Tuesday, February 28, 2012

MODERATION



Moderation is good at times, but we need to have the wisdom to know when to be moderate and when to be radical.

We don't want to be moderate when as William Lloyd Garrison puts it:

Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; but urge me not to use moderation.

Jesus used radical language during His teaching ministry:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24). 

If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison--your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple ( Luke 14:26).









Now we ask, when is the right time to be moderate? Moderation has always be known as a virtue. The Free Dictionary defines moderation as: "being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme." 


Joseph hall tells us that, "Moderation is the silken thread running through the pearl chain of all virtues."


 Now, I don't think Mark Twain quite had it right when he said, "As an example to others, and not that I care for moderation myself, it has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep, and never to refrain from smoking when awake.

I like how Brandon Sanderson views moderation when he says:

“Once one becomes a man, he can and must make his own decisions. But I do offer warning. Even a good thing can become destructive if taken to excess.”


The Apostle Paul tells the church at Philippi, "that they should let their moderation be known to all men" (Philippians 4:5).



So, we will end with a witty and direct quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:


"Moderation in all things, especially moderation.” 


Father, give us the wisdom when to be moderate and when to be radical. We ask that You would help us to allow the Holy Spirit to bring forth the fruit of moderation and temperance into our lives. We humbly ask Father, that you would help us to view this world and all that it offers as temporary and transient. We ask that You would help us to be radical enough to die to ourselves and pick up our cross daily---for Your glory and honor, AMEN







Monday, February 27, 2012

Can you have your own personal Jesus?




 Martin Luther, in his description of the theology of glory speaks of the different ladders that we vainly try to climb to reach God. Here is a link that you can take a  look at that goes into some detail about Luther's theology of glory and the cross: http://www.opc.org/new_horizons/NH05/10b.html




We have our own personal Jesus when we look at Jesus as a means to an end---the end is our personal fulfillment and happiness. In our culture happiness and fulfillment have become our Gods, and we invent a "Jesus genie" to meet all our wants and needs.








When we take the "cross out of Christianity" we then invent our own way to
reach God---and in our culture it becomes---our moral striving, mystic spirituality, or rational reasoning.

The cross brings us to our knees before a holy and righteous God. The cross tells us that we need a mediator before we can approach God. The cross tells us that we are sinners and in need of a savior. The Cross cuts pride out of the heart of man. The cross is God's way of salvation.

The cross was the only message that the Apostles preached---" but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles... (1 Corinthians 1:23).



Listen to these forceful words of Jesus---"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber (John 10:1).

This one verse is the blinking red light to all who would attempt to reach God on their own terms. You have no say in the matter, you can only reach God through the cross (enter the sheep pen by the gate), for if you try any other method (climbs up some other way), Jesus says you are a thief and a robber.





Thursday, February 23, 2012

Vice and Error



Thomas Watson (1620-1686)
Error damns, as well as vice!

Vice is like killing with a pistol;
error is like killing with poison!

We know that the Christian life is filled with many pitfalls.

The well known and beloved hymn by John Newton sums up the Cristian life so succinctly, and in the third stanza of his hymn we sing:

Through many dangers, toils and snares...
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home.

Christian brother and sister pay attention to how you live, but also pay keen attention to what you believe.

Question: Does your thought life and actions reflect the life of Christ in you? Does your belief system line up with the teaching of the Scriptures?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

BE SILENT




What a lesson we believers need to learn. We need to learn  to cultivate a quiet expectation toward God, and slow our lives down and rest in the Lord.

This will not come easy; it is not in our natures. It is a spiritual discipline that must become intentional to take root and become a part of our spiritual make-up.

I don't believe we can grow spiritually unless we learn how to surrender to God and become still before Him.

Take the time to memorize, mediate, and practice Psalm 37:7. I will put the Psalm in my own words, so don't get too excited if you can't find it quite like this in your Bible.

Those who are following God! Slow your lives down; place yourself under God's authority and become silent and still before your God. As you live your lives in quiet obedience before God, you will learn how to wait patiently for Him. When you develop this spiritual disposition, you will begin to look at things from God's perspective, and those who seem to be getting away with all kinds of evil, you will know that they will eventually fall into the hands of the Living God.

Monday, February 20, 2012

HOPE




 

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
Emily Dickinson
 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
   where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.
           Psalm 121:1-2
The other day at a Church I was visiting for the first time, I met a very nice woman who I shared some time with after the service. She shared with me some of her life story, which included some pretty deep valleys; the loss of a job, a teenage son who was in rebellion, a recent divorce, and a diagnoses and recovery from breast cancer. 

I mean what do your say to such things! I did reply with, "life is messy and filled with many pains and sorrows. I noted that, "many Christians think that they are excluded from these things because they are followers of Christ," okay! I get it, probably not the most sensitive thing to say, maybe its a guy thing.

BUT what she said to me really had an impact, I knew that she was speaking from the center of her being, she said that what keeps her pushing forward is "HOPE."

Hope! What a grand and wonderful gift the Father has given to his children.


HOPE is found one-hundred-and-thirty times in the Bible in the King James Version.



HOPE IS NOT a wishy washy maybe or a kind of unsure optimism? The modern idea of hope is “to wish for, to expect, but without certainty of the fulfillment; to desire very much, but with no real assurance of getting your desire.”



SCRIPTURAL HOPE is an indication of certainty. “Hope” in Scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.” Though archaic today in modern terms, hope is akin to trust and a confident expectation.


Listen to what C.S Lewis says about hope, desire and longing:

"Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. 

There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.

"We do not want to merely "see" beauty--though, God knows, even that is bounty enough.

 We want something else which can hardly be put into words--to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.

"At present we are on the outside... the wrong side of the door. 

We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. 

We cannot mingle with the pleasures we see.

 But all the pages of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. 

 Someday, God willing, we shall get "in"... We will put on glory... that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.

"The Christian says, 'Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists.' A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. 

 Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. 

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

"If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. 

 Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only... to suggest the real thing. 

If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, echo, or mirage.

"I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to the other country and to help others do the same."

It seemed that  this women was personally acquainted with Lamentations 3:25, "The Lord is good to those whose HOPE is in Him....

Christian, the concept of hope in the Bible falls under the definition of "here and now" and "not yet," God gives us hope now as we walk with Him, but we know that now we see  through a dirty glass, but when we finally open that window all our hopes will come to fruition.



Father, help us to live in the hope of your promises, give us the perseverance to press on for all that You have laid up for us in eternity, amen.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Developing a heart for God



THREE CHARACTERISTICS OF THOSE THAT HAVE A HEART FOR GOD

At the start let me say, I'm not a big lists kinda guy, but I'm going to give you one anyway. Take the time to reflect and meditate on these three powerful qualities that King David exhibited in his own personal life.

Note: David was a sinful man, his personal sins were many--- But we can find encouragement when we look at David--- we can be reminded that as frail as we are we too can have the kind of  heart that David had--- David was not perfect, but his heart was pointed towards God, even to the end of his days.

Consider some of his last words even after some of his greatest sins:

1 Chronicles 29:10-13

David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, "Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. 




The first quality that David possessed was spirituality---The word spirituality can sound esoteric and ethereal to some, it can come across as new-age y, but let me give you some down to earth kinda of spirituality.

When we are living our lives in harmony with the Lord---when the things that are important to God are important to us, when what burdens God's heart, burdens our heart, when God says, "go this way."  and we go that way, then we are exhibiting true Biblical spirituality---in other words, spirituality is being sensitive to the things of God.


The second quality that David possessed was humility--- Think about David's humility from this angle---David was faithful in keeping his father's sheep; he demonstrated his humility by his faithfulness to his job.

If we have a truly humble heart we will do as we are told, we will not rebel, we will follow the orders, we can be trusted and counted on.

The third quality that David possessed was integrity---Integrity has been defined as: "what you do when nobody's looking." I love this next description of integrity, "bone-deep honesty"--- Integrity will cause you to pay careful attention so that your belief system lines-up with your actions.




Christian brother and sister---theses qualities do not happen overnight, but take a life time of discipline to cultivate. God always focuses on the inward qualities---he is not like man who looks on the outward appearance.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A man after God's own heart!



There is one particular declaration in the  Bible that has always arrested my attention---it is when God expressed His affections toward King David when God declared "David to be a man after His own heart" (1Samuel 13:14).

We know on the surface that there was nothing about David that would have impressed God. David was a shepherd, and a young one at that, living in the village of Bethlehem. Remember, David's own father didn't even think to include him until Samuel asked, "Are these all your sons?"


In spite of David's low standing, God sent the prophet Samuel to the house of Jesse to look for the next king of Israel. That next king would be David the youngest son of Jesse---God says in effect, David, "you have what I'm looking for, you will be the next king of Israel."









Why then did God say that David was a man after His own heart? We know that it was not Davids social standing, wealth, or his celebrity status. I think that this particular writing of David s best captures the meaning behind the phrase:
 
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalms 16:2

I think that David recognized that the only good thing in life was the Lord, the creator of all good things. David knew that God was the one and only true good sovereign who reigned over all the earth.


 I have read before that President Theodore Roosevelt often went outdoors at night, looked up into the vastness of the universe, simply to remind himself of his humanity compared to the vastness of the universe.  I'm sure on those dark starry nights as David tended to his sheep, he would look up into the vastness of space and realize his humanity, and be reminded of the bigness of the God of Israel.


If we go to the New Testament to Paul's first letter to the Corinthians 1:26-29, we see that God does not call individuals based on their wordily status or their natural proclivities, but rather by His own set of rules.

Pay attention to verses 28-29---"God also has chosen the world's insignificant and despised people and nobodies in order to bring to nothing those who amount to something, so that nobody may boast in the presence of God."

That's it Christian!---God's choice of David was for His glory and honor--- Yes, David's inner-life was soft and tender to the voice of God---but in the end it is always about God's glory and honor.




Father give us hearts that are soft and tender, so we would submit our wills to Your Lordship---Give us the understanding that the Christian life is to be lived for Your glory and honor amen.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Cheap Christianity?








This quote recently came across as a tweet:


A cheap Christianity that offends nobody, requires no sacrifice, and costs nothing—is worth nothing. JC Ryle

For your information J.C. Ryle was  the first Anglican Bishop of Liverpool (1816-1900). Ryle served in the ministry for thirty-eight years, retiring  in 1900 at age 83 and he died later the same year.



It was said of Ryle: "The man of granite, with the heart of a child."

 Take a moment to think on several key thoughts from Ryle's quote:

  • Do YOU have a CHEAP Christianity?
  • Does YOUR Christianity OFFEND anybody?
  • Does YOUR Christianity require you to SACRIFICE?
  • What does YOUR Christianity COST?

 I came across a sermon by J.C. Ryle where he laid out the challenge that all Christians must consider:

"But if you really are in earnest about your soul,
if your religion is something more than a mere fashionable Sunday cloak,
if you are determined to live by the Bible,
if you are resolved to be a New Testament Christian--
then you will soon find that you must carry a cross. You must endure hard things; you must suffer in behalf of your soul, as Moses did--or you cannot be saved."


 Christian friend, I'm not going to sermonize here, but I'd encourage you to take the time and ask yourself these hard questions that deal with the core of what it means to be a Christian. 

Now, just to make it clear there is no works righteousness being taught here, but just some hard questions that ask "what kind of Christianity you have?"
Let me close with a clarifying quote from J.C. Ryle:


 "Is there any cross in your Christianity?

There is a common worldly kind of Christianity in this day, which many have--a cheap Christianity . . .
which offends nobody,
which requires no sacrifice,
which costs nothing--and is worth nothing! "

 Father help us to go the way of the cross, help us to daily die to ourselves, so that Christ may increase and we may decrease.

Friday, February 10, 2012

GLITTER!




I was reading the Drudge Report this morning and came across this headline that grabbed my attention: 

BREAKING: Sources Say Man Arrested By Secret Service At Romney Event Worked For Colorado Dems

 

The article was about a student at the University of Colorado Denver who was arrested by Secret Service for trying to throw glitter at Mitt Romney.

The article goes on and states that sources are telling Colorado Peak Politics that the "glitter bomber" worked for the Colorado state Senate Democrats. At the heart of the article the Colorado Peak Politics says this: 

 

"Glitter bombing has become a tool of liberal gay rights activists who somehow in their deluded minds think that throwing glitter at politicians will change their views on gay marriage.
Just as Occupy Denver thought defecating on public property would reduce income inequality, liberal activists seem to think drawing unflattering attention to themselves will do something other than just embarrass themselves.
What is already a stupid and counterproductive act -- throwing glitter, really? -- becomes much more serious when it is used with a Secret Service protectee. As Roger Simon of Politico has said, the Secret Service has no way of knowing if the substance is glitter or anthrax."




This got me to thinking, have we as followers of Christ ever been guilty of throwing "glitter bombs" at those who are not following Christ? What do I mean?---how about when we callously throw out Bible verses at others, when we use the Romans Road or Four Spiritual Laws without any compassion or love (as if our methods are going to change the minds and hearts of unbelievers), or if we evangelize just  to put another "evangelistic notch" in our spiritual belts.

 

 

 Do we think that anyone will come into the Kingdom of Christ by mechanical methods or formulas that we have become so adept at using to evangelize? Do we think that our witty presentations will win people to our risen Savoir (or do we just bring unflattering attention to ourselves instead of really pointing others to Christ)? Have we become at times like the "salesman" who is just trying to sell a product?

 

 

God forbid and God forgive us if we have walked down this cold and carnal road. I once was told that we should "weep when we talk about hell with a person who is not following Christ" ---to which  I reply amen!

Take the time and go through the Gospel accounts and study how Christ interacted with "sinners" we'll find the perfect balance of truth and mercy.

God our Father help us to "speak the truth in love," to never forget that we ourselves were once lost and in darkness until You opened our eyes to Your Salvation. Never let us forget that it is Your Holy Spirit who regenerates the unsaved heart to come alive to You; give us the understanding to trust in Your work of grace and to know that "salvation is of the Lord."


 

 

 

 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Dark Night of the Soul



PSALM 6
A PSALM OF REPENTANCE

Psalm 6  is the first of what the old writers called the penitential psalms. I'm doing a series on the seven penitential psalms (psalm 6, 32,38, 51,102, and 143) in my home on Sunday mornings.

I would like to share two thoughts that impacted me as I prepared psalm 6:

1. The depth of which the soul can sink through depression---the old writers referred to this depression as the "dark night of the soul."

2. The impact of depression on the whole person---body, soul, and spirit. 

I'm not going to exegete the psalm in today's blog---I would like to encourage all to read David's pain, hurt, and agony of the soul in psalm 6---take the time to feel what he  expressed in this psalm, and let that motivate you to reach out in care and love to those that you may know who are living in this "darkness of soul." Take note of the words that are in red.

1Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
2Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint;
Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony.
3My soul is in anguish.
How long, O Lord, how long?
4Turn, O Lord, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
5No one remembers you when he is dead.
Who praises you from the graveb?
6I am worn out from groaning;
all night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
7My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
8Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
9The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed;
they will turn back in sudden disgrace.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Fruit Of The Christian Life



Okay, here we go! Last Friday, we talked about the Old Testament tithe and the New Testaments guidelines for giving. I left you with the thought that what God really wants from us is not our money (tithe), but something much more valuable and rich.





Let's establish a sure Biblical truth: Both the Old and New Testaments describes humans as a type of ground or soil (cf. Jer.26:18; Mic.3:12; Hos.10:12; Matt.13:1-23).  In the parable of the sower (Matt.13:1-23), we are introduced to four different TYPES of soil or human hearts.

When the seed (word of God) is sown (proclamation of God's word), it falls onto different types of ground (human hearts). In Matthew's parable, there is only ONE TYPE of  ground that produces lasting FRUIT---now we know that the soil that produced FRUIT is the person who has been regenerated, born again, made a new creature--- the soil that produced FRUIT are those who have become children of God.









Now, remember the only way we can differentiate the unproductive soils from the productive soil is that the good soil  produces FRUIT. Jesus tell us in Matt. 7:16  that we can identify false teachers by the false FRUIT ( i.e., you don't get grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles) they produce.

Hebrews 6:1-12 talks about those who have become apostate---the contrast between those who are true children of God and those who have become apostate is FRUIT or the lack thereof. The good ground produces a crop and receives the blessing, but the the bad ground (the apostate) produces thorns and thistles and is worthless and in the end it is thrown into the fire (vv. 7-8).


Let me share one other text just to show that the Bible uses agricultural language to prove whether or not one is a true child of God. Matthew 13:24-43 presents us with the parable of the wheat and the tares. Now, we already know that the wheat represents the child of God while the tares represent the children of the devil, and both the wheat and the tares have two  totally different destinations at the time of harvest which is the final consummation of all things.


Now that I laid some ground work I can open up the idea of what  God really wants from us---and it is not our gold, silver, dollar, or paycheck, but it is our FRUIT. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:20, he told us to store-up TREASURES in heaven, where they can never be destroyed. Paul reminds us of this principle in Romans 7:4  where he tells us, "since you are dead to the law and have become free in Christ ...you  should  now be bringing forth FRUIT to God.

Again in Colossians 1:10 Paul tells us to "...bear FRUIT in every good work," and Paul in Romans reminds us again "...You have FRUITS unto holiness."


So what are these these treasures (or FRUITS) that we are to be storing up, and offering to God? The Apostle Paul gives us some insight into this when his lists (nine) visible attributes (FRUITS) of the Christian life  in ( Galatians 5:22-23). Throughout the entire New Testament we see what God wants from His children, hear 1 Thessalonians 3:13 "...abound in love to one another and to all men... so that He (Christ) may establish your HEARTS (your soil or ground) ...in holiness before God the Father...."



Look at Hebrew 13:8-16 and notice what the Christian is to offer to God---again it is not tithes and offering, it is the sacrifice of praise.


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp, and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the FRUIT of the lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Notice that in this text there is a mention of sharing with one another the things that we have---this goes back to the last blog about HOW we are to give---willingly, out of those things we have, and remember we can GIVE and it does not necessarily even mean money---it can be your time, talents, a listening ear, and certainly these Christian FRUITS are to be considered a form of giving.


Let me tie this all together: 

1. Nowhere in the N.T are we commanded to tithe or are we commanded to give our money every week to a local church.

2. Believers are to GIVE, but our giving does not necessarily have to be money---it can be possessions, time, talents, a listening ear, or the showing of kindness, etc.

3. The overriding principle for giving is the Christian's motive---not what or how much he gives. To my understanding all of he giving examples in the N.T were meeting others needs.

4. The FRUIT that we Give to God has to do with the virtues that are produced in the soil of our hearts---we take these Fruits and store them in the kingdom of God--where moths and rust can't touch them.



Consequences to this teaching:

1. A Christian can be robbing God while having a perfect tithing record (by grieving the Holy Spirit in his life---thus having a life that is devoid of FRUIT).

2. A Christian can "lay up treasure in heaven" even if they are flat broke.

3. Listen to this beautiful word from our Lord, "Happy are you when men revile you and persecute you...on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your REWARD is great in heaven" (Matt. 5:11-12).


One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Colossians 3:1 "Since you have been risen with Christ, seek those things that are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of the God,." Christian if you are setting your affections on those things above your giving will come from a heart that has been captured and transformed by the living Christ.

Christian friend---offer God the FRUIT of holiness in your life and continue to walk in the steps of our Savior. AMEN!









Friday, February 3, 2012

Tithing God's Command Or Man's Demand - Which?




I'll  offer a few thoughts on Tithing. I will not take the time to offer all of the theological or hermeneutical reasons why I don't believe the New Testament  teaches Tithing, and in tomorrow's blog I'll show what God wants in place of the tithe----I'll give you a hint, they grow on trees?



Here is an excellent resource for those who wish to journey a little deeper into this most fascinating Biblical topic. Below is the link to the book Tithing God's Command Or Man's Demand - Which? By Tony Badillo. http://books.google.com/books/about/Tithing.html?id=gqi3AQAACAAJ





Tithing is usually promoted by most Evangelical Bible Believing Churches. The favorite "proof-text" that is offered by pro-tithing Churches is Malachi 3:8-11. One common defense for tithing is that the Christian ministry (which is the pastor and his local church) has taken the PLACE OF the Old Testament Levitical Priesthood.

 One problem with that thought is the Tribe of Levi was not given land as an inheritance like the other 12 tribes. Genesis 15:8 is the promise that God would give Abraham's seed the inheritance of land. However, the tribe of Levi received the tithe instead of or in substitution for, the land "But the tithes...I have given to the Levites to INHERIT, therefore, I have said...Among the children of Israel they shall have NO INHERITANCE (Num, 18:24, KJV).

One other thought on tithing: In addition to the tithe, (as part of the inheritance package) the Levitical priesthood also received forty-eight cities and a strip of two thousand cubits of pastureland c.f. (Numbers 35:1-8). So the whole of the inheritance that  the tribe of Levi received (in lieu of the land) was (1) tithes and offerings, (2) 3000 feet of pastureland and, (3) forty-eight cities.

The New Testament Church has NO RIGHT to remove just one piece of the inheritance while leaving the other two behind. There is so much more that can be offered to show that the tithe never transferred over to the New Testament Church, but that will have to be for another time.


Just one quick note on how the Christian Ministry should be supported, first remember that the Christian Ministry has NO RIGHT to collect the tithe, so you are probably asking HOW the ministry should be supported?


Here are a few New Testament passages that give us a clue on how we are to give (support the Ministry):

"But rather give alms of such things as YOU HAVE" (Luke 11:41).

"For they gave ACCORDING TO THEIR MEANS... "(11Cor. 8:3).

"...Now perform the doing of it...out of THAT WHICH YOU HAVE...For  if there first be a willing mind, it is accepted ACCORDING TO WHAT A MAN HAS, and not according to that which he has not" (11 Cor. 8:11-12).



These are just a FEW of the New Testament passages that give us direction on HOW we as believers are to give, if you have been paying attention there is not one mention of a tithe. The reason the tithe is not mentioned in any of the giving passages in the New Testament is simple---the tithe was abolished along with the Old Testament Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 7: 12-14).


The next blog will deal with WHAT God wants from us---in lieu of the tithe---and it is not money or possessions. I've been so captivated and blessed by this next thought that  I can't wait to share it with you tomorrow.














Thursday, February 2, 2012

CHRIST IS SUFFICIENT





One observation that I've made is that our Evangelical Christian culture is consistently reaching outside of the "sufficiency of Christ" in order to do spirituality.


I'm going to use Colossians 2:19 as a foundational verse for my remaining thoughts.

IN HIM ALL THE FULNESS OF DEITY DWELLS IN BODILY FORM , AND IN HIM YOU HAVE BEEN MADE COMPLETE


The believer has in Christ every resource they need to face any trial, temptation, or matter of the soul. God the Father has given the Church all riches that are in Christ, including Scripture, prayer, the indwelling Holy Spirit, fellowship, baptism and the Lord's supper.

It seems that many unsuspecting believers are not aware of the truth of our Lord's sufficiency. This failure of modern Christians to understand and apply the riches that they have in Christ has opened the door to all kinds of hurtful and dangerous influences.


In short form, I'm going to list three major trends in the Church today that present as a direct attack on the sufficiency of Christ: psychology, pragmatism, and mysticism.


  • Psychology - It is a sad commentary on the Church when many of the popular theories of secular psychology have been embraced and championed. It is a sad commentary on the Church when "Christian psychologists" become the champions of church counseling. It is a sad commentary on the Church when secular methods are adopted to help cure the souls ills, and the Scripture is viewed as being insufficient to meet the needs of the soul of man. 


  •  Pragmatism - This is the old maxim that the ends justify the means---It seems that the Church is giving this maxim a "thumbs up." When the Church tries to replace the supernatural with "what works," or what is going to be popular with the people, the Church is in big trouble. When external success becomes the criterion for measuring spirituality the Church is in trouble. When the Church believes that it can accomplish spiritual goals by fleshly means and that the Scriptures are insufficient the Church is in big trouble.



  •  Mysticism - In application mysticism elevates individual feelings and personal experiences above the objective authority of Scripture. For example, the question, "What does the Bible mean to me? Has become more important than " What does the Bible mean?" Mysticism leads the individual into his own inner self, where self-actualization, self-authentication, intuition, and the weighing of feelings becomes as important as the authority of Scripture. 





 Take 11 Peter 1:3 and ask God to allow this truth to penetrate down deep into the soil of your soul---become confident that God the Father has give us everything that we need to grow and become like the Son:
 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.






Wednesday, February 1, 2012

TENSION

This morning I'd like to "think out loud" and ramble somewhat. I'll not be drawing a conclusion or be giving a right or wrong answer; I'll just be putting my thoughts out there.

Here is where I'd ask for those who come to my site to offer some feed back in the comment section at the end of the blog.

Here is the tension: As a leader (pastor, Bible teacher, or Christian who declares God's word to those around them), how do we balance the presentation of Biblical truth and the desire to be relational with those who we are called to minister to?

This is the tension that I wrestle with on a constant basis.  I'm going to present both sides of the tension and then ask for some feed back through the comment section of the blog.

Tension 1. We are called to teach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). The core of the Gospel which is   the cross of Christ is inherently offensive (Galatians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 1:23; Luke 2:34).

Throughout the Epistles of Paul he was constantly warning the Churches against false teachers, false prophets, the Judaizers, vain pagan philosophies, etc, the Apostle Paul even named names cf., and “Some have rejected these [faith and good conscience] and so have shipwrecked their faith among them are Hymanaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:19b-20).



Tension 2. In trying so hard to be relational with those around us, can we go "easy on the truth," so as not to offend? How would you balance being relational and maintaining the integrity of the "whole counsel of God (which at times contains some unpopular stuff)?

I've been visiting many Churches in my area as we are looking for a home church---I'm finding most if not all the Churches leaning towards the relational side of the tension. It seems that this is manifested in topical messages (messages that are tailored to be relational and non offensive); thus, leaving me extremely hungry for expository preaching (where the text is taught in its cultural and historical context, and weight is given to the 5 Ws of Biblical interpretation).

However, I've found these churches to be warm and inviting, and these fellowships seem truly intentional about being caring and loving.

While on the other side of the tension; the more fundamental Churches that I've visited seem to be less relational and more ingrown.

So, I need your thoughts about the best way to bring this tension together,  if it can be brought together. If you could share some examples, maybe from your fellowship that has worked through this tension or just share some of your own thoughts and ideas.











Our Mind's Matter

Thinking, thinking, thinking, always thinking. The life of the mind is the heart of the Christian life. As I think through the Scriptur...