Category Archives: Christian living

Why do bad things happen to me?

depressionWhy do bad things happen to good people? This may be the most commonly asked question about God. One which some refer to as the “Achilles Heel” of Christianity. Why does a loving, all-powerful God allow suffering in His world?

First this is not the bell toll of death for Christianity that some make it out to be. 

Here are my answers:

  1. We are mortal and live in a diseased and death environment. Mat 5:45b “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
  2. We are foolish and make poor decisions. Jam 4:1, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?”
  3. We are connected to and injured by others. Mat 2:16, “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.”
  4. We are vulnerable and suffer from man’s inhumanity to man. Gens 4:8b, ” . . . Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.”
  5. We are righteous and darkness hates light. 2Ti 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

When God’s children suffer, we can trust that God will always do what is right (Gen 18:25). We can know that God will always work things out for the best, not always immediately, not on our time table, but in His infinite wisdom. Remember to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Pro 3:5).

- Scott

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Why Does the Church Meet? Should I Go?

Why Does the Church Meet?

Many NT passages refer to churches assembling together for regular worship. The word translated church (Ekklesia) means Sunrisecalled-out or assembled. Just by definition I cannot be a part of a called-out, an assembly if I am not there. But why is assembling important? Why do I need to attend assemblies?

  1. We Assemble to Worship God (Joh 4:23-24).  When we understand that we are “saved by Grace” we desire to praise the God Who Saves (Rom 15:9-11). Our mentality changes from “Do I have to come every time?” to “I GET to come worship.”
  2. We Assemble to Receive and Give Instruction. A chiald of God will hunger and thirst  for righteousness (Mat 5:6). She will want to edify, encourage, and build up others (1Th 5:11).  When church leaders set times for us to assemble for these purposes, we should participate.
  3. We Assemble to Set a Good Example. Whether we are older Christians or younger ones (1Ti 4:12; Mat 5:16) we set an example to others. Consider this thought, “If others followed the example I set by my assembly habits, would they learn enough and receive enough encouragement toward eternal life?”
  4. We Assemble to Follow the Faithful. Paul says to imitate his life in Christ (1Co 11:1). Can you imagine Paul failing to assemble with the church? What would we think of elders or the preacher if they neglected attending? Would Jesus neglect an opportunity to study with others or to worship the Father?
  5. We Assemble Because of God’s Place in Our Lives. We Belong to God not self (1Co 6:19-20). Christ does not want first place, He is our life when we are His (Col 3:4). Am I willing to rearrange my schedule for the One who saves me, the One who gave six hours on the cross deserves more than just  a few hours of my time?
  6. We Assemble to Prepare for Heaven (Rev 5:11-14). The one thing on earth that will be in heaven is our public worship. It willl be perfected in heaven. But if I do not want to worship now, why would I expect to enjoy heaven?

- Scott

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Well He is Just . . . Different.

This coming Sunday at Central, we will complete a series from 1 Peter entitled, “Christ-Centered Christians.” Of these fives chapters the lesson that stands out to me is from 1 Peter 2 when the apostle describes Christians with these terms: 

  • a holy priesthood
    A certain former child I know, being . . . different.

    A certain former child I know, being . . . different.

  • a chosen race
  • A royal priesthood
  • a holy nation
  • a people of God’s own possession
  • God’s people.

As God’s people, as the Church, God has called us out of the world and into the Kingdom of His Son. God separates us as His children as a special people for a special purpose. As separate we are DIFFERENT!

  1. Different by Birth. We are “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” (1Pe 1:23). So as “newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation,” (1Pe 2:2). Our birth is different. We are not children of God by the right of nationality (Americans or Israelis). We are not children of God through our physical families. But we are His family by obedience to His Word.
  2. Different by Belief. We believe in the Stone the builders rejected.  We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed of God, God’s Son by birth, and therefore the only hope and Savior of sinful man. (1Pe 2:7). Jesus is more that man or prophet, He is the only way to God (John 14:6).
  3. Different by Behavior. Look at Peter’s own words, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1Pe 2:11-12). We are different in the way we act. We are to avoid what endangers our soul. We are to conduct ourselves with honesty, fairness, caution, righteousness, love, and in a general Christ-like manner. People will see our difference. We will be a shining light in a world darkened by sin (Mat 5:14-16).

So I dare you. I double dare you.  No I double dog dare you to be different. I challenge you to live daily for Christ.

- Scott

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Dear Preacher

Dear Preacher,

Every time I am at church, I hear the same message.  You folks at church are always asking members to give.  I thought I would give you a list of what we already give up for God and the Church.

  • I give up four hours a week for Bible classes and worship when I come both Sunday and Wednesday.
  • I give up staying up late on Saturdays so I am not tired on Sundays.
  • Speaking of Sundays, A lot of my friends and co-workers go fishing or to the races on Sundays – I don’t.
  • There are certain movies that people talk about that I won’t see (not to mention all the  TV shows, concerts, etc.).
  • I don’t drink alcoholic beverages.
  • I do not use recreational drugs.
  • I give almost 10% of my take-home pay every week.
  • Which means, I have a smaller house than I want, an older car than I want, and I am still saving for that boat.

There is so much more to list, but I think, preacher, that you see my point.  Quit asking me to give and give and give.  Don’t you think it is time that God gave up something for me?

Oh, wait . . . He did!

Cross

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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

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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

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Evaluating My Discipleship

Someone told you that necessity is the mother of invention. That may well be true. However, today, I want to suggest that, Evaluation is the Father of Improvement.

Think for a moment about the automobile industry. Constant evaluation of market, performance, safety, fuel efficiency gives us improved transportation. Similarly, great marriages have couples who evaluate themselves. If evaluation is good in: Industry, family, job, relationships, education, health, then evaluation is also important in our DISCIPLESHIP!2014-07-10 09-00-52.216

Paul says the same in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

Self-evaluation is investigating where you have been, where you currently are, and what direction you are headed. Honestly evaluate yourself and make any necessary changes. Then ask someone to evaluate you and be ready for honesty.

Before we look at How Jesus evaluated His disciples, take a look at what Proverbs says about evaluation.

  • Proverbs 15:22-23, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” I label this Timing.
  • Proverbs 18:17, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” I label this Objectivity.
  • Proverbs 20:18, “Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.” I label this Advice (counsel / guidance).
  • Proverbs 27:17-19, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who guards his master will be honored. As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.” I label this Personal Interest.

Evaluation is not flattery or compliments, not always pleasant. Evaluation is timely and objective appraisal given for guidance by someone who has a personal interest in your physical and spiritual well-being. There is a place for this in our lives. It takes someone we trust to point out to us who we really are. As disciples we can build relationships that allow us to do that for each other.

Think about Jesus and His Disciples:

  • Jesus Shared Insights that Challenged Their Thinking. In Mark 6:7-13, 30-32 He gives Situational Insight. In Mark 9:38-41 He offers Relational Insight. And in John 1:41-42 He supplies Personal Insight.
  • Jesus Showed His Disciples Their Blind Spots. In Luke 10:17-20. The disciples thought they had it easy over Satan. Jesus tells them not to let power go to their head. Satan is still cunning – don’t get puffed up.
  • Jesus even gave Rebuke when needed. Mark 8:31-33. He calls the stone (Peter) Satan. Sometimes we all need rebuke.

Here is the point. Jesus timely and objectively guided those He had a personal interest in.

So:

  • Choose timing well.
  • Maintain objectivity.
  • Guide and advise do not always criticize.
  • Speak the truth out of love and personal interest as you seek what is best for the other.

It is time for a check-up. How are your doing as a disciple?

- Scott

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