Archive for the 'Christians' Category

27
Feb
14

Is The Bible from God? Pt IV

If you have not had the opportunity to read the first three articles in this series, here they are:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Today we will look at the united theme of the Bible.  The fact that 40 penmen spanning 1,600 years writing in three different languages,ipad 016 and from multiple locations wrote the same theme, hints at the Bible being from the mind of God and not man.

The one theme is The Redemption of Mankind (Reconciliation of God’s Fallen Creation to Himself).

In Genesis we read about God’s creation. Soon the man and woman God placed in the garden sin against Him. God can no longer associate with them because of their fallen state. However, God has a plan to bring man back into relationship with Him. A plan to redeem man and reconcile man to the Creator. He makes a promise of vengeance through seed of woman(cf. Gen 3:15). Through Noah that seed line perseveres. In Abram (Abraham) God chooses a family chosen to be the nation to bring the Messiah (the Seed of Woman, anointed of God) who will make reconciliation possible.

As we read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy we learn that this family grows into a great people. They are living as slaves in Egypt, when God calls them out to fulfill the nation promise to Abraham. In these books we learn how this people begin to understand more and more about God. Through Moses, God gives them a theocentric law to govern and protect them. Through this great people God will bring the Messiah, the Christ.

After the death of Moses, Joshua takes charge of the people. Through Joshua’s leadership this people with a law change from a large nomadic collective of tribes into a nation, the nation of Israel. The now live in the land promised to their ancestors.

In the recordings of Judges, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obidiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi we learn the history of this nation. We read about the leaders, kings, strength, weakness, victories, and failures.  We learn about their struggle to remain faithful to God. We learn about God’s love, patience, mercy, grace, as well as His anger and vengeance. We learn how God continues to preserve this family nation to bring about the Messiah.  The prophets continue to prepare the nation and the world for His arrival and the Word of the Lord that will come from Mount Zion for all nations.

In Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, we get a glimpse of the heart and soul of this people through their poetry, songs, prose, and wisdom. We see more about God and His desire to bring fallen man back into relationship with the Divine.

The New Covenant begins with the arrival of the Messiah. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all record events from the life of the Messiah, the Christ. He comes with the mission of God to proclaim the good news of the kingdom and remission of sin.  He came to seek and save the lost. He teaches spiritual truths and a spiritual kingdom and ultimately the Messiah, the spotless Lamb of God, shed His own innocent blood to pay the price for the sin of Jew and Gentile alike. Redemption is in effect! Reconciliation begins!

In the book of Acts, we read of the birth of the God’s new people. God’s people are no longer a nation with physical boundaries, but are a universal people united in the and by the blood of the Christ. God’s new people are Jews and Gentiles, slave and free, male and female, they are those whose sin the blood of Christ removed (Acts 2:36-47). We read of how this new Kingdom of God rapidly spreads across the known world.

In Romans, I & II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I, II, & II John, Jude, and Revelation we learn how these early followers of Christ (Christians) were taught to live in the kingdom (household of God – the Church. We see their growth pains, we see the synergy of Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians as they learn to abandon old prejudices. We learn along with them, how to overcome the world and be ready for Christ’s return when He ushers in complete reconciliation (eternity in God’s presence).

Many books – One Theme! Many penmen – One Author of All! One God!

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

07
Nov
13

Why Do We Fight Each Other?

Many years ago, even before men like Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone, or any other American Restoration Movement leader said it; and even before the “Paulicans” in Britain and France circa A.D. 500-1200, there were men calling those who would follow Christ to follow only the Scriptures as their guide for life, congregational organization, and worship. Clement of Rome wrote to the Church in Corinth (A.D. 96) about some infighting they were having and quoted from Old Testament and from the letters of Paul emphasizing that inspired writing (including what would eventually make up most of what we call the New Testament) is the only authority. Can we still call for the same approach? Can we make our attempts at drawing near to God based simply on what He tells us. Can we for a moment forget tradition and paradigm? Will you help me “Go Back to the Bible?” Will you and I “search the Scriptures” for the validity or rejection of what everyone (including me) is saying?

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Church Paintball Event – The only aim we should take at each other.

We are fighting each other. We fight over worship styles, calling one “Contemporary” and the other “Traditional.” We fight over the use or non-use of musical accompaniment to singing. We fight over leadership roles and service roles for men and women in the church. Church A does things one way and Church B does something completely different. Church A writes Church B off as “Liberal” since they have obviously “left the Faith.” Church B looks at Church A as “Traditional” since they have not progressed as to the spiritual level of “Freedom in Christ.” And BOTH congregations pull passages of scripture to defend their practices – sometimes they pull them out of context. When studying for ministry and preaching, we learned the danger of eisegesis over exegesis, but somewhere along the line, we forget those lessons and proof-text our preconceived or preferred ideas and practices. Once we form our opinions and go to the scriptures to defend ourselves, we have weapon against those who would dare to disagree or challenge us. Brothers and sisters, this is not the way we should be. We should discuss our differences, but with civility, no with love! Did not Jesus say, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Joh 13:35)? Did not John himself reiterate that point in his letters (1Jo 2:9-11; 3:10-12, 14-15; 4:7-12, 19-21)?

We are fighting because we forgot the concept of autonomy. Autonomy is not a word found in the Bible, but I believe the concept is. As Paul and others established congregations of disciples (Christians) they would later return or send others who would help each congregation set up a plurality of congregational leaders known as presbyters or elders. Through the apostles God gave these men the authority to oversee the congregation where they were leaders. Paul tells the elders of the congregation at Ephesus to “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (Act 20:28). Whereas the Apostles had authority over congregations as inspired men (remember the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15), I find no reason to believe that oversight of multiple congregations passed to others after the last apostle died. We have the right and responsibility to express our concerns, but not to oversee other assemblies or force them to comply with our paradigms or perceived doctrines. When we attempt to exercise control by manipulation, threats, accusations, etc. we are in danger of setting ourselves up as a regional “Bishop.” And in danger of repeating the mistakes of would be church leaders, Apostolic Fathers, and apologists of the Second and Third Centuries A.D. Can we authentically return to the New Testament as our guide for life, congregational leadership, and worship?

May I remind all parties of what James, the brother of our Lord said? “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel . . .” (Jam 4:1-2). We fight each other out of selfish desire. We want to be the one who is right. We want to be the one who controls what others say and do. We want recognition as a scholar or as a spiritual person. We want the world to see us as tolerant and open-minded. We want to stay unique from the world. We want to meet our wants and desires. (i.e. Brother C likes a-capella worship and Brother D desires musical accompaniment so “C” finds scripture to prove “D” wrong and “D” finds scripture to prove himself right. But neither wants to sit and have a loving open discussion, so they hurl scriptures and insults at each other like arrows from a bow, bullets from a rifle, or “smart” bombs with deadly accuracy.) That IS NOT brotherly love. We must return to our first love – Christ and learn to love each other again. Before we publicly take our brother to task, should we not remember the commands of our Savior, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” (Mat 18:15)? Instead of a public reprimand, take time for a personal email or better yet a visit. Remember Paul tells us, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Gal 6:1). Go in person, go in gentleness, go with a spirit of love and concern. We must not forget the simple rule that our Lord told His followers to live by, a rule we refer to as golden, that rule that says to think about how we want others to treat us and then treat people that way (Mat 7:12). Before we rake a brother or sister over the coals, we must take a deep look at ourselves and ask ourselves probing questions about our motivation for doing so. 

When we decide our motivation is pure, James gives us the process for peace. “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (Jam 4:11-12). Do not speak evil of each other. Do not call each other names. Do not accuse each other of being something they are not. Do not go back to Kindergarten and be a tattle-tale trying to get someone in trouble. Do not do it! Do not judge.  I know this is a misunderstood or at least misapplied word. Maybe a better word in our current culture is condemn.  Do not condemn.  You may disagree with someone, but since you are not inspired, you must let God sort somethings that are not specific in Scripture. We can let them know that we disagree with them and that we believe they are misleading others, and still refuse to condemn them to Hell for that belief. There may come a time when specific fellowship and cooperation can no longer occur because of different conclusions,but even then you can still love each other, albeit from a distance.

Currently, there are too many articles in print and online where we are devouring each other. There are too many mean-spirited comments on posts and blogs even when the original posts appears to result from love for the Church Christ died for and for the lost that the Gospel calls.

The blogs, posts, and comments that prompted this article are breaking my heart.  I am hurt, when I see people fighting instead of honest dialogue. I cry when I see fellowships, congregations, and families torn apart because we treat each other selfishly and not out of love. I weep when I think of how the accuser is laughing in delight when he sees the influence we have for Christ destroyed by our actions. Please join me in prayer for forgiveness for the times I act out or speak out of selfishness not considering others before myself, for forgiveness for the harm such a self-centered mentality causes the Christ’s Church, and as I pray that we meet to study together the will of God to continually search out how we can best be His people in a modern world. 

This article does not look at the specific issues, others are already covering the issues and with better scholarship than I might have. So now as we move along to read the studies and conclusions of other sinners in need and relying on the Grace of God, may we each keep our eyes on God’s will and not our own. May we each learn to live Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, ” . . . nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Mat 26:39b). May we set aside old traditions and new paradigms and sincerely follow the teachings of the God-breathed Text all while patiently allowing others the freedom to learn and grow at their own pace (1Th 5:14) until we all reach the goal of perfect Christ-likeness (Phi 3:13, 1Co 13:12; 2Co 3:18; 1Jo 3:2) when He reveals Himself from Heaven to claim His own.

- Scott

18
Sep
13

F is for Fantastic!

When I was in grade school, my friends and I considered ourselves creative. We “came-up” with the following grade scale in an effort to confuse our parents. We decided as a group to tell our parents that the school had changed the grading system. Now the letters on our papers and report cards represented the following:
A = Awful
B = Bad
C = Common
D = Delightful
F = Fantastic!

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Somehow our parents never really believed us.

Recently while reading 1Timothy 6:11-12, “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (ESV). I thought about “F is for Fantastic!”

There are Four Concepts that begin with the letter F that Paul tells Timothy will benefit him as a man of God.

1. Flee. Flee the things he just wrote about. Specifically things that draw people away from God such as the desire to be rich and love of money (1Ti 6:7-10). In other passages we receive encouragement to flee youthful desires, desires of our sensual nature, and the Devil himself. Actually if we “resist the Devil, he will flee from us.”

2. Follow. Getting away from sin is not enough, we need to pursue, chase after, make certain things our prey. Those things Paul lists as righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. You are intelligent enough to know what Paul means.

3. Fight. Fight the good fight of faith. Yes we are to live at peace, but we cannot be passive. We must fight against the desires of our own flesh. We must fight against the principalities and powers of this present darkness. We will on occasion have to defend the Faith delivered once for all. That is why Paul would tell the Ephesians to put on the whole armor of God (Eph 6:10-18).

4. Faithful. The fight is about faith and in 1Ti 6:14 Paul tells Timothy, ” . . . keep the commandments . . .” Be faithful!

- Scott

05
Sep
13

Christianity in 3D

xianity3dShare in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2Ti 2:3-7)

In the above text Paul describes Christian living using three easily

understandable images.

1. Devoted Soldier (2Ti 2:4). Soldiers will suffer. They will endure hardships as they sometimes lack fresh food, often find themselves exposed to the elements, are away from their family, all while surrounded by enemies. As Christians we may miss family, may miss a meal, and we live in the world controlled by our enemy (Satan). Therefore, we must stay focused – devoted to God and Christ.  As Soldiers of Christ we must concentrate on task(s) at hand. We need to limit our distractions (cf. Luk 8:14; 1Ti 6:9-12). We should make it our goal to please God – the one who called us into service (cf. 2Co 5:9). The next time you see a person in the military:  Thank him and then ask self if you are serving the Lord with the same dedication that that soldier, airman, seaman, or marine is serving our country.

2. Disciplined Athlete (2Ti 2:5). Winners are obedient, they follow the rules of the game. Think back to the 2012 Olympics and the Badminton teams China, South Korea, Indonesia who became disqualified when officials uncovered their cheating scheme. Cheaters never do really win. As Christians we have rules to follow: Jesus told the disciples to “teach them to observe all things I have commanded . . . ” Mat 28:20. James says to be “doers of the word”

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 (Jam 1:22). Discipline is self-control. Consider how Paul describes the life of a successful athlete in 1Co 9:24-27, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” The next time you watch stellar athletes challenge yourself to be as disciplined for God as they are for sports

3. Diligent Farmer (2Ti 2:6). Farming is hard work. One prepares the soil, opens furrows, plants seed or plants, waters, fertilizes, controls pests and weeds, and waits for the harvest. ​The next time you are enjoying a meal, think of the work that went into producing that food and dedicate yourself to being like that farmer.

I love the way Paul concludes in verse 7 – Think about what I say. Well, think about it? Are you living the Christian life in 3D? Devoted, Disciplined, and Diligent?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdm/54246114/”>darkmatter</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

11
Jul
13

What Will They Say About You?

pocket watchToday I am participating in the funeral of a dear Christian lady. She was one of the first people to greet us when we first visited the Church in Parrish. Every time I am a part of a funeral or even simply attend a funeral I have mixed emotions.

As mortal beings, we do not think of death as a “blessed” event. On the contrary, we tend think of death as sad; as a breaking of relationships (family and friends); as a destroyer of hopes and dreams; as cold and without cheer. Most of us do not whistle happy tunes at funerals.

Is that how God view death? God seems to used death a punishment in Gen 3:3, yet near the end of Scripture we learn that death is also a blessing (cf. Rev 14:13).

Death is a blessing for those who endure. The Holy Spirit says calls those who die in the Lord “Blessed?”  “Blessed” means to be happy or to receive of honor. How is death a blessing?

Because the deeds of the faithful follow them in death, the faithful in the Lord receive a blessing in death. Whereas our possessions cannot follow us; what we did with life (blessings) can and will (cf. Act 9:36-39). Survivors and friends will remember our care for our family. Those benefitted will recall our compassion for less fortunate. Christians and God will know of our concern for God’s Kingdom and our efforts to rescue the lost

Because our physical life ends our labors here on earth cease that is a blessing for  the future, for the eternity that follows death. We will not be idle, we will be in service to and praising God, but we will rest from our earthly efforts (cf. Heb 4:9-10). We will rest from fighting temptations and sin (cf. Eph 6:11-12). We will rest from pain and sorrow (cf. 1Co 15:35-53).

James Edmeston (1791-1867) wrote the following poem that succinctly and skillfully explores: Life in Comparison with Eternity

The world is but our nursery

And heaven our manhood stage;

This life is but our infancy,

Eternity is our age;

And all earth’s little griefs and joys,

Like transient pains and idle toys

Which childhood thoughts engage.

A spark of an immortal fire,

The spirit glimmers here;

But in full splendor will aspire

In heaven’s congenial sphere;

For passion, sin, and error free,

Strong in its immortality,

Unshackled free and clear.

How do you view your imminent death?

- Scott

16
May
13

Have You?

Who ME

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luk 14:26-33)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Col 3:1-5)

Jesus talks about the importance of it.

Paul repeats the same thing.

Abraham had to learn to do it.

Have you?

Have you fully surrendered your life to God?

  • “I go to church.” – That’s not what I asked. Have you FULLY surrendered YOUR life to God?
  • “I pray.” - That’s not what I asked. Have you FULLY surrendered YOUR life to God?
  • “I am a member of _________ Church” - That’s not what I asked. Have you FULLY surrendered YOUR life to God?
  • “I am a Christian.” - That’s not what I asked. Have you FULLY surrendered YOUR life to God?
  • “I was baptized.” - That’s not what I asked. Have you FULLY surrendered YOUR life to God?

One more passage, “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,” (1Th 1:9).

So, have you FULLY SURRENDERED YOUR life to God?

- Scott

17
Jan
13

The Problem of Crime and Violence

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,” This passage from Rom 1:24-30 sounds as if it could be from today’s headline or lead news story.

  • Entitlement
  • Gun Violence
  • Violence in general
  • Crime
  • Disrespect for Law (Law Enforcement)
  • Hateful attitudes
  • Unwed parenting
  • Sexual Immorality
  • and the list goes on . . .

How do we put a stop to all these things?  At the very least, how can we slow down the number of occurrences? Are more laws the answer? Maybe or maybe not.  Are tougher penalties the answer? Possibly or possibly not.

The answer begins at home.  We must get our homes back to what they should be.  We must train our children at home – hands on.  This starts when they are born and continues even when they are in school (home-schooled, private school, or public school).  Parents, we NEVER stop being our children’s firt and primary teacher.  This is God’s plan all along: Deut 6:3-9, “Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

To do this means we will do more that tell our children what to do and how to behave.  We will model it.  We will live as God’s person and live with God every second of every minute of every hour of every day so that our children not only hear but also see how to live.

- 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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