Category Archives: Christian living

More Bible Malapropisms

We continue our list from yesterday with five more phrases that sound Biblical, but are not necessarily from the Bible.ABCD0014

  1. What goes around comes around. This is more associated with the Hinduism/Buddhism idea of Karma than it is the Bible.  In our desire for what we consider to be fair, we want others to experience what they dish out.  If anything this is completely opposite of what Jesus teaches about loving you enemies and doing good to those who mistreat you.
  2. Being nice to your enemies will burn them. This thought is a misunderstanding of ” . . . if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20). Here Paul is quoting from Proverbs 25:21-22.  Paul’s teaching is that by being nice to your enemy you may change their attitude toward you.  They will see that you are repaying them with kindness and their conscience may be pricked.
  3. Treat others right so you will be treated right. This is selfish action. Jesus did not teach this. He said, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,  . . . (Matthew 7:12). Jesus says to treat others the way you want to be treated and never promises that they will return the favor. Some may and some may not, but we should always treat people with loving kindness.
  4. Cleanliness is next to godliness. According to The Free Dictionary, this phrase first appeared in a sermon preached by John Wesley circa 1778, but is an old Hebrew and Babylonian proverb. There is no Bible verse that says this.  The Hebrews did have to be ceremonially clean to enter worship and the thought may come from that, but physical cleanliness has nothing to do with our relationship to God, however, spiritual cleanliness does.
  5. God appointed the day of your death. Can God know the day of your death and not have predetermined it?  Yes. Death is a part of our existence and God being above (outside) of time as we know it cand and does know when you and I will die, but that is not the same as His causing our death, calling us home, or killing us off. Hebrews 9:27 does say, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” but that is simply a reminder that we will all die.  An appointment does not necessarily mean such is written down and unchangeable (Consider Hezekiah in Isaiah 38, God said Hezekiah was about to die, but after Hezekiah pleaded with God he lived 15 more years.)

More tomorrow.

– Scott

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Bible Malapropisms

A malapropism is the misuse of a word, specifically a word that sounds like or is similar to another. Think of “there,” “their,” and Bibleback“they’re.” Or, “Good punctuation means never being late.”  What I am calling Bible malapropisms are not words but phrases and ideas that many think are in the Bible and sometimes quote as if they are in the Bible.  Maybe there is a better term for this, but I could not think of one. These Bible Malapropism are simply principles that sound Biblical, but are not. I have a list of about fifteen, let us consider the first five today.

  1. God helps those that help themselves.  No, that is not in the Bible.  There is this passage, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Yet that is specific to Christians who refuse to work because of a mistaken understanding of Christ’s return, and they are living off the benevolence of others.
  2. Everything happens for a reason. This sounds like a statement of faith.  It sounds like we are trusting God when we say that, but this is not in scripture.  Yet, not everything that happens to us is because God planned it to teach us a lesson or to prepare us for something else.  Sometimes things happen because we are living in a fallen world.  Romans 8:28 does say, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” That does not say God causes everything. Paul is saying God can and will work for our best no matter the situation we find ourselves in.
  3. Money is the root of all evil. The passage actually says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10).
  4. God will not give you more than you can handle.  This sounds great, but is not from the Bible.  This statement is closely related to Number 2 above and assumes that what you are going through is from God and He has a reason you are going through it.  I think this is a misuse of 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Here Paul is teaching that we there is always a way for us to avoid sin, even in the strongest temptation.
  5. God wants me to be happy. This is phrase comes up when we want an excuse to do what we want to do.  Paul does talk about learning to be content (Philippians 4:11-12) and Jesus in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12) talks about becoming blessed or happy, but NOWHERE does God’s Word say that God wants me to be happy by doing what I want to do.  God wants me to be Holy in Christ and in that holiness and in serving God through Christ, I find contentment, fulfillment and true happiness.

– Scott

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Our Duty to Each Other

When I was a teenager, back before cellphones. Back when only the wealthy had CD players in their cars. I would travel with my youth group to youth days and youth rallies at churches in South Alabama and Northwest Florida.  One sermon title I remember was, “The Dirty Little ‘D’ Word” — the word – DUTY. I do not recall the points the speaker made, but I remember the major idea.  As Christians we have a duty toward God and each other.

With that in mind, I thought I would share some scriptures about our duty to each other:

  1. Rom 14:19  – Edify / encourage / build each other up.
  2. Rom 15:14 – Admonish / instruct / reprove each other gently when the need arises
  3. Col 3:16 – Teach each other, even in song.
  4. Gal 5:13 – Serve / minister to each other’s needs
  5. Gal 6:1-2 – Bear / carry burdens for each other.  Be there for each other.
  6. Eph 4:32 – Forgive each other
  7. Jas 5:16 – Pray for each other.
  8. Heb 10:24 – Provoke / stir up each other toward good works and love.
  9. John 15:12 – Love each other.

– Scott

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The Habit of Contentment

20110921-084439.jpgIn the 2005 movie adaptation of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice (Directed by Joe Wright, Screenplay by Deborah Moggach) Mr. Bennet, played by Donald Sutherland, closes out his final scene saying, “If any young men come for Mary or Kitty . . . send them in. I’m quite at my leisure.” Then Mr. Bennet leans back in his chair with a look of complete contentment on his face. He is content because Jane Bennet is to marry Mr. Bingley who has a good annual income and now Elizabeth (his favorite daughter) is to marry the wealthiest of men in Derbyshire. The concept communicated by this scene is that Mr. Bennet’s contentment relies upon the financial security of his daughters as well as that of himself and Mrs. Bennet.

Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines contentment this way: “the state of being happy and satisfied: the state of being content” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contentment.) Do we find real contentment in the physical blessings of the world? Where does God fit into our equation for contentment?

Contentment Requires Trust in God: Paul challenges the Romans to consider God’s work as a basis for their confidence and contentment. Notice these phrases: 1) “If God is for us, who can be against us?” 2) “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” 3) “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors . . .” God is in control (Rom 8:31, 32, 37).

Is God in control? Ask Joseph. His brothers hated him, threw him into a pit, sold him into slavery, and allowed Jacob to believe his favored son died at the hands of a beast. As a slave, his master, Potiphar trusted him, but not enough to take Joseph’s word against Mrs. Potiphar. Potiphar threw Joseph into prison based on his wife’s lie. Yet God took control of the events to provide security for the descendants of Abraham and Isaac (cf. Gen. 45:5-7). Paul tells the Philippians that he has confidence (trusts) that God can and will supply every need they have because of Christ (Phi 4:19). Trust God to take care of you.

Contentment Requires Satisfaction with Less or More: Paul describes his attitude of contentment this way, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Phil 4:10). My problem is that I do not always distinguish between wants and needs. I have to continually remind myself that my wants are not needs.  The line of poetry says, “Little luxury, don’t you cry. You’ll be a need by and by.” I want a new car. Specifically, I want a Nissan 370Z with the Touring/Sport package. But I do not need that car, I only need basic transportation. When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79 and destroyed the city of Pompeii over 2,000 people died. They did not die because they did not have warning; they died because they did not want to leave their possessions. Some, who died, escaped days earlier only to return to get certain belongings. The fast flowing surge of lava (estimated at over 100 mph) overtook the city and turned people into statues of stone. Some of them lie near their treasures they thought they needed. Remember this line from the writer of Hebrews, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb 13:5). Write the following words from Paul, where you can see them, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1Ti 6:8).

Contentment is Independent of Circumstances:

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Phi 4:11-12).

Those are powerful words. When we look at Paul’s life, we see a life in near constant turmoil: kicked out of this city, thrown in jail here, and persecuted there. Some stoned and left him for dead. He survived shipwrecks. He spent years in and out of prison. Do not forget, he travelled by land and sea to preach in places that needed to hear the message of the Gospel. He felt responsible to Jews and Gentiles to make sure they knew Christ. He had great concern for the churches he helped establish. (cf. 2Co 11:22-33). Yet, in all of that, he remained faithful and confident knowing that God sustained him (Phi 4:13). Paul’s life teaches us that we learn this contentment as we experience trials (cf. Eph 3:14-21).

Contentment is Drinking from My Saucer: Bill Anderson and many others recorded the following song. Most lyric sites credit the lyric to someone named only as Johnson. They express the idea of contentment in a simple-man’s theology.

I’m Drinking from My Saucer

I’m drinking from my saucer cause my cup has overflowed

You know I never did make my fortune and I guess it’s a little late now

But I never did worry about that much

No shoot I was happy anyhow cause you see

As I have journeyed down life’s road

I have reaped a lot more than I’ve sowed

And I’m drinking from my saucer cause my cup has over flowed

No I’m not a man of riches

No sir and sometimes the going gets kinda’ rough

But I got me a good family an old horse and a dog

They all love me well that makes me rich enough

I thank the Lord for all these bless the mercies he has bestowed

I’m drinking from my saucer cause my cup has overflowed

Oh I’ve had lots of times when it seemed everything went wrong

I could feel my faith get well just a little bit thin

But the rain would stop and dark clouds would roll away

The sun would come shining right back down in my life again

So Lord don’t let me gripe too much about the rough row I’ve hoed

cause I’m drinking from my saucer my cup has overflowed

I’m drinking from my saucer my cup has overflowed

And now Lord if you can just give me the strength I need

And the courage when that old road gets steep and rough

I’ll not ask for any other blessing cause I have been blessed more than enough

And Lord don’t ever let me get so busy that I can’t help another with his load

And I just keep on drinking from my saucer cause my cup has surely overflowed

I’m drinking from my saucer cause my cup has overflowed

Thanks Lord

Are you living contented? Near the end of 1963 advice columnist Dear Abby published the following letter and asked her readers to respond.

“Dear Abby: Happiness is knowing that your parents won’t kill you if you come home late. Happiness is having your own bedroom. Happiness is getting the telephone call you’ve been praying for. Happiness is getting good grades and making your parents proud of you. Happiness is being a member of the popular circle. Happiness is having parents who don’t fight. Happiness is knowing that you are well-dressed, as well-dressed as anybody. Happiness is something I don’t have. Signed Fifteen and Unhappy.”

Dear Abby received hundreds of responses. Some were from other fifteen year olds, some were from parents, some were from servicemen fighting in Vietnam, but possibly the most profound letter was one Dear Abby published in February of 1964.

“Dear Abby: Happiness is being able to walk. Happiness is being able to talk. Happiness is being able to hear, Happiness is being able to see. Unhappiness is reading a letter from a fifteen year old girl who can do all of these things and who still says she is unhappy. I can talk, I can see, I can hear, but I can’t walk. Signed, Thirteen and Happy.”

 Which one of these teen girls learned contentment?

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Making a Habit of Discipleship

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own photofather 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. “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:25-35

            Discipleship is more than just saying, “I will follow Jesus.” If we are to get the message of Christ to the world, we must “make disciples” who go out and make disciples who go out and make disciples, who – you guessed it – go out and make disciples (Matthew 18:19). If we are going to be the Church that Christ died for, if we are going to be the Church we are capable of being, each member – every Christian – must FIRST be a DISCIPLE.

Am I a Fan or a Follower? Jesus had fans. There were people who liked Jesus because He fed them bread and fish. There were people who came to Jesus because they, or someone they cared about, needed physical healing. Some people came to Jesus because He was at that time, The Greatest Show on Earth, and because He taught like no one else before or after Him. Some went to listen to Him and see what He was doing because everyone else did. Jesus was popular in certain circles. Today there are people who look to Jesus because: A) He gives free stuff like Grace, B) Their family or friends follow Jesus, C) They feel guilty or are afraid not to look to Jesus, D) They think His teachings will make them nicer, E) Being a part of a church gives their life purpose, F) Jesus is the bail bondsman for sin, or G) some other similar reason. They are Fans of Jesus.

Jesus said some interesting things to His fans while He was on Earth. Fans today need to carefully listen to and consider His words. “Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned to them and said . . .” (Luke 14:25). This is purposeful. This was no flippant statement He was about to make. What He is about to say, He says with the apparent intention to thin the crowds; to pare down the numbers. We tend to think larger numbers are better. For Jesus the size of the crowd is not as important as their level of commitment. Jesus wants followers (disciples) not simply fans. “So,” Jesus is saying, “you want to follow Me by being My disciple? Good! Let me give you the details of what you are signing up for.” What? That is not what your version says?  Look again at Luke 14:28-32. If you are going to build a tower, do you have the necessary funds? If you are going to war, do you have the needed resources and troops? Are you going to be Jesus’ disciple? Then you need to know what Jesus expects of His followers.

Jesus expects us to Hate: Luke 14:26. Hate parents, your siblings, your children, and your spouse, and your own life if you want to follow Jesus. Don’t water this down! This is what Jesus says. If the choice is between any one of these people or Jesus – Jesus wins out every time. Family, friends, and self all come after God. Take a look in a good concordance to see how many times Jesus says “believe in ME” compared with how many times He says, “follow Me.” He says “follow Me” about 20 times and “believe in Me” 4 times. I recently heard a speaker say that Christ does not want to be first in our lives, He wants to BE OUR LIFE. “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.” (Colossians 3:3-4 emphasis mine BSMc). This is discipleship, this is following, not simply being a fan.

He expects us to Give Up Personal Desires: Luke 14:27. A cross is not simply a burden, it is a method of execution (cf. Galatians 5:24). Jesus is saying we are to die to ourselves.  Ask yourself (have the teens ask themselves) these questions: A) Am I choosing my life goals over God? B) Do my plans feed my ego or do they seek to glorify God? C) Will I forego my plans if they do not meet with God’s approval? Jesus expects us to Give Up Our Belongings – our stuff. Luke 14:33. We must not allow our possessions to possess us. We need to hold on to the things of life loosely (Philippians 3:8-11 – Paul counting everything but Christ worthy of the garbage dump). Being a disciple of Jesus is not something you do on Sundays, Wednesday night, youth devotionals, and before you eat. Following Jesus (being a disciple) is a 24 hour a day 7 days a week commitment that WILL interfere with your life.

(Note: Much of this material developed into this form after reading the book, Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. Mr. Idleman’s book helped me see more about how to grow as a true disciple.)

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Making a Habit of Purity

photoGalatians 5:19-26

Often when we talk about purity we are talking discussing sexuality. Being pure with your sexuality is important, but it is not the only aspect of purity.  Purity, in the eyes of God, is to not allow the stain of any sin be in your life. (cf. James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled is this: . . . to keep oneself unstained from the world.”) How can we become pure?  How can we remove the stains of sin? How can we remain pure?  These are some of the questions we will try to answer in this lesson.

Read what Paul tells his readers in Galatians 5:19-26. Did you notice the following: A) Those that practice the works or the flesh will not inherit the Kingdom of God. B) There are no laws against the Fruit of the Spirit. And C) Those who belong to Christ are to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires. Paul is telling us how to develop a habit of purity – we crucify the flesh with its passions and desires.

We must put the desires (lusts) that lead to the works of the flesh. This begins when we obey the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 teaches that the Gospel Paul taught the Corinthians, the Gospel that saved them, is the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ.  Read Romans 6:1-12 and see how the Roman Christians crucified (put to death) their sinful past. A) They DIED to sin and self. B) They were BURIED with Christ in baptism. And C) They ROSE from that grave a new creation. When we obey the Gospel we are demonstrating that we are no longer going to walk according to our fleshly desires, but as we put those to death, we are starting fresh. We are walking according to the Spirit. We are walking with God and Christ. We are walking in the light (cf. 1 John 1:7-9).

As a child of God, you are no longer slaves of sin, but bond servants (slaves) of righteousness – that is servants of God (cf. Romans 6:17-18).  Take time to consider the words of Paul in these passages: “and you are Christ’s . . .” (1 Corinthians 3:23), “Or do you not know that your body is the 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 6:19-20). Reflecting on these passages helps one remember that his life on earth is not about himself.

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:26). The implication is that we must daily deny ourselves and daily take up our cross. Taking up a cross is not simply bearing a burden of having a mean older sibling. Bearing our cross is executing (crucifying) ourselves, our desires and passions, every day. Paul tells the Colossian Christians to, “Put to death  . . . what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:6). Our life as God’s children is about doing His will.

Years ago I heard a preacher tell this story:

“When I was young, I thought the Bible was a list of all the things you are not supposed to do. Christians don’t drink, they don’t smoke, they do not use marijuana, and they don’t dance. Don’t . . .  don’t . . . don’t . . .  don’t . . . DON’T! Then I began reading the Bible myself and learned there are a bunch of things that God wants us to do.  It was then I realized, if I do the do’s I don’t have time to do the don’ts!”

How? How do we do all this? Look at Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” To remain pure, we crucify the flesh, we consider ourselves dead to the world and the world dead to us and we pursue the things of God.

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Good Church Leaders and Ministers

A few years ago I shared an adaptation of what education author Todd Whitaker writes in “What Great Teachers Do

#bealight

#bealight

Differently” {2nd Edition (Larchmont, NY:Eye on Eye Education) 2012}, applying it to parents as their child’s first and primary teacher.  Specifically chapter 11 where Whitaker discusses how good teachers repair relationships with students.  I thought about that blog this morning and considered how it applies to ministers and other church leaders (teacher, deacons, elders, etc.) Whitaker describes three types of teachers that I think describes church leaders as well.

1. Need to Repair – But Never Do: Some church leaders need to repair relationships with other Christians (church members) but never do. At some point a leader will make a mistake, they will say or do something that will hurt feelings. Some church leaders take an approach that communicates being unapproachable and unwilling to admit wrong.

2. I am Sorry That Happened: Leaders, learn to say you are sorry.  Learn to say, “I am sorry that happened.”  Even if you were unaware of your part in the pain.  The following story is true, it has to do with my role as a minister from early in my church work.  I think this event illustrates this point.  Years ago a man approached me on a Sunday morning after our assembly. “Scott, why don’t you like me any more?”  I was floored.  I liked this man and his family.  They were good workers in the church.  I replied, “I do like you, and love you as my brother in Christ.  Why do you think I don’t like you?”  He explained that I appeared to be avoiding him.  For the last month, he perceived that I had not made an effort to speak to him.  (In my defense there were an average of over 300 each Sunday at that time, I could not talk to everyone.)  What did I do?  What did I say?  I said, “I am sorry I made you feel that way, please know I do like and love you and will do anything I can for you.  I may not be able to talk to you every assembly, but I will try to speak to you as often as possible.”  We “man-hugged” and he promised to come to me and not wait for me to come to him. When you say you are sorry an event happened, don’t stop with the simple acknowledgement – make effort to change.

3. Never Need to Repair – Always Do: Simply put, if we want to be great church leaders, we must always work to repair and maintain our relationship with church members.  Church members and other leaders may think everything is good, and if you work hard to maintain and repair it will be, but learn to keep it that way.  Consider Jesus’ relationship advice in Mat 5:23-26 and Mat 18:15-17.  We have the responsibility to work things out with others – especially our fellow servants of Christ.

I think you can see that the best leaders are the last group. But when we find ourselves falling short we must apologize and do our best to make things right. Good leaders work hard to avoid personally hurting other Christians physically or emotionally.  Great leaders also work hard to repair any inadvertent damage.

– Scott

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