Tag Archives: Bible

Setting Examples in Front

Setting Examples in Front

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Our church is blessed to have Bible College and Christian College music tour groups visit each year.  There are many benefits to having these young college students minister in our church.  For instance: the music is encouraging, edifying and presented with excellence. They offer CD’s that our people can play in their cars and homes. We learn about Bible and Christian College possibilities.  In addition, our own children are able to see responsible and respectable college age students that can leave a lasting impression on our kids concerning life and ministry.

This demonstration of example is what Paul is writing to Timothy about in the passage above.  Timothy, while not the oldest man in the congregation was to be a stellar example of the grace of God in what he said, how he behaved, and what priorities he had in life.  One of the greatest benefits of having the college groups in to our church is that our kids can get a glimpse of what they could potentially do in service to the Lord.  While not everyone will be a preacher or traveling singer, college aged young people can serve the Lord in ministry.  Our kids need to see that.

Many times we may hear young people say:  “When I graduate from High School I will serve God, but I am too busy now.”  Or – “I have too many credits in college, so I will serve the Lord after I graduate from college.”  Good intentions have never accomplished anything.  Life is busy for everyone.  The Christian life should not be a choice between one or the other.  Serving God, and living life should be synonymous.

Parents, I encourage you that when college groups come through that you not only attend the concerts and services, but engage your pre-teen, tween, and teen in conversation with the college students.  Let them “rub shoulders” with them and see a good example of someone who is serving God and living life to the glory of God.   Put good Christian role models in front of your kids.

Teens – the person singing could be you.  You could be the one giving the message.  You could be the one planning the summer schedule.  It could be that God call you to some other form of service – all in the name of Jesus.  Put good Christian role models in your life.  Be encouraged – God can use you in His service too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stops and Steps

Stops and Steps

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

Mark 6:31

 

“The stops of a good man are ordered by the Lord as well as his steps.”  —George Mueller

With summer break it is easy for parents to disengage, to go into autopilot and to lesson expectations for their children.  Taking a break is not the same thing as being lazy.  While taking a break is good, we should still have some basic Christian and family life expectations in our homes.

Here are some ideas for students this summer:

  • Take a break from school work, but keep reading the Bible.
  • Take a break from classes, but still attend Sunday School.
  • Take a break from Physical Education, but still exercise prayer and discernment.
  • Take a break from academic teachers, but never stop learning how to live from your parents.

Here are some ideas for parents this summer:

  • Keep structure in the home. While a little more relaxed there should still be a bedtime and wake up time and normal times for meals.
  • Communicate expectations concerning chores. Each child should have several jobs in the home that help you, that add value to them, and gives them a purpose and a role to fulfill in your home.
  • Have limits on media. Vegging out in front of a TV or a small media device for hours on end is unhealthy. Cultivate real people interaction.  Give play time outside.  Try a new sport.  Take a hike or a bike ride. Have friends come over to do more than play video games.  Get a ball and enjoy the weather.
  • Get several interesting books from the bookstore or the library and except your child to read 1 or 2 books during the summer months. Ensure the mind stays sharp!

My prayer is that you will have a safe, fun, and God-honoring summer break!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New “Valentines Day Massacre”

The New Valentines Day Massacre

February 14, 1929, seven men were killed in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood by 4 men in a planned attack in a mob war.  According to Wiki – “Two of the shooters were dressed as uniformed policemen, while the others wore suits, ties, overcoats and hats. Witnesses saw the “police” leading the other men at gunpoint out of the garage after the shooting.”

Interestingly enough the student assailant of the February 14, 2018 shooting walked out with others students to try to avoid being captured. What can one say? Sad. Tragic. Needless. My heart goes out to all the students and their families in that school.

The New “Valentines Day Massacre” is a reflection of the human heart.  In Florida, 17 Students are dead and many others are physically wounded.

In addition, the psychological trauma and the emotional distress will be painful for years to come if not properly processed by each student.  Those intense moments of either confronting the assailant, evading him, or even being confronted by the SWAT teams as they secured the area can become horrific memories in the mind of each student.

I read somewhere that since 1999 and Columbine High School in Colorado, that there have been 25 mass school shootings with nearly 100 students killed.  Just shortly after the Columbine event, I walked around the school property, saw the crime scene, and looked at the makeshift memorials on a hillside outside.

Who is to blame?  Why do mass casualty events like this happen?  Why does it seem to be increasing?

The problem of people killing other people is rooted in the cognition level of what people were celebrating on Valentine’s Day – the heart.  While people were eating chocolate hearts, sending hearts on texts, and attempting to express love to their mate, a troubled student in Florida was planning and formulating in his heart a plan of hate and harm.

An old prophet named Jeremiah wrote about the heart 2600 years ago in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Mankind, at his best is still a sinful being living in a world of pain, suffering, temptations, injustice, and unkindness.  People can be flat out mean.  It is because we are sinners and have a sin nature that is part of our DNA.

Apart from the “regeneration” of the Holy Spirit of God, individual men will continue to sin against themselves, against others, and against God.

When mass casualty events take place in schools, I ask the following questions:

  1. Where were the parents?
  2. Has the dad been a steady influence?
  3. What kind of abuse did the assailant endure as a child?
  4. How long has bitterness, anger and rage been left unchecked?
  5. What was the one “trigger event” or spark that brought this rage to the surface?

Like a chemical reaction, the chemicals can be mixed all together but lacks one ingredient, that when added causes the reaction or explosion.  What was the tipping point event (ingredient) in the life of the assailant?

Anyone with “no future” will be living in the past.  I suspect that this young man endured a difficult home life, did not feel loved and valued, and reacted to the hardships of life by isolating himself from the accountability of friends and family.  This young man had not discovered a purpose or reason for living.  It is possible one attempts to find significance by harming others.  Sometimes it is even posted in social media ahead of time.

The perception that “I have no reason for being alive” is just that – a perception.  It is informed by choices, environment, and the person’s past.  This is a sad way many people are living.  A person desperate for attention, significance, or security could drive himself to the point of insane actions to gain what he believes is lacking in his life – value.

God loves people so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross, shedding His blood and taking our punishment and paying for our sin with his very life.  Following a person’s belief in Jesus, the Christian has a new purpose and reason for living.  Ephesians 2:10 states, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  Have Hope Today!  Choose New Life!  Jesus values each person and wants to have a personal relationship with each person.

Common denominators and problematic symptoms of assailants seem to include: a wounded spirit, isolation of self from others, a broken family, playing violent games, listening to music with violent lyrics, and a rebellious attitude that is quite and not always evident on the surface. Sometimes the assailants are trying to replicate something they saw in media.  Many times it is the student who is suffering life in silence.  The ones who suffer more vocally tend to get more attention from their peers and teachers.

The prophet Jeremiah, cited earlier, was known as “the weeping prophet.”  He saw the people of his land suffering and was fast to cry genuine tears.  Children in particular were being killed. Jeremiah 31:15 says, “Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.”

The reason for their suffering?  Why were their children being killed?  The Babylonian enemies of Israel were taking the people captive.  Why did God allow the pain, suffering, and even death at the hands of these evil attackers?  The people of God (who knew better) were no longer honoring God with their lives.  They had forsaken God for money and man-made idols.  They had even looked to the government to try to solve all their social and spiritual problems, but it could not help.

Original Sin is the cause of all human suffering.  The bad things God allows into our lives are conditioned to our response and relationship with Him.  Bad things happen to good and bad people.  Good things happen to both too.  One pastor friend of mine knows one of the young people who was killed in the Florida shooting.  Nothing takes God by surprise.

How we deal with the pain and suffering really depends on our perspective of God. Knowing God is loving and believing He does not want shootings like this to happen can give you assurance.  Trusting that God is perfectly Holy, and that mankind is inherently sinful causes us to see the need for God in our lives all the more!  God’s heart is that when people love Him, they will want to love and be kind to other people.  The heart is the issue.

The assailant broke many laws already including a very basic one – murdering people.  He took a weapon(s) onto school property.

Not only did the assailant break current civil laws, he broke the law of God.

  1. He was not loving his neighbor. Romans 13:8, Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
  2. He murdered innocent people. Exodus 20:13 says, “Thou shalt not kill.”
  3. He hated others in his heart. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus likens hating people to killing them.  To God, when we humans hate other humans it is the same as murdering them.  (Matthew 5:21-22)

A few random concluding thoughts…

  • Anytime a person takes the innocent life of another (circumstances of war and self-defense are different) it is a tragic symptom of a heart that does not know God.
  • Until there is a change in each human heart we will continue to see more and more evil in this world. Legislating morality is only on the surface.  The heart must be affected for it to be lasting.
  • Crime can be punished. Even the preventative nature of a swift justice system can be a deterrent, but a person who senses no purpose for life may want to go out “in a blaze of glory” anyway.
  • Evil events can be minimized, but they will not be eradicated in a world filled with sin and sinful people. Personal defense courses teach that “only a gun will stop another gun.”  Talk to your kids about safe responses.  Make them aware of “danger signals.”
  • Pray for the victims to recover.  Pray for the families of the deceased.  Ask God for His peace and comfort to be real to those hurting today.  God cares.  He knows the pain.
  • Above all – give control of your home to God. Teach your kids to love God.  When we love God, we will be kind to others. Develop and mold their hearts to be accountable to the God of Heaven.

I leave you with two statements Jesus made in Mark 12:30-31, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Attacks like this reflect the heart.  Many times, the heart is a reflection of the home.  Make your home a place that gives meaning and purpose to life with the Lord as the source of that meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Discernment

Spiritual Discernment

“The story is told of an atheistic barber who was talking to a pastor. The barber asked the pastor, “If there is a loving God, how can He allow poverty, war, and suffering?”

Just at that moment a disheveled man crossed the street. The pastor said, “You are a barber and claim to be a good one. How can you allow that man to go unkept and unshaven?”

“He never gave me a chance!” the barber replied.

To which the pastor said, “Exactly, men are what they are because they reject God!””

There are many things in life that a person will not be able to understand apart from the “new birth” that takes place at the moment of salvation.  The Christian is made a new man (while living in his old body).  He, with the guidance of the Word of God and the Spirit of God has a whole new sphere of understanding that opens up to him.

1 Corinthians 2:14 teaches, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Clearly, Christian men and women are to possess spiritual discernment.  Sadly, many times we do not exhibit sound thinking and reasoning. Why?  Why do some Christians not exhibit good reasoning skills? Here are three thoughts as to why.

  1. We lose our objectivity when we are more in love with the world or the things of the world. 1 John 2:15 says, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
  2. We lose our Christian rational when we do not know the Bible like we should. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. One reason some Christians do not make good decisions is because their devotional and Bible educational life are not what it should be.
  3. We lose our clear mind when our soul is spiritually dry. A parched soul trying to find satisfaction with world relationships, philosophies and things cannot be quenched by anything other than the Word of God.  When people lost in desserts are found after surviving death, they are dehydrated and deranged.  They clearly cannot think right in that dry condition.  David, the shepherd boy did not want to dry up spiritually.  While out in the wilderness he said in Psalm 63:1-2, O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 

Paramount to any relationship is real communication.  Prayer and Bible reading are vital aspects of your growth and development as a Christian.  Enriching your fellowship with God is dependent on a devotional life.

When we read and study the Bible, it penetrates into our soul, affects our mind, and enlightenes our decision making.

Many men reading this do not study the Word like they should.  As a result, their wives feel lonely and their children feel displaced.  A man like that is spiritually coasting, hoping that his home does not fall apart.  Some women scanning this article read Facebook more than they read the Bible.  Their discernment is lessened, and they have become more gullible to false teachings about health, relationships, and what is valuable in life.

Pray today.  Read the Bible today.  Proverbs and James are great places to learn God’s wisdom.  Ask the Lord to give you a discerning spirit.  Then make your discernment even stronger with Bible study.

 

 

 

 

 

The Direction of the Mind

The Direction of the Mind

Remember the old cartoons on Saturday mornings and some character saying “Which way did he go? Which way did he go?”  Was that Bugs Bunny?  You may remember.

“Which way will you go?” is the question for today.  There are definite paths our minds can go.  The direction your mind is leading you is of incredible importance.

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?   25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:23-25

There are two paths at the intersection of life that each person faces every day.  One path is going the direction God maps out in the Bible.  The other path is heading in the direction the world/flesh draws up – away from the direction of God.

The Apostle Paul was not exempt from this decision making battle between his natural man (The Flesh) and the Spiritual Mind that was given him when he became a Christian and received the new nature (Spiritual Mind) from the Lord.  The spiritual side of Paul was constantly in a war with the carnal or fleshly side of Paul.  We have the same sin nature and the same spiritual nature he had.

Lewis Sperry Chafer was clearly right when he stated, “Nothing could be more misdirected than a self-directed life.”

There are two possible responses when confronted with the choice of “Which way to go?”  There is no middle ground in between these two paths.  Some believe they can strike out on their own and make their own path back to the Lord, but the terrain is tough and not navigable. It is better to get on God’s path, or when prompted by the Lord, jump back on his path.

Path One:  A Reacting Mind.  This “Reacting Mind” reacts to the desires of the flesh.  Its primary power comes from the engine of lust.  The body can lust for good things such as air, food, water, and even sex.  When moderation or the boundaries are broken for these blessings, it becomes sin.  For example, sex within the boundary of marriage is wholesome, fulfilling, and terrific!  Sex outside of the protection marriage becomes enslaving, and may even cause feelings of guilt and depression.

The Reacting Mind does what it feels like it wants to do.  It is captive to the flesh of the person and to the influences of the world around him.  Have you even been in a car when the driver “jerks the wheel” in attempt to not miss an off ramp off the highway?  That fast reaction is caused by not anticipating, or looking far enough ahead.  The reacting mind is many times impulsive too.

Path Two: The Ruled Mind.  The Ruled Mind responds to the leading of the Spirit of God.  It is not controlled by lust, but by love.  This mind is submissive to the Word of God.  While the Ruled Mind knows it is in a fast paced battle, it is active and fore-thinking to avoid sin, watch out for an arrogant spirit, and to steer clear of pride each day.

The Ruled Mind is determined to live out the Word of God each day in all its decisions and determinations.  This mind is thinking of “how to please Jesus” instead of “how to please self.”  Instead of reacting in tough situations, it is ruled by the patient Spirit of God and calmly makes the right decision.

Ask the Lord to help you have a mind ruled by the Spirit of God and the Word of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bodies Were Still Warm

The Bodies Were Still Warm

Blame.  Who is to blame?  500+ people shot, nearly 60 dead. The worst shooting scene in American history.  The dead bodies of the concert goers were still warm when people began to play the “blame game.”

Politicians began to politicize.  The Media began its narrating and spinning. Conspiracy theorist started to make their guesses.

Some blamed Isis.  Others blamed the US Constitution and the Second Amendment.  Still others even went so far as to blame Christians.   Other ideas from “white males” to the President, drugs, and even money were brought up.

What was the shooters motive?  Was there only one shooter?  Is there more to the story? How long did it take to plan for this?  Early news reports are just that – early.

Some commenting on this event are so violent (in their mind) that they even suggested that “white colored, country music fans” deserved to be killed because they were most likely Republican!

Vilifying one another, casting blame, and trying to legislate morality does not actually address the deeper issue here.

Why do bad things like this happen?

Sin is the cause of all heartache, pain, loss, suffering, and death.  Sinful thinking leads to sinful deeds.  Theologians call this “Origional Sin.” That is the problem. All. Problems. Stem. From. Sin.

Proverbs 23:7 teaches: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”  What is in the heart of man is what eventual comes out.

Adam and Even introduced sin into this world.  Mankind is to blame for our own sin.  God is not the originator of sin.  He allows mankind to make choices.  Adam chose rebellion and disobedience. He chose sin.  We have had to live with the consequences since then.

While you may never take another persons’ physical life, Jesus taught that hating people is the same as murdering them.  Read the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapters 5-7.  Try, with God’s help, to live that way.

How did we get here?  How is it that new records of evil and atrocities are being recorded in our lifetimes?   Where we live?  How?

Romans 1:21 tells us: “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.”

Instead of valuing God, we value money.  Instead of valuing truth, we value what is convenient.  Instead of loving our neighbor, we are loving ourselves… to death.

Examine your heart.  Are you living in spiritual darkness?  Those who commit such acts have been living in darkness for some time.  Come to the light today.  Believe in Jesus.  Become a Christian and then enjoy a daily relationship with Him.  God is love!  He wants us to love one another.

No matter if we ever find the motivation, or if accomplices are ever uncovered, we can know that our fallen sinful nature is blame.

As a whole, these United States are no longer submitting and yielding to Jesus, the author of love and peace.  As a result, we are divided.  People are being unkind to one another. And sadly, more tragedies will unfold.

Pray. Ask the Lord to help us to turn back to Jesus.  Turn to your neighbor with love and kindness. And look for ways to show kindness to your fellow man.

If you have not yet believed in the Gospel, please go to the “How to go to Heaven” section on this site to learn how to be forgiven of your sins and be saved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Majors

The Majors

Any ball player wants to make it to the “next level.”  Making it to the “majors” is the dream of many American boys.  Major League Baseball is full of talented ball players who made it a lifestyle to be focused on the basics of baseball.  They honed their talent with drive, and work ethic to become the best at throwing, catching, and hitting a ball.  They paid attention to the details of the most fundamental aspects of the game and they made it to the majors.  They developed good balance with the bat, in their stance, and in their placement in the field.

When it comes to Bible study, we should focus on the fundamentals as well.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Have you ever met a person that seems to have an imbalance in their life? Perhaps he is addicted to a hobby and all he talks about is his hobby.  Perhaps she is constantly talking about her fingernails or shoes.

A hobby is only one part of life.  Finger nails and shoes, while important, are only one part of life.  There is much more to a person’s time (Work, worship, service) and appearance (clothing and disposition etc.).

Sometimes we get our priorities and preferences all “out of balance.”   When it comes to Bible interpretation, some get things out of balance as well.

Clarity in doctrine is one reason we study the Bible.  Paul instructs Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”

We should “major on what the Bible majors on and minor on what the Bible minors on.”  In scholarly terms, there are “major doctrines” and “minor doctrines.”  While all doctrine is important, the Lord chose some doctrines to be more pronounced in the Scriptures.  These are fundamental doctrines of Christianity.

People who know very little about the Bible, do not read it often, or only rely on what they have occasionally heard taught, can fall into the trap of making minor doctrine – major.   They could make mountains out of molehills.

People who study the Bible much, read daily, and listen to a lot of teaching can also fall into the same trap.  Theirs could be riding a hobby horse.

Common major doctrine themes include: The Character of God, The Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Deity of Jesus, Salvation, (including the blood atonement, justification, sanctification, redemption, and imputation), Bibliology (the study of the Bible), the church, and future things.  Love, mercy, grace, redemption, forgiveness, judgment, holiness, and righteousness are also major themes.  And. Much. More.  These are the fundamentals.

If a person takes one word, or one mention from the Bible and builds an entirely new doctrine on it, I would avoid that person and his teaching.

“Take heed” to Bible doctrine in your life.  Have “Bible Balance” in your life to major on what God majors on – in His Word.   Focus on the fundamentals.  Don’t strike out when it comes to the fundamentals of the faith.  Become a “Major League Bible” student.