HAZARD COMMUNICATION BASICS

On June 1, 2015, OSHA implemented the Globally Harmonized System of identifying hazardous materials. A hazardous material is any material or agent that can cause harm to humans or the environment. Particularly any chemicals classified as hazardous substances must be identified with a Safety Data Sheet, formerly known as an MSDS.

Before that deadline, the MSDS had no standardized formatting so that if you were exposed to a dangerous chemical, you would have to look through the sheets to find proper first aid procedures. Today you will find that in Section 4.

The SDS also lists all the ingredients in a substance like the container label. There a consumer will find potential risks associated with coming into contact with the chemical. Anything that is poisonous must be labeled to protect people working with or near the chemical.

Poison can often toxically affect others even in minute amounts. Consider commercial rat poison. The SDS for a common poison states that it contains only 0.005% poison by volume. The rest of the substance is not harmful. At least it is inert, but a large portion of the material must be beneficial to the rodent otherwise, it would never ingest the poison. That means that 99.995% of the material is nonpoisonous, however, if you were to eat it, you would become extremely ill and may even die.

False religion is also a toxic substance, but never labeled as such. Today’s tolerant, non-judgmental culture likes to say that all religions are beneficial, that they all teach the same things. Many believe that you can find common ground in all religions, so we should not judge or label the teachings of various religions.

Now apply that to rat poison. Let’s say that since it is 99.995% good, we should have no problem eating it since it contains many of the same ingredients we find in other food. If it were not labeled as poison, people would become ill from eating it. Some might even die. It is that 0.005% poison that kills.

So how much do all religions have in common? When you study them, you find that they have very little in common. One quick test is to see what different religions say about Christ. Was he God in the flesh, was he Satan’s brother, was he the Archangel Michael, or just a prophet.

Previously I wrote that there are only two religions in the world—biblical Christianity, and everything else. Three areas to look at are: Was Jesus Christ God in the flesh? What kind of works do we have to perform to be saved? Is the Bible sufficient to tell us everything we need for salvation, life and godliness?

Only biblical Christianity states that 1) Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” John1:1, 14). 2) We are only saved by what Christ accomplished on the cross and our works add nothing to it. (Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,” Titus 3:5. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” Eph. 2:8-9). 3) the Bible alone is sufficient to tell us everything we need to know to be saved and to live a godly life. (“From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” 2 Timothy 3:15. “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” 2 Peter 1:3).

Other religions teach that Jesus was not God, that we must perform some kinds of works or rituals to be saved, and we need other books or materials to learn how to be saved. In the same way that poison must have some good things to attract the rodent, so false religions have some qualities to attract adherents. While all other religions may have some truth in them, remember that it only takes 0.005% error to kill you. Religions should be marked as hazardous to your spiritual health.

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#WhatDidYouExpect

Time magazine’s recent announcement of their “Person of the Year” reflects a serious trend in our culture and society. Time’s “Person of the Year” named a group of people rather than an individual. Time chose to honor “The Silence Breakers,” those who spoke out about sexual harassment in the workplace. Ever since the subject broke several weeks ago, it seems that every day, accusations fly against more people—politicians and entertainers, even religious leaders have been accused of impropriety.

#WhatDidYouExpect? Remember the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s? Hugh Hefner first published Playboy Magazine in 1953 and opened the Playboy Club in 1960. About that time, Joseph Fletcher, an Episcopal priest, popularized the idea of situational ethics, approaching ethical issues from the standpoints of pragmatism, relativism, positivism, and personalism. Essentially no two situations are identical, so no set rules apply. All moral decisions were to be made on a sliding continuum.

The Twentieth Century was known for the rise of this continuum as the philosophy of moral relativism. This philosophy has been condensed into such beliefs that there are no absolutes (in itself an absolute statement), and there is no right or wrong. Everything is simply a matter of preference. You like chocolate. I like vanilla. “What’s right for you may not be right for others,” They say.

More recently, the idea of political correctness states that if you make any type of moral distinction, say between gay marriage and straight marriage, that is being judgmental (in itself being judgmental). For more than five decades, universities, movies, and television have been affirming that nothing can be considered right or wrong any more. Those who hold antiquated ideas such as the biblical idea of one man plus one woman are woefully on the wrong side of history. We need to be free from antiquated Victorian repressive sexual mores. (Have you ever wondered what “Victoria’s Secret” is?)

#EnterTheHypocrisy. The flip side of “what’s right for you may not be right for others” is “what’s wrong for you may not be wrong for others.” Now many are coming forward saying that certain behaviors are wrong! How can that be after saying for decades that there is no right or wrong, there are no absolutes? You can’t have it both ways. Either there is some objective measure of right and wrong, or there is not.

#YouCan’tHaveItBothWays. If you don’t like what you are harvesting, try planting different seeds. Society is simply reaping what it has sown. Young actresses play highly sexualized characters in movies and television, then become offended when producers, directors, and co-workers treat them as the characters they portray. You can’t have it both ways.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction” (Galatians 6:7-8). When I was a youth, my pastor used the illustration of a father taking his sons fishing early one morning before sunrise. They went down to the river and out on the dock. The father placed the lantern on the dock while he and his sons got into the boat. As they began preparing their gear for fishing, they noticed that it was becoming increasingly dark and difficult to see inside the boat. The father looked up and noticed that the knot had come untied, and their boat had drifted slowly downstream. They had drifted away from the light of the lantern.

Decades ago, society purposefully loosed the moorings from the dock, and our society has been drifting ever since. Then we wonder why we are experiencing so much domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, mass shootings, high divorce rates, The Knockout Game,” and myriads of other societal maladies. We are drifting, and we can’t even say we are drifting, because to say we are drifting is judgmental. To say we need a standard is deemed politically incorrect, so our metaphorical hands are tied.

#IsItAnyWonder. We should not be surprised. My father often said that we spend our youth sowing our wild oats, then our final years praying for crop failure. We cannot mock God. We are reaping what we have sown. The current societal conditions do not surprise me at all. What surprises me is that the church has come to reject the revelation in God’s Word. “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction” (Proverbs 29:18 NIV).

LET’S LEAVE CHURCH OUT OF THIS

“Business is business, let’s just leave church out of this.” This attitude expresses the view that many Christians have today. Religion is Ok, but let’s not get too carried away with it. So, your boss tells you to leave your Christianity at home or at church, but don’t bring it to work. After all, how can anyone expect to make a profit if they follow biblical principles?

What does the Bible teach about Christian work principles? Many passages in the Bible support good business ethics and practices.

First let’s deal with ethics. Proverbs 20:10 says, “Differing weights and differing measures— the Lord detests them both.” One way that people could cheat customers years ago was by using two sets of weights in a balance. A crooked merchant could use one set when buying and another set when selling. The differing weights and measures would give him the benefit while cheating the customer. God detests people using two different sets of standards. Christian should be honest in all their dealings.

In the first century, employers would hold back the wages that were owed so they could hold on to the money a little longer. They were cheating their employees. James 5:4 says, “Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” Christian employers should not cheat their workers. Jesus said, “the worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7). Employers, you should pay your workers what they are worth, what you owe them, and pay them on time.

Next, let’s look at some biblical principles for the worker. Not only should employers not cheat their employees, employees should not cheat their employers either. Employee, do you waste time at work while on the company payroll? Things such as social media, long coffee breaks, extended lunch periods? If so you are stealing from your employer. How many have been caught using a company credit card for personal purchases, just until payday?

How well do you get along with your boss and coworkers? Do you gossip about them around the water cooler, do you assassinate their character behind their back? Do they easily offend you? Are you completely honest with them? Do you communicate openly and respectfully with them?

Christian workers should be the best workers, the most honest hardworking members of your team. They should be loyal and trustworthy. They should also treat their employers with respect.

Also, Christian bosses should be the best bosses. They should honestly care about the well-being of each employee. Yes, Christian business owners should make a profit, but not at the expense of the safety of their employees. Romans 13:7 says, “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Employers should provide everything employees need to do the job. Current federal safety regulations state that you must provide all protective equipment to your employees at no cost to them. This may cut into your profits, but you must protect them because it is the law and the right thing to do.

So, what does church have to do with it? Putting biblical principles to work will make work better for everyone. As an employer, you should be the kind of boss that everyone wants to work for. As an employee, you should be the kind of employee that people want to hire. Christianity should touch every aspect of our lives.

BACK TO YOUR (HEBREW) ROOTS?

For several years there have been movements encouraging Christians to get back to their roots, their Hebrew roots. Many movements, called Messianic movements, have led some Christians to celebrate Jewish feasts and to feel spiritually superior to other Christians who do not follow Jewish feasts. These movements are not new. Paul dealt with “Judaizing” in the first century. Many of the teachers believed that people had to become Jewish before they could become a Christian.

“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17 NKJV). Here Paul deals with the same idea of keeping feasts and observing sabbaths. Some believers felt superior to others and required them to observe festivals, new moon celebrations and sabbaths.

Today some Christians worship on the Sabbath. They feel that they must do so because the Ten Commandants say to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. They feel that not to have church on Saturday is a violation of that commandment. Many Christians worship on Sundays in honor of Christ’s resurrection on the first day of the week. Christians followed this tradition in the New Testament. Jesus appeared after his resurrection on the first day of the week as the apostles gathered together (John 20:19). Christians gathered together on the first day of the week to break bread and Paul preached (Acts 20:7). Paul also asked the Corinthians to take up an offering for the church in Jerusalem on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2). No commandment was ever given for a day to esteem as holy among the Christians.

Paul also wrote in Romans 14:5, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.” Paul never indicated that one day to worship was better than another. He said that each person should be convinced in his own mind. If you and your congregation worship on Sunday, Paul said that it was all right. Those who worship on Saturday should not try to force others to worship then. Those who worship on Sunday should not seek to force others to do so. Whichever day you chose, you do it unto the Lord (Romans 14:6).

Besides Sabbath worship, Todd Friel lists nine additional things that characterize Messianic movements:

  1. Celebrating Old Testament festivals
  2. Obeying select Old Testament laws
  3. Circumcision upon conversion
  4. Keeping kosher or partially kosher
  5. Elevating unbiblical texts like the Mishnah to the level of Scripture
  6. Calling Jesus by his Hebrew name, Yeshua
  7. Never spelling G-d
  8. Women wearing long skirts and head coverings
  9. Men wearing untrimmed beards

(Judge Not, p. 163, 164)

Friel calls this a confused effort to live like Old Testament Jews and help Christians to appreciate Hebrew roots they do not actually possess (p. 164). The New Testament never even hints that Christians should follow Old Testament Laws or extra-biblical teachings. The danger is that we cannot select which laws to obey. A Christian who tries to follow certain laws becomes obligated to keep all of them. This is what Paul meant by falling from grace, not losing one’s salvation, but trying to earn salvation by keeping the law (Galatians 5:2-6). Paul wrote: “If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21).

James echoed the same message: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (2:10). If we try to keep the law, we must keep all of it, not just certain parts, like the festivals or Sabbath attendance. If we fail in one part, we become guilty of breaking it all. We cannot keep the Law regarding sacrifices because there is no Temple and no altar. If we try to follow the Law, we will fail at the point of sacrifices.

The Church dealt with issue at the Council of Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15. There the Judaizers wanted to make the Gentile Christians follow Jewish practices to become followers of Christ. The Church and the Apostles debated the issue. They finally arrived at the conclusion that they would not “test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?” (15:10).

Can we Christians learn from studying the festivals? Yes. Can we learn from studying the Laws? Yes. Are we better off if we follow them? Resoundingly no. These things were shadows that led us to Christ, who is the substance. Why do we need to go back to the shadows when we have the light? The old covenant is obsolete (Hebrews 8:13)

THE LITTLE PROPHET WHO CRIED “MESSIAH”

You are familiar with the folk tale about the little shepherd boy whose job it was to protect the sheep. The townspeople and he had decided on a signal that whenever they heard him cry “wolf,” they would come running to help him protect the sheep. One day, as the job goes, he grew bored sitting out there all alone with just the sheep. He thought to himself, “I wonder what would happen if I yelled ‘wolf.’” So, he yelled at the top pf his voice, “Wolf. Wolf.” Hurriedly all the townspeople responded by running out to the pasture where the sheep were calmly grazing. There they found the little boy laughing with glee. No sign of a wolf. The people angrily chided him before returning to the town.

A while later after they had returned, the shepherd boy cried out again. This time fewer people responded. They did not want to look foolish again. You know the rest of the story. When the wolf finally did arrive, the boy cried out “Wolf,” and no one responded after so many false alarms.

On September 23, 2017, astronomical events took place, which some heralded as the end of the world. Many videos appeared on YouTube warning, “Watch before September 23, 2017.” Many claimed that these events were prophetic of something fantastic that was supposed to happen on earth, perhaps the Rapture of the church. Prophecies about the Messiah abounded. Some people claimed that these astronomical events had been predicted in Revelation 12:1-2. The configuration of the constellations Virgo and Leo along with the sun and the moon heralded some great event on God’s timeline.

Here are three reasons why Christians should not be concerned about such “prophecies.”

  1. “No man knows that day or the hour” (Mark 13:32). The book “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988” got around this dilemma by saying that we may not be able to figure out the day and the hour, we could certainly determine the month and the week that it would take place. When the apostles asked Jesus about the dates of the end times, he said, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7). We are not to worry about setting dates, but to be concerned about being his witnesses.
  2. These predictions were based on only two verses taken entirely out of context. The sign in heaven recorded in Revelation 12 could not happen until the events of Chapter 11 had taken place. Revelation 11 talks about two witnesses that will preach in Jerusalem for 1260 days. That is about three and a half years. After that time, the beast from the pit kills them and leaves their bodies on the street for three and a half days without burial. The world watches and rejoices, creating a new gift-giving holiday in honor their deaths. Then they are resurrected and a voice calls them up to heaven while people looked on. After that, an earthquake strikes Jerusalem, a tenth of the city is destroyed and seven thousand people die. All that had to happen before the Revelation 12 prophecy could come to pass. None of that occurred.
  3. Another big reason why Christians should not believe such interpretation is because they are based on an astrological rather than a biblical interpretation. It is never a good hermeneutical (Bible interpretation) principle to interpret the Scripture by using a false religious system. Twenty-five years ago, a deacon in my church used a similar star computer program to determine the heavenly events around the time of the birth Christ. He held a PhD in astronomy, and had concluded that he knew what the star of Bethlehem was. He determined that it was a conjunction of planets and constellations that through astrological interpretations symbolically pointed to the birth of Christ.Despite the fact I pointed out that it did not fit the description in the Bible, he never rejected his interpretation. I told him that a constellation in space could not go “before them (the magi), till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Mathew 2:9). His interpretation could not fit the biblical description.

The problem with false prophets crying “Messiah” all the time is that eventually people will tune them out like the little boy in the story. People who need to hear the message about the Messiah will not listen any longer. They will be like the village people who are thinking that it is another false alarm.

Peter warned us that in the last days doubters and scoffers would appear on the scene. “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4). These false prophets give fodder to the scoffers and make Christians look foolish.

Too harsh? God told Moses in Deuteronomy 18:22, “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” It only takes one false prophecy to make a false prophet. These who have claimed these events to be signs of God have branded themselves as false prophets.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD

A little over two years ago, I asked this question at church: “How many times does the Bible say ‘God is love’?” One of the senior members said, “Hundreds of times.” That concept reflects the popular teaching of our age. We Christians have been more influenced by the media rather than by actually reading the Bible. The Bible only uses the phrase “God is love” twice. Both passages are found in 1 John 4. Verses 8 and 16 say “God is love.” But those are the only two times that phrase occurs in the Bible.

Listening to many people today, one would think that the Bible is replete with the phrase “God is love” as though it appeared on every page of the Bible. While it is true that God is love, the focus on this characteristic of God to the exclusion of all the rest gives an idolatrous view of God. That is creating the kind of God we want him to be rather than the kind of God based on what the Bible says about him.

So, many believe that since God is love, he just looks the other way when people sin. He is loving and forgiving; and he would never send anyone to hell. Those are just scare tactics left over from the Middle Ages. We now know better. As one person commented on my Facebook post, “Jesus is the most tolerant person who ever lived.” Obviously, I asked her to cite a chapter and verse that taught that. On Wednesday, another person commented on a link I had on YouTube that Jesus told us to be “nice.” Again, I asked for chapter and verse. No response.

This view of God portrays him more as Barney the Dinosaur than the Almighty God of the universe. When Isaiah the prophet envisioned God exalted on his throne, the seraphim did not fly around God’s head saying, “God is love, God is love, God is love.” They said, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:3).

The Bible does say many times that God is holy. Several times in the book of Leviticus, God said, “I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Due to his nature, he has also commanded us to be holy. Several times in Leviticus alone, God says, “be holy, because I am holy.”

Peter repeated this theme in 1 Peter 1:15-16, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” God expects us to live holy lives. That means set apart for him, not to live for ourselves. If we claim to believe in Christ, our lives should be different from those who do not believe. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

Because God is holy and we are not in ourselves, God must punish sin. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Because God is holy, he cannot tolerate what is not holy. Because God is holy, sin must be paid for; it cannot just be excused or overlooked. Hebrews 9:22 states, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” You and I must die (shed our blood) for our sins; but because God is love, he does not want us to die.

So, there had to be a substitute. For you to be forgiven and become holy as God demands, you need to receive Christ’s payment on the cross for your sin. For your sin he was beaten by Roman soldiers. They beat him with their fists. They spat on him and beat him with rods and whips. The drove a crown of thorns into his scalp and nails through his hands and feet. Finally one soldier thrust a spear through his lung into his heart puncturing the pericardial sac. Jesus did not simply “swoon” on the cross or just pass out. He suffered massive trauma for you. He died to satisfy God’s holiness, justice, mercy, love, grace and wrath against sin so that you and I could be free from sin and death.

Jesus did not die a horrible death on a Roman cross just so that you and I could drive new cars. He did not die just so we could be more successful and live in big houses. He did not die just so we could have nicer clothes and an expensive watch. He died so that we could be cleansed from sin and made holy. The price was his blood poured out on Calvary. There is no other way to come to God. Peter preached, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

God is more concerned about your holiness than your happiness. God wants you to have true riches, not just the baubles of this world. Don’t miss God’s real, eternal home while you camp out on this temporary one.

 

 

I DON’T WANT TO CHANGE RELIGIONS

When I was walking toward a small Mexican town in my late teens, I first heard this question, “Hey, Ministro, what church saves?” This person was looking to start an argument. What he wanted me to say was, “The Baptist Church saves.” Then he would have argued that the Catholic Church saves. And he was looking to engage me in a fight over religions and churches.

That question shows a misunderstanding about salvation. Another question is very similar to that is, “Which religion saves?” Here the understanding is that membership in a certain church or a certain religion is essential to be saved.

My answer to that man on the Mexican border surprised him. I said, “No church saves. Only Jesus saves.” Over the years as I have shared the Christian faith with many people all over the earth, I hear the statement: “I don’t want to change religions.” Again, the person who says this thinks that salvation is dependent upon belonging to a church, an organization, or a religion.

Jesus never told us that we needed a change of religion; he said we needed a change of heart. A leading religious leader of the Jewish faith came to Christ one night. The story is found in John 3. A man named Nicodemus was talking with Christ about his signs that showed he was a teacher come from God. Instantly Jesus got the point. “Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) notice that Jesus did not say, “Nicodemus, you need a new religion.” Jesus told him he needed a new birth. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

One objection I hear often today is that a person is born into a certain religion in a certain country or culture, and therefore, they do not want to change their religion. They view it as a rejection of their culture or their family. They say, “you have your religion. I have mine.” So, it comes back to the argument of which religion saves, or which church saves?” Still the answer is, “No church saves. Only Jesus saves.”

Today people view religion as any other commodity. In I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, authors Geisler and Turek say that truth in religion is like selecting ice cream flavors. Some will say, “You like chocolate. I like vanilla” (Crossway Books, 2004 p. 21). As if it is just a matter of personal taste. “You like Christianity. I like Islam.” It is not trying to find a religion that suits us.

Jesus never said that we had to pick the right religion. Jesus never said that one religion was better than another. He never said his religion was superior to others, in fact, he never said he was coming to bring a new religion. He said, “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I have come not to abolish, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).

Jesus did not come to establish a new religion. He did not even come to reform Judaism. He came to be the fulfillment of all the prophecies and sacrifices from the Old Testament. Those sacrifices were a foreshadowing of his sacrifice on the cross.

He said in the same passage where he spoke to Nicodemus in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” He did not say, “whoever joins my religion,” but “whoever believes in him shall…have eternal life.”

Do not let clinging to a religion or an experience rob you of being born again. To be born again, you must trust in Christ alone for your salvation. Joining a church, a religion or an organization can never save you.