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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Gazing into an Empty Tomb

Today, Christians all over the world celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No doubt, defeating death is a cause to celebrate. Christ endured death. We had invented death in a collaboration with Satan, and together perfected it with the cross . On it, Jesus took our punishment, so man might once again be joined to God.  


Easter sounds so simple 2017 years later.  Here in America, we will all go to a egg hunts, eat a lot of ham, and blow up social media with our family photos. I enjoy it every year.


Sermons tend to be better at Easter. After all, today many people will come who rarely attend. Over the years, I've heard all sorts of metaphors come from the Easter celebration. Can anything offer more hope than an empty tomb? 


Every year, like the early followers of Christ, we come to gaze into an empty tomb. It's where you go from here that matters. Before the resurrection, most of those followers scattered in front of the cross. After meeting the resurrected Christ, those followers embraced the cross.

Christ life is an example we must live by. His life, His example includes His death. Jesus said " It is Finished"



For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

2 Corinthians 5:21



"It is finished", are the words on which eternity pivots. Spoken on the cross, Christ calls us to death and life. We cannot have one without the other. Death to this world must come to have life in Christ. We cannot hope in our resurrection without embracing the cross. "It is finished" echoes through the ages, not as the ending of life, but death to hopelessness.


Rarely is it taught at Easter, but tucked away in the resurrection story is the great commission. Jesus returns from the dead to give us one task. Preach the Gospel. Tell the world about Him. What He has done for us is finished. What we do for Him cannot be. Once we meet the resurrected Christ, serving Him who saved us  must become more than annually gazing into an empty tomb. He came that we might have a full life. May we look outside the tomb, embrace His cross for us, and follow Him. 


Happy Easter

   


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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Aynor's Churches: The Good,The Bad, & the Ugly.

 I grew up, in what I considered to be the buckle of the Bible Belt. It was a stigma I could live with. Honestly, I was proud  of it. I went to high school  in the little golden town of Aynor, S.C. Aynor, is a two stop light town, surrounded by family farms and rural area residents, who boastfully self proclaim the place to be, " God's Country".
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I remember pledging allegiance to the Bible, the Christian Flag, and the American Flag, during vacation Bible school. Promises, I intend to keep.

The South offers a culture and tradition enriched in hospitality, and honor. Church is a big part of that culture. The South affords a comfortable setting to become a "Christian". Then again, when did Christianity become comfortable? Honor and hospitality are cheif among social graces, but they offer no redemption for society. They introduce no grace for individuals. I fear, a false sense of spiritual security has infected our community. As biblical illiteracy increases in our congregations, our churches have become places of social interactions, rather than, places where souls are rescued. Acceptance now trumps repentance. It's not a style of worship that scares me. What's lacking is the of depth of teaching God's word. American worship now often requires an entertaining factor. We blur the line between the sensational and the spiritual. Not because of our style, because of the lack of devotion to the word of God. The South might be the Bible Belt, perhaps the increasingly unopened, definitely the unapplied, Bible Belt. Of all the ministry, I've been involved with, nothing has been met with more spiritual opposition than the effort to take God's word to our schools. I praise God for that. Mainly because His word tells us to. Not only for that, but because, I know this will cause growth.

For the last week, I have had more tgan  a taste of reality. I've had a helping helping. Here are some of the things I learned by helping bring a release time bible class to Aynor.


The Good:
There's lots of God's people in Aynor still committed to sharing the gospel by teaching the word of God. Call me old fashioned, but I'm pretty sure I can make a biblical case  for that being the only way. Of course, I'd have to use the Bible to do that.
Lots of people gave sacrificially and independently from church. A couple, who recently relocated from West Virginia, gave $1000.00. As far as I know, they have no family here.
Even one, unchurched, high school friend, sponsored a student for an entire year. In the thirty years we have known each other, nothing had caused us to hug or cry together. This did.
Of the few churches that gave, all gave overwhelmingly generous gifts, considering the size and dynamics of their congregations. It was refreshing to find people, who not only value God's word, but have faith in the promises found inside it. We now have enough money to fund the high school ministry. Prayers have been answered.

The Bad.
There are churches who would have liked to give in our area that could not. It's simple mathematics. In terms Bible Belt people will understand " you can't get blood out of a turnip ."  Low attendance is low offerings. I remember these places as once thriving.  Now they have the discouraging choices of advancing the kingdom through local missions or keeping the lights on. I fear, they have a harsh reality ahead of them. If you are a child of God worshipping at these facilities, you should not just leave. However, you should not just stay either. This world is not our home. Make sure what is keeping you there is more than the temporary sentimental mortar of what once was. Do not allow the bricks your grandfathers laid become an anchor in complacency.  Do not allow temporary walls to prevent pooling together  your eternal family's  resources. Make your foundation on the Rock of your salvation that calls you to rescue your brothers and sisters, who are still lost. The church, the true church, will sow seeds beyond the soil of it's southern traditions. They will plant beyond the graveyards of dying church campuses. We haven't even started funding our middle school. I pray for a vision and clarity for the church.
The Ugly.
There was an incredible lack of interest from some pastors and church leaders. To be fair, there were some legitimate concerns from some pastors who were being cautious. I get that,... well sorta. In my mind, all legitimate concerns were overly cautious at best, or lame excuses at worst. Any problem could have been worked out, provided they got involved with a passion to let the Word of God speak for itself. 
While I will not betray a confidence in those candid conversations to protect the congregations, I will tell you my thoughts on what I encountered. 
Some of it was a lack of interest. There were pastors who never even returned a phone call. Some of it was plain old pride. They couldn't lead and wouldn't follow. Some of it was laziness. They had means but lacked vision to press forward. One pastor friend said," I'm not going to support it,  it's personal." Seriously?  Over and over,  I heard, "we are already helping the Fellowship of Christian Athletes". I didn't know whether to ask them, "if they understood the difference or did that mean the kids who aren't in sports can go to hell?" There was plenty of ugly apathy to go around, but the most alarming fact is some pastors weren't simply unsupportive. Some rather seemingly opposed this effort. 

The ugliest person I've found  in all of this has been myself.  Constantly, I've questioned my conscious , asking God to prevent me from having a judging self righteous spirit. 
I keep telling myself, I don't know hearts or where people are in their walks. I can only judge fruits not hearts. I can and must stand on God's promises while falling on God's graces. Yet, I still found myself, for the first time in my life, feeling like a liar. I have been blatantly dishonest to my friends. I pretended to be understanding while I'm totally oblivious as to why they won't help. I can't understand the lack of passion or urgency in the heart of people, who say they belong to God, for evangelizing the youth of its own community outside its doors. If it were any other mission, I might could understand. These young people belong to us. These are our responsibility. We are supposed to be brothers and sisters devoted to God, His word, and His people. If we can set aside our differences to cheer and support the same school athletes, but cannot collectively minister and deliver the word of God to all our youth, then heaven help us. What are we worshipping? What are we teaching? 

wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?
by taking heed thereto according to thy word. 
psalm 119.9 ". 

If this is God's Country, His people will sow His seed and reap His harvest here. 

Please continue to pray for this effort. 

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

This Year, I Resolve to Lose my Life.

Every New Years admirable goals get set, big dreams get dreamt. Lofty ideas are entertained in the hopes of a better year. No doubt, today, from many pulpits flowed positive messages of how we to change our lives this year. I'm sure sound advice on how to keep promises to ourselves were learned today. It's to be expected, after all, the Bible teaches us to set goals.  Many verses teach us to be proactive in our lives. Like this one. BloggerImage

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance.~ Proverbs 21:5

We should set goals. Hard work is  the path of success, is a truth. I'd never suggest otherwise. I'd never deny most of us have untapped potential. Certainly, loosing weight, breaking addictions, and getting control of your finances, are worthy goals. I hope and pray this year brings the betterment of us all. I certainly make plans and have goals.

Realistically, the majority of today's words and strategies will soon be forgotten. Many of 2017's resolutions will quickly fall by the wayside. So much emphasis will be placed on our plans for our lives. Oh, the things we will attempt to make our lives better . Yet, I'm reminded Jesus said in Luke 9: 24 -25

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very lives BloggerImage

What if this year, we resolved to give up the futile attempt at being in charge of our own destinies? What if instead of focusing on our own successes , the goals we set were for bettering the lives of others? In other words, loving our neighbor as much as ourselves. How much better would our lives become if we strived to give our dedication to God as liberally as God has given us His grace? If what we desire is an abundant life, we must diligently plan to live in as much obedience, as a fallen creature can, to word of God. What if, rather than creating the best version of ourselves, we lost our lives, finding ourselves in Christ? I plan on following Jesus every day for the rest of my life. You coming?

3 John 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

May the goals we set for today, lead us into a soul satisfying, productive, participation of God's plan, of loosing our lives, proclaiming the way, the truth, and the life, in Him.

Happy New Year.




Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What the Manger Holds

Decades of Christmas memories travel in and out of my heart and soul this time of year. It's no wonder either. With all the sights, sounds, and smells there's bound to be sensory overload. It' funny how such a small and seemingly insignificant encounter, with practically anything, triggers our inner faculties, this time of year.
Maybe it was all the lights that reminded me, but I remember how I used to love decorating at Grandmas. No matter how cold it was, I was going to get strawberries, pound cake, and ice cream when we finished.  She would play Christmas records as the tree went up. Looking back, it probably was to keep me from hearing the frustrated words of my grandfather as he fixed the lights. Oh, and I can still smell the distinct aroma of her attic lingering on the ornaments since that was their home eleven months of the year. She had a ceramic nativity scene. If I was a good little boy, I could place baby Jesus in the stable. After Christmas, we would wrap it up in tissue paper and put it away to keep it from breaking. It's one of my favorite childhood and holiday memories.

You know, some Christians don't celebrate Christmas. History tells us it was a pagan ritual that church officials changed so newly converted people could celebrate Christ birth rather than the winter solstice. Knowing the history doesn't create a problem for me since the Bible says this:
Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Ironically, Christians celebrate the work done on the most pagan of all alters. An alter made for mankind's own system of death. Man brought death and murder into the world and created a device to accomplish death in its totality. The cross denied all dignity to it's victims while automatically increasing their torture. The  cross was built by men of the world for the oppression and enslavement of those who challenged a world system. It was an instrument of fear, death, and torture before God touched it and changed it.
God changed it so drastically, that the
once ultimate symbol of death and oppression, is now the greatest symbol of hope and eternal life.
That is happens, when God touches things, He changes them.

At Christmas, I can't help but think of how He has changed the manger. It's become a symbol as well. Before Christ touched it, it was nothing more than a wooden feed sack. I wonder how many miss who it is in the manger. 

Around 700 years before Christ was in a manger, the prophet 
Isaiah, wrote these words we say every Christmas. 

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
9:6-8

Yet, somehow we miss who it is is in the manger. 
The Wonderful Counselor, the prince of peace, we are ok with that, but  everlasting Father and mighty God? In a manger?
It's no mere mortal in the manger. God is who he is. You ask how is that possible? He was God's son. How does that work? I could tell you, God is not subject to the laws He creates.He is all powerful. I could tell you, He is outside of time and space. I could suggest, He has the ability to separate himself. Honestly,  I just don't know.  Just like, I don't know how any of God's miracles happen. Just like, Mary didn't know how a virgin could conceive. The only thing I can tell you is what Gabriel told her. "Nothing is impossible with God." Jesus is God according to lots of scripture in both Old and New Testament. So He's God and He's God son, cause He says so. And that is something only an all powerful God could pull off. 


 In the manger, there are parts of Jesus story you can't hear for the ooos and the awes in the background. There's angels singing, and nicely dressed, freshly bathed shepherds, worshipping a Wonderful Counselor.  It's serene and tranquil, the way we tell it. There's more to the Gospel message than peace on Earth. More than Christmas candles burn inside the hearts of men, where the Gospel ignited more than an emotion of joy.  
The manger story is beautiful, but it's not the beginning, the end, the middle, or even the climax of story of Christ. It was the things He said and did that made this story worth celebrating. It is who Christ is making this story holy. So many still miss who He is and miss what Christmas is. 
Christmas was the execution of an ongoing rescue mission, planned from the foundation on the world, to glorify the Father, by setting the captives free. The Christ of the entire story, many turn away from. 
So many that aren't saved love Christmas. Don't they?
For many people, the manger is all of the story of Jesus they have. Truthfully, the only part many want. Like Paul Harvey would say, "you need the rest of the story." They need to know the manger is as empty now as the tomb is. And it is the full life, between an empty manger, and an empty tomb, that we must focus on.

Remember Ricky Bobby's prayer from Taledega nights? "Dear sweet, baby, Jesus lying in a manger..." nobody turns away from baby Jesus do they?. Because if we are honest, what we really want, is a god we can wrap and unwrap when it is convenient. A god we can take in and out, when we want, and place in a setting of our own choosing. In short, a God we control instead of a God we obey. The problem is, we end up with an idol we decorate the mantel of our minds with, rather than, a God who decorates our lives.
See, in the manger, Jesus doesn't require anything of us. 
There He doesn't teach: turn the other cheek, love your enemies, love God with all that you are, or love your neighbor as yourself. He doesn't command us to: carry our own cross or the gospel. In the manger, all the scars Jesus took to save us are covered by swaddling clothes. We never allow our imaginations to visualize the manger in the shadow of the cross. Gruesome imagery of an infant child tattered and torn, mutilated, nailed to a cross, is just too much for our feeble psyches to take in. Yet, it is only in knowing nothing was less holy on the cross, than was in that manger, nothing was more sacred, or more innocent, more precious, more pure, in that manger, than was nailed that cross, that we can have the gift of knowing what the manger holds for Christmas. 
Oh, the manger is part of a beautiful story. A beautiful celebration of our savior coming from heaven, dying to save us  and he will return again. If there is anything to learn from the manger it is the transformation, the difference Christ's touch makes.The manger was nothing more than a wooden feed sack until Christ touched it, until Christ was in it. If all you know about Jesus is the manger story, then you missed He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.  BloggerImage

He shows us the way through the cross, He shows us the truth by His resurrection, and gave us His life, as an example to live by, so that we might live with Him. The only reason we even know about the manger is because there was a resurrection!. He who hung on the cross touched it and it changed, like everything He touches changes.This is story of a beautiful gift, the living word of the living God, sent to a lost world.
But the most beautiful part, there's no end to this story. And here's the big question, what part are you gonna play in the story?
Are you going to to spread the love of Jesus anywhere and everywhere? 
Are you touched by the manger, or 
Has he who touched the manger touched you? 

May the the season continually remind you of Him,
Merry Christmas.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Truth About Pins.

Safety pins. I'd don't think they were intended for political purposes. Neither is this post. I think there's merit and corruption in both parties. What I don't see, is honestly about lawlessness, inequality, racism, or  greed in our citizenship. So, I'm not picking on a party or anyone. It's the behavior I'm calling out. We shouldn't ignore it if it's unproductive. We shouldn't reward it if it's bad. We should stop it if it's wrong. All of it should be analyzed. You have to admit, there's irony in college students wanting to draw an imaginary ring on a campus for a "safe place" while condemning those who want a wall around the country. Education has never been a replacement for common sense or intelligence.

Who knew, safetypins would become a national political symbol? Why not firing pins or hitch pins or hair pins? How about we make our symbol, bowling pins? That way, they could roll over us and knock us down. They'd like that, except ,we'd always stand up again. 

Symbols are overrated. They go to or over our heads. Before you start using one, you might want to research it .Apparently, some people are now wearing a safety pin as an indication they are a safe person to talk to following a tight presidential election having no idea the symbol has been hijacked. Research it. It has multiple meanings. Most of the rest of us had no idea talking in America was so dangerous. As long as you don't mess with our stuff, most of us are safe to talk to. If we are honest, we are kinda thinking, maybe it's pointless to talk to those wearing safety pins. Don't tell anyone, but up until last Tuesday, America was unified  and everyone, not wearing safety pins, agreed on everything and were safe to talk to. If reality was a hotel, it would be in a ghost town. You can't have this much diversity without some division. Here's the truth, when two people are in perfect agreement, the opinion of one of those persons is no longer warranted. You can learn lots from people you don't agree with, but you'll have to leave behind your sensitivity. 

The Bible teaches 

Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:6

Everyone, who tells you exactly what you want to hear, isn't your friend. Often, those who love you the most will do the complete opposite. If you don't recognize this experience, you are either oblivious or sheltered. Society can't wait for you have the pleasure of removing a knife from your own back and the revelation it was left there by an enemy you thought was your friend.

We live in a country where, at least for the moment, you have rights.
Under the First Amendment, freedom of expression affords you have the right to act like an emotional train wreck, who can't take defeat. You have the right to exude weakness or coddle it. You have the right to exaggerate the truth, or ignore the truth. As long as you're not under oath, you have the right to lie. You have a right to believe a lie. My personal favorite is there's more than one truth. It's the most popular. The rest of us have the right to call it like we see it. In other words, we have the right to speak something that is offensive. It's quite easily done, just slip up and praise Jesus or say something remotely patriotic.


I have the right to love anyone I choose. We can love someone we disagree with. Ask any parent parenting. Love doesn't, ignore, sugar coat, or exaggerate truth in life lessons. Oh, it might in the niceties of trivial questions like " How do I look?" But, it doesn't lie in matters essential to survival. So I'm saying this in love, but some are likely not going to like it .

The truth is so brutally honest, many times, it's dangerous. It's pointed. It pricks you in the heart. Everything a safety pin doesn't do. But a safety pin, it's cute and relatively safe. Like the blue pill from the Matrix. (Funny the symbolic colors and nature of those red and blue pills. Walking in a comfortable alternative reality, you take the blue pill. Walking in truth, you take a red pill.... hmmm. But I digress) Anyway,  the problem is the truth ain't, so much. Pretty, that is. Often, it's ugly enough people turn away from it. 

It happens to the best of us. Literally. It happened  to Christ. I'm reminded of these words from John chapter 6.

"After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him"
It wasn't the Pharisees that left. It was the disciples. 

Why? Go read chapter 6. Because He told the truth. He called people out in their motives. They took offense. In verse 61, He calls them on their offense and gives them more truth. The all knowing God of scripture, knew they would be offended at the truth, knew they would leave, ahead of time, and he said the truth anyway! The inventor of love, did not coddle their emotions, change his approach, his tone, the message, the word, or anything to make them stay. He didn't backtrack,  BloggerImagehe moved forward without those uncommitted. He did not intentionally offend, but it was the truth. It needed to be said. And love doesn't lie. He is the way, truth, and the life.

You can sacrifice the Truth. Though, it will take something bigger than safety pins. You'll need hammers and nails. We've  done that already, and God hijacked their symbol of death, turning the cross into a symbol of life. There's only one way to know the difference between the real thing and a knock off. Inspection.Symbols have never been more than those displaying them. That goes for name brand goods, safety pins, or the crosses adorning necks or on towering steeple of a church. Maybe, it's time to respond to the Truth differently. Maybe, it's time to do like twelve men did with the truth . Walk with it and change the world. It wasn't safe for them. It won't be safe for us. Do you love enough, to be offensive as Christ?








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Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Foolishness Of God. Who Needs The Bible?

Have you noticed, how much effort some popular pastors put into sounding original? It's as if, they believe the resurrection story needs some new life and they are the ones to give it, through the sacrifice of sacredness of scripture in the absence of humility. Bold statements are made, if it's catchy, thought provoking, or cool.
 I guess some of it is ok, providing it makes sense and is truth. Often, these sermon series go a mile wide and an inch deep. It looks like they go around their elbow to get to their thumbs. I call it the Sherlock Holmes version of faith, because it reminds me of this quote from the character.

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

The only problem is you can not ever equate, infinity times eternity, carry the  three, divided by one, equals never eliminate the impossible with the power of God. His is not a variable to the equation. He is the immutable answer to it.
Other times, pastors are content with wading in the shallow end of the pool. Andy Stanley, ironically, author of "Deep and Wide",  a pastor I once respected and admired, decided to go head first into the shallows from the high dive.
Update
Originally, I linked the sermon, but for some reason there's a copyright issue it's been removed. No issues with any others, they are still there.

Andy Stanley, in this sermon from his series "Who Needs God", says the foundation of Christianity isn't the bible, but Christ. No theologically sound person, is going to argue with that. It's some of the other claims he made raising eyebrows. To be fair, the sermon taught some historical church history and pointed out how we should focus on Christ. Still, several doctrinal issues were abandoned. Even if the Stanley has the best of intentions, the sermon undermines tne articles of faith and tenets of Christianity. Someone should tell Stanley, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Within the first two minutes, Stanely insinuates some people are stuck "somewhere in the middle" with God. At the risk of sounding dogmatic, I can't find any scripture where God is a fence straddler. Since five minutes into the sermon he states "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. This is where our troubles began", I can only conclude, if Stanley was looking for trouble, he wasn't looking at scripture. The sermon goes on to question the bible's inerrancy. Stanley suggests, holding to the perfection of the bible might have "unnecessarily" prevented someone from coming to Christ or either caused them to leave Christianity. Eluding to the problematic unsubstantiated claims of the Old Testament, as the reason for questioning  Christianity, Stanley says, "you grew up, but your faith didn't grow up with you". He calls into question the biblical account of creation's timeline, the flood, the Exodus, and the battle of Jericho. From there, he argues the validity of the bible doesn't matter, because the apostles didn't have the bible as we know it. Making the case, because the bible, as we know it, wasn't even put together for almost 400 years after the crucifixion, Stanley concludes the apostles did not believe in Jesus because of an infallible Old Testament. He warns that our children will not except the infallibilty of the bible. Twenty-nine minutes into the sermon, he basically makes the claim the the apostles would not have defended the Old Testament against scientist or historians. Stanley insist that Christianity doesn't "hang by the thread " on the validity of the bible, but rather in the truth of the resurrection. He concludes his sermon, telling us we can know that Jesus loves us, because John and Peter tell us so.
Where on Earth did we get that from? Oh yeah, the bible.

Stanley seems to think the Gospel will become more logical if scripture can be labled unreliable... Fascinating. (Sorry, I couldn't resist). You don't have to dive deep to dismantle this rationalization. You can't vet your star witness by poking holes in their testimony. Seriously, forget anything theologically or doctrinally wrong with the sermon and disconnect as much emotion as you can. Then, ask yourself this question from a skeptical point of view. Which is harder to believe, that today's historians and scientists got some facts wrong from 6000 years ago, or that actually eye witnesses confirming a virgin gave birth to a man that would rise from the dead are true? Would any science confirm a virgin birth or resurrection? Face it, no matter how intellectually invested you become in Old Testament miracles, or the resurrection narrative, no matter how emotionally attached you become to Christ through a relationship, it will require a belief in the supernatural power of God, who can do the impossible, even raise His son from the dead, as taught by the scriptures. While I'd never allude that Christianity doesn't have a analytical component, the Gospel, and the word of God, (I never seperate the two) never required or meant only for logic.  According to the bible, the understanding of the gospel lies in a revelation beyond mere human logic. God gives all understanding, yet man continues to trust in his own wisdom, concerning the things  incapable of comprehending. The foolishness of God trumps the loftiest enlightenment afforded to man.


1st Corithians 18-30  For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”   Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

The theological and doctrinal holes in the sermon would require we look at scripture as well. To one who has underminded their authority, why would scripture matter? Still, according Acts 17:11- 12. The first century church "searched the scriptures daily" and "as a result, many of them believed". Meaning, according to Luke, Old Testament scripture played a role in belief from the beginning.
Consider these words of Peter from his second book1.16-21.ESV For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.   Nothing, according to Peter, undermines scripture. The scriptures were confirmed by their testimony.

In the first chapter of John, we find that "in the beginning the word was with God".  Luke writes in Chapter 4, Jesus say's he has "fullfilled" the scripture. Matthew records Christ saying "heaven and earth shall pass way, but my words shall never pass away." Though some would make the bible into an idol,  in the absence of scripture, on the altar of his imagination, every man will sculpt a controllable god made in his own image, forged in the fires of personal passions, made from intangible fragments of his selfishness. To get another gosepl, you need a different Jesus. One disconnected from scripture, that will do.

 In 1600 years, the bible, as we know it, has stood the test of time. It can survive a few more bad sermons. Stanley was right about one thing he said. " as the bible goes, so goes our faith. Psalm 119:105 says "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."  I hope the word not only lights your path, but that you hold on to it so firmly, the word that put on flesh causes you to shine.

Monday, August 15, 2016

How to Think Like a Christian

James Allen wrote
 "A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts."

It's a loose translation of Proverbs 23:7. Look it up.

 According to scientists, there are lots of things that cause us to think the way we do. Individually and collectively, all sorts of factors condition our way of thinking. From culture to geographical conditions, everything about the world, in which we live, effects our thinking. Our survival seems to be the primary motivator, followed by our desires. Still, these scientific facts offer little in the way of an explanation for having the delinquent thoughts we entertain. 

 The way we think determines what we allow ourselves to believe, effectively controlling us. To put it bluntly, our thoughts create our actions. Since the dawn of creation, man has been a slave to the incentives of that which sustained or aroused him. Here we are in the 21st century, man can barely recognize the difference between the two. The line between want and need has all but been erased. 

Imagine the simplicity. Every human action, kindness or the dereliction of morality, begins with a thought. 

No one is baffled why people do benevolent acts. It's the heinous deeds, man inflicts against man, perplexing everyone. Logic falls short of offering reason for our evil agenda since much of it serves no purpose. Why do we have such terrible thoughts? While science would endeavor to answer the question of how we think, the bible would answer why.

Mark 7:21-22

"For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.

Satan's first words to Eve, are still echoing in the ears of humanity, as it introduces the idea of evil, to those whom only have the capacity to handle the knowledge of good.



More important than understanding the reason we think the way we do is understanding how to change. To think like a Christian, one must first know the hopelessness of his condition. Faced with the knowledge we are separated by our evil thoughts from a God that only wanted good for us, we will cry out for His forgiveness. It's in this revelation we find ourselves in need of a savior. When God gives us His Holy Spirit, He gives us a peace. A peace, that guards our minds.

Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Romans 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect

We cannot allow the media, politics, or circumstances to control our thinking. We must renew our minds continually by being in God's word. For, it is only there, we can discover the solution and prevention for evil. Jeremiah 33:3 says " ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

God is good, God is Great. God is love. Think about it. Never stop thinking about it.