Saturday, May 30, 2009

James 3

Sometimes you see something that hits you right between the eyes...

If I Was Dying & Came to Your Church

This is a great video and exposes the fact that many operations operating under the guise of Christianity in America is not meeting the needs that Christ set His church up for.

Remind Me

"I love you daddy." As a father of three wonderful and beautiful young boys, two of whom can freely and openly converse with me, there are no more wonderful words to hear than, "I love you daddy." What is often surprising to me when the two oldest ones say it, is that it comes out of the blue, unexpected, and my internal response is "REALLY???" Thank God I am not yet so cynical that my response is "what do you want" (I hear that comes later in their lives). These terms of affection often come from their mouths at the most strange times though. Not when they have received a gift, or have been taken to eat at one of their favorite places, or when I say "I love you" first. They say it as I am setting my stuff down after getting home from work, when I am doing my Bible or other studies, when I am picking up sticks before mowing the grass, or when I am just sitting down to relax in the evening. It catches me off guard - AND I LOVE IT.

You see, I know my children love me. They show it to me in their obedience (most the time), their sharing their daily life with me in the evening, and their asking me to play basketball, cars, or video games with them. I am certain they know that I love them as well based on the works that Christ leads me to do for them. Still, it feels good to hear it and I strive to verbally remind my kids that I love them as well.

As Christians, we need to be reminded of God's love as well. I fear that we are forgetting that in the church today. You see, there is no greater story of love in history that that of Jesus Christ. It is a story of sacrifice, patience, and kindness, all shown out of love. However, I think that Christians have been lulled to sleep by beginning to believe that this story, the gospel, is really only for non-believers. We believe and this belief is confirmed in scripture, that once the gospel message is delivered, it will reveal Christ's love to the non-believer and has the power to save them. The story of Christ's love saves.

Believers need to hear this all the time as well. We need to hear about Christ's love. We need to be fed the constant reminder that the Bible speaks: "I love you." Are we so naive to believe that once baptized and given the gifts promised through baptism that we are then to begin a life of strict law keeping to show God how much we love Him? To quote John Piper, the Baptist minister, from his 6-minute gospel message: "You will never, never, never, never, never, never, never, NEVER, outgrow your need for the gospel." We need to hear Christ saying "I love you."

If you are finding yourself in a congregation where you are not being fed the gospel steadily and truthfully, it may be time to begin asking why. When is the last time you were told from the pulpit that Christ loves you. Are all the lessons you hear law based and you leave telling yourself that you need to do better at that and this but not reminded of the fact that Christ knows/knew we would fall short but loves you anyway? Are you being pointed to your baptism and the love that was shown by allowing you to be washed in the blood of the most precious spotless Lamb of God? Are you being fed the fact that Christ loves you? Jesus loves you!!!! If you are not being fed this steadily, you need to find out why and if you are not given a Biblical response, you may need to find a new church where you can be fed.

Are we led to show our love the Christ? Yes!! Don't forget though that God loved you first. Without His initial love, you would not even have the ability to love Him back. Christ's story of hanging on the cross is the most loud and glorious proclamation to the world that God loves you.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Blown Opportunity

When the spotlight is upon us do we trust ourselves or God to lead us to the truth. One of the real challenges that Christians face today, and throughout history for that matter, is answering the question regarding what we believe about other religions and their access to the Heavenly Father. Of course, scripture teaches us that there is but ONE true God and ONE true savior. Why then, when asked by the world how we feel about other religions do we stammer and find ourselves unable to answer the question. Let us all trust in God and the knowledge promised us who dwell in HIs word in order to be prepared to give a proper response when asked such questions. This will prevent us from making the same mistake as T.D. Jakes recently did when he was given an opportuinty to declare the ONE true God. Listen to the following clip and see if you can hear his belief in the inclusionist agenda.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pilgrim's Map of the Day

Here's a map for the middle of May:

Over at A Place For the God-Hungry you can read an excellent article debunking the myth of "the perfect family."

Here's a great post containing 18 tips/tricks for memorizing scripture.

A strange place to find an article I agree with, the New York Times recently posted an article addressing what is becoming known as "the-holier-than-thou" effect. Strange how it seems like scripture discussed this 2000 years ago. Oh well, the Times is catching up maybe.

In even a bigger surprise, I found myself really enjoying what President Obama said in his commencement address at Notre Dame this weekend. Here's a good blog post pointing out his better moments.

KEEP My Commandments

How often do we forget the price that Christ paid for us? How often do we forget that in all actuality, Christ did not spend His time burdening man with laws and statutes but rather He spent His time traveling, healing and teaching love. As I stop and look around the Christian landscape today, both close to me and in distance places, I no longer see Christ in His church but rather I see Moses.

One of the arguments I have recently heard to justify attempting to live and teach a life of legalism came from John 14. In this chapter, Christ makes the comment to His faithful follower Philip "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments (15)." That is what the apostle John saw, heard, and recorded for us. So, there we have it. Christ tells us that in order to show Him we love Him, we must keep His commandments. It is because of this verse that if you look through many Christian's Bibles today, you will find every scripture of law from Genesis to Revelation highlighted, underlined, or posted on their refrigerator. Strangely enough, in these Bibles, the portions that have the red lettering do not have that many highlights. I will allow you to deduct the meaning of that for yourself.

A closer look at the scripture though reveals something interesting. Christ's statement to Philip was not a commandment to follow every law set forth. Did/does Christ's father demand perfect obedience to the law? Yes. Hence the need for a Savior. So what was this Savior's point then?

I contend that people who read this passage as a commandment to strictly adhere to the law are misguided and even worse, victims of flawed, if not irresponsible teaching. I support that statement by pointing to the Greek language that John was first written in. The verb "keep" in John 14:15 is the Greek "Tereo." Both Thayer's and Strong's define this word as meaning to attend to carefully, to take care of, or to guard and believe it is akin to the verb "Theoreo" which means to be a spectator of or to look at or more simply, to see.

So Christ is saying in this verse, see and take care of my commandments. He then makes this point again in v. 21 when he uses the verb "Tereo" in discussing keeping his commandments. Christ was asking Philip to guard his few commandments from what? False doctrine?

To look deeper into John 14, Christ says in verse 15 that if we love Him we will see, guard His commandments and then HE (not we) will ask God to give another Helper (counselor, advocate) to assist us. What does this Helper do?? It leads us to a deeper knowledge/understanding of the commandments? For what??? To be able to guard/keep them??? Why?? v 26 says so that we can better remember them??? For what??? To save souls/fulfill the great commission. We are led to and assisted by the Holy Spirit to guard God's word and pass it on unadulterated so that more souls can be won. Not of our own doing, but wholly of God's. That is the power of God's word. We read and are taught it and we are convicted by the Holy Spirit to have a love for Christ that makes us want to dive deeper into His word at which point we are given the assistance of the Holy Spirit to understand it more so that we can be led to produce fruit through TEACHING THE WORD alone. Christ's law = keep my teachings pure. Instead, we have allowed it to be taken hostage by people who want to use it to make law. Apostasy defined.

Read it, be given understanding, keep it pure, teach it. All this is done through us, not by us. Not my opinion, that is the teaching of Christ.

Quickly think about 2 John 1. Look at what John is rejoicing in (v 4). The fact that they are guarding the word from false doctrine and abiding with one another in love (a fruit of the prior). How do we know this, because John tells us so when he states 'For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

He is happy that they have kept (guarded, taken care of) the true gospel message. That message being the gospel message of Christ. Note, this isn't a one time warning against such and is actually a common theme in the Epistles (Rom. 16:17; Gal. 1:8; Gal. 1:9; 2 Thess. 3:6; 2 Thess. 3:14 to name a few). John goes as far in 3 John to commend their remaining solid in the word and not allowing the Gentiles to add to their teaching. Teach the word, not the law. Guard Christ's words and teachings in their purest forms. I challenge you to make a list of the "commandments" that Christ made. You will find they are few. Perhaps that's the way he wanted it...

Sunday, May 03, 2009

God in a Box

Why is it that in today's world of "anything goes" and "wide-gate" Christianity that we as Christians are afraid to say what God is? By that I mean, why is it that when we tell people in discussions that God has a certain characteristic or feels a certain way about something we are accused of "putting God in a box?" Are the scriptures themselves not God-breathed? Has God not revealed to us everything that we need to know through His scripture? When we talk about a jealous God we may get the response, "that's not my God," even when it is revealed in scripture. When we talk about a vengeful God we may get the response "that's not my God, even when He Himself has told us so. When we talk about a God who frowns upon homosexuality, we get the response "not my God," even though He has revealed so to us. What is your response (not what would you say, but what have you said in past similar situations)? Is it not time to stand up and tell people who make these comments that we serve different a different God from their god???? God put Himself in the box, we simply have to open it and show it to the world.