Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Bittersweet

I attended a funeral this past Monday. The mother of a dear friend had passed away after a battle with cancer.

Funerals for Christians are interesting things to observe. Yes, there are a great deal of tears and plenty of loving hugs to go around, but the thing non-believing witnesses to funerals don't get is . . . the celebration.

It is true that ALL people will miss loved ones regardless of their belief systems, but for the Christian there is another feeling present at funerals. Along with the despair of loss is the additional feeling of . . . hope. Read these words from Jesus and see if you can find a reason to hope.

"16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” - John 16:16

That's a little vague I guess until you link that verse to HIS death and subsequent resurrection. Let me offer you another passage that might help make things more clear.

"Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin -because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God." - Romans 6:3-10

When we place our faith in God, and we accept the fact that Jesus died for our sins, our old self dies. We then receive God's promised Holy Spirit and we become born . . . again. And just as Jesus rose from the dead, so shall we rise to a promised new life.

THAT is why we who believe in Christ celebrate at the funerals of our brothers and sisters!

"Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. " - 2 Corinthians 5:8

During the funeral the pastor told us that Jean's wish was that all of her children would serve the Lord. Did you catch that? Jean's wish was for others, not for herself. More evidence of the faith that carried her through her illness.

Before I left the funeral I prayed with my young friend Cheyenne, Jean's granddaughter. I prayed for her and the new life that is growing inside of her - Amelia. I prayed for Amelia, a new life just beginning here on earth. As I did so, I couldn't help but think of Jean, also a new life just beginning . . . in heaven. There is no fear for those who believe. Only hope. May you rest in that hope today.
This story is dedicated to the memory of Jean Palmer - to her loving daughter Jeanne, her husband Steve and their kids Joshua, Kahla, Cheyenne and Jessica. And to Amelia. See you soon!

Jean

He Rose - Deluge

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Favorite Toy

This time of year the newspapers and television ads are filled with things people want us to buy. You will look "fabulous" in a new fur coat. Mom and dad waking the kids and running outside to see the new Mercedes that Santa brought them. All the materialism is WAY beyond me! Or so I thought.

Everybody loves Christmas. The decorations, the wonder of it all, presents under the Christmas tree. But it IS possible to get too much "Christmas." The true meaning of Christmas can be fleeting or lost, just like last years favorite toy, which now lies under the bed, broken and forgotten.

I was at Fleet Farm (a.k.a. The Man Mall) the other day. I was just wandering around looking for nothing in particular. That's when I saw it. A brand new, never before seen (by me), shiny golf disc. I LOVE to play disc golf. Yes, I know it's December, but time has no meaning when appreciating the beautiful things in life. Like a new driver!

So I picked it up and held it. It was smooth and new. It had never hit a tree or gotten lost. It had never felt the air as it knifed its way toward its destination. And it was only $16. I thought about buying it. I had the money and the desire, but I put it back on the shelf, sighing. Tempted to be sure but also practical. It will still be here five months from now when I could actually use it, so I walked away.

On the way home I was thinking about my faith and my life and how easy it is to fall into temptation. Then yesterday in church our pastor throws this at me.

"God gives us all the we need, to do all that He asks of us."

That sentence led me to search for similar verses. I found this.

"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." - 2 Peter 1:3-11

My temptation with the shiny object at Fleet Farm was relatively easy to overcome. There are more difficult temptations in this world - lust, drunkenness, gluttony, sexual perversion, sloth, false worship, idolatry, the list goes on and on. Everybody has their favorite "toy." What's yours?

I think what I need to remember is that, when I am tempted, I need to remember God and His promises. I need to remember He has given me everything I need. It's all in the Bible.

When we are tempted we must first recognize the temptation and then ask ourselves, "Is what I am about to do honoring to God? Is this the best thing I can do in this situation? Or should I turn and leave?"

There is one thing we can do to overcome temptation. It can be found in the Book of Hebrews. Five little words is all we need to remember.

"Fix your eyes on Jesus." -  Hebrews 12:2

I Am Buzz Lightyear - Toy Story
When Sin Looks More Enjoyable Than God - Francis Chan

Saturday, December 3, 2016

All In The Name

Yesterday morning, as I was driving in to work, a song came on the radio. It was one of those songs that kind of yanks you right out of a bad mood you're in and puts you right back where you should have been in the first place. The song reminded me of my reason for writing these stories and why I named this blog what I did.

The name of the song that morning was Lifesong by Casting Crowns. There's a link to it at the end of this story. The song's lyrics provide some soul-searching words that convicted me pretty deeply when I was just beginning in my walk with Jesus. They gratefully STILL cut deep - a good reminder for any wayward Christian.

Look at the opening verse. It is so true. There is a saying in many churches that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. See if this line doesn't address that.

"Empty hands held high - such small sacrifice. If not joined with my life. I sing in vain tonight."

What good is our worship on Sunday if we don't follow through on Monday? We should be living out our faith every day of the week! We're Christians! Not pagans.

"17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." - James 2:17

The next part of the first verse encourages us to live a life pleasing to God - basically, to make "the song" that is our life, God-honoring.

"May the words I say, and the things I do, make my lifesong sing . . . bring a smile to you."

I could go on but you get the point. The entire song encourages us to live lives worthy of the calling we have received.

"4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." - Ephesians 4:1-3

As we walk through this place let us remember that we are not home yet. Those of us who have been called to be children of God have a mission - to love others as Christ first loved us. We are not called to judge. That's the job God gave His son, Jesus. We are to be obedient, we are to praise and worship our Lord and King, and we are to become less, making ourselves servants of the Most High God.

"5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!" - Philippians 2:5-8

"Let my Lifesong sing to you, let my lifesong sing to you. I want to sign your name to the end of this day, knowing that my heart was true. Let me lifesong sing to you."

Lifesong - Casting Crowns

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Danger of Comfort

Have you seen it? Have you seen the change? If you are young you probably haven't noticed anything at all. Everything seems like it has always been. But it's not.

We, as a nation, have grown comfortable. And that is a very bad thing. Comfort is where Satan lives. He thrives on political correctness and fear. We have comfort foods. Why? Comfort foods usually make us fat and desiring comfort all the more.

Being as old as I am, I have seen quite a few things in my lengthy lifetime. I have watched on TV as an American president was assassinated. Then a civil rights leader - a man of peace. I have seen a nation at war and our soldiers spat upon when they returned home from it. And now I am seeing our police officers being murdered in the streets, all because they chose to protect us. Yes, I have seen plenty of lows in this nation, but nothing can compare to the change I have seen in our society.

The line between what is acceptable and what is not has moved. And not in the right direction. We are removing God from everything once held dear and we are replacing Him . . . with ourselves.

Everything these days is all about convenience and comfort. Wouldn't want to offend anyone. Anyone except the silent majority. They don't fight back. We can offend people on the Internet without the inconvenience of facing someone face-to-face. It's so much easier to "pull the plug" on a relationship by un-friending them instead of investing time to repair a damaged relationship.

Our own comfort has taken over where God once reigned and that, I think, is the problem.

The Acts 2 church is a perfect example of what a Christ-centered society could be like.

"44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people." - Acts 2:44-47

Let's break that down.

  • All the believers were together
  • They had everything in common
  • They sold possessions to help others in need
  • They met together daily
  • They ate together in their homes
  • They had glad and sincere hearts
  • They praised God
  • They enjoyed the favor of all people
Let's look at that. Does our society have all those characteristics today? No. Why not? Well, there are several reasons, but the biggest reasons are 1.) we have taken God out of our schools and the courthouses. 2.) Everything has become "acceptable" out of fear of offending someone. Want to marry a goat? Go ahead. We all just want each other to be happy in whatever they are doing. 3.) We are being given everything to the point of our becoming dependent.

Some might say, look at verse 45. The early church gave to everyone. True, but the key difference are these - they gave to everyone as there was a need. The other factor is they gave willingly. These days our government takes our money and gives to those THEY think have a need . . or a want . . or a desire.

If the church was doing its job there would be no need for a welfare system among believers. We would all take care of ourselves.

We will have a new president in a few months. He has promised to "make America great again". He can try. Maybe He can improve a few things, streamline regulations & tax codes, but the only way we as a nation can be made great again is by turning to God, repenting of our sins, and by making Jesus Lord of our lives . . . not some earthly leader.

Our only hope is Christ.

I will close with a portion of an 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation by our sitting president at that time. What happened to us in the time between then and now?

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union. - Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln's full Thanksgiving Proclamation

Monday, November 28, 2016

To Build A Fire

My wife and I just got done burning the last of the brush piles in our new vacant lot yesterday.  We had built the piles up over the summer and now, finally, they are all gone. I bet our neighbors are happy. LOL!

It wasn't the easiest to get the fire started yesterday. The weather was damp and foggy and all the leaves and braches were wet. Here's a little Boy Scout survival tip for you. If you are ever having trouble getting a fire started, try pine needles and pine branches. The sap inside them burns quite nicely.

As I tried to get a fire started I thought back to my high school days. English class. We had to read the short story To Build A Fire by Jack London. The story's main character was an inexperienced city man. He tried to travel across the Alaskan wilderness by himself in 70 below temperatures during the gold rush. He didn't make it. Sorry to spoil the ending of the story for you.

One of the last things that frozen, dying man tried to do was to build a fire. You need three things to successfully build a fire. Fuel (wood, leaves, tinder, etc), a fire source (matches, lighter, magnifying glass, etc) and oxygen.

When God draws us to Himself, it's like He is preparing to build a fire. We are the combustible material. We are what God is trying to ignite. The oxygen, I think, is God Himself. He gave us the breath of life after all. The ignition source or the spark needed to ignite us and our faith is God's Holy Spirit.

The thing about fires is they tend to go out if they are not well attended to. If there is no more fuel the fire goes out. No oxygen? The fire goes out. So how can we Christians keep OUR fires burning brightly when the world keeps pulling us back? There are several ways. But to really get a roaring fire we should be doing all of these.
  1. Read the Bible. Study it!
  2. Pray
  3. Worship
  4. Serve God by Serving Others
This past Saturday I met with a young friend of mine who, I would say, is on fire for the Lord. She serves God by going on mission trips, she volunteers with her church's youth group. She prays regularly and always seeks God's will in her life. She loves to worship and she reads her Bible daily and leads Bible studies. Her fire burns brightly.

But if she didn't do any of those things, her fire would start to fade and her faith would grow cold. How are you doing in those four areas I just mentioned. Are you doing all of them excitedly? Continually? We should be.

One more though about fires and our need to keep them burning. My wife and I have a wood-burning fireplace. We build fires in it but we had to buy our fire wood from a friend. Who pays for the "wood" in the life of a Christian? Who paid for our sinfulness? Well, Jesus did. As the old hymn goes, "Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe."

Don't Let The Fire Die - Stephen Curtis Chapman
To Build a Fire - Jack London
Jesus Paid It All - Newsboys 

(This was my 600th story written for this blog. Thanks for reading! Love you!)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is over. The turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes are all in the fridge, chillin'. The pumpkin pie is half-eaten and covered with aluminum foil. My belt has been loosened to the last notch just to protect the innocent bystanders should there be a structural failure. Things are finally beginning to get back to normal.

It was a rather typical Thanksgiving in that we did all of the same things we do every year. There was food and family and football. Yet this Thanksgiving felt different than any other Thanksgiving for some reason.

Maybe it's because the Packers are sucking this year. Maybe it's the whinny liberal news media who didn't get their way in this year's presidential election. It could be because I see a nation splitting into different factions and then warring with one another instead of "one nation, under God."

Life in our family is going good. We have jobs, we have food, we have love. Still something is not quite right. I think I figured out what it is though.

The Bible tells us in Romans 12 (among others places) that we are all given gifts. It describes

"We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." - Romans 12:6-8

As far as I can tell through my self-examination I have been given the gift of mercy. What that means is that when someone I love is hurting, I want to help. The helping always makes me feel good. That's not a problem. What hurts is when I WANT to help but am unable to.

There are people I know who are struggling right now. They need help. They need some assistance. I see that need and I want to help. I get that part. But it's more than that. I NEED to help. Not helping those in need eats away at me inside. I causes sleepless nights as I search for ways to come to the rescue of those I love. Sometimes the gift of mercy can feel more like a curse. But that's a good thing. The gift of mercy in His children is God's gift to the hurting.

Perhaps that is why I feel a little down this Thanksgiving. I have been unable to serve some of the people in my life the way I'd like to. For me, my sin is knowing that God wants me to do something and then not doing it.

There is a verse that is haunting me right now. Here it is.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" - Matthew 7:9-11

I read that and think two things. First, I feel like I am giving my friends in need stones and snakes. I am not being much help. The second thing is I am not asking God to help them as often or as passionately as I should. And THAT is why I am not feeling 100% this Thanksgiving. It is my own failure at doing what God wants me to do that is causing me to be sad.

Perhaps this story of my failure will be the incentive I need to turn things around and do something. I hope so. I NEED to do something. God has placed me in a position to serve and I am doing nothing. THAT is what must change. I must turn nothing into something. Perhaps then I can get some rest.

Father, I ask you today to forgive us our sins - the things we have done to be sure. but today I seek forgiveness for the things I have NOT done. I pray for strength and determination, that we might actually MOVE, rather than stand still. So, I personally and humbly ask  for wisdom so I may know what to do when called to do so. And I ask for strength, that I would do the things you ask me to do - not in MY name but in yours. We must become less, you must become more. I pray for your mercy so that we may show that mercy to those you have placed in our paths. May we be not only hearers of your Word, but doers of it as well. And may we be thankful for these feelings of inadequacy and helplessness, for they draw us closer to you. All these things I pray in the name of Jesus. Thank you for hearing our prayers. Amen.

Happiness Is Helping Others

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Commands of Jesus: Don't Throw Stuff!

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." - Matthew 7:6

"Throwing pearls to swine." What the heck does THAT mean? And why would I do that? If I had some pearls (not likely) I sure wouldn't throw them at a pig.

So what does that phrase mean? Well I'll give you an example. A friend of mine at work made an amazing quilt to give to someone. It was very intricate and took a lot of time to sew all of the pieces together. Surely the recipient would be pleased wit such a treasure.

When the gift was given the response was, "Oh . . . uh, thanks." No appreciation at all. That's what Jesus meant when He told us NOT to throw our pearls to those who don't appreciate what they have been given.

Any Christian, when asked, "What is your most valuable possession?" should answer, "My salvation. We have been given a tremendous gift by God! Unfortunately, there are many people in this world who just don't want to hear about God or Jesus or anything faith-based. Try though we might, they just don't want to hear it.

I think what Jesus is saying here is don't waste your time speaking to those who don't want to hear the message. Move on. There are plenty of other people who will appreciate what we have to say.

That sounds a little cold, coming from Jesus, unless you know Him.

We are merely deliverers of a message. We are not in the business of changing people's minds. God does that. We should deliver God's message, The Gospel, and move on. There are some people will simply refuse to hear it because it is foolishness to them.

The gift of salvation is like a beautiful strand of pearls. Incredibly valuable. One might even say priceless. Why offer someone such a gift if they don't really want it?

We have been called to spread the Gospel wherever we go. We have also been told to make disciples. But nowhere does it say we are to waste our time where God's Holy Spirit has not laid the groundwork.

Preach the Gospel. Always! But if it is not received . . . time to move on to another town.

Thanksgiving is a great time to speak to others about the pearl of great price YOU have been given. Speak from your heart, speak in live, but don't spend time speaking to those whose hearts have been hardened. That is what prayer is for.

14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town." - Matthew 10:14-15

Pearl of Great Price

Monday, November 21, 2016

Human Curling


Do you know what curling is? According to Wikipedia, "Curling is a sport in which players slide stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four concentric circles." A sport? That sounds more like a bunch of bored people on a Friday night, making up a game to entertain themselves. Just kidding!

When I was in high school my mom had a miniature curling "stone" on her dresser. It's probably still there. I wasn't sure why until I found out the sport was first played in Scotland. My mom is Scottish and rather proud of that fact.

Recently on Facebook I was reminded of "a special memory" that Facebook thought would be good for me to see again. It was from seven years ago when I was a youth leader at church. It was a video I filmed of a youth group game I invented called Human Curling.

That sounds crazy enough to be an AMAZING youth group activity all by itself, but my game also carried a message along with it. I equated the sport of curling to the lives we live while we are here on earth. There is a beginning point and an ultimate goal, and then, in between those two points, there is a whole lot of stuff that happens that can ultimately change our final resting spot.

After we our born (our beginning point) we are directed towards our destination. Often, those effecting our outcome in life are our parents, our teachers, our friends and family members. But we can also be directed by our experiences, our highs and our lows, and even by those who oppose us.

I have a young friend who, I'm sure, was an amazing child. Interactions with friends and foe shaped her early life. But one day her parents got a divorce. I'm sure my friend witnessed many a battle in the living room or the kitchen. How can a child witness those things and not be re-directed in life.

We all have had similar experiences, similar life direction changes. As we travel through this life, how can we possibly end up on our intended target? Where we always wanted to be?

I forgot to mention earlier someone else who has the power to re-direct our lives. His name is Elohim - God. Once we have veered off life's path, He is the only one who can change our ultimate destination. You name the sin, God has the power to overcome it.

Our ultimate target in this life is that, when we come to the end of it, we will have placed our faith in His Son, Jesus. It is by our faith in Him that we are saved and get to proceed to game #2 - eternal life.

The curling rink of life has seen many "stones" thrown down the ice. The side boards are littered with them. But only a few arrive at their final destination. Only a few stay on target or are directed there by our Savior.

Where are you on the ice of life? Has your aim strayed from the target? Is your life going some place it shouldn't be? If it is, it is not too late to call for assistance.

"In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." - Proverbs 3:6

"Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you." - Proverbs 4:25

video
Human Curling

Saturday, November 19, 2016

When Churches Bite

Have you ever been hurt or disappointed by your church? Has something ever happened in church that made you ask, "What just happened here?" Or maybe you read something in the Bible and then saw your church doing something different. What do we do? How do we react?

First, before I begin making people mad, let's set a few pitons in the mountain we're about to climb. Pitons are the things mountain climbers use to keep them from falling too far. In the church we call them truths. They are things we can depend on and trust 100%.

Piton #1 - Churches are filled with sinners. Jesus told us in Matthew 10 that "no one is good except God alone." That means your pastor is a sinner, the little kid running down the aisle is a sinner and the old lady pushing her walker up front to take communion is a sinner. We are ALL sinners. We all screw up. If you are looking for a perfect church, good luck. There isn't one.

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." - Romans 3:3

Piton #2 - There is only one Church. According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, there are approximately 41,000 Christian denominations in the world today. Seriously? Why so many? Who's right and who's wrong? People have different interpretations about what the Bible says. Usually, the Bible is pretty clear but sometimes it can be a little fuzzy. Still, despite all of the differences we might have in our beliefs, there is really only ONE church. And check this,  it doesn't have a building.

"13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body" - 1 Corinthians 12:13

Alright, let's start climbing.

Do you love Jesus? Most, if not all Christians, will answer yes. They will answer that question quite boldly too. Right up to the point when Jesus says this:

"23 Jesus replied, Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." - John 14:23

Are you getting scared yet? You should be. Because we're about to get hurt.

I saw a discussion on Facebook the other day about someone claiming that their church had hurt them. That may or may not be true. I have no way of knowing. This person claimed that they had been removed from a position in the church because of the way they dressed. If that is true, then shame on the church. This same person said they were removed from this position because they were in a same-sex relationship. If THAT is true, then shame on that person for living a lie.

“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching."

Open your Bibles to Romans 1.

"24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie" - Romans 1:24-25

It doesn't matter what our sin is, when we exchange the truth about God for a lie, and continue to live in that lie, that sin, then we are only hurting ourselves. If we are truly Christians, even though we sin, there is a shame that follows us as long as we are in that sin. And then it comes. The difference between Christians and non Christians - repentance. A turning away from sin to follow God. To . . . "obey my teaching."

Let's face it. Sometimes churches hurt us. We're all sinners, remember? But more often it is we ourselves who do the hurting. And the ones we usually end up hurting are ourselves.

Before we start accusing the church of hurting us perhaps we should examine ourselves to see if we aren't the ones doing the hurting.

Being a Christian means giving up our old way of life. Not wallowing in sin. Repentance is the key.

"17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! " - 2 Corinthians 5:17

We will be tempted. We will be tried. But if we are TRULY Christians, if we truly have God's Holy Spirit inside us, we will never go back to who we once were. We will never give in. We will never give up the fight. Because we are His church. We are His bride. And we have been chosen by The King.

When your church hurts you, forgive. When things don't go as you think they should, ask yourself, does it really matter? We need to get beyond earthly entanglements and start living for Christ, sacrificially. We need to start loving , as Christ loved us, unconditionally. If we all do that there won't be any trouble at all.


How To Heal When The Church Hurts You
Ephesians 4

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Cause For Divorce?

Before I get started let me just say that this story is NOT about divorce in the usual marital sense. It is, but it isn't. It is about our failure to live up to a commitment we once made, as Christians . . . to God.

In the Book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul describes our relationship with God as a marriage. Jesus is the bridegroom and we are the bride. Read these verses from Ephesians, not as they apply to earthly marriage relationships, but with the emphasis on our relation ship with Christ.

"22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." - Ephesians 5:22-24

  • First, we are to submit to The Lord (v22). Our will should be the same as His. We should conform to His way of thinking. Do we do that? Are we seeking His will in everything we do? In everything we say? What would He want us to do?
  • Second, God is our "head", our boss, our commander, our leader (v23). We are to obey His commands, His decisions, His decrees.
  • Third, we are to remember that Jesus died for us, paying the price for OUR sin. He is our savior (v23).
  • Fourth, We must be subject to Him in everything (v24). There is a Greek word for that - panti. It means . . . everything.
Thinking of moving in with your boyfriend? If you submit to the Lord you won't. That's fornication. It's a sin and against God's will. Are you thinking of gorging yourself on pizza and sweets while others around you are going hungry? That's a sin. Watching the game instead of going to worship? That's a sin. You are placing your needs above God's. I could go on but you get the point.

According to a recent survey about failed marriages, the most common reason given for divorce(73%) was a "lack of commitment." Are we committed in our marriage with Jesus? Probably not to the extent we should be I fear.

Other reasons given as causes of divorce were arguing (56%) and infidelity (55%). Do we disagree with God's laws? Have we broken any of the Ten Commandments? I have. Have we been unfaithful to God? I already mentioned skipping a worship service to watch a Packers game. Are we unfaithful in other ways? Lack of service perhaps? Failure to pray as often as we should or to spend time reading The Bible?

These are all things our "Ephesians 5 husband" wants us to do. We are to be subject to Him, yet most of us are not. Here's the tough question. Based on today's top three reasons for divorce, does Jesus have a case against us? Sadly, I think He does. So, why doesn't He divorce us?

Well, that's easy to answer. It's His unconditional love for us. His desire that "none should perish" (2 Peter 3:9). His desire to "gather us to Himself as a mother hen protects her chicks (Matthew 23:37). God loves us so much He died for us (Romans 5:8)!

I need to work on my marriage with Jesus. I want to have that type of marriage where we love each other, encourage each other and do things for each other. We pray together, finish each others sentences and praise God for the marriage arrangement He has given us. It works well if we are devoted to one another. Are we holding up our end of things? In ALL things?

At The Cross - Chris Tomlin