Category Archives: Christians

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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Jesus and Prayer

We continue our Tuesday study of prayer but looking to Jesus and His prayer life. John records, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-4, 14).  Jesus was NOT just a man! Jesus was NOT another prophet! Jesus was God in the flesh living on earth with man.

He was “God with us”, the “Son of God”, Christ, yet He prayed to the Father – often – VERY often! Jesus did not talk about prayer partners, prayer warriors, and daily devotionals. Christ said nothing similar to “we should pray about it.”  He simply prayed. He did ot promote prayer, he warned about vain repetitions. He called for persistence in prayer. At the very least we know He prayed for Peter by name (Luke 22:31-32).

The gospel accounts record over twenty (20) instances of Jesus praying:

Jesus prayed:

  • Mark 1:35 – He rose early to pray.
  • Luke 24:30-31 – He prayed before a meal.
  • Luke 9:28-30 – He prayed at His transfiguration.
  • Luke 22:43-44 – He prayed when He was weak.
  • John 11:41-43 – He prayed at the tomb of Lazarus.
  • Luke 6:12 – He spent the night in prayer.
  • Luke 9:18 – He prayed alone while in a crowd.

Jesus prayed because:

  • He was busy – Luke 5:15-16.
  • He had decisions to make –
    • Luke 3:21-22 – Before His immersion (baptism).
    • Luke 6:12-16 – Before choosing the 12.
    • Matthew 26:36-46 – Before facing the cross.
  • When He faced crisis – John 6:15.
  • When He faced death – Hebrews 5:7.

In John 17 we have a prayer of Jesus’ recorded for us. To me this is the Lord’s Prayer. in this prayer we hear Jesus:

  • Submitting to God – John 17:4, 6-8, 14.
  • Praying for His needs and desires – John 17:1-5.
  • Praying for the needs of the apostles – John 17:9-19.
  • Praying for the Church (you and me) – John 17:20-21.

If Jesus needed to pray, what does this mean for us?

– Scott

As a bonus here is Acappella singing about one of Jesus’ prayers:

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A Greatest Habit

great            As I am writing this lesson Pandora Radio is playing my Gordon Lightfoot Channel.  The song playing is American Pie by Don McLean.  This eight and a half minute song hit number one in 1971. It is a song inspired by the death of Buddy Holly. Some consider this song to be one of the greatest of all time. Guinness Publishers make a fortune on the Book of World Records. Our world celebrates greatness. Yet, how do we determine true greatness?

The Law of Moses that set guidelines for the life of God’s people, the children of Israel, had over 600 commands (not just 10). The religious leaders would debate which of these laws were more important and one day they asked Jesus to give His opinion on which was the greatest commandment. They were at the very least, trying to get Jesus to take sides. Jesus answer is, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” (Mark 12:29-30). Simply put, Jesus says that LOVE is the greatest. He quotes what the Jews called the SHEMA – (Hear). The Law of Moses taught that parents were to teach this creed to their children (Deut 6:4-9) at every opportunity that they had. Jesus reminds us that the greatest love is to:

Love God with all Your Heart. Loving God with all your heart is loving Him with the part of you that feels, the seat of your emotions. This love is loving God the way you love your grandparents, your parents, and those closest to you. This is the love that brings goose bumps or warm-fuzzies.

Love God with all Your Soul. The Greek word is “psyche” a root word for our word “psychology.” The understanding is that you love God with the whole of your human essense – your breath and your life.  We are to love God with everything that we are.

Love God with all Your Mind. The mind is the seat of our intellect. Loving God is not “better felt than told.” Loving God is more than a feeling; loving God is a thinking, rational adventure. When I understand what God did for me on the Cross and what He does for me in my life and for my eternity, I cannot help but learn to love Him (1 John 4:9-10, 19).

Love God with all Your Strength. This is loving God with what you can do. Demonstrate your love for God and to God by using your abilities and energies for His glory.  In other words, love God until you have nothing else to love Him with and then love Him more.

How do we love God? 2 John 6 says we walk in His commandments. We do His will, we obey Him according to His terms, we worship Him and Him alone the way He wants us to worship, and we live daily for Him (cf. 1 John 1:7). We love God and not the world (cf. 1 John 2:15-17).

Then Jesus says there is a penultimate command – the second greatest.  Jesus says, to Love your Neighbor as Yourself. There are two keys to following God: A) Love God Completely and B) Love Mankind Earnestly (cf. 1 John 4:19-21).  My neighbor would be any other person on earth (remember the story of the Good Samaritan).

How do we love our neighbor as we love ourselves? Look at Romans 12:9-13. We A) have Genuine Love, B) have Brotherly Love, C) Outdo each other in showing love, D) have a Fervent (enthusiastic) spirit toward each other, and E) Show Compassion (hospitality) toward others.

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Another Day in Paradise

Yes, I am referencing Phil Collin’s song from the 1980’s. One of his best in my opinion.

This Sunday our lessons at Central Church of Christ will be about our Attitude Toward the Poor and How We can Help the Poor.  Phil Collins’ song helps me realize my blessings and my responsibility not only as a human being, but more importantly as a Christian.

Enjoy the song:

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