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Category Archives: Spirituality

Ephesians 4:2

I hope you all are doing well with your reading plan and especially with your memorizing of scripture. This week’s and next week’s are particularly exciting memory verses because we are learning, with last week’s verse, a set of three verses found together. When we memorize a bit larger section of scripture we get all the benefits of memorizing scripture that we already spoke about (see Memorize It, for examples and tips on memorization), along with the added benefit of more depth of content and some additional context. This week’s verse is a great example of both of those points.

Last week we were urged to walk worthy of our calling, this truth is profound in and of itself. Yet, the verse this week speaks to that calling giving us a greater depth of insight. Some times when we think of that calling we are urged to think and act upon in verse 4:1 we get high minded thinking “I have been called to this great thing” or we get bold thinking “I have God on my side” or we get brash thinking nothing shall stop me nothing will hinder me” (p.s. we say words like “shall” and “hinder” when we get really noble).There is not a period at the end of verse 4:1 so we know that verse 4:2 relates to it in some way. Verse two warns us to walk worthy with humility and gentleness.  A worthy walk is not bold. brash, and high minded. Though the thoughts stated above, are true, I hope we see that there maybe an attitude issue there, so we are still urged to avoid that by seeking humility and gentleness.

A few translations have a semi-colon or a period after gentleness but most just have a comma. This indicates that the idea continues. The verse includes patience in how we are to walk and ends with acceptance and love. It is fairly clear that patience is directed toward accepting because that act often takes much patience. However, this section of patience, acceptance and love are all part of our urge toward calling. In other words we are to walk worth of our calling with a unique character, of humility, gentleness, and love,  all the while accepting others.

Inherent in this is that others will not be in the same place on the road to righteousness, that is walking toward a worthiness of ones calling, and some maybe on a completely different road. (Notice I said the road to righteousness not to God, there is only one road to God that is faith in Jesus). We tend to think that how we got to where we are spiritually is the same road others should walk, weather: Mission’s trips, bible studies, certain books, or youth camps. Know that we all are on our own journey we all end up in the same place but we started in different places with different struggles and issues to overcome. We also tend to forget where we came from and how far we have come. Don’t expect people to be right where you are, accept them in love with grace and humility as God does us. After all we are all much further up the road from him.

 

Give Up NOW!!

 

In Antony’s sermon on Sunday he gave us a fantastic introduction to the book of Ephesians and really to the Ephesian church. There was a point in Acts where the work in Ephesus by the church made such a profound impact upon the community around those of the church that major changes were seen. I just want to focus a bit more on of these instances.

There is a story of some people that practiced magic. When these people came to Christ they burned all of their books on magic. These books would have been education on what was a false religion and thus idolatry. Now, I know that the church has gotten a bit worked up over this idea of magic and calling everything from Harry Potter and Magic cards, to the teletubbies “of the devil”. I have no intention of elaborating on this fact other than to say we should be wise in what we expose our selves and families to because the devil is real and he does work in this world. I would also say that some times Christians go to far, and demonize things and people. There is a point of being wise and avoiding what you might see as being bad but in doing so we should be careful that we aren’t being unloving to people associated with those things. Don’t forget that loving others is just as much (and I would argue more so) a part of your sanctification as fleeing from evil is, so do both wisely.

So now that I’m sure I have everyone mad I digress. The magicians burned their spell books. Anthony did the math for us on what kind of value these books had. In really rough numbers these books were worth some 6 Million dollars in today’s money. There are two points that I find interesting about this. First is that they burned them. I have no doubt that there were those in Paul’s day, and would be today, that would suggest we sell the books and use the money for the kingdom. Judas did this with Jesus in a very similar situation. The issue here is two fold. First, God doesn’t need our resources he calls us to be good handlers of the resources we have. Secondly, if these books were sold then they would continue to lead people away from God. This goes back to loving others. If we didn’t love others we would care more about the money then we would care how it might effect others. If we cared more about people then we would give up the money for someone else’s benefit.

The second point I find particularly significant about this even is that these people made a great sacrifice to follow Christ. There is a good chance that magic was all these people knew and these books were the source of their income, and their possession of greatest value. But they gave that all up to follow Christ. To often we think that we can come to Christ and make minor adjustments in our life. But truly following Christ is a life of great sacrifice, suffering, and self denial for the sake of the kingdom. Jesus didn’t say “just add me to your life” he said “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matt. 16:24).

The Christian life is a self denying life of sacrifice. That isn’t to say that it is supposed to all be hard and miserable but it isn’t going to be easy and super all the time either. What are you sacrificing? What should you sacrifice? What have you been unwilling to give up for the cause of Christ?

 

 

Wife Material?

Do you remember back to your high school days? Or just your dating days? Did you ever go out with someone with no intention of much else? I mean sure they were good for a night out or some last minute entertainment but they weren’t marriage material. Did you ever tell your pals “its not like I’m going to marry her” ” I’m not crazy or nothing”?

I think one of the most profound statements that Anthony made Sunday was that Jesus doesn’t want a girlfriend he wants a wife. Since I am now married and have greater insight into this analogy lets play this out. What do you do with a girlfriend. You schedule a day together, but it really isn’t a day its most often just a few hours. But its only when it is good for you. If work, or family, or a job, or something comes up you can always reschedule. Well you have a few good hours together mostly just having fun. You never really have to get that serious and then you take her home.

What do you do with a wife? You live to make her happy. Everyday is with her, you come home to her. You do everything together, if your seeing friends its together, if your watching tv its together, if your going to see family its together. You face everything together if you want to do something, buy something, change something you have to at least think about her opinion and preferably speak with her about it. You have good times just like when you were dating but you also face bad times like disagreements, and taxes, bills, and all your dirty laundry. You no longer do what ever you want but you do everything as one.

Anthony’s right we approach Jesus like a girlfriend, not a wife. We aren’t really committed to Jesus we just have fun and then we get to go do what ever we want to do. We spend a few hours a week in church, and then he is just a title. Oh yeh, I am a Christian I really like Jesus, “But I’m not crazy or nothing”. Jesus calls us to be his wife where we become one with Jesus, where everything is with him and about him and to make him happy. So stop just necking with JC and you better put a ring on it.

 

Capital or Community?

As many of you did I stayed up pretty late last night watching the election coverage. But I went to bed long before the results were in. And as many of you I looked this morning to see who had one. I know some of you are excited and others are disappointed. But allow me to begin by saying that I believe the church has no place in politics. God did not call us to change legislation. God did not call us to make our nation pass laws requiring people to live a moral life. If Jesus is our example for how we are time live then Jesus gave us no example that should lead us to believe that we should try to control Washington and Christ lived in Rome a much more pagan state then our own. Yet Christians still hold political rallies, and Christians still hold get out the vote campaigns.

My question is WHY? Is the word of God not your authority, guide-book, and direction? Then where do you see that in scripture? Are you worried about the detrimental state of our nation? Well then that is where the church has a major issue.

The detrimental state of our nation in regards to the Christian values, or lack there of, within our political system has been prevalent for a very long time. Though abortion is a hot button issue for social conservatives there are numerous other teachings in scripture that our country has flagrantly disregarded yet Christians have had little or no response to in the public arena.

To just point out a few: Our God speaks time and time again in scripture to be good stewards and to lay up an inheritance for our children yet our nation is 16 trillion dollars in debt. Our God calls us to live at peace with all men when at all possible and that little thing about “do not murder” yet our nation maintains troops in all corners of the globe, is fighting numerous wars, and entering new ones daily. Our God has called those that love him to bless Israel yet for multiple administrations (not just the most resent) of our country have sought “peace” for Israel by instructing them what to do, at times instructing them to give away some of their land. Our God calls marriage to be a holy institution and covenant before him. Our country believes they have a say in the matter.  Our country has no place in marriage whether Hetero– or Homo- it is a covenant with God.
I could go on but I believe I have made my point. If we desire for America to be a Christian nation there is a lot more to change then just the so-called “Social Issues”.

However, it is not voting or politicians, or policy, or governments that make America Christian or not, it is people, and commitments, and individuals, and culture. America was a Christian nation because its people were primarily Christian. That is no longer the case, and it hasn’t been for sometime now. And it will not be until the church wakes up and starts caring more about souls in their own neighborhood than they care about papers in Washington.

 

Rainy Days and Mondays

Doesn’t the song go, “rainy days and Mondays always get me down”? Well, what if it is a rainy day on a Monday? That must really send your attitude in a downward spiral. Today is such a day here in NC.

I made a mistake yesterday. One that I have only made twice in my aviation career. My very first flight with Jefferson Pilot was on December 4th, 1992, and it was a day very much like today. It was rainy and cold. The captain,G.E., and the KingAir 300 was on final approach into Teterboro NJ, but I felt as if I was still sitting on the runway in Greensboro NC ready for takeoff. I was behind the plane to say the least. That wasn’t my mistake though. My mistake was this. I forgot my sunglasses! “I thought you said it was rainy and cold”, you might ask. Why do I need sunglasses on a cloudy wet day? Well, before I answer that question, let me say I didn’t forget my sunglasses as much as I thought I wouldn’t need my sunglasses. I did think of them, yet figured I wouldn’t need them on such a day. WRONG. A pilot always needs his sunglasses. Why? Because in spite of the rain and clouds, and no matter how bad the storms may be, the plane will climb above to find the wonderfully bright sun.

Yesterday, almost 20 years after the first mistake, I did it again. I couldn’t believe it! I actually thought of my sunglasses and had a second thought of, “I don’t need them today”. WRONG again. I was disappointed in myself. Why? Because in spite of the rain and clouds, and no matter how bad the storms may be, the plane will climb above to find the wonderfully bright sun. (Deja-vu)

I provided a link to a Chris Tomlin video that you need to watch. Friend, no matter what you are going through, no matter the storms of life, God cares. Just as Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, rose from the grave, you too can rise from your situation. Any more words I write will only take away from the video.

Oh yeah! Don’t forget your sunglasses!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bms0ZiM_KG0

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2012 in Individual Growth, Life, Spirituality

 

I use to…….

Daniel was preaching Sunday on the last half of James chapter three. He spoke of being pure. In James 3:17 we read,” But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” This chapter is contrasting heavenly wisdom and demonic wisdom. Daniel pointed out that holiness- pure undefiled love of God- and sin can’t coexist.

When I type in the keyword “Pure” on BibleGateway.com the first ten finds speak of pure gold. Pure, 24 carat gold that has no foreign substance in it. Gold that has been heated and tested to remove any impurities that it may have. This is the “pure” that we need to strive to be.

I remember going to many youth events years ago. These events were established as an evangelical outreach to win youth to Christ and/or encourage the young believer to get serious about God. A not so big name speaker would come and share his testimony with us. In most cases he would share what he use to be and compare it to what he is now. He would spend his time telling of the alcohol he use to drink. He would share how alcohol lead to drug use. He would tell stories of the wild and crazy things he use to do. Then, with just a few minutes left, he would share how he found Jesus. Even then, I knew something wasn’t quite right.

Friends, we need to never glorify sin. Generations behind us are listening. They hear a mature Christian talk of times past and what we use to do and they think,”If they did that and are OK now, then I can do that.” I do realize that we all have a past and are sinful, but lets not brag about it. People can justify their actions based on what we proclaim we use to do. We can tell of the love of Christ and how he saved a sinner like me without going into the details of that sin. We may  be lead to share our past with someone specific in detail as guided by the Holy Spirit, but not in a large public setting.

Proverbs 16:2
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the spirits.

 

Just Quit and Give Up

At Rebecca’s (my fiance) graduation the commencement speaker told the story of how as a young girl her mother gathered the children in the back yard. She had them write the word “Can’t” on a piece of paper and place it in a shoe box as if it were a dead hamster or pet bird. Then the children dug a hole and buried “Can’t” in the back yard. This was to instill in the children a can do attitude and a view that can’t wasn’t even an option.

Though this story is interesting, humorous and insightful the premise is inherently wrong for the Christian. The idea is that when we say we can’t, and give up, that we are weak and less able to succeed. The fact of the matter is that most of the time a Christian will not succeed until the say Can’t. The statement goes something like this “God, I don’t know. I have tried all I know and still things aren’t working out. I just can’t do this, I can’t do it any longer, I don’t have what it takes. God, you’re going to have to fix this because I can’t.” Jim Cymbala the pastor of the famous Brooklyn Tabernacle said it well “The devil is not terribly frightened of our human efforts and credentials. But he knows his kingdom will be damaged when we begin to lift up our hearts to God.” A man or woman is never stronger than when they are on their knees. We can program, and organize. We can work and sweat, and don’t get me wrong we do have a responsibility. But our part is useless without God. We must, not should but must, begin our work, our lives, our efforts with dependence and prayer. So, for many of you it is past time for you to throw up your hands. So just quit and give up.

 
 
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