Archive for the 'Christian living' Category

24
Apr
14

When Tragedy Strikes

I was in seventh grade in 1979 when I first realized the personal impact of a tropical storm. Hurricane Frederic redeveloped in the Gulf of Mexico and was headed in our general direction. By the morning of September 12, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration labelled Frederic as a Category 4 Hurricane with sustained winds approaching 140 miles per hour. My parents had us use the day preparing our house for the storm. We boarded up windows. We cleaned the tub and filled it with emergency water. We were as ready as could be. The eastern side of a hurricane is typically the most dangerous. The rotation of a hurricane spawns multiple tornadoes on its eastern side. Our parents put us to bed in our jeans and t-shirts, not knowing what the rest of the night would bring. Then at approximately 10:00 p.m. local time the night September 12, 1979 Hurricane Frederic made landfall near Mobile, Alabama. We lived a few miles east of Mobile in West Pensacola, Florida.

The next morning we surveyed the damage. In our neighborhood, the damage was slight. That damage included a few small trees, too many branches and limbs to count, a couple of houses with minor roof damage, and some with broken windows. The biggest issue for my family and our immediate neighbors was a blown transformer on the pole in front of our house. We would spend the next week without power using camping stoves to cook what food would spoil in the hot Florida September. We had more than a few family friendly  “block parties” that week as neighbors pitched in what food they had.

The damage to the beaches of the Gulf Coast of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi was much greater. Frederic destroyed fishing piers, public parks, houses, and condominiums all along the Gulf Coast area. Dauphin Island in Mobile Bay became isolated. Frederic destroyed the bridge connecting it to the mainland. For the foreseeable future the only way to get to Dauphin Island was by boat or ferry. The sand dunes at the Gulf Islands National Seashore that we loved to roll down were no longer there, Frederic had turned every dune covered barrier island into a flat sand box. Recovery would take years.

Let’s fast forward to my adult life in Walker County, Alabama. The date is April 25-28, 2011. This was a busy time for thunder storms spawning major long track tornadoes from Texas, Alabama, Missouri, all the way to the Canadian 222862_217940494899054_8142689_nBorder. There were a total of 358 tornadoes in four days. 211 of those tornadoes were on April 27 alone. When the storms were over and the numbers came in over 250 people lost their lives. There were billions of dollars in personal property, business, and infrastructure damage.

Storms like Hurricane Frederic, Hurricane Katrina, or the tornado outbreaks of 1974 and 2011 impact the lives of those in their path. They also impact those whose friends, loved ones, and businesses lie in the path of the storms. As a result of storms like these engineers learn a lot about construction techniques. Government learns about poor builders, those who did not follow existing building codes or took a lazy approach to construction.

Many times when storms or tragedy strike, we find ourselves asking a question similar to this, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The Bible gives us the answer; an answer that requires a faith and strong foundation.

I find it interesting that Jeremiah asks a similar question in Jeremiah 12:1, “Righteous are you, O LORD, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?” In other words, “Why do good things happen to bad people?”

There is a quick answer to our original question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” as well as the question Jeremiah posed. We find this short answer from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:43-45, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

But what are the reasons bad things happen to good people? We will look at my answers next time. In the mean time, what do you think?

-Scott

18
Apr
14

Journey Through Mark – 16

We come to the last leg of our journey.  When we ended our last walk together, we left Jesus in the grave. Let us join the events as they unfold in Mark 16:

  • Mark 16:1-8 – Up from the Grave He Arose.ipad 094
  • Mark 16:9-11 – Jesus Appears to Mary.
  • Mark 16:12-13 – Jesus Walks with Two Disciples.
  • Mark 16:14-18 – The Mission of Jesus’ Followers.
  • Mark 16:19-20 – Jesus Ascends to Heaven.

John will tell us, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1Jo 1:7; emph – BSMc).

The Old Covenant prophet, Micah records, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic 6:8; emph – BSMc).

Our journey through Mark is about walking with Jesus. My prayer is that through our journey you grew in your understanding of who Jesus is and what He did for you.  I pray that you believe that He is the Christ. This is why Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John recorded the events of Jesus life. That is why I started this journey with you.

And as this trek ends, my prayer is that this is just the beginning of a regular regimen of walking with Jesus. Please, please, please, keep walking with Jesus.

If you are not a child of God, yet you now understand who Jesus is, will you obey the gospel, that good news of salvation offered through Jesus? Consider the description of this saving gospel according to the Apostle Paul, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” (1Co 15:1-4).

Notice that in Romans the same Paul says the gospel is God’s power to save all mankind (cf. Rom 1:16).

Jesus says in the final chapter of our journey, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mar 16:16).

Ananias would ask Saul of Tarsus and I ask you the same question, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name?” (Act 22:16).

If you are willing to die to self, be buried with Jesus in immersion, and rise as His child to a new life, please find someone who will baptize you for the remission of your sins in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then as God’s child He adds you to His family (cf. Act 2:47). Find a congregation of others who have similarly obeyed the gospel and fellowship and worship with them.

-Scott

P.S. If you need assistance finding someone to immerse you or a congregation of God’s people to associate with, leave a comment stating your desires and I will do my best to assist you.

 

17
Apr
14

Journey Through Mark – 15

Before we journey into Mark’s account of the life of Jesus today. Before we take our walk, I must warn you. The events we are about to encounter are painful.  They are painful to Jesus in so many ways. They are painful to his disciples and apostles. These events may even cause you pain.  Today we see Jesus turned over to the Roman authorities.  Today Jesus faces death.

  • Mark 15:1-15 – Jesus stands before Pilate.
  • Mark 15:16-20 – Soldiers beat and mock Jesus.
  • Mark 15:21-32 – Jesus is on the cross.
  • Mark 15:33-41 – Jesus dies.
  • Mark 15:42-47 – Joseph of Arimathea buries Jesus.

Thinking these words brings tears to my eyes.  Why?  Why did Jesus have to suffer?  Why did the Jewish religious leaders turn Him over to Rome to face crucifixion? Why could Pilate not grow a backbone and refuse? Why? Why? Why?

When I realize the answer, I do not like what I learn. Jesus had to die.  He had to die because of me!

  1. Sin separates us from God.
  2. All people sin, there is no one righteous on their own.
  3. When we sin, we are guilty and worthy of punishment.
  4. The punishment for sin is death.
  5. But God loves His creation and does not wish for our death and eternal separation from Him.
  6. He provides a scapegoat, a sacrificial lamb to take our sin and guilt away.
  7. That lamb without blemish (sin) was God in the flesh dwelling with us (Immanuel – Jesus).
  8. God anointed His Son, Jesus, as the King of kings, the Messiah, the Christ, Son of God Most High and made Him as Messiah suffer and die on a cross to bring about salvation for sinners (me).
  9. Jesus had to die because of you and me!

Consider these lyrics by Stuart Townsend. Every time we sing them in worship, I cry a prayer to God.

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Do not let Jesus’ death be pointless.

-Scott

The Lancasters performing How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.

10
Apr
14

Journey Through Mark – 12

What a great journey we are on together. I am looking forward to each time we walk with Jesus. Today’s trek opens our eyes to more of the opposition Jesus faces and we see His ability to answer with loving truth. We also see more about the importance of our heart. As we journey in Mark 12, we witness the following events:

  • Mark 12:1-12 – The Parable of the Tenant Farmerslove
  • Mark 12:13-17 – Paying Taxes to Rome
  • Mark 12:18-27 – The Resurrection of the Dead
  • Mark 12:28-34 – The Greatest of Commands
  • Mark 12:35-37 – The Son of David
  • Mark 12:38-40 – The Danger of Showy Religion
  • Mark 12:41-44 – Two Coins in the Coffer

Let’s stop and listen again to Jesus answer the question about the Most Important Commandment. Jesus’ answer is that there are two important commandments of which there are no other that are greater than these two: 1) “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:29-30). 2) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” Mark 12:31).

  1. Love God with ALL Your Heart. The heart is in their understanding, the part of you that feels. It is your emotional seat. You are to love God like you love your spouse, children, parents, and grandchildren.
  2. Love God with ALL Your Soul. Soul is from the Greek word “psyche.” This word describes the whole of Human essence – our breath or life. The soul is everything that we are.
  3. Love God with ALL Your Mind. This is the seat of intellect. Loving God is more than a feeling it is a thinking and rational adventure.
  4. Love God with ALL Your Strength. This is what you can do. Love God with your abilities and energies. Love Him until you have nothing else to love Him with and then love Him more.

This thought crosses my mind: If Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is the Greatest Command; then “What is the greatest sin?” Would it be failing to love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul, mind and strength?

The Second Command is to love your neighbor as yourself. There are two keys to following God: Loving God completely and loving mankind earnestly. (cf. 1 John 4:19-21).

If loving God is the most important command, how do I love God? John says to “Walk in His commandments” (2 John 6). That is we are to do His will. Which would include obeying Him according to His terms (cf. Mark 16:15-16), worshiping Him according to His authority (John 4:24), and living for Him daily (1 John 1:7 – walk daily in the light; 1 John 2:15-17 – love God and not the world)

If the second command is to love my neighbor, how do I love my neighbor? The obvious answer is: as I love myself. It means putting the interest of others before my own. Is not that the example Jesus gave in life and in death?

-Scott

08
Apr
14

Journey Through Mark – 11

Our journey today in the eleventh chapter of Mark brings us to the point where the tension between Jesus and the religious authorities of His day reach a boiling point. Already, the Chief Priests feel they have to stop this Jesus. They fear His influence on people. They fear this could result in a loss of revenue for them. Politically, they begin to fear for their already precarious position with Rome. And greater still, as leaders of Judaism, they had fears that this Jesus was misleading people away from the coming Messiah.

  • Mark 11:1-10 – Jesus enters Jerusalem with Triumphal FanfareWeekend Reading
  • Mark 11:11-14, 20-26 – Jesus and a misleading Fig Tree
  • Mark 11:15-19 – Jesus clears the Temple of Avarice
  • Mark 11:27-33 – Jesus’ Authority, where does it come from?

For our walk today we focus on Jesus and the events at the Temple, “And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.” Mark 11:15-19

We walk into the temple area known as the Court of Gentiles this is the open courtyard of the Temple. It is here that all people of all backgrounds and ethnicities can gather. Only Jews can proceed deeper into the temple, only priests can enter the Holy Place, and the High Priest alone can enter the Most Holy Place. The courtyard comprises the greater part of the approximately thirty acres of the Temple area.

By the time Jesus is ministering and proclaiming the coming Kingdom, this area of the Temple had become a market place, a bazaar, a giant yard sale, and stockyard. Here we come to be in the Temple, the place where God met with His people, where His people came to be nearer to Him. Here we are to worship and here we find, not God, but a market place – not a Publix or a Winn Dixie, but a market place like you would find in third world countries in our current world. Vendors are yelling from their tents and cubicles selling their wares. Pigeons are . . . doing what pigeons do. Animals are grunting, mooing, bleating, eating, and eliminating waste. We come to meet God and we meet the smells of dirty dusty animals and people. The atmosphere was less than conducive to worship.

Along with the disciples, we are trying to take all of this in, when we see Jesus. He seems to be too quiet and we can tell He is in deep thought. All of the sudden, Jesus cannot take it anymore! He seizes the moment. He overturns the tables of money changers and merchants. Coins roll across the courtyard, animals flee for safety, pigeons fly to the top of the walls, feathers flying as they escape. Jesus turns around those who using the Temple area as a short-cut to the other side of Jerusalem.

Jesus reminds them of the messages of the prophets:
“ . . . will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” Isaiah 56:7.
“Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD” Jeremiah 7:11.

What can we learn from these events?

We begin understanding that the Church (gathered Christians) is the Temple today. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” Ephesians 2:19-22. The Church is:

  • A Group Religion
  • For salvation of the lost
  • For Spiritual Worship in His Name
  • Not a set of religious programs
  • Not a society or country club
  • Not business

But we also notice that each individual Christian is a Temple of God in his/her own right. “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body”1 Corinthians 6:18-20.

  • Do not sell yourself to sin.
  • Do not see yourself to the world.
  • Do not sell out to materialism.
  • Keep focused on God (cf. Rom 12:1-2)

- Scott

07
Apr
14

Journey Through Mark – 10

Ecuador 2013Welcome back to our journey together. I pray that by now this walk is a part of your daily routine. I pray that as we walk together, you are growing closer and closer to our walking companion – Jesus.  Today as we walk in His company, there is much to learn. Some of His teachings are uphill walks and until our spiritual health improves we will have to take these hills slowly. Some of what we learn from Him today, may upset you. That is okay, we all need reminders of who we should be and not just pats on the head telling us, “that’s alright.” Listen as Jesus talks as we walk.

  • Mark 10:1-12 – Jesus teaches about marriage, divorce, and remarriage. He gives only one reason for divorce and remarriage; the other person’s infidelity.
  • Mark 10:13-16 – Jesus welcomes little children to Him. We must become like children in His eyes.
  • Mark 10:17-27 – A wealthy young man learns a hard lesson about material possessions. A lesson we need to take a serious look at.
  • Mark 10:28-31 – Jesus tells about the cost of truly walking with Him.
  • Mark 10:32-34 – Jesus foretells of His death a third time.
  • Mark 10:35-45 – James and John make a mistaken request.
  • Mark 10:46-52 – Bartimaeus receives his sight.

When the disciples understand the wealthy young man’s plight, Peter exclaims, “See, we have left everything and followed you” (Mar 10:28). As we journey today, take time to reflect on your blessings and what you are willing to give up to walk with Jesus. Are we doing the same at Peter? Do I want to walk with Jesus? If I do, what is the cost?

Honestly, to walk with Jesus does have a cost. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,” (Mark 10:29). The cost is our earthly ties. To give up our house is to let go of our possessions; what the wealthy young man could not easily do. If my life is build around gaining the world, and laying up treasures on earth (cf. Matt 6:19-21), then following Jesus will be difficult. If I life by the slogan “You Only Live Once,” and use that to do what I want to do and gain what pleases me getting what I can, saving for my long, relaxing, vacationing retirement, then I may have difficulty daily walking with Jesus. Society says to vote for the person and the policy that fattens your wallet and takes care of your wants at little cost to you. Society says to look out for yourself and your life on earth.

Jesus says, No.”  Give all that up and turn your back on your family too. This has to be difficult. My junior high Sunday School teacher converted to Christianity and his family disowned him and considered him “dead” for all practical purposes.

When we commit to this journey with Jesus, people (friends and family) will not understand and some will make your decision difficult. This is part of the persecution Jesus mentions in Mark 10:31. When I told my high school friends, just before graduation that I was going to school to become a minister, I knew some of them would not understand, but there was one I expected to support me. He was a member of a conservative Christian church, a part of the American Restoration Movement. We had very similar religious backgrounds and differed only in some of the specifics of worship.  I thought, he would support me. But it was this friend whose statement stung the hardest. “Why? You are too smart to be a preacher, you could make a lot more money as an medical doctor!”

Yes, the cost of walking with Jesus is high. But high cost equals high rewards. ” . . . receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:30-31). Give up your belongings and life to God and know that God will take care of you (cf. Matt 6:25-34). God’s people will not go without necessities and added to that is our eternal inheritance that never fades away or decays! Part of that reality is our new family – those fellow Christians with whom we are so closely connected. I have more “mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers” than I can count. Family I know I can always count on. This family in Christ is a great blessing, one that will follow into eternity.

I high cost? Yes. But an even greater eternal dividend!

- Scott

30
Jan
14

Advice to Preachers from Preachers and Others

This past Monday, I attended a Preacher’s Luncheon and Meeting in Double Springs, Alabama. There were about 50 preachers and other Church leaders at this gathering. As we began, Vance Hutton asked each preacher and leader to share advice or bits of wisdom that they received that helps them in their ministry. Here is a list of the advice the shared: (I tried to share them in the way they were shared. Some of them are very colloquial in syntax.)

Levi Sides: Whose advice is valuable

Levi Sides: Whose advice is valuable

  1. You cannot do everything.
  2. You are an informer not an enforcer.
  3. Your first role is to preach, teach, and evangelize.
  4. You can never give anything away.
  5. If they love you, it doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it. If they don’t love you, it doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it.
  6. Remember you are working for The Lord.
  7. Preach the truth without compromising: Do not preach to please the brethren.
  8. Don’t worry when people are talking about you, worry when they aren’t.
  9. Don’t ever expect to be compensated for your education and experience.
  10. A sing in one preacher’s office read, “If you don’t have anything to do, don’t do it here.”
  11. The best helping hand is at the end of your arm.
  12. You cannot teach what you do not know.
  13. Never quit preaching the Truth.
  14. Never lose your sense of humor.
  15. The best way to win souls is to preach the gospel.
  16. Before you argue with anyone ask yourself, “Is it more important to be right or to be a friend?”
  17. Be careful about finances.
  18. Be careful about being alone with someone of the opposite sex.
  19. At the end of the day, take time to find the best of the day.
  20. Always preach as if you are preaching Christ’s eulogy.
  21. Never tell God never!
  22. Sunday comes every week.
  23. The grass isn’t always greener . . . Except over the field lines.
  24. Sometimes you gotta know what the answer is not.
  25. Never lose passion for God’s pattern.
  26. When you are anxious, remember that you might be in God’s waiting room.
  27. One day you will be a great preacher.
  28. Don’t preach or teach something until you are convicted of what you are about to teach.
  29. Be involved with people.
  30. Pick your battles. You don’t have to win every one.
  31. Sometimes people need a shove or a nudge? Most of the time a nudge works fine.
  32. Be student of the word.
  33. Sometimes the best thing to say is “nothing.”
  34. A stack of Bibles won’t do you any good if you don’t do what it says.
  35. Use the mud people sling at you to make a platform to rise above them.
  36. The application of scripture makes all the difference, it means what it says.
  37. If the numbers increase, don’t take the credit, you don’t want the blame if they decrease.
  38. When you get up to preach, preach as if the crowd is larger.
  39. Practice what you preach.
  40. If you can do anything else do it.
  41. Never preach at the brethren, preach the word, God will take care of the rest.
  42. It is not about you.
  43. If you don’t never get started, you will never finish.
  44. Pray, Preach, and Pray.
  45. If it is worth your time, it is worth 100% effort.
  46. Study, study, and when you are through, study some more.
  47. Learn to forgive.
  48. If you want to be successful, find the Lord’s way and walk therein.
  49. Never feel content with what you know.
  50. Spend time at home with family.
  51. If you fight with a skunk long enough, you will stink.
  52. Be normal, don’t get out of touch with reality.
  53. Determine to not let someone be better to you than you are to them.
  54. Your way probably won’t work, look for God’s way.
  55. You are only as good as your worst sermon.
  56. Refuse to be shocked by what people say to you.
  57. Meet new folks.
  58. If you think you can’t, you can’t, if you think you can, you can.
  59. Don’t let them let you do everything.
  60. God created you with two ears and one mouth, listen twice as much as you talk.
  61. There is a way that is right that can’t be wrong.

Comment below by answering these two questions:

  1. Which of this advice is something you need to remember?
  2. What advice or bits of wisdom would you add?

Scott

23
Jan
14

Christian? What or Who are They?

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 to much of the world you are 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 my 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 visiting the United Kingdom 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 in this since 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 disciples.”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. 1Jo 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 in 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 2Th 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 (1Ti 3:15), he is a citizen not of this earth but of heaven (Phi 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 (2Ti 2:20-21).

Peter in 1Pe 4:14-16 describes the Christian as a patient sufferer. Paul says that all who follow Christ will suffer (2Ti 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: WIN_20140123_092714

  • 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.

09
Jan
14

Day of Refuse

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photo credit: Genista via photopin cc

No refuse is not a typo in the title, I did not mean refuge, I meant refuse. In my little corner of the world, today is garbage day. On my morning drive I passed quite a few garbage cans and plastic bags all waiting for the truck to come by and collect them. Garbage day is a day I look forward too — I know that may make me seem odd. The fact still remains, I like garbage day. I do not like going around the house and collecting the garbage. I do not particularly care for opening the big can to put more in (especially in the hot Alabama summer). I like garbage day because my garbage becomes the problem of someone else. By the time I get home this afternoon my big can will be empty and there will be very little trash left in the house (only the paper towels and coffee grinds from breakfast this morning).

In the days of Nehemiah when they were rebuilding Jerusalem and her walls, Nehemiah mentions the “Refuse Gate (NKJV)” in Neh 2;13, 3:13-14, and 12:31. I find it interesting that the King James, ESV, ASV and RSV all refer to the gate as the “Dung Gate.” Refuse or Dung either one communicates that the purpose of the gate was the way to get trash of all kinds outside of the city. Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias confirm this use of this gate. I am certain that every city had a garbage gate of some sort. The removal of garbage is an important part of municipalities and counties. Citizens in general do not want a trashed city, people want a clean community and a healthy environment.

The apostle Paul uses the idea of “refuse” or “dung” in Philippians 3:8, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (the ESV and NKJV use “rubbish” where the KJV and RSV have “dung”). In context, Paul is saying all he had gained as a Judaism, all he could claim as a Hebrew was garbage when compared with the blessings he has in Christ.

Today is a Day of Refuse: I am taking a look at my life, my little corner, my belongings, accomplishments, plans, and activities. What are they compared to being in Christ?! In the words of Paul — Rubbish, refuse, dung — garbage. I challenge you to do the same.

Scott

03
Jan
14

Too Many Words

“Hello, my name is Scott, I am a sinner in need of the Grace of God.”

Let the reader respond, “Hello, Scott, welcome to Sinners Anonymous.”

Paul says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph 4:29).

The Psalmist says, “Let the words of my mouth . . . be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psa 19:14).

The Wise man records, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” (Pro 10:19).

James tells us, “now this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak,  . . . ” (Jas 1:19).

James also reminds us, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” (Jas 3:2).

photo credit: The Rocketeer via photopin cc

photo credit: The Rocketeer via photopin cc

I ask your prayers. My propensity to talk when I should listen, interject when I should restrain is resurfacing.  Simply put – I am not controlling my tongue.

I am not using language that is impure, foul, or crude. I am not speaking words of anger. I am, however, learning that I am unintentionally offending people when I speak without forethought.  I offend when I use humor at inappropriate times or settings. I offend when I reply in sarcasm. I offend when I get defensive and stop listening. Please forgive me.

I am placing these words of God as front-lets before my eyes (Deut 6). I am putting them where I can see them. I will reflect on them, so that I can remember who God would have me to be. I ask that you help me, hold me accountable, and pray for me.

In Christ Alone,

Scott




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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.

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