Category Archives: Christians

The Christians Greatest – Part III

This week we began our look at three great things that are a part of our walk as Christians.  We began Monday with our Greatest Motivation: Love. We continued Tuesday with our Greatest Challenge: Repentance. We conclude this three part series with Our Greatest Duty.

That duty is simply to Proclaim Repentance and Remission of Sin. This is the command Jesus left His followers. “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47)

Remission of our sin is closely, no specifically, better yet ONLY in connection to Christ’s death and resurrection.  The apostle Paul said that “good news” is God’s power to save us (cf. Romans 1:16).  He defines that “good news” (Gospel) in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

Through the suffering and resurrection of the Christ we can have remission of our sins.  That is good news indeed!  As Christians, our greatest duty, our great commission is to spread that good news.20111108-084732.jpg

To do so requires a meek spirit. A constitution that is a requirement of elders and one we should all aspire toward. “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

Look around you.  Notice your family members, your fellow students, your co-workers.  There is someone who sure could use the greatest good news today.

  • Scott

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The Christian’s Greatest … Part II

Yesterday we wrote about our Greatest Motivation as Christians.  We defined that as LOVE. Today we move on to our  Greatest Challenge.

Our Greatest Challenge is Repentance. This challenge is not getting others to repent, but our own repentance. Part of the nation of Judah’s problem was that they refused to repent,

“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her. Though they say, “As the LORD lives,” yet they swear falsely. O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth? You have struck them down, but they felt no anguish; you have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.” (Jeremiah 5:1-3)

Jeremiah 6:16 records, “Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.'”

Judah had no intention to follow God if following Him would require them to change.
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As we turn to the New Covenant, we learn that Jesus’ message was (is) also one of repentance. Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And Luke 5:31-32, ” . . . Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
God desires our repentance. No God demands we repent. , Acts 17:30, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,”
But repentance is difficult. Repentance is our greatest challenge. McGarvey said of repentance, “Among all the conditions of pardon and eternal life it is the most difficult to bring about.”
Why is repentance a challenge?
  1. We do not like to admit we are wrong.
  2. Change is always difficult.
  3. Repentance requires both.

Dear, Father, I ask that you give us the courage, resolve, and strength to change admit when we are wrong in Your sight and to change to become more and more like you. In Jesus name . . .

  • Scott

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The Christian’s Greatest . . .

That is the topic for the lesson this Sunday Morning, August 30, 2015 at Central Church of Christ.  I would love for you to worship with us.

Below is a sneak peak at the sermon:

  • 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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Who is Jesus? Really?!?

IMG_0001For the last quarter of a century my occupation and vocation are the same. I am a minister, a preacher, a Christian who shares what he learns from his study with an audience of people – what we typically call the church.  I try to regularly preach through the Bible – both Old and New Covenant, these books include wisdom literature, poetic literature, prophets, historical narratives, the gospel accounts, and letters to early churches and individual Christians.  I teach the inspiration of scripture and hold to a plenary view of inspiration (fully inspired by God using the personalities and experiences of the individual writers).

As I study to understand and to teach (Ezra 7:10), I am continually learning and re-evaluating what I know or think I know. Recently, I am beginning to think we (I) have some things wrong concerning the church.  There are things that need changing.

STOP! Do NOT get angry. What we need to change most is a simple mindset, I will share that later (at the end of this post – don’t skip the rest to read it).  I wrote that statement about changing the church to get your attention.  I wanted you to begin to understand what the Jews of Jesus’ day were feeling when Jesus started turning their religious beliefs and traditions upside down. Their anger is why John records, “And this is why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.  But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’ This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” (John 5:16-18). Jesus claimed God as a His personal Father and abused the Sabbath rituals.

Who is this Jesus?

Jesus is the Father’s Emissary. Without Jesus, the Christ, on earth we would not know God.  The Old System (Law of Moses, Writings, and Prophets) brought people to the Christ.  The New System is about, from, and of the Christ (Galatians 3:24-29).

Jesus is the Giver of Life. John 1:1-4 tells of Jesus’ role in creation. But not only did He create our physical life, He came do give us a wonderful life now and for all eternity, “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10).

Jesus is the Judge of All Mankind“And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.” (Acts 10:42). As Judge the Christ judges the living and dead righteously. He is always fair, just, and right. The standard is the Word He gave, “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” (John 12:48).

Jesus is the Assurance of Faith.  Assurance not insurance.  We purchase insurance in case there is a catastrophe. Assurance is a guarantee of no catastrophe.  Faith in Christ is Eternal Assurance. “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” (2 Timothy 1:12).

This was revolutionary to the Jews. Jesus’ teaching and mere presence was destroying their religious system and in many ways their way of life.  Can you imagine how you would feel if someone told you everything you believe in and that your parents believed was wrong?  Can you imaging hearing that all that you knew up to this point was just to bring you to something completely different?  No wonder they wanted and tried to destroy Him.

– Scott


Oh, you still want to know what needs to change about church?  You want to know what we have wrong?  Here is my answer:

Too many times and for too many years we use “church” as the location or the gathering of people.  Although the concept is correct that the church is the assembly of those called out of the world and to God, we have made a mistake.  We somehow think that we need to bring people to the building or the assembly to reach them for Christ.  So we have revivals, meetings, special events, and VBS and say we are reaching our neighbors.  Then we try new paradigms and methodologies (some even inconsistent with Bible teaching) to bring people to the assembly so we can teach them about Christ and we call that OUTREACH.  Although some of these things are good.  Admittedly, some are even very effective. They are not what we are called to do.

The “Great Commission” does not say, “Advertise and bring every creature to the building or event, making them disciples of your ministry or program . . .”  Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20). As the church we are to go to where people are.  As an individual member of the Body of Christ, I am to share the message of the good news of salvation with those I have contact and influence with. Growing the church does not mean simply increasing the numbers at the building, but reaching people where they are with what they need.  As the title of Ivan Stewarts 1974 classic book says, “Go Ye Means Go Me.” Until we reach out we have it wrong.

-Scott

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From my Heart

photoToday, this morning, I am simply writing what I am thinking. I am not sure how this will come across.

Friends, I am hurting! Tears are literally welling up in my eyes as I am thinking. It pains me deeply to say what I am about to say. There is a certain reality that hits once I publish my thoughts. Once I speak or write I can never take back the words. The thoughts of my heart, my private reflections are about to go public. I cannot help it. Similar to Jeremiah, I have tried not to speak, but there is as if there is a fire in my bones and I have to give vent to the burning inside of me (Jeremiah 20:9).

I am fearful some will not understand. I am fearful that some will treat me differently.  I am afraid that some will think bad of me. So please read carefully.  Please understand me.  Know that I love you, each and every one of you. Please know I love God, Christ, and the Spirit. Understand that I believe the Bible to be the Word of God and that through His word He tells us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2Pe 1:3). I believe that God wants – no desires – all people to be with Him in Heaven (2Pe 3:9, 1Ti 2:4) and through Jesus the Christ (Messiah) God provides the only way back to Himself (John 14:6).

With that said, I am hurting.

  • I hurt for the world.  A world that seems to increasingly hate the Christ, and those that follow Him. A world I thought I would never see.  A world that at best pokes fun at Christianity and at worst puts followers of Christ in prison and to death, simply for confessing His name.
  • I cry over a world that dogmatically calls people of convictions different from their own, “bigots.”
  • I do not understand why the world is intolerant of Christians while accusing Christians of intolerance.
  • I hurt that our world is selfishly self-serving. Individuals and groups want more than acceptance, they want the removal of all consequences of their actions or beliefs and the elimination of all who disagree with them. This is IMPOSSIBLE.
  • I cry for the nation I live in – the United States of America.  I cry that we, as a nation, are embracing sin at an ever increasing rate.
  • I morn the violence against people of different races or gender.  I am ashamed that such prejudice even exists – especially among those who claim to follow the Christ.
  • I cry for the victims of abuse of all kinds.

There are more things I cry over. There is more that depresses me.  I am a relatively positive person, if you look up optimist you might even see my picture in the dictionary, but I do not feel optimistic about our world. We live in a world filled with what First Century Greeks would call:

  • pornos” – sexual immorality. This includes intimate hetero-sexual (male-female) relationships outside of marriage.
  • eidololatres” – idolaters. Those that worship any god but God.  Those that put any thing, person, activity, pleasure, recreation, etc. as priority over God.
  • moichos” – adulterers. Those that have sexual relations with someone other than their spouse. Those that have multiple divorces and remarriages that do not follow Jesus’ statement on marriage and divorce (Mat 5:31-32; 19:3-12; Mar 10:2-12).
  • malachos” – effeminate or soft. This one is troublesome. I am not sure the entire meaning. My best understanding is that it describes men who try to look like women. In First Century Greek cultures, younger men would shave body hair, dress like women, offer themselves as temple prostitutes or as the “companion” of wealthy men. At the very least a modern equivalent would be what we know as cross-dressing or being transgender.
  • arsenokoites” – literally “man-chambering” or sexual relations between two men.  This is what we now call homosexuality. Such was a practice in the First Century especially among the cultural elite.
  • kleptes” – thieves. Those that steal from others.
  • pleonektes” – greedy. Those that covetously seek for their own gain not caring about others in the process. They are avaricious.
  • methusos” – drunkards. Those that use chemicals (specifically alcohol) to become high (intoxicated).
  • loidoros” – revilers. Those that look for and start fights (they are purposefully critical in an abusive or insulting way).
  • harpax” – extortionists or swindlers. They prey on others and cheat them out of their possessions.

That First Century list looks familiar.  I cringe to think the world is still the same 2000 years later. Surely we can evolve beyond such rapacity. But we have not, will not, and that hurts me deeply.

What is sadder still is that these same accusations are not only applicable to the world outside of Christ, but many who claim to follow Christ are just as guilty.  That is why after Paul composed this aforementioned list to Christians in 1Co 6:9-10, he continues, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Co 6:11).

Three thoughts and I leave this post in your hands. Three thoughts and I let you go about your day. Three thoughts as I read Paul’s admonition:

  1. Christians ought not to be harsh to those who practice sinful behaviors.  We ought to understand.  We were there, that was us.
  2. Those things (behaviors and attitudes) WERE who we were BEFORE we came to the Christ and gave our life to Him. Now we should put those things away and live for Him. He is now our life (Col 3:4) and we put away those things.
  3. Now our role is not to point people to sin. Those who sin are guilty and need GRACE and FORGIVENESS that is in Christ.  Let us point them to Christ and life in Him.  Let us not be a laser in the eyes or salt in an open wound but  on the contrary be a welcoming light and savoring salt (Mat 5:13-16).

– Scott

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Even More on Prayer

Prayer!  Prayer is so much more than saying a few words with our 20111206-072603.jpgheads bowed and hands folded.  Prayer involves our entire concept of God. Prayer connects deeply to our faith. Our life as a child of God is to be a life of prayer.

  • Prayer is not simply an emergency line to God, although He wants to hear and help our urgent needs.
  • Prayer is not negotiation with God. We should ask for supplication, but we need not barter with God.
  • Prayer is not a miracle nor does prayer require/expect God to answer with a miracle. Providence – yes! Miraculously setting aside the laws of nature – no.
  • Prayer is not for show. Prayer is not meant to impress others with our piety. Prayer is more of an exercise of humility seeking aid from the Creator of all.
  • Prayer is not resigning our fate to the whims of a narcissistic god. Prayer is not giving up or giving in.

Prayer is so much more.

Take time to talk with God today – right now.  I know that the Father longs to hear from His children; the Creator wants to hear from his creation.

– Scott

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