Better Than a Stripper

Posted September 13, 2015 by John
Categories: Helping Others, Thoughts from John

I heard the account of a disabled man in a wheelchair who visited strip clubs occasionally and was acquainted with amateur porn stars. He said the women at strip clubs treated him better than anyone else. They dealt with him like a human being and weren’t patronizing or condescending.

What an odd thing. Yet there are those times when it seems the world behaves more uprightly than those of us who claim to know Christ as savior. I find a lesson in this. Shouldn’t we show compassion–not pity or avoidance–to those who are disabled or different from us? Shouldn’t we behave better than a stripper?

Romans 12, selected verses–
3.For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith…
9.Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10.Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;…
15.Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16.Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Galatians 6, selected verses–
2.Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3.For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself…
10.As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

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Remember

Posted August 30, 2015 by John
Categories: Christian Life

“Moments for You” for the third quarter of 2015 is out, and the theme is Remember. I encourage you to read it here. (A new window will open when you click the link.)

Encouraging articles talk about God’s faithfulness, the hope we have in the salvation He offers, and how we should remember to trust Him.

One article handles the old saying “Forgive and forget” better than I’ve ever heard anyone else explain it. It’s likely not possible we can forget what someone has done to us, especially if the act is grievous. But with the Holy Spirit’s enabling, we can forgive and deal with the person as if he or she had not committed any wrong against us.

That’s good advice.

Don’t Give in to Shock and Awe

Posted July 26, 2015 by John
Categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

Lately I’ve been hearing Christians express fear and shock over recent events, which include the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of homosexual marriage and the deal with Iran on nuclear materials. I find the reactions disturbing and frustrating.

It’s disturbing because many are both uninformed about the nature of these events and about what God says in His word. It’s frustrating because I’m not sure I know the way to communicate with fellow believers on a level they can relate to without alienating them. Nonetheless, I shall try below.

He who is meant to receive it will. I can only leave the rest to God.

There’s a fear that Christians in America have lost–or are losing–religious freedom and will be persecuted because of the same sex marriage decision. We’ve suffered so little in this country, we don’t know what real persecution is. It’s normal throughout history in many places, and it’s happening now in many other countries.

While I don’t relish the thought of experiencing persecution myself or seeing others go through it, it may be just what we need to separate the wheat from the chaff in the body of Christ at large.

As for the deal with Iran, many fear for Israel. They fear if we don’t stand up for Israel, we’ll risk judgment.

First, Israel has plenty of nukes. If anyone doubts it, search it out. Israel is quite capable of taking care of itself. That may become necessary as America declines.

As for America being judged, forget about its relationship with Israel for a minute. Do you think the U.S. won’t be judged for killing tens of millions of babies? That alone should do it. But now there’s same sex marriage to tack onto that.

You can no doubt think of other things for which America deserves God’s judgment. We should thank God He has been so merciful up to now.

Back to Israel for a second. God isn’t going to let Israel be destroyed. Israel takes center stage in the Great Tribulation. Judgment will take place, but not destruction.

God will raise up His kingdom in his way and time, and His word is true. He will bring about prophetic events, and He will do it as only He can.

So don’t let the bloviators in today’s noisy media get to you. Don’t let your faith be shaken. Don’t give into shock and awe from the world or even other Christian sources.

As I was thinking on all of this the other day, 1 Peter4:12-19 came to mind. Look at it below. Remember, we have not yet begun to go through fiery trials. Keep Peter’s advice in mind for now and for the time ahead when we do go through such trials.

Look at it this way. If those of us who are Christians are persecuted, will we be able to say we’re persecuted for being righteous? Isn’t that far better than being persecuted for the things the rest of the world does?

Rejoice, Christian, if you’re counted righteous enough to be tagged for it.

Finally, remember 1 Peter 4:19. If you’re truly righteous, commit your soul to the only One who can truly keep it.

1 Peter 4:12-19–
12. Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
15. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
16. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
17. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18. And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
19. Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Not indispensable

Posted July 19, 2015 by John
Categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

Perhaps you’ve heard Christians say, “The battle is the Lord’s.” So many examples in the Old Testament point to the truth of that. Israel wouldn’t have accomplished mighty victories if it weren’t for God’s direct intervention.

And what about prophecy? Do we think we can do anything to change God’s prophetic plan? While we don’t know from our vantage point now how things will work out, one day we’ll look back and say, “So that’s how God did it.”

Frankly, I think we don’t hear enough about what God will do and has already done. We are so self preoccupied–as if God couldn’t run the world without us.

I’ve heard so much through the years about how we need to be available to be God’s instruments. Let Him use us.

Well, maybe He will, and maybe He won’t. He certainly doesn’t have to. It’s an honor and privilege when He does, but often I don’t know He has until after the fact.

While I do indeed want to be used of God, I also know I’m not indispensable. Knowing that makes His grace and mercy toward me all the more humbling and precious.

Come to the New World

Posted July 5, 2015 by John
Categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

A conversation I had with my wife this morning brought to mind a novel I finished reading the other day. We had a discussion we have all too often about how things aren’t going to be OK.

I despise a glib attitude exhibited by too many Christians. The ideas are: Everything will be all right. All will be well with the world. God is in control.

OK, it’s true that God is in control. But he has given Satan plenty of latitude in this present world. And God allows things to happen that surely must not please Him.

For example, take the Old Testament account of Israel splitting into two nations–Israel in the north and Judah in the south. God said this would happen if His rulers and people did not follow Him. He couldn’t have been happy with what Israel did. Yet He allowed it to happen.

Today you and I are beset with tragedies of all kinds. Financial, health and family problems plague us in our everyday lives. They’re difficult burdens to bear. We’re deluded if we think things are OK. Yet God allows bad things to happen.

The U. S. has now legalized same sex marriage. Other gross immoralities will follow, and they’ll have consequences that will astound the average person.

Does this sound like things will be OK? Do we really think God is pleased? Nonetheless, it happens, and it is happening.

Yes, God is sovereign. But things will not be OK. They’re going to get worse and worse. That’s how the world operates.

So what’s the answer for you and me?

We must realize two things. We live in a sin-sick, cursed world. And America is dead.

The sooner we get over things like patriotism and confidence in this world, the better off we’ll be. Our allegiance and confidence are to be in the Lord.

The sooner we become unattached from this rotten world, the better. How can God fully use us if we’re centered on idealism about the human condition or the status of our once great nation?

Now, what does this have to do with the novel I mentioned above? Broadly speaking, it was about colonists who came to America. They came looking for new opportunities in a new world.

Shouldn’t we be thinking about the heavenly world we’ll be living in one day? It’s clear we don’t love that new world enough. If we did, we would be telling others how to get there. Shouldn’t we be inviting others to come to Christ and the new world He promises us?

Many of the old Negro spirituals had heaven in view. Do we have to become oppressed slaves before we get sick of this present world? That’s how it seems to me.

2 Timothy 2:3-4–
3. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

Philippians 3:7-9, 13-15, 20-21–
7. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:…
13. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you…
20. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Same Sex Marriage and the End of the World

Posted June 28, 2015 by John
Categories: Thoughts from John

The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling favoring same sex marriage has a lot of good people upset. Rightly so, perhaps. Many areas of life will now be negatively affected, which we may not yet foresee.

On the other hand, this ruling is nothing short of one more sign that we must surely be in the last days before Christ returns for His Church. Evil is making itself more plainly visible all the time. So, with that in mind, as strange as it may sound, there’s cause for believers in Christ to rejoice.

Ledt’s not forget to look at the big picture. Do we think God doesn’t know what’s going on? Do we forget He will judge this world one day? He will have His way.

I want to share four Scripture passages with you. While Romans 1:18-32 has plenty to say against homosexuality, that’s not my primary reason for sharing it. I pass it along here because Paul describes the world’s attitude toward God, and we ought to be aware of it. Let’s not be surprised by it.

In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, Paul doesn’t specifically address homosexuality; but the point is clear. The world is going to do what the world is going to do. The main thing for believers in Christ is that we don’t tolerate such attitudes and behaviors in our midst. In other words, let’s get our own house in order. How are we doing?

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul continues in this same line of thought by describing the world’s attitude in the last days.

This is what God says is going to happen, and it is indeed happening. How are we as Christians to respond? Should we wail all the louder for reform? Can we turn back the clock?

Consider what Peter says in 2 Peter 3:3-14. Knowing the attitude of the world, and knowing it will be judged, we who are believers in Christ are challenged to live holy lives, now more than ever.

Again I ask, how are we doing? And, by the way, how are we doing at getting out the Gospel?

Romans 1:18-32–
18. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29. Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30. Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31. Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32. Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13–
9. I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
10. Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
11. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
12. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
13. But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

2 Timothy 3:1-5–
1. This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3. Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4. Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

2 Peter 3:3-14–
3. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4. And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6. Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7. But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
10. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
13. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
14. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

With Persecutions…

Posted June 7, 2015 by John
Categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

Mark 10:28-31–
28. Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
29. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
30. But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
31. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.

The above passage is an exchange which takes place in Mark’s Gospel after the incident with the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-27. Jesus had just told the disciples that it was very difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. It’s easy to become too attached to the present world and to cling to what it has to offer.

Peter chimed in to say he and the other disciples had left everything to follow Jesus. Perhaps he was implying that they deserved to enter the kingdom because of their noble forsaking of this world’s pleasures.

Jesus had another thought in mind. He makes it sound very appealing to forsake all for the Him and the Gospel. Family members and possessions left behind will be replaced a hundred times by better possessions and a family of God’s people. And that’s all in this world. How great is that? It’s wonderful, isn’t it?

But then there’s another part, which we like to leave out. The phrase that follows is “with persecutions.” Most of us know nothing of this, living as affluently as we still do. Oh, yes, family and friends might make fun of us for “getting religion” or some such thing. But is that what Jesus meant?

Presumably we live in a free country, and some debate whether it’s still a Christian nation. But for how long? And how shall those persecutions take place? Are we ready for that part of the equation?

I don’t mean to brush off persecution lightly. However, there’s more to what Jesus said. The last part of verse 30 says, “and in the world to come eternal life.”

So we see there’s a greater reward. Persecutions won’t last past death.

This promise of eternal life is better than any possessions or fellowship with the family of God we’ll have in this present world. Let’s not forget that part of Jesus’ words either.

And based on what He says in verse 31, those of us who are inclined to think we have great station in this present world may not have it in the world to come, as we might have expected. Those of us who have little will enter into eternal life with more than we could have ever hoped for.