Tag Archives: people

Loving Laws or Loving People

Loving Laws or Loving People

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Galatians 5:14

Do you know someone that is hyper critical?  I mean, they have a problem with everyone and everything.  “The temperature is too hot.  The music is too fast. The speaker is too loud.  The women are dressing wrong.  The bulletin was not folded right.  The deacons should have a tie on.  The people helping are not doing it the same way I would do it. The van is parked at the wrong place.  The family is too big or too small.”  You get the idea.

Hyper critical people have forgotten the “Who” they should be loving.  Instead of loving God and loving people, they love a “What.”   They love rules.  They love laws.  They love their preferences and personal expectations and project them onto other people in a way that is detrimental to relationship.

If we could learn to love people more than our preferences, programs, and personal pet peeves, then we would show more honor to the Lord.  And in turn actually live out God’s law instead of a human version of His law.

Loving our neighbor does several things:

  1. Considers others ahead of ourselves.
  2. Creates a forgiving temperament.
  3. Causes more healthy relationships.
  4. Casts aside personal preferences.
  5. Calms personal interactions with others.

Music styles in church can have great variety and still please the Lord.

Preaching and teaching styles vary greatly from person to person, and God can use each delivery style in wonderful ways.

Organizational structure, facility maintenance, the next building project, and more need not be a stumbling point for you or for others at your church.  When we love God and love others, no matter the rules we may impose on ourselves, we do not need to let those preferential things divide and hurt relationships.

One terrific example is the Church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.  This church had pure doctrine.  They withstood persecution.  They even had a good work ethic.  But Jesus said “You left your first love.”  These second generation Christians, with a godly heritage, clung to laws, rules, and preferences to the neglect of loving Jesus.  They loved their “version of Christianity” more than they loved Jesus!

Don’t let rules and regulations or personal preferences stop you from loving your family (or church family) the way the Lord wants you to love them.

Love people more than laws.

 

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Are You Being Remade?

Are You Being Remade?

We used to live in a place in the great state of Tennessee that had beautiful red clay.  All the dirt around our house was clay.  We could barely dig a hole in that clay!  It was some tough dirt.

The Lord likens our lives to clay.  Clay that a potter uses is moldable, pliable, and shapeable.  The hard clay that is dry, hard, and un-moldable is not useful to the potter.

The Lord speaks of Jeremiah’s people, Israel, in Jeremiah 18.  The Lord wanted to do more than just repair them; He wanted to remake them.

Jeremiah 18:1-10 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.  Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

Recently, we were looking at a wall in a room in our house.  The wall needed some construction attention.  Drywall and drywall mud is kind of like clay. We had hoped to repair the drywall, but there was so much damage, we needed to start over with the wall.  We tore the whole wall out and put new sheet-rock up in its place.  Instead of repairing the wall, we remade the wall.

Repairs to walls or pottery will generally leave a mark.  A cracked vessel will reveal the repair when light is shined on it.  A section of wall that has been repaired will be evident as it does not match up exactly.

Starting over and remaking a clay pot will make the old broken vessel new, useful, and valuable.  Repairs to vessels, such as a pot, do not always hold water the right way.  They may not fulfill their intended function.  Remaking it -makes it over again – the way it was intended to be in the first place.

As Christians, we do not want to merely repair ourselves.  We want to be remade by the Lord.  We do not want to be remade into a “better image of ourselves.”  We want to be remade into the image of Jesus.

When dealing with other people, please know that if they have a submissive heart to the Lord, then He is remaking them into His image.  Be patient with other people.  Be thankful for the Master Potter Who is shaping the lives of those Christians around you.

Take one turn on the potter’s wheel to apply this truth to yourself.  Be pliable clay and let the Lord shape and mold you.  Do not grow dry and unuseful.  Be moldable into the image of Jesus. Be thankful that the Master Potter is still working on you to make you the new person that God wants you to be – more like Jesus.

Pray each day to have a heart and life that is submissive to the will of the Master Potter. Are you being Remade?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Better Question

The Better Question

“…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”  Ephesians 5:25

Joe was blessed when he truly understood the Bible for the first time. “Imagine the love of God for a sinful person like me?” he thought.  Following accepting Jesus for salvation, Joe began to study the Bible with another church member.  Soon after he was baptized and was excited to be part of a loving church where he could hear the Bible taught each service.  He attended both services Sunday and even got up early for the Bible study in Sunday School.

Joe was busy just like everyone else.  His job required late nights and the shift hours were tough at times.  He was trying to advance his career and was taking classes to earn another degree.  His son played in the local baseball league, and his daughter was busy with music lessons and performances.  Yet he still prioritized giving Sunday to the Lord.  His life was changing.

Then one day, he was sick, and unable to take the family to church.  His wife and kids went without him.  He next week he needed to be out of town for completing a certification for his job and he did not make it back in time for Sunday church.  The following week a family reunion was to start at 1:00 PM and it took about 2 hours to drive to the location, so he and the family had to miss church again.  That fourth Sunday, Joe was simply tired.  He had been up all night working on a house project “We have to have heat,” he grumbled.  He was not a plumber, but he was working on the heating system to make sure his family was warm.  “I’m tired, leave me alone,” was now rubbing off on the whole family.  Each one was now discouraged.  No-one in Joe’s family went to church that Sunday.  After several months, Joe’s family were not heard of again in the church.

A story like this happens in every church. Much. Too. Often.

Why is it that some Christians “give up” on faithful church attendance?  The consistent attendance and participation in church worship services is an integral part of the Christian life.  After all – the Lord Jesus gave His life for the church.  What an example of love for church Jesus demonstrated for us?  Could we give ourselves to faithful church attendance?  The world, our flesh, and Satan are enemies of this godly routine of setting a day aside to worship the Lord.

Some believers get out of the church attendance habit.  They do not decide to, but it just happens.  One service here, one sickness in the family, a vacation or trip, a snow day or an inconvenient change in the work schedule.   After missing 3-4 services, some Christians begin to lose their resolve to go back to church.  With a sense of defeat they think: “I missed this much, what is one more?”

After several months of no church attendance some Christians ask: “What will the church members think of me if I show up this Sunday?”  The reasoning is that the other Christians will be judgmental or harsh for the lack of attendance.  I have found that this reasoning is faulty.  The regular church members are happy for the “backslidden believer” coming back to church.  The faithful church members have been praying and have missed the wayward brother or sister in Christ.  Instead of commendation – the others congratulate the friend for coming back to church.

A better question to ask than “What do the church members think?” Is this question – “What does Jesus think?”   In our misplaced pride, we can speculate the response of other people.  We should live to please Jesus, not others.  Avoid letting pride about what others think to prevent you from getting back into the church attendance and worship participation habit.

Jesus wants you to come back to church.  Even though the church is not perfect – yet, you make it a better form of the image of Jesus when you show up and participate in worship and service to the Lord.  Go back to church this Sunday.  The people will congratulate and welcome you.

 

 

 

Free Range Bear

Bear and Cub

Free Range Bear

As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.   Proverbs 28:15

Years ago, we had the privilege of living in a small city in the heart of the Monongahela National Forest in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia.   We enjoyed living there and were always blessed to see the “Wild and Wonderful” wildlife of West Virginia.  We had many black bear in our area.  It was not uncommon to see a mother bear and her cubs playing, or a bear running up a hill.  Even though the cubs look like teddy bears, they grow up fast and when hungry can be dangerous to humans.

I understand that black bear are territorial and have a certain “circuit” they travel in their search for food.  Berries and nuts are their primary food source.  Many times a bear will defend its area so as to not run out of food.  During times of drought, or when for some reason food is scarce, a bear may expand its area to find more food.  These “free ranging” bear will come into cities and areas where people live in seasons like this.  Our dog was really excited one morning when a bear showed up in our back yard!

One day, we were at another church family’s house on the mountain when we noticed a bear near our truck.  This bear was lying down in the driveway.  He looked hungry as his body was not plump, but very skinny, almost emaciated.  Some corn from feeding the chickens was in the driveway and this bear was laying there licking it off the ground.  The other man banged pots and pans together and we rushed at the bear, trying to appear bigger in an attempt to chase him away from the truck so we could leave.  The bear was ranging, but expanding his territorial range. He was in an area that he was not supposed to be in because he was hungry.

Ranging in this verse has to do with a “running a course, and eating greedily.”  This verse indicates that a governmental leader that is roaring like a lion and ranging like a bear is a wicked leader.  Speaking many words, but saying very little is a common tactic of governmental leaders, especially when involved in political campaigns.

Consider then the ranging bear.  Just as a bear gets into areas that it should not be in, the government can also get into areas that it should not be in.  Wicked leaders can be like the bear.   When the “wicked ruler” of this verse is too involved in the life of his citizens, he is in reality interfering with their lives.  When the ranging bear goes out of his territory it is because he is hungry and wanting more.  When governmental leaders want more control they are acting the same.  Greed, lust, power, and manipulation of the poor people is the result.  An ever hungry government is like the hungry bear, looking for more food to devour.   It is the poor among us who are affected the most.

This application can be seen throughout history in nations with Kings, Parliaments, Congress and Presidents.  We should pray for our leaders no matter which party they may be a part of.  I suppose the solution to this growing problem would be to elect leaders who do not extend themselves beyond the range of their office.