Archive for the ‘Christian Life’ category

Question

January 11, 2015

The headline reads: Study Suggests Conspiracy Theorists Are More Positive & ‘Sane’ Compared To Conventional Thinkers. So-called conspiracy theorists ask questions and exhibit critical thinking. They don’t just buy into everything that comes along.

Use the title of this post as a verb. Question. Be skeptical of what you hear in the mainstream media. Be skeptical of what you see in the alternative media. Be skeptical of what you hear from your pastor at church. In fact, question your own long held beliefs.

You may not always get answers when you question, but it’s much better than being gullible and someone’s useful idiot.

Acts 17:11–These [Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

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Obedience or Faith First?

January 4, 2015

You’ve heard the old question. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Only in this case, I’m asking, which came first? Obedience or faith?

Down through the years, I’ve heard many sermons and read a number of books which lay a heap of false guilt on Christians. Usually they talk of living the deeper life, having a higher calling, or having a greater level of obedience to Christ.

So what of this widely held notion that disciples of Christ must obey before they can truly believe? You know, just obey and don’t question Christ’s call. Jump to it, like a good soldier. Obey and your faith will follow and even increase.

Frankly, I think those who teach such things draw too much from the Gospels, especially the Sermon on the Mount. There’s a lot of talk about obedience to the law in some manner or other. It gets confusing and misleading. Teachers of obedience first as supreme don’t take into consideration the rest of the New Testament. It’s not possible to elaborate fully here without going down a lot of rabbit trails.

How can anyone obey without having at least a small amount of faith?

Look at what the Scripture says in Ephesians 2:8-10.

8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9. Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Where does faith come from? It comes from God, by His grace. Some will say this only pertains to salvation. But I believe it pertains to the good works we’re meant to do. Thus, I’ve included verse 10 in this reference.

Still not convinced? Look at the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. How many verses start with the words “by faith”?

Shouldn’t that settle it?

But, of course, it hasn’t, or I wouldn’t be bringing this up in the first place.

I won’t try to get into a discussion about what a call from God is because, again, that could lead down a lot of rabbit trails. It’s an important subject though, especially as it relates to what we do after we’re called to receive Christ at the time we acknowledge Him as our savior.

But I can say this. All born again believers in Christ are exhorted to be His followers and become more like Him. The question is, how? It will vary from one person to another. The Christian walk isn’t a cookie cutter thing.

God doesn’t want us to be unwise concerning His will and what it means to act in obedience. Take a look at Ephesians 5:15-17.

15. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Let us, of course, do the right thing; but let’s not be hasty or motivated by guilt into obedience.

I would never encourage any believer to be disobedient to the Lord. However, if you do something you’ve been told is in obedience to God, but you don’t do it with at least a little faith in Him, is it possible you could actually be sinning?

Consider this. The last part of Romans 14:23 says, for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Don’t let Christian do-gooders get to you with their hhigh pressure sales pitches and false guilt trips. Look to the Lord in prayer. Seriously seek Him as the source of your faith and the Holy Spirit’s empowerment for walking in obedience to Him. It will keep you out of trouble.

So What if You’re a Nobody?

December 28, 2014

I started reading (but didn’t have the stomach to finish) a book by a Christian man who’s no longer alive, but he was considered to be quite a man of God while on the earth. He was a big wheel in one of those Christian organizations founded back in the 1940’s or ’50’s–the name of which would be recognizable to many today.

But this man’s name and the positions he held aren’t relevant here. I’m not impressed with them. It’s an idea he put forth which I want to take on.

He quoted the latter part of Esther 4:14, which says, …who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? He encouraged his readers to think of Moses, Joseph, Daniel and Paul. After all, we as believers should make a big difference in the world. You’re a child of the King! Go out and win souls to Christ by the handfuls.

And on it goes.

This sounds like the ego building tripe young people are often–and wrongly–exposed to at graduation ceremonies.

How about putting that ego in its proper place?

What if you’re a nobody? What if you haven’t made a big splash in the world? What if you haven’t made a big splash among other Christians? Is that so wrong?

I’m grateful to my late friend Gerald who put me in my place a number of times. Keeping my ego in check kept me from being a fool more than once.

I’m not saying you should strive to be a nobody. Many of us don’t have to work at that at all. We’ve got that down pat. What I’m saying is, if you’re not a notable person in larger circles, don’t despair.

If you’re born again and Christ is your savior and Lord, you’re definitely not a nobody in the sight of God. I would ask you to think of the answer to these questions. Did Christ die to give His life to redeem you? Are you a sinner saved by grace? Are you a joint heir with Christ?

Ephesians 1:3 says, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: Are you going to say all this isn’t enough? You’re not content with such unfathomable riches?

What are the chances of you being another Moses, Daniel or Paul? Not very good at all, actually. We have this inflated idea that God takes ordinary people and makes them great. Sometimes He does, but that’s not going to happen to every ordinary believer. Being ordinary in itself doesn’t give you or me some special claim to future greatness.

What was ordinary about Paul or Moses? They were brilliant men who God specially called and used for His specific purposes. Chances are that’s not you or me.

Jesus only chose twelve disciples. Were they ordinary men? Some say yes, and Jesus elevated them. Whatever it was He saw in them, it’s clear he didn’t see it in everybody else in the world in that day. Again, He chose them for His specific purposes–even Judas.

John was referred to as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Does that mean He didn’t love the other disciples? Not at all, but they were not all equally loved. Nor were they equal in their talents and abilities.

This flies in the face of the impartial God we like to hear about who loves evrybody equally, etc., etc. But the whole subject of election–which I won’t elaborate on here–shows God isn’t impartial. If you’re one of His, you’ve been chosen from before the foundation of the earth. That’s not a matter for pride. It’s a deeply humbling truth.

As I noted above, you’re not a nobody in the sight of God. Far from it. But so what if you’re a nobody in the sight of the world? Where’s your real citizenship anyway? Isn’t it in heaven?

But where do you fit into the Body of Christ in the here and now? I won’t presume to tell you that because I don’t know the answer. Do you have other believers around you who can help you recognize and cultivate your spiritual gifts?

My guess is your church isn’t capitalizing on spiritual gifts. They’ve probably got people in leadership who have the attitude of the Christian author whose comments I mentioned above. If they think they’re brought to this world for such a time as this, where does that leave you and me? We get left out, regardless of rhetoric to the contrary. If you don’t believe me, challenge your pastor by letting him know what a great man or woman of God you are yourself.

Back to my original question.

So what if you’re a nobody? Is that so wrong? Can you be content with the spiritual and physical blessings God has given you? Can you be content with letting Him make you into the person He wants you to be?

Remember, Jesus told His disciples in John 15 that He is the vine. They were the branches. They could do nothing without Him. So it is with you and me.

Romans 8:29-30–
29. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Love Tramples Truth and Equals Lukewarm Christianity

November 30, 2014

Today’s lovey-dovey Christianity is repulsive to me. Christians have adopted their own version of political correctness. We’ve become so touchy-feely about not offending anybody that we’ve become lukewarm.

I understand not wanting to abuse Christian liberties that could cause weaker brothers and sisters to stumble, but we’ve carried it too far.

Here’s what Jesus had to say to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3.

15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Sickening, isn’t it? Who wants to be spit out of the Lord’s mouth?

One remedy for lukewarm Christianity is found in an article written by Harry A. Ironside, a great fundamentalist Bible teacher and pastor from last century. It’s called Exposing Error: Is It Worthwhile?. Click on its title to read it.

Why should love and truth be strangers?

The Negatives of Optimism

November 9, 2014

I’ve been accused many times of being too negative. My late friend Gerald sometimes called me Mr. Negative, though he could run circles around me when it came to pessimism and cynicism.

I’ve never bought into the notion of positive thinking. There’s so much B.S. about it. For example, you can change reality. Only God can change reality. You’ve no doubt heard of the book entitled Think and Grow Rich. The title sums up the main idea of what to me is positive thinking taken to the level of delusion.

But there’s a down side to optimism that goes beyond my opinion of it. It’s a form of self deception. Here’s a quote from an article I saw about it recently.

“Positive thinking makes people feel comfortable with their present state.”

You may ask, What’s wrong with that? Do you have any goals you’d like to achieve? If you’re so happy you’re comfortable with where you are, will you ever reach those goals?

People I know who are preppers talk much about situational awareness. But why be aware of your surroundings and possible dangers if everything will be OK?

I’m not suggesting we live in the dumps all the time. That’s not healthy either. But optimism needs to be tempered with realism. The Scriptures show us the way to balance our thinking.

Think on these things for a while, and if you want to read more, see the article entitled Here’s Proof That Optimism Can Actually Ruin Your Chances Of Success.

Philippians 4:6-9–
6. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
9. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Profound Thoughts on Walking the Christian Walk

November 2, 2014

The following comes from a recent edition of the Independent Baptist newsletter I receive weekly. It’s a quote that speaks for itself about living the Christian life and walking in the Spirit.

 

This Week’s Quote

(Friday Church News Notes, October 24, 2014, http://www.wayoflife.org, fbns@wayoflife.org, 866-295-4143)

– “We need the Lord’s abiding presence (Jn. 14:18-24) for the simple but sublime reason that Christianity is Christ. The only one who can live the Christian life is Christ. All the Lord expects from us is failure. For thirty-three and a half years the Lord Jesus lived a supernatural life on earth. Incarnated, he allowed his Father as God to live his life in him through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Now we as regenerated men and women, boys and girls, are to allow him as God to live his life in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one through whom God makes himself available to us. All that Jesus is as God is put, by the Holy Spirit, at the disposal of the individual who will put, by the Holy Spirit, all that he or she is at the disposal of Jesus as God. That is the essence of the Christian life. The Christian life is a supernatural life. It is the life of Christ lived out in every believer by means of the indwelling Holy Spirit” (John Phillips, commentary on the Gospel of John).

Peter–A Humbling Life and Example

June 1, 2014

The life of Peter is an interesting one. He was one of Jesus’ most vocal disciples. He was passionate and didn’t do anything half way, from attempting to walk on water to his denial of Christ. It’s notable that Christ singled him out for forgiveness, and we soon see Peter as one of the leaders in the early church. He went on to write two short epistles, lleaving us with a remarkable legacy as part of God’s holy word. It’s truly humbling to contemplate Peter’s ups and downs.

Many years ago when I was in Bible college, the dean of men said I was like Peter with my youthful passionate outbursts. When I look back on that, I can only hope he saw something beyond zeal. It brings tears to my eyes when I think of how God can choose someone like me for any kind of use for His glory. Have you had such thoughts, too?

“Moments for You” for the second quarter of 2014 is available and worth the read because the theme is Peter. I strongly recommend you view it here. You’ll receive a blessing.