan couldn’t get Jesus to abuse His spiritual powers, so now he offers Christ the only thing he had left to bargain with — the very thing he stole from humanity — the rule of creation.

Oh, the audacity of this demon king. Satan lost out on being God’s most cherished cherub just because he thought he could rule over God and the heavens. Losing at that, the silly serpent then steals the dominion of earth from mankind and turns around and offers it up to Jesus, but only if Christ will bow down and worship him. Satan was willing to give up his last chance at ruling something God created for the chance at having God’s own Son worship him — it was all about the power he longed for from the beginning. If Satan couldn’t be over the entire triune God, then at least he could rule over the second of the three — Immanuel.

You see, Lucifer couldn’t defeat the triune God, all at once, for the rule of the heavens. Maybe though, Satan could defeat God the Son, alone, and get Him to worship him. Are you following this? Satan was still sulking over his loss of station and power. Sure he was ruler here, but he knew (and knows) that rule was (and still is) temporal, and only because the triune God had allowed it. Satan also knew he was offering up stolen goods to the very one who created it and who technically still owned it, and yet that did not detour him from trying. “Oh to have at the very least, Jesus — the Son of God — worship me,” the Devil must have thought. Satan thought wrong, for with a final quote of Scripture (Deuteronomy 6:13) the battle was lost, and upon Christ’s final rejection of the Devil, Satan left Him and angels came to attend to His needs. Righteous power will always win over the forces of unrighteousness.

Did you happen to notice how Satan was so quickly defeated? Scripture. God’s Word really is a mighty two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), and even though Satan knows of God’s Word he cannot wield it as a weapon against us, or God, because he doesn’t know God’s Word personally. Only we can, because God’s grace has allowed us to have a personal relationship with His very Word made into flesh. That godly Word, come to life, is Jesus. Jesus is the weapon we can wield against Satan. Jesus is the power of God’s grace, come to life.

I will leave you with a simple lyric about great power. It’s from a simple children’s song, that most of you will know. The words are as follows:

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me; yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.

Selah (Pause/Reflect).

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine © 2012 by Max Lucado

All rights reserved. The brief information quoted from this book appears in this article with the permission granted per the copyright statement which appears in the first edition publication, September 2012.

Published by Thomas Nelson, 501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 — (615) 889-9000; www.thomasnelson.com/.

Jesus Loves Me, words by Anna Bartlett Warner and William Batchelder Bradbury and music by William Batchelder Bradbury, pub.: Unknown, Copyright: Public Domain

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article II, part 1

Truth or Dare (Article 2)

Power. That ever elusive ability to absolutely direct, or wholly influence, life’s course of events or, more importantly, the behavior of others. Deep in our soul’s, we know that we can never really have it. DNA 1 We don’t understand why such power eludes us, but the truth of our inability to rule our destinies, and the destinies of others, does not detour us from chasing after it. Power — one of humanity’s most addictive vices.

So, why is power so attractive to us? What is it about the human spirit that makes mankind pursue it so vigorously? I honestly believe it’s because God has placed that desire in each person, but because of mankind’s being disconnected from Him that desire has gone amuck and causes us to act in a cancerous manner. Cancerous? Yes, cancerous — allow me to explain.

The human body is made up of trillions of cells, all of them growing and dividing in a controlled way to produce more cells as they are needed to keep the body healthy. When cells become old or damaged, they simply die off and are replaced with new cells. Scientists have tried to confirm an exact number, regarding just how many cells make up the human body, but to date they cannot confirm an exact count.

Now, each cell has a specific coding programed into them, known as DNA (Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid). A cell’s DNA defines what it will do, or accomplish. However, if any of our cells DNA becomes damaged or mutates, then the result is a cancerous cell. Cancerous cells do not die when they should and do not allow new cells to form when the body needs them. Essentially these cancerous cells are rogue cells behaving in a faulty, or unpredictable way. A cancerous cell, is really a cell gone mad.

As these cancerous cells group together, they form tumors. Some of these tumors are malignant and some are not, but all are a result of cells acting outside of their normal coding. By the way, there are approximately one-hundred different types of cancerous diseases, each named for the organ for which they originated (ex.: colon cancer begins in the colon, lymphoma begins in the lymph nodes, etc.), but all cancerous diseases begin at the cellular level.

So, what does a cancerous cell have to do with our addiction to, and the pursuit of, power? To answer I must first explain one other statement made earlier. I must explain why I said God has placed into humanity a desire for power.

Read with me from the first chapter of Genesis, verse twenty-six, which states: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” According to Scripture humanity was created to rule, to have power over, to dominate all the earth and its inhabitants, but we were to do so corporately, together, and do so under the perfect guidance of our Creator.

So, what happened? What went wrong? Two things. First, sin entered into an angel’s heart. Lucifer (a.k.a. Satan, or the Devil), God’s most wise and most beautiful cherub (Ezekiel 28:12b), decided he could rule over all of creation better than the great I AM (Isaiah 14:13-14). The result was a revolt, led by Lucifer, and when that short lived rebellion was done he, and one-third of heaven’s angelic hosts, was hurled to earth (Isaiah 14:12; Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:3-4 & 7-9). Lucifer was no longer a cherished guardian cherub (Ezekiel 28:14a), he was now Satan, the chief demon of demons.

Satan, who no longer had any authority in heaven, now saw the chance to gain authority in another kingdom. Sure, it wasn’t as grand as heaven, nor did it have the breadth of all of God’s creation, but it was convenient. This kingdom was where Satan was forced to begin his punishment, apart from God, and it was home to one of Yahweh’s most cherished creatures — humanity. This kingdom was earth, and Satan could only take over if mankind (Adam and Eve) relented their authority. So Satan devised a plan.

The Devil decided that he would trick humanity into abdicating their rule of earth to him. Satan, having the power to make himself appear as anything he wished, decided to become as a serpent. Serpents were common on earth and humanity would not question its being there with them. So, making himself as a serpent, Satan began working out this diabolical scheme.

This master demon chose to work his scam on the female of the species, known as Eve. I would guess that Satan did so, because the female was created by God, from a rib of the male of the species (a.k.a. Adam or “Man”), and learned most of what she knew from Adam concerning their purpose — sort of secondhand knowledge, if you will. Not to mention the fact that Eve’s name meant “Life,” and by attacking humanity through her Satan would bring death to her, and mankind’s future generations. Also, if the Devil tried to deceive the male (who was created by God, Himself, and directly taught concerning His statutes), he might have been met with more complications. These complications could have resulted in failure. Satan, knowing this, goes to work on Eve and begins to get her to reexamine the powers she, and Adam, were told they had, by God.

Mankind’s powers, to recap, were to rule over the earth and its living creatures, but another inferred power was that humanity had been given power over death. This ability to avoid death was only available to them as long as they refused to eat from a particular tree; a tree that existed in the very center of the garden that God had placed them in. This plot of land was known as the Garden of Eden, and that became the stage for Satan’s attack and the tree at its center would be his bait.

While Adam and Eve were in the garden, foraging from tree-to-tree, enjoying all the fruits that God had given them. Satan, now disguised as a serpent, awaited his chance to confront Eve. Patiently the serpent hid and watched for Eve to walk far enough away from Adam to begin his con. With all the skills of a master predator, Satan finally gets his opportunity and he launched his sneak attack. Before Eve even knows what hit her, Satan has her eating from the forbidden tree; the tree which gives humanity the ability to be “like God.” The tree of knowledge; the knowledge of what is good and evil. Eve soon has Adam eating from it too, and the result is the second thing that went wrong — sin entered into mankind. (You can read the entire story in the third chapter of Genesis.)

You see, sin is what disconnects us from God. Sin keeps us from fulfilling God’s original intention. Sin causes our spiritual “DNA” to get recoded and go mad. Sin is why Satan, and a third of the angels, thought they could conquer God. Really!? Talk about somebody going mad! But less we forget, sin is what caused us to doubt God’s promises and abdicate our rule of earth to Satan and his minions, once they came after our home. Sin is the reason power has become the addictive vice that it is, for both demons and humanity. Sin reprogrammed Lucifer’s, a third of the angel’s, and mankind’s purpose from God’s original design.

This is why I related mankind’s seeking after power to that of a cancerous cell. Just as a cancerous cell is out of control, devouring healthy cells and preventing itself from fulfilling its purpose, so too are we out of control when power becomes our god. When we, the human race, care more about power than we do our own planet, our own food and water resources, even ourselves, then madness has indeed set in.

When we can devour our earth and its creatures with a veracious appetite of death and destruction, when we can allow humanity to do the same to its self, then insanity has become our motivation. God never intended such perversions from our rule. Mankind was to be responsible stewards of earth and its creatures. A perverse appetite cannot be satisfied. A perverse appetite, fed by death and destruction, is an appetite that must be contented no matter the cost, but never can be. We, just like Satan and his demons, have become cancerous cells willing to destroy ourselves to obtain this ever elusive thing known as power, and only God has the cure — grace!

In our next post we will look more deeply at God’s grace, and at varied forms of this madness known as power.

Truth or Dare by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.jasonmin.wordpress.com.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.

Article 2

Have you ever met someone, for the first time, and upon hearing their name found yourself in a state of disbelief or confusion? Maybe they looked a certain way and the name they bore didn’t quite match your mind’s expectations. Maybe an acquaintance you’d met on more than one occasion began to become a more familiar friend and upon your getting more accustomed to their personality you catch yourself thinking, “He/She doesn’t act much like a Herald/Samantha.”

Whether we wish to admit it or not, our names get linked in with our mind’s stereotyping of people. Why is that, you may ask? I believe that it’s due to the fact that names have meanings. They aren’t just empty sounds; devoid of significance. You see, in spite of all the attempts being made to make western culture “politically correct,” many cultures still name their children based on either the child’s perceived personality or based on the character they hope to see in the child later on in life. As we have read in Article 1, God’s Hebrew names all have deep significance. However, the name “Jehovah” has revealed its self as an enigma. Allow me to explain.

It has always been my understanding that the names “Jehovah” and “Yahweh” were both the same. Each has been understood by many to be Hebrew for the name God disclosed to Moses in Exodus 3:13-14, the name “I AM,” but that may not be so true after all.

Recall, if you will, that Hebrew names are sentences of sorts. “Yah” would be literally translated into English as the pronoun “He,” and “weh” would translate as “being.” So, literally the name Yahweh means “He Being” or the more familiar “I AM.” Now, where the name “Jehovah” becomes a puzzlement is in the fact that the letter “j” doesn’t exist in the Hebrew language. In fact, it didn’t even exist in the English language officially until about 500 years ago. Crazy stuff, this whole study of languages.

So, how did we come to add the letter “j” into our alphabet? Well, it began with the Germans making the Hebraic “ya” sound as a Germanic “ja” sound. We would say today that the “y” was transliterated into a “j,” but the actual letter came about when English scribes began to morph the Latin letters “i” and “y” into one character. The letter “i,” in both Latin and Old English, was a consonant and a vowel and when it was coupled with the letters “a” or “e” it created the sound we now recognize as the soft “g” sound or phonetic “ja” sound. As I understand it, the letter “j” was the last character added to the English alphabet, and was used officially in an English publication in the year 1634.

You see, this one letter — the letter “j” — affects the meaning of Jehovah’s name, because there is no letter “j” in the Hebrew language. So, since there is no letter “j” in the Hebrew language, it stands to reason that a mispronunciation seems to have taken place concerning Elohim’s most commonly used name. And if “Jehovah” has been mistranslated, then this name in English would appear to rightly mean “He Ruins,” or “He Destroys,” but we know from Scripture that God doesn’t cause ruin or destruction to anyone but Satan and his followers (Psalms 9:6, 52:5; Proverbs 10:29, 21:12), and God’s characteristics listed in Galations chapter 5, verses 22-23, record neither of these traits.

So, does “Jehovah” mean something negative about God or does it mean “I AM”? Is the name “Jehovah” appropriate for us to use when calling upon the Almighty, or not? I honestly can’t say one way or the other, at this point, as there are legitimate arguments for both views, but I will pose this thought.

Say you meet someone from a foreign country who has a very complicated pronunciation connected to his or her name. You want so badly to do this person a service, and show them respect, by correctly saying their name and yet time-and-time again you botch it up. Maybe their name has a marvelous meaning behind it and yet every time you say their name your phonetic bumbling transliterates that majestic name into something silly or maybe even disrespectful. You feel horrible for having done so, and expect this foreign acquaintance to chastise you at any moment for your mistake. Instead, however, he or she graciously smiles — possibly gives you a tender correction — and proceeds to offer you a more simplistic way to say his or her name. I believe this is what God does with us.

God knows what is in our hearts and knows how difficult foreign languages are for most of us who aren’t the scholarly type. Our Creator understands about mistranslating one word from one language into the next. God understands about varying alphabets and characters. The Father understands how easy it is for our imperfect minds to make an incorrect transliteration of a sound, or a letter, or a word.

I also believe that when we make these mistakes God smiles down at us and responds to us just as if we had called out His name in perfect Hebrew; just as if we spoke with a keen understanding of what we were saying. You see, God is not as concerned with us uttering correct phonetic sounds or pronouncing words perfectly. No, the Father’s concerned over whether or not our heart is right in its intention; whether or not our attitude of worship towards Him is pure. The Holy Spirit, God’s special intercessor, takes our imperfect sounds/words and makes them perfectly clear to the Father of life (Romans 8:26-27) and also interprets for us God’s own words.

Dr. Michael J. Svigel (Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary), in a recent conversation with Jason Ministries, said this about the controversy surrounding the name “Jehovah.” Dr. Svigel said, “I wouldn’t worry about it too much. ‘Jehovah’ was originally pronounced ‘Yahova.’ It means ‘the One who IS’ or ‘the self-existing One,’ related to the verb ‘to be,’ hence, ‘I AM’ or ‘I AM the One who IS.’” Ponder that meaning for a moment — “I AM the One who IS.” Now there’s a name worthy of our praise — selah!

His Name Is . . . by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Dallas Theological Seminary is located in Dallas, Texas, at 3909 Swiss Ave. (75204). For more information please visit them online at: http://www.dts.edu/

If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason MinistriesTwitter account or Facebook page.