Category Archives: Christian living

The Christian’s Greatest . . . Part I

20120308-200923.jpgI have three post planned this week about great things we have and face as Christians.  This morning, let’s look at our Greatest Motivation:

Our Greatest Motivation is Love.
Looking back into the prophets, Jeremiah reveals God’s love,
“My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly; I cannot keep silent, for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Crash follows hard on crash; the whole land is laid waste. Suddenly my tents are laid waste, my curtains in a moment. How long must I see the standard and hear the sound of the trumpet? “For my people are foolish; they know me not; they are stupid children; they have no understanding. They are ‘wise’—in doing evil! But how to do good they know not.”  Jer 4:19-22.
God is displaying what good parents understand. Growth comes with pain, but they still do not like to see their children hurt.  It is the old parental saying, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.”
The apostle Paul reminds his readers of our need for love.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Eph 4:15-16

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Co 5:14-15

All of us are Proclaimers of the Good News (Gospel). If we love people we do not want to see them hurt by the sin in their life.  We do not want to see the temporal pain caused by sinful behavior.  We do not want to see them suffer eternally because of sinful behavior. If we love people we should tell them the Good News.
Learn to love. Love is our greatest motivation. Love motivated God to act,
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 Jo 4:7-10.
  • Scott

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Listen

100_1488I recently watched an episode of Dr. Who (Peter Capaldi / Series 8) in which the Doctor opens with a long soliloquy about listening. In fact the episode title was “Listen.”  The title alone started me thinking, “How well do we listen?” Do we stop and listen to the sounds of nature around us? Do we stop to listen to the sounds of the city? Do we listen to our spouse, parents, children, or teachers? Do we listen or just hear words and background noise?

There is a story that circulates about President Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. Apparently he complained that no one really paid attention to what anyone said.

On a certain day, at a reception, he decided to put his complaint to the test.  To each person who came down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” Invariably, the guests responded, “Marvelous! Keep up the great work. We are proud you are our President, God bless you, etc.”

Near the end of the line was the Ambassador of Bolivia. This ambassador leaned over and whispered the following reply to President Roosevelt, “I’m sure she had it coming.”

Someone was listening!

Take time to listen, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; . . .” (James 1:19). Step away from the computer, set down you smart phone, lay aside the tablet, close the book, and take time and make effort to listen to those around you.  Such action will show your care for them and you might even learn something new.

Take time to listen to God. He may not speak in an audible way, but He speaks through His Word. So “Be still and know that (He) is God.” Listen to Him.

LISTEN!

  • Scott

 

 

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Spiritual Defense: A Video Blog

Sharing my thoughts as I arrived at the Study this morning.

  • Scott

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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

This title comes from the second paragraph of The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America, “We3530_575709143430_509885439_n hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” What a great claim.  I wish we had always held that statement true.  Yet in our nation’s past Scottish, Irish, and African people were sold and traded as slaves and kept from liberty and the pursuit of happiness and literally had their life taken from them.  But I am not writing a political or an historical blog.  I am not here to bemoan societal ills. For the most part, I write religious thoughts and that statement from the Declaration of Independence leans very heavily on religious ideology.  The unalienable rights, according to those that drafted this historical piece, are ours because the Creator endowed them to us.  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are thought to be our God given rights. I AGREE!

I agree we should have those rights physically.  I believe God desires us to live to our fullest potential.  I believe that God created humanity as one and that we should all live in freedom. I also believe God designed us to pursue what is best for us. But there is more!

These rights are also our spiritual rights. More than simply being our rights spiritually, these are what God desires for us. Consider this:

  • “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10). Jesus came for our physical life and for our spiritual life.  John says he wrote his account of Jesus’ story so that, “by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31). John explains further in his first epistle, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 Jon 5:13).  Jesus came for us to have eternal life!
  • Liberty: In Luke 4, Jesus is at a local Synagogue and reads from Isaiah the prophet claiming to fulfill that prophecy.  He reads Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” Notice the phrase, “to proclaim liberty to the captives.” This is not just liberty for those in physical captivity, although the message of Jesus leads to such release. This is not just liberty to those held captive by disease or demons, although Jesus did heal disease and cast out demons. This is for those held captive by sin. Here is how the Apostle Paul explains, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:16-18). Let Jesus’ sacrifice and teachings set you free from your captivity. Learn from the “law of liberty.” (James 1:25, 2:12).
  • The Pursuit of Happiness: Notice that our Founding Fathers said we have the right to pursue happiness, not that happiness is a right in and of itself.  They seemed to have a very dismal attitude. They seem to imply that happiness is never attainable. Again, they are right. If we pursue happiness by pursuing wine, women, and wealth as the writer of Ecclesiastes did, we will likely come to the same conclusions, “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-4). We soon become dissatisfied with what we have and convince ourselves there is something better that we think can make us happier. In the world happiness is fleeting, but in Christ happiness is an achievable pursuit – IN CHRIST. “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. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13). Happiness is knowing that God is there for me, no matter the situation I find myself in. Happiness is confidence in the saving power of the Gospel. Happiness is in Christ.
  • Scott

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For Everyone

I found this little clipping in a file of old church bulletin articles.  There is no attribution to an author, just know it is not an original of my own creation.  I just thought it was worth sharing on a Friday afternoon.

How everyone can be nice to everyone:

  • Be Silent when your words would hurt.
  • Be Patient when your neighbor’s curt.
  • Be Deaf when the scandal flows.
  • Be Thoughtful for other’s woes.
  • Be Prompt when duty calls.
  • Be Courageous when misfortune falls.

– Scott

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Bible Malapropisms – one more time

Monday we looked at five Bible Malapropisms.

My weemee

Today we look at the last four in my list.  I am sure there are more.

  1. God moves in a mysterious way. William Cowper wrote this in one of his last hymns in 1774. He based the thought on his recollections of his life and how he saw what he considered to be God’s hand in the events of his life.  The Bible does teach that God understands more than we do and that God’s foolishness is wiser than man’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:25) and from that we might surmise that to us God’s way is mysterious.  Paul does talk about the mystery of God that the apostles revealed – that is the Gospel, God’s plan for man’s redemption through the Christ. We need to be careful using this “malapropism” to assign actions to God that may not be His doing. Even the inspired apostle Paul said concerning Onesimus running away from Philemon and finding his way to Paul, “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while . . . “ (Philemon 1:15 – emp.: SMc). If Paul says “perhaps” why should I think I always know?
  2. Pray and claim your blessing from God.  I hear this or something like it every time I watch certain televangelists. It seems their message is more about God blessing your life for your demanding your promises than about you serving God who already blesses you with the greatest gift of all – salvation through His sacrifices Son. I cannot find anything close to this health and wealth message taught in the Bible as something we should believe.  The closest I can find are misguided words of Bildad, Zophar, and Elphaz. These three frineds of Job only thought they knew the heart and mind of God.  God straightens them out.
  3. God needed ___(insert name of deceased here)___ in Heaven. This is one of the most unfortunate and harshest statements about God that I hear at funeral homes. Those who say this, like those who say other Bible malapropisms, think of it as a statement of faith and encouragement.  To me this particular phrase makes God out to be a self-absorbed, needy, and greedy monster.  Consider this: Your god moves in a mysterious way and everything happens for a reason. Since this god needed your mom in heaven more than you needed her, this god took her from you. You have no say and this god does not care about your feelings.  Who wants to serve a god like that?!?!  Death came into the world, not because of God, but because of Satan and our sin. God does welcome His children home as a reward for a life lived faithfully, but He does not take our loved ones from us – death does.  Death that is a part of life – no matter whether natural causes, disease, an accident, or tragedy brought about that death. If you have to say something at a funeral, please simply offer prayer and a shoulder to cry on, tell them you care, but please do not blame God for their loss. **
  4. Once saved always saved.  This is meant as a statement of eternal security.  I know we can have confidence in our salvation, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13). But that confidence lies in knowing that God keeps His promise as we continue to walk in faith. Other passages talk about the dangers of turning away from God and salvation, “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:20-22). Those who escaped are those who have salvation, but they return to the world. We must remain faithful to God to have eternal security.

I would love your thoughts and even suggestions on more Bible Malapropisms.

– Scott
** For a more detailed look at tragedy and death you might what to read this series from 2014 on When Tragedy Strikes

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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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