Tuesday, December 22, 2015

THIS I KNOW

Image result for THIS I know

I was thinking today of the things that I know. The things in my life that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt. This kind of knowing gives a person a deep rooted foundation in life; for when the winds of life blow, and oh boy, they will come, it's this knowing that anchors the soul.

The hymn "how firm a foundation," which was published in 1787 by John Rippon came to mind, here's the fist stanza:

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled

Here are two of the things that came to my mind that I know beyond the shadow of any doubt:

1. That God brought my wife and I together when we were fifteen years old. Michele and I both got saved at fifteen and were married at nineteen.

Here's a gift that God gave me and it came through a dream, and no, I'm not Charismatic. During our dating I was reading Watchman Nee, he was a church leader and Christian teacher who worked in China during the 20th century.As a young believer I read parts of "Normal Christian Life" the whole of "Love not the world" and parts of "sit, walk, stand".

Watchmen Nee was into the deeper spiritual life movement. What I faced through reading Nee's books was this question, "do I have Michele before the Lord? Do I love her more than God? I spent countless hours praying, crying, and just getting emotionally messed-up over this question. The reason I got so messed-up is there is really know way of answering this question.

I knew I loved God. I knew I loved Michele and wanted to marry her, so how do I know if I love her more than God?

After a year or so of this constant struggle, and to note, the biggest fear was that if I did have have Michele before the Lord, I would have to give her up.

One night I had this vivid, life impacting dream that has stayed with me all my life. Here's the dream:

Michele and I were walking holding hands and we started to get separated and started drifting apart to the point  we could not see  each other anymore. And in the same way that we drifted apart we started to drift back toward each other. As we got closer and closer we reached our for each others hand and as we grabbed each others hand we both simultaneously said, "Jesus." As soon as we said Jesus, I woke up. I believe that God did give me this dream...It made me realize that He brought us together and He will keep us.

It made me know that Jesus Christ holds us together and is the glue in our lives...this has made me in the thirty plus years of marriage build our relationship on that solid rock...this I know.

2. I also, know that my conversion to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was only the work of God. I was a teen who was living the 1970's life style. Doing drugs...hanging with the wrong crowd...getting in trouble at school and with the law. Until that night in January of 1975, when God had my cousin, who just was released from state prison, waiting for me at my house to share the gospel with me.

That was a Thursday night. The next day in school at the last period I had a meeting with the school psychologist. I was getting kicked out of High School. As I sat in that office answering questions an overwhelming power came over me to pray, and pray I did.

Right in front of that school psychologist I prayed. I bowed my head and acknowledged my sin to God. I felt, and felt deeply that I sinned against God. I asked Jesus to save me and forgive me. When I stopped praying and looked up the psychologist asked me, " is everything all right?" to which I replied, "I don't know, I've never felt like this before." She asked me, " like what," I told her, " I feel so clean inside."

This I know, that day, Friday, in 1975, I was rescued and redeemed and cleansed with the redeeming blood of my Savior.




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Regeneration verses being religious







There is behavioral modification and there is the life transformation by the word of God. I’d like to look at the vast difference between the two and examine what the Bible says about both of these concepts.

It is common for Christian’s today to verbally acknowledge that the Bible is God’s Word, that the Bible is the final authority for both what they believe and how they live. Yet in practice the power of the Bible and the sufficiency of the Bible is not a reality in their lives.

False religion gives birth to hypocrisy, self-sufficiency, and pride. This can only be the outcome of all outward change when it is not coupled with a changed heart. Behavioral modification seeks to simply change outward behavior. The formula is x is an unwanted behavior and y is the desired behavior, so one must do a and b to achieve y. 

Think of the emphasis of religion, the focus is always on acts, doing, and conforming to said religious practices. Think of the goal of the psychological world; the aim is always to move from a negative behavior to a more desired behavior.

Jesus gives a striking contrast of outward religious change and true heart change in his teaching parable of the Pharisee and the Publican as found in Luke 18:9-14.  Jesus minces no words and is direct right from the beginning of the story as he describes the character of the religious Pharisee, he says in (v.9), “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous.”


Doing, being religious, and practicing outward signs of doing good to all was the defining characteristic of the Pharisee. Think now in terms of most religious people: they go to church, they give their money to the church, and they are involved in many social and civic causes. But without a changed heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through the means of the living word of God these outward expressions of religiosity are to God as filthy rags, see Isaiah 64:6 “ For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.”

The Bible from Genesis to Revelations calls out religious people for trusting in their deeds rather than trusting in the Lamb of God who was sent to save us from ourselves. God does not condemn the good deed, but He condemns the soul that trusts in them for their salvation, just like the religious Pharisee did and was condemned by our Lord, see (v. 14) “ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other.  There it is, rather than the other…the Publican left the temple justified, and the Pharisee left the Temple without being justified.




The true heart change that is acceptable to God is wrought by the Holy Spirit by the means of the power of the word. The heart of the Christian life of course is the Gospel. Only those who have been transformed from within (Titus 3: 5-8) being indwelt by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:13–14) are able to exhibit genuine holiness (Galatians 5:22–23); 1 Peter 1:16). Biblical Christianity does not of course exclude good works or external behavior modification (cf. Matt. 5–7), but with a change of heart which subsequently manifests itself in a changed life (1 Corinthians 6:9–11).

Summation: Changing behavior and doing good deeds are part of the Christian life, but this is the theme of the article, without a changed heart first, these very good works can and will carry one right into the jaws of hell.

The means for a changed heart is the word of God. God says that His word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). God’s breathed out word (2 Timothy 3:16) is sufficient for all that one needs to be like the Publican and avoid the death trap of the Pharisee.

We can not in any way trust in our good deeds to be accepted by God. We can only come to God as poor and hopeless sinners in need of the righteousness of God’s son.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Always Learning

Always Learning

We Should Always Be Learning: Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach...." Proverbs 22:17.

A few days ago I posted the question on my Facebook wall asking what you would tell yourself if you could go back in time. What piece of wisdom would you feel would have changed your life?  I received several unique and interesting replies.

Here's a list of some of the feed back:

---I would say "be careful who you marry
---Really appreciate your parents, because they will be gone one day and that                 emptiness is a horrible feeling
---The choices I make are the choices I live with

---
Taken my education more seriously
--- That sex outside of marriage is a sin
--- I wish I had known that  Jesus is God
--- If he drinks a lot BEFORE marriage, it will NOT get better after you are married


Think of all the pain, heartache, and sorrow that could be avoided if we would listen to the words of wisdom...if we listen to those who have walked the path before us.

The Bible is filled with wisdom; matter of fact a whole book is dedicated to the teaching of wisdom. The one place that we need to start in our quest for wisdom is coming into a right relationship with God the author of all wisdom, see
Proverbs 1:7 " The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”


Things to ponder:

--- One must know the God of all wisdom in order to see and operate spiritually
--- It is a biblical principle that we learn from others who have walked before us
--- The sinful choices that we make
WILL bear fruit later in life
--- The family is the  incubation and life school that God has instituted for the imparting of wisdom
---Don't think that your present mate will change just because you marry him/her...you get what you see in most cases
--- Sex is more than just getting under the sheets...sex outside of marriage has a myriad of negative consequences

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The balance between doctrinal truth and being relational.



The whole of the Christian life is about balance. Now, just to be clear, I'm not talking about any metaphysical or ethereal balance. I'm talking about a steady and stabilized understanding of the principles that we are to walk by as followers of Christ.

The Bible is both a hard book and an easy book. The Scriptures give us many truths that need to be kept in balance or held equally at the same time. Many of these truths seem to be contradictory or unfriendly to each other and it becomes the job of the exegete to keep these truths together, and keep them friends.

In today's church climate the two truths that have the hardest job at staying friends is the truth of being relational and doctrinally correct. We know that the Scripture is filled with principles of how the church is to interact with each other in the body; we are to love each other....care for each other... meet each others needs...and pray continually for each others conformity to Christ.

In addition to how we are to treat each other within the body of Christ we are also given instruction on how we are to relate to the lost or those outside of the body of Christ. We are to be salt and light. We are to practice justice and have compassion on this lost and dying world.

The Apostle Paul gives us this instruction in Galatians 6:10 where he says, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." So, without a doubt, we see that there is a necessity for the follower of Christ to be relational...no one can practice the Scripture's injunctions to be doing good to others without being relational.

Which brings me to a question ... can the church in being relational lose the balance of doctrinal truth in her efforts of practicing good works and reaching out to others? This here is the conundrum. Being relational and holding doctrinal truth at the same time is indeed a tall order for the church or the individual follower of Christ.

We know unequivocally that Scriptural truth offends, and can cut deeply into the consciences of both those in the body of Christ, and the lost world. If anyone thinks that by being a disciple of Christ you will be the first one picked at recess for tag, or kickball, think again...the disciple of Christ will not be the popular one in our culture. Nay, the follower of Christ will be like his master...remember he told us, if they hated me, they will hate you.

How do we keep these two truths friends in our lives as we minister to those around us? Wisdom...prayer....experience, and lots of self examination. For certain there will be times that those in the body of Christ will be offended, hurt, and possibly even cut us off. And among the lost it can be much worse...the truth can breed hatred toward us and even in some cases death, take note of the Middle East and history.

What we do know is that these two truths must live deep inside us. We know that at times truth will have to be spoken and the results we be lose of relationship, but we speak the truth because we love truth...we speak the truth because our master is truth...we speak the truth because we know that the truth of the gospel can set the sinner free and bring hope to the body of Christ.

The Renewing of the Mind

I've have written in the past on the life of the mind. I cannot stress enough the importance for the Christian to develop the life of ...