28
Jul
14

Some Questions for You and Me

I thought I would start off our week with four questions and a fifth one as a concluding thought.

  1. Who do you love? That question seems simple enough. Since I asked this on a religious blog, you know the answer is God, Christ, Church, orDANGER! maybe your spouse. But then again, there are other things that we love. Answer question number 2 to really see who you love?
  2. What is your focus? Paul says in 2 Cor 4:18 that the things that are seen are transient, and the unseen things are eternal. John says the world and its desires are passing away (1 Jn 2:17). Stop for a moment, what do you spend most of your time doing? Do you focus on entertainment, business, sports, family, or self? What you spend time with is your focus, and I dare say you focus on what or who you love. Who you love and what you focus on determines your answer to question three:
  3. Who (what) do you worship? One definition of an idol is anything that takes the place of God in our priorities. In modern western culture we can quickly list a few idols: entertainment, self, money, sexuality, and sports. That last one even has temples (stadiums), high priests (star athletes), vestments (uniforms), congregants/devotees (fans), and rituals (music, seventh inning stretch, etc.) Who do you worship?
  4. Now, what will we do? James says to put away the things of the world (Jas 4:4-10) and to flee from the devil and cling to God. Can I put away my idol(s)? Will I?

Joshua challenged Israel with the following words, “choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh 24:15) — The fifth question is: What is your choice?

- Scott

25
Jul
14

Join us at Central

Here is this week’s video invitation to Central Church of Christ in Tuscaloosa, AL.  Come join us!

- Scott

22
Jul
14

Strong Long-Lasting Marriages

I am on a marriage track this week. I suppose because our 25th Wedding Anniversary is just around the corner. How have we stayed together? How have both our parents’ marriages lasted for 50+ years? What makes for strong relationships in marriage? What

My answered prayer - Amy not the guitar!

My answered prayer – Amy not the guitar!

makes a marriage great? How can couples stay together for decades? How do two completely different people make a relationship last through family crisis, financial struggles, disease, and other disappointments?
First, I am not a marriage counselor, nor do I play one on TV. However, I have some suggestions and I have stayed at a Holiday Inn . . . . I have some marriage advice from my readings, study, and observations over the last few years (including my own 25 year marriage).

  1. Long-Term couples COMMIT to each other and to the relationship. The idea is what the Biblical writers call submission. When a couple submits to one another (cf. Eph 5:21) they are saying to their spouse, “You are more important than me.” One college professor reminded us that “we” comes before “I” in “wedding.”
  2. Long-Term couples UNDERSTAND (learn to understand) each other. You and your spouse are different people from differing backgrounds, and of different genders. You are in a mixed marriage and have to learn to know each other. Again the Biblical writers tells us to live with each other with understanding (cf. 1 Pet 3:7).
  3. Long-Term couples FORGIVE each other. I can only speak for myself, but I know there are things I said or did that hurt Amy. I needed, no need, and desperately desire forgiveness from her when I am in the wrong. (BTW: She is quick to forgive me and gentle to help me grow.) If I want forgiveness, I need to learn to forgive. Once again, we can learn from the Biblical writers who remind us to be forgiving to each other (cf. Eph 4:32).
  4. Long-Term couples learn to COPE with life’s struggles. The world has a way of stretching us like a taffy-pull or pulling us down like gravity itself. Apparently the cosmic forces of this world know when I am getting ahead in life, because that is when something needs repairing or replacing. And just when everyone seems to be healthy, someone gets sick or receives an unwanted diagnosis. Couples who make it through these times intact, learned through smaller struggles how to work together to get through them. Many if not most of them are able to cope because of their faith. The Apostle Paul makes the necessity of faith clear in confessing his struggles yet ability to survive and even express contentment (cf. Phil 4:10-13).
  5. Long-Term couples experience JOY together. They learn to enjoy spending time together. This goes back to the idea of submission. When we first married, I was young and thought I was masculine. I did not appreciate what we men-folk call “chick flicks.” However, I submitted to my wife and learned to enjoy them with her as we sit very close on the couch ;-). This idea of joy includes learning to laugh together – even at our mistakes. We can look back now and laugh at some of early days together. Remember a cheerful heart is like good medicine (cf. Prov 17:22) not just for you as an individual, but you and your spouse as “one-flesh.”
  6. Long-Term couples live in LOVE. Love is more than a feeling. Love is more than strong desire. Love is an active pursuit of pleasing and demonstrating care for the other person. Love attempts to outdo the other person in showing honor (cf. Rom 12:10). “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. . . . love will last forever.” (1 Cor 13;4-8 NLT).

Give these a try for the next 50 years and see if your marriage does not last.

21
Jul
14

Marriage Assignment

While looking through some older files and blog posts I came accross this older post about marriage.  Since this was a Monday post and today is Monday, I thought I would repost it.

Good Monday!  It is time we begin our work week and time to reflect on our marriages.  I know, you know (or you need to know) that Marriage Matters.  Today is a simple list of five things that you can do today that are mostly free (one of them may cost $1.00  or so) to communicate to your husband or wife their importance to you.

  1. At some point today, take a moment to send an email, text message, Facebook message, or voice-mail to your husband or wife just to say, “I love you.”

    Amy and I on our 23rd Anniversary Get-a-Way

    Amy and I on our 23rd Anniversary Get-a-Way

  2. On your way to home today, stop by a convenience store or florist (one flower is enough for this exercise) and pick-out a small surprise for your spouse on the way home.
  3. Make an embrace and a kiss the FIRST thing you do when you see each other this evening.
  4. Do something unexpected (do a chore that they usually do – laundry, dishes, garbage, etc.)
  5. Hold hands while taking an evening walk together.

Have a great marriage.

- Scott

17
Jul
14

Bringing Up Children

 “Behold children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!”Psalm 127:3-5 (ESV)

That cool kid is me with my Great Aunt in Ohio

That cool kid is me with my Great Aunt in Ohio

“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior.” What a great statement! A well-skilled archer has effective aim. I know a few avid bow hunters. They practice, study methods, upgrade equipment, and are able to be on target. Me not so much. I am not a good archer because I neglect four basic rules of archery:

  1. The Direction I point the arrow is important,
  2. The Strength of the pull has effect,
  3. Properly Timing the Release is valuable, and
  4. Accuracy in Aiming is vital.

Apply these to raising children and you understand more about what the Psalmist has in mind.

  1. What Direction am I pointing my children in?
  2. What Influence (Pull) am I giving them with my lifestyle?
  3. Do I let go (Release) them into situations (or expose them to certain things of the world) before they are ready? Or am I hanging on too long?
  4. What are my goals (where am I Aiming) for me and my children?

Paul tells fathers (and mothers by default), ” . . . do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph 6:4)

Here are a list of Parental Rules to Model and to Teach so we can be skilled archers.

  1. Put purity above pleasure.
  2. Place others before yourself.
  3. Be more industrious and less lazy.
  4. As an adult be more mature and less childish.
  5. Demonstrate service over power.
  6. Be Christ-like.

- Scott

15
Jul
14

Are We Christians?

Yesterday and Friday’s posts both had over 100 readers.  Thanks, I pray that my thoughts are challenging you and encouraging you to be a better servant of God.ipad 105

Today’s post is for you personally. Are you a Christian?

Maybe the first thing I should do is define who is a Christian.

There is in our world what I call “Christian Confusion.” If you read the papers and magazines or watch news outlets you get the idea that there are a variety of definitions or ideas concerning what or who is a Christian.

Many in our world equate being a “Westerner”, esp. U.S. citizen, with being a Christian. If you are from the Western Hemisphere or if you are a U.S. citizen, much of the world considers you a Christian. I have an issue with that definition simply because it is not true. There are many people in our part of the world who are not Christians. Some are atheists and even in a rural Alabama county I have friends who are Muslim. This definition will not work.

Others consider any good moral person to be a Christian. While I hope and would think that all who claim to be Christians are good moral people, not all good moral people are Christians. I go back to my Muslim friend and some atheists I know. They are morally good, and regretfully some are more moral than a few who claim to be Christians. We can scratch that definition.

An adherent to a “church” is another common definition. I first understood this concept when I was in the U.K. in the mid 1980’s. I met a man and we began talking about my accent and where I was from in the “Colonies” as he put it. The conversation turned to my being over there to assist in a Christian Mission effort. He said, I am an R.C. (around here that’s a type of “Coke;” there an RC is a Roman Catholic). I asked about Mass and he informed me he had not attended in years, but was still a Christian because of his adherence to the Catholic Church. I have since come in contact with adherents to many denominations and non-denominational groups that have the same idea. But simply adhering is not enough. That would be like someone saying they were an avid fisherman, but does not own a pole or hasn’t fished in years.

Some get closer to truth and claim a Christian is a believer in Jesus. This is partially true. Christians are believers (we’ll discuss this later), but there is more to being a Christian that simply stating mental acceptance. I believe that Gandhi was a good man and a leader of his people, but I am not a follower of Gandhi. One can believe that Jesus was real and even that he was Christ, but if he/she does not allow Christ’s teaching to change his/her life are they really a Christian?

What I want us to discover is this: Who does the Bible say is a Christian?

Acts 11:26, “At Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” - A Christian is first a Disciple. By definition a disciple is: 1) A learner, 2) A follower, and 3) An Adherent. Specifically a Christian is a disciple of Christ (cf. 1 Jn 2:3-6). A Christian is to follow Christ’s teaching, learn from His doctrine, and adhere to what he learns from Christ. A Christian follows in Christ’s footsteps, learns from His way of life, and adheres to the example He left for us.

In Acts 26:27-29 Paul tells Agrippa that he knows the king believes, the king responds telling Paul in so many words, that he is close to making a Christian out of the king. Agrippa understood our next observation: A Christian is a Believer.

This belief is not simply acceptance but it is saving faith. A faith that is like the faith of those in Hebrews 11 that acts with confidence. Of each of these characters one might easily assign to them the statement assigned to Abraham in Jas 2:23, that “he believed God and it was imputed (accounted, credited) to him for righteousness.” James point and the Hebrew writer’s point are the same. Faith that does not obey with action is not faith. Belief that is only a verbal statement is not belief. to be a real faith, belief must be reverent, obedient, and trusting.

A Christian is one who obeys the Gospel. Rom 1:16 says the Gospel is God’s power to save. 1 Cor 15:1-4 teaches that the Gospel is the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul tells the Thessalonians in 2 Thess 1:7-9 that the Lord will take vengeance on those who do not obey the Gospel. When one obeys the doctrine of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus he is set free from the slavery of sin (Rom 6:17-18) and becomes a servant of righteousness. One obeys the death burial and resurrection when they follow Christ in a death, burial, and resurrection like his (see Rom 6:3-6). For reference sake take a look at theses conversions to Christ in the book of Acts (Acts 2:41; 8:12; 8:36; 10:47-48; 16:14-15; 33).

When one obeys the Gospel becoming a Child of God (Gal 3:26-27), God then adds that person to the number of His own people -Acts 2:47. A Christian is the a member of the household of God (1 Tim 3:15), he is a citizen not of this earth but of heaven (Phlp 3:20). She becomes a living stone in a living temple (1 Pet 2:4-5) and is set apart for God’s noble use (2 Tim 2:20-21).

Peter in 1 Pet 4:14-16 describes the Christian as a patient sufferer. Paul says that all who follow Christ will suffer (2 Tim 3:12). How we suffer and what we learn from suffering is what James discusses early in the book of James.

According to our quick look at the Bible; A Christian is: A Disciple and Believer who Obeyed from the heart the Gospel that set him free from sin, adding him to Christ’s Church, and enduring through Suffering awaiting the reward of the faithful.

Now for the ultimate question; Will you be one? Read Acts 22:16.

- Scott

14
Jul
14

Your Preacher

A while ago, Adam Faughn asked me to write and article about preaching for his blog: Faughn Family of Four. As I was looking through some files I came across the article and updated it for today’s blog post.

About three years ago I posted a question on a Social Networking Q&A site. The question was, “What do you expect from your minister (preacher)? One answer stood out as the answerer simply described the preacher where she worships. I thought I would begin by sharing that answer with you:

First and foremost, he is someone who is dedicated to following Christ. He cares more about people than image, he is a servant rather than a celebrity. He is not power-hungry, but is willing to delegate tasks and trust people, even when they do things differently than he would have them done. He is willing at times to say “no” and make sacrifices so that he is able to meet the emotional needs of his family.

  • He is willing to admit when he’s made a mistake. And he is also quick to forgive those around him. As a member, it is easier for me to grow in Christ because I know that I am deeply, genuinely loved. That I am accepted as is, but encouraged to grow.

    The building where I Obeyed the Gospel

    The building where I Obeyed the Gospel

  • He has close, open friendships where he is able to be honest about anything in his life. He honors and respects his wife.
  • He is willing to laugh at himself, and by his example I have learned a little about how to laugh at myself too. In his sermons he passes on stories that lift people up–nice things his wife, children, and folks in the congregation have done…
  • He sees people for who they are. He is not a big talker, but he is an encourager and a good listener.
  • He tries to model his ministry after the image of Jesus washing His disciples feet. He makes it his goal to always be the lowest person in the room, to always be serving those around him, just as Christ served us and gave himself for us.
  • He prays. He prays a lot. And he devours the scripture.
  • He isn’t trying to share some sort of theoretical faith he’s learned about in his head. Rather, it’s a faith he is living–“join me in following Christ.”
  • He sees himself as equipping all members for ministry. He is not there to entertain us or to make us happy; he is there to help, teach, and encourage us, so that we can be the best ministers we can be to those around us in whatever role we find ourselves in.

The Apostle Paul was in many ways a “pulpit preacher.” He spent three years located and serving with the Church in Ephesus. He describes his time there to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20. By looking at his words, we can get an idea of what the pulpit is about: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:18-21, 27b – ESV).

Paul instructs a younger minister, his son in faith, Timothy, encouraging him in the following ways:

“ . . . For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth – 1 Tim 2:5-7.

. . . But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness – 1 Tim 6:11.

. . . Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth – 2 Tim 2:15.

. . . Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will – 2 Tim 2:23-36.

. . . preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry – 2 Tim 4:2-5.”

Here is what we learn from the Scriptures:

The Pulpit is not:

  • A venue for your soap box or personal point of view.
  • An avenue to vent anger or to speak to one individual’s struggle.
  • A place to push your political standings. There are times to take moral stands, but preach the morality issue and do not make it a political speech. Do not tell people how to vote, tell them what God says and let them decided what to do.
  • A way to make a living. You can make a living while filling a pulpit, but do not enter ministry just to make a living. My Bible College instructors were quick to tell us if we could make a living doing something else, then do it.

What the local congregation can (should) expect:

  1. Sound teaching: Make sure you are expounding the text and not reading into the text what you already believe.
  2. Studied material: A good sermon takes time to study, write, review, edit, and reflect before presentation.
  3. Significance: Sermons should have an impact on people lives. Messages need to have significance to the listener. This requires knowledge of peoples lives by being available to them.
  4. Simplicity: Theological babble sounds good and impresses other preachers at lectureships, but keep weekly sermons simple. The educational level in most congregation varies from children to well educated adults. Try to reach each group where they are.
  5. Servant mentality: A preacher is not the controlling officer of the congregation. He is a servant of the congregation where he worships and works. Look for opportunities and be ready to serve when called upon.

What the local congregation should return (pulpit can expect)

  1. Time to study: Those that fill the pulpit full-time receive support so that they can spend extra time in study. A number of years ago I stopped referring to the room I use at the building or the area of my home as my office, but as my study. When someone asks me if I have “office hours” I reply, “I am usually in my study at the building” during certain hours. Using the word study lets them know what I am doing while there, and keeps me from becoming a manager of church affairs.
  2. Taking lessons to heart and action: I love the story about a preacher who presented a lesson on Going the Second Mile in Love. One lady who always complained about others not treating her well, shook his hand saying, “that was a great lesson.” “Thank you,” he replied, “How are you going to put love in action this week?”
  3. Toleration: One person cannot be in more than one place at a time. “I called the building, but no one answered” and “That preacher never visits” are expectations that should not co-exist, but do.
  4. Togetherness in service: Every member is a servant “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another . . .” 1 Pet 4:10.

-Scott




Thanks for Visiting: You are number

wordpress hit counter

Past Posts

Central Church of Christ

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 126 other followers

Read my Tweets

ClustrMap: Who’s reading this?

Bible References

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, used by permission, all rights reserved.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 126 other followers