Category Archives: Christians

Prove It!

Do you recall the “prove it” challenge from your childhood. I variation of “I dare you!” Your group of friends would start boasting about what you could do, how fast you could run, how far you could jump, how high you could climb in the tree. Then someone would call your bluff, “prove it!”

You were done for. You had opened you mouth and now you had a choice: 1) suffer the consequences of backing out and offer the “I was kidding” or “what time is it, My mom wanted me home by (whatever time it happened to be). I will prove it later, or 2) die trying to do what you said you could do.

During my college years, I heard an account of a certain event from the 13th Century that told of Crusaders entering villages and towns looking for heretics. If accused of heresy, you had an opportunity to defend yourself and to prove your allegiance to Christianity or be put to death.

As a side point, allow me a disclaimer. I do not condone what these men did, supposedly in the name of Christ. God and Christ had little to do with the actions of these men. History shows that men seeking power and fortune used and abuse Christianity (or a form of it) for their own advantage and not to spread the gospel of peace that scripture records. Now back to my original intent.

According to some accounts, when the Inquisitors came to Toulouse, France, they came upon a certain individual who lived just outside the city. He was a laborer by trade and would walk through the streets crying out to the crowds these words, “Listen to me, citizens! I am no heretic: I have a wife, and sleep with her, and she has borne me sons. I eat meat, I tell lies and swear, and I am a good Christian. So do not believe it when they say I am an atheist.”

For the record, I understand that this man died at the stake persistently insisting he was a good Christian and Catholic.

Remembering this story started my wheels turning this morning.

  • How would one prove they were a Christian today?
  • If asked for the reason for the hope you have, what would you say?
  • If asked to prove you are a Christian, what evidence would you submit?

You say you are a Christian?

Prove it!

-Scott

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When Wrong Makes Right

WhenIn today’s political environment; in this day of violence and unrest; in this time of economic struggle for nations, states, counties, cities, and towns; in times like this I begin to think about how I can help.

What can I do?

What can we do as individuals and as groups to bring relief to the suffering, the oppressed, the mistrusted, and the uneducated? What can we do as a society?

Some say we can go to any length to help.

Local banks and big businesses have lots of cash and we have the right to carry weapons, so could we legalize armed robbery as long as the robbers give some of what they take to homeless shelters and pay taxes on what they keep to support law enforcement?

As population grows we are putting a strain on the resources the earth provides. Is it time to set an age limit and euthanize those who reach that age so that we protect our resources and make room for the next generation? Just think, this will save Social Security, Medicare, and we can set a birth tax to help pay for the costs of euthanizing seniors.

With population growth, we need more housing and places for our cars, should we “They take all the trees and put them in a tree museum and charge the people a dollar and a half to seem them?” Should we “pave paradise and put up a parking lot?” (Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell)

NOTE: I do not believe that any of the above are appropriate – even though cutting down trees to build more building instead of renovating what we already have is legal in most areas.

Yet I see many Christians acquiescing on other, yet similar, issues that politicians propose. I know Christians in dry communities who voted for alcohol sales under the guise of raising community revenue. I know Christians who are for legalizing certain narcotics to raise taxes.  There are other issues that we are giving in on.  It is not too late to stand up for what is moral and right.

Wrong is NEVER right!

I leave you with the words of the prophet Isaiah,

“Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
 who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:20-21

-Scott

 

 

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How to Know God’s Plan

  • If God leads me to it He will lead me through it.gods plan
  • If this is God’s will, then I will endure.
  • I guess this was in God’s plan for me.
  • I don’t know why God planned for me to go through this.
  • God must has more for you to do, that is why you survived.
  • They finished what God planned for them to do, so He took them home.

I hear these and similar phrases more and more each day. “How can I know what God wants me to do in my life?”

I know these are people of faith, that are sincerely wanting to do God’s will. After all Paul tells us, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:17). I do not want to be foolish in God’s eyes, so I need to know his plan for me!

What is God’s plan?

I want to share a few verses and some advice that will help you determine God’s plan for you. What I will share is what you can use to determine what you should be doing and what you should do in the future.

Jesus gives the answer, “And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “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.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31).

Love God with all that you are.

Love your neighbor with the same intensity that you love yourself.

What does God have planned?

  • He did not and does not plan the day of your death – He may know when that will be, but He did not set the date.
  • God did not plan for you or your loved one to battle that disease or disaster. Those things simply are a part of a physical world. He is there to carry you through to healing, recovery, or on eternity.
  • God does not have written down what job you should have to please Him, nor did he preplan your soul-mate you should marry.
  • He did not make you straight or LGTB.

You and I choose our life’s direction based on both our heredity and environment and must discern our the choices we face and make the choice we find consistent with the Word of God and how we should live as God’s children.

What God wants is for us to do? “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).

That is God’s plan!

-Scott

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The Beauty of Christ’s Body

Yesterday I read a piece in the Huffington Post from and author who was disappointed in the congregation of the Lord’s Body that she attended from childhood. She shared an incident or two that would be enough to disillusion anyone. Sadly, using large brush strokes, she in many ways blames every church of Christ.

After reading her article, I thought I would repost something I wrote a few years ago that I think demonstrates the beauty of the church and God’s plan for Christianity – the Kingdom of Christ.

*********************

What is the church of Christ

Admittedly, I feel completely inadequate to publish an answer.  The gods plananswer I will give is mine and not necessarily the answer of every one who holds membership in a congregation claiming to be the church of Christ

Autonomous

Frank S. Mead wrote in Handbook of Denominations in the United States, 5th Ed, (Nashville:Abingdon Press), 1970. “There is a distinctive plea for unity at the heart of the Churches of Christ — a unity that is Bible based.  It is believed here that the Bible is the “beginning place” in and through which God-fearing people can achieve spiritual oneness” (p 85).  “They disclaim being a denomination, but claim to be nondenominational with no headquarters, no governing boards, and no clergy” (p 86). Mead lists numbers of colleges, universities, and lists a few publications in Texas and Tennessee then stresses, “Since all official status in these institutions is lacking, none of them being authorized to speak for the entire church, their conformity in ideas and teachings in all the more remarkable” (p 87).  Elsewhere in the article Mead mentions the concept of congregational autonomy with each congregation being governed by her own elders and deacons. (Mead lists, W.E. McClenney, B.W. Stone, and Earl I. West as sources for his information p 238.)

I feel for the lady who wrote such a condemning article. I pray that she will understand that a few or even multiple congregations do not represent every other one.  I pray that she will seek out a group of Christians who like her are trying to be Christians.

Back to the question: “What is the Church of Christ?”

While consisting of many congregations scattered around the world, the Church of Christ is universally one as she is:

  1. The Body of Christ – Eph 1:22-23;
  2. The Bride of Christ – Eph 5:21-33; Rev 21:2;
  3. The Household of God – 1 Tim 3:15; and
  4. The Kingdom of Christ – Col 1:13) among other descriptive terms. 

(Notice that each term is ultimately singular: body, bride, household, and kingdom; thus individual congregations made up of individual Christians are what comprise the universal singular Church of Christ.)

Individual Christians comprise the Body of Christ locally and universally. Christians are those who are in Christ by faith having put on Christ and becoming part of God’s family through the promised Seed of Abraham (Gal 3:26-29).  Here, I think is a particularly sticky issue.  In my past I have made too much of an argument about baptism and not enough about faith.  Let me be very precise in my wording; each individual that is a part of the house of God is saved by God’s grace through faith (Eph 2:8-10).  Without faith man cannot please God (Heb 11:6). 

What is faith?

Faith is not mere mental acceptance of facts.  Faith is trusting obedience.  Faith that does not submit to God is not faith.  Those that put on Christ by faith in Gal 3:26 were those who were put in Him when by faith submitted to immersion to contact His blood.  Paul tells the Romans Christians he was glad they had obeyed from the heart the standard of teaching that saved them (Rom 6:17-18).  That standard of teaching that saved them was the same doctrine that Paul taught the Corinthians – (the Gospel – 1 Cor 15:1-5; Rom 1:16).  That good news that saved was the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus as Christ.  Paul explains the Roman’s faithful obedience to that gospel in Rom 6:3-6.  ALL the individuals world-wide who are en christo (in Christ), and ALL the assemblies of those individuals, are the universal Church (Body, Bride, Kingdom, Household) of Christ.

Now as Mead observed, these congregations are autonomous (self-governed).  Basically, that means what we do at Central may differ in someways from how they do things at Northport, Cottondale, Westside, Northwood, Mercedes Drive, East Pointe, University, or anywhere else in town.  We may see some things as acceptable that others do not.  Some of the things they accept may not be acceptable here.  Sometimes these differences are merely cultural.  Sometimes these differences are simple matters of opinion.  However, there may be times when we think a Biblical issue is at the center of our differences. When the issue is considered by one or both to be a matter of doctrinal importance, lines of communication should allow for civil discussion.  If we come to an impasse, we may choose to limit cooperative fellowship.  That should not mean that each think the other is “hell bound and determined.”  Such should simply mean we choose to work along side of those we feel are more like us.

Sometimes a congregation can focus on the wrong things like politics or even pride as a result of thinking they are more righteous, more spiritual, more open minded, or more correct than other congregations or other groups within Christendom.

Ultimately, God and Christ will judge each congregation (consider the Seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2 & 3 – God judged each individually), and they will judge each individual.  Maybe that is partly what Paul had in mind when he wrote, ” . . . work our your OWN salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12, emphasis; SMc).  You and I as individuals will stand before God on our own.  We will face judgment as to whether we as an individual were in Christ and lived in sanctification and holiness (1 Thess 4:3-7).  Each eldership will give account for the congregation they serve (Heb 13:17).

I am a Christian who believes in restoration.  I believe that we must all go back to God’s word for life and godliness.  I believe, as did many before me, that we must set aside denominational nomenclature and return to purely Biblical ideas and principles.  I believe there is room for division in opinions or expediency. I believe mutual understanding of Biblical doctrines provides unity whereas disagreements in doctrine limit fellowship.  I believe that as long as humans are in churches there will be differences that seem insurmountable.  I believe we should teach the truth as we understand truth, allowing for folks to disagree, while continuing to hold fast to healthy spiritual teaching (sound doctrine). I believe in the end of time God will sort out who is and who is not His children.  I believe I must do my best to follow God and to teach others what I learn.  I cannot force them to agree with me, but I must share what I see is God’s plan.  To do less would be irresponsible on my part.

-Scott

 

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It Isn’t Me.

“Who is making that noise?!” Mom asked.

All three of us denied, “It isn’t me!”

It isn’t me.

Let me state that from a different direction and in the form of a question: Am I really me? Am I my own person?

Western society touts the idea of being yourself, finding your own truth, living for you, being your own man or woman (today that include which ever gender you think you want to be – but that is another post). When I ask, “Am I my own person?” or “Are you your own person?” out individualistic society takes pride in answering, “Yes!”

But should we be?

Go with me back to the Garden of Eden. The serpent convinced Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil telling them, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:5)

“You will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The word “knowing” can carry the idea of being able to determine or choose what is good and evil. This might be the case when you consider the context of the phrase and note that they will be like God. God is the source of morality, what is good and evil – He determines it. Satan could be saying, “You get to choose what you will do and if it is right or wrong. You get to be your own person, your own god.”

Oh the problems that come from man determining his own morality!

God offers many warnings:

  • “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23
  • “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Proverbs 14:12; 16:25
  • “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12

When we set ourselves up as the ultimate moral authority, the one(s) who determine what is right and what is wrong, we set ourselves in the place of God.

May I remind you of what Paul says, ” . . . . You are not your own.” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

-Scott

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Vertical

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my world turning Sideways. Current political climate and current issues of morality or immorality played into that post, but mostly it was about a personal event. My younger brother’s diagnosis with a brain tumor.

This week I traveled to Gainesville, Florida to Shands’ Hospital where skilled surgeons and others removed 90% of the tumor. As of today, I do not know of the complete pathology report, but the surgeon and oncologist are both certain that the tumor is malignant. Watching my parents and my sister-in-law as the word cancer entered the room was difficult. No family wants to hear that diagnosis.

cj

 

Breathe.

Cry.

Pray.

Inhale and exhale.

Pray more.

Now that we know, we fight. We fight with medicines, we fight with technology, we fight calling upon the Great Physician to be in our corner fighting for us and with us. We fight vertically.

My brother is not perfect, I am not either. My brother is a child of God. In the hospital from pre-op to post-op in the ICU and in a semi-private room, he prayed with surgeons, nurses, and other patients.  He shared the reason for his hope and good spirits. I do not know how other families react to such news, but after the initial disappointment we quickly reverted to hope and laughter. Charles and I even had a few laughs about comedy skits that made fun of brain surgery. We are not laughing at the diagnosis, but in spite of it.

We can laugh and cope because of our hope in Christ.

Last evening at our devotional at Central, J, our Youth Minister shared the following statement. A statement I wish I had made. A statement that summarizes how my family is coping with brain cancer.

“This world is full of grave things, but this world is not my grave.”

I may die here. Unless Christ comes first I know I will die (Heb 9:27). It may be of cancer. It may be from a heart attack. It may be of old age, in automobile accident, or a random shooting. Death will come, my body will be buried, but because Christ rose from the dead and I put my hope in Him, the grave will not hold me for eternity. I will rise to be with the Lord always.

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.  For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1Th 4:13-18).

Instead of thinking sideways, think VERTICAL!

Cancer is bad. But God is good!

-Scott

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I am not Sorry

What I am about to say is un-American, un-patriotic, unlike many right-wing republicans, and definitely un-Tea Party -like.

I am not sorry for what I am about to say.

I believe my words to be truth, founded upon scripture.  They are thoughts that our 20111219-090729.jpghymnology (is that a word?) proclaims.  These thoughts come from many before me, but somehow are missing from the spoken doctrine of current mainstream western Christianity – especially among conservatives, fundamentalists, and evangelicals.  I begin with a statement from the preacher and apostle Paul, who was by natural birth a free citizen of Rome (cf. Acts 22:28), “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Php 3:20).

Paul said it first and I only echo him, I am first and foremost a citizen of heaven.  As  Albert E. Brumley wrote,

“This world is not my home I’m just passing through
my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
the angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door
and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

O Lord you know I have no friend like you
if Heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do?
the angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door
and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”

With the above on my mind I want to share some concerns for the future of the United States; the country of my residence:

This election season, please be as conscientious as you can be while deciding what candidate to vote for.

I am personally concerned for the future of the United States. When I go to their websites and read what the candidates say about themselves, the choices before us in the major political parties and the minor parties concern me. Please ignore the rhetoric in media. Please ignore the SPIN coming form journalists. Go read each candidate’s platform on their websites and make an informed choice. I have links below that take you directly to each candidate’s page on the issues they deem important. These are informational only and not an endorsement of any party or candidate.

Learn more about Donald Trump

Learn more about Hillary Clinton

Learn more about Bernie Sanders

Learn more about Gary Johnson

Learn more about Austin Peterson

Do not misunderstand, I do care about the country of my earthly residence, but my main concern is the place I call home.

John MacArthur writes concerning the church,  “Put simply, the cooperate gathering of believers is an assembly of heaven’s citizens . . . united in purpose and in loving loyalty to their Master and King” (Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ – Kindle Edition, location 2931 of 3491).

This means that my top concerns as Heaven’s pilgrim sojourning on earth (1 Pet 2:11) are the interests and affairs of my true King and Country.  This means my focus is on bringing people into His Kingdom and teaching them to live as ambassadors for His glory.

-Scott

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