THE CHRISTIAN TRIFECTA

Some time ago, I was sharing with a person that is no longer actively involved in a church.  When I started to interject spiritual matters, he quickly interrupted that he had given up on the church.  I told him that I was glad he had, if he was talking about the brick and mortar, programmable, and secular institution known as the visible church.  I told him he was not alone, for there has been a wave of exodus from the organized church searching for the Promised Land.  Slowly, he began to open up and share his disappointments with the church.  What was sad is that he had legitimate gripes.  I shared with him that maybe he had put too much trust in imperfect instruments, and that somewhere along the line, he had transferred his faith in God to faith in his church.

Some of the biggest problems in people’s faith walk are with the church.  I know there are some powerful churches that don’t stand between the people and God; instead they stand with the Believers in helping them see the One whom they are to represent.  Sadly, these churches are the exception rather than the norm.

The Church is not to be the spiritual babysitter of the Believer, but a worshipping, teaching, preaching center of spiritual growth.  It is to be a place of praising, instructing, and heralding God’s word in an atmosphere of holiness.

The church in Thessalonica faced tremendous challenges in the beginning of their new found faith. (Acts 17)  They learned that faith was not a simple acceptance of spiritual principles, but a “hands on” developing of a belief that was not contingent on what they saw, but on what God’s word said.  They struggled to grasp the reality of the Word.  To erase their old way of thinking and acting took an effort.  To test the Word with faith took laborious actions.  Praying was more than just petitioning, it was seeing the answer before it appeared.  Trusting God during those difficult times was a WORK OF FAITH.  I believe many new Christians do not understand what a “work of faith” means.  Jesus once told a group of followers that they needed to work on believing who He was. (John 6:28, 29)  Today, people know about Jesus, but don’t really know Him.  The evidence of having a personal experience with Jesus is the work of faith that we display.

The Thessalonians evidenced their work of faith with their LABOR OF LOVE.  They reached out and touched the lives of others.  It took effort and time, but they did it.  The Jehovah Witness movement seems to have adopted the theme of the post office in that they will deliver their message through all kinds of weather, because they have a “labor of love”.  I do not agree with their Biblical interpretations, but their love of what they believe is without question.  Love is exemplified by action.  It is not a token offering, but an energy consuming action.  It is not a once a week expression, but a daily effort to help the whosoever’s of our community.

The Believers in Thessalonica developed a PATIENCE OF HOPE.  Sometimes things did not display a quick resolve, but they rested with the assurance that what Jesus promised would be fulfilled.  They displayed a hope (confident expectation) in His ability to lead them through life’s challenges.  When they experienced times of difficulties, they patiently looked ahead with confidence to the victory.   Today, Christians want instant gratification.  If God doesn’t come through with an immediate answer, we question not only God, but ourselves.  When we put our spiritual walk on a time table, we are opening the door to watered-down faith, which leads to our justifying not receiving all the benefits of the Kingdom of God.  Let us display our commitment to God by OUR WORK OF FAITH, OUR LABOR OF LOVE, and OUR PATIENCE OF HOPE IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST! (I Thess. 1:3)

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

HOW IS YOUR MEMORIAL

God not only hears our prayers, but remembers them.  Prayer is laying the tracks on which God’s power moves.  Behind every prayer there is an action that is witnessed by God.  It is not just bringing a request before God, but it is the exhibiting of faith that accompanies the petition. Praying is one of the simplest things to do, but unless it is accompanied by faith, it is one of the most frustrating endeavors.  To ask God for intervention in one’s life, one must prepare one’s soil for the reaping.  Sending up verbal petitions and then waiting with an unsettled peace for the answer is not understanding how prayer works.  Once the prayer is offered, the person must take the initiative to co-act with God.  To gain an understanding of this concept, look at the life of Cornelius.  Around three o clock in the afternoon, an angel appeared to him in a vision, and told him that his financial giving and prayers had come up to God as a memorial. (Acts 10:4)   That meant that God remembered his prayers and saw the effort that Cornelius took to put works behind his faithful requests.  We don’t know what the content of his prayers were, but we know that God saw the action behind his petitions, and as a result Cornelius’s prayers became a memorial to God.  I wonder how many of our prayers are a memorial before God?

How about our financial giving?  So many Believers today give a certain amount of money to their local assemblies and feel they have fulfilled one of the aspects of Christian commitment.   What we do with God’s money will reflect the degree of faith that we have.  What is our responsibility to the poor and needy within our community?  Putting our money into the offering plates and expecting the church to take up our responsibility is to miss the point of true stewardship.  When the Believer steps out of his comfort zone and gives beyond his frugalness is when God takes notice.  You may have given to someone in need and were not acknowledged for your step of compassion, but don’t let it bother you, for God noticed it and it may very well be a memorial unto God.

The only other time that the word memorial is used in the New Testament is the incident where Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus’ feet with a very costly ointment.  Jesus acknowledged her faithful gesture by stating that what she did would be a memorial to her. (Matthew 26:13, John 12:3)  Mary did not care what people thought or said, for her love of Jesus was all that mattered.  God remembers, recollects, and is mindful of the extra steps we take in serving Him.

Is our prayer and monetary giving a memorial unto the Lord?  Does God remember the actions of our faith filled prayers and giving?  When faith ushers our petitions into the throne room of God, He anticipates that our actions will accompany our requests.  When our giving is based on Scriptural understanding, God will be mindful of our effort.

Spiritual growth is directly proportional to our faith filled prayer life and actions.  Whenever our car isn’t working right or our body is malfunctioning, we go to those who are qualified to bring restoration.  We should learn that with our spiritual walk.  If we have lost our excitement for the Kingdom, or if our growth meter is showing yellow, we need to reach out to the author and finisher of our faith and find out what is wrong.  When we are satisfied being part of the status quo, we enter the lukewarm status, and we know what God thinks about that. (Revelation 3:16)

Let all our actions result in a memorial to our Heavenly Father.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

THE CENTURION

The Holy Spirit uses people to enlarge the Kingdom of God.  When people are not willing to be used of God, they grieve the Holy Spirit, and, as a result, the Kingdom ceases to grow.  As Jesus began His earthly ministry, the people played a prominent role in promoting His ministry.  The masses came to see and witness the power and authority that Jesus displayed.  Amazed at the miracles which He preformed, they sought out the sick and possessed and brought them to Jesus for His healing touch.  So was the case with a certain Centurion.  This elite soldier was stationed in the seaside town of Capernaum.  Through the influence of the Jewish community, he became receptive to their religion.  He built a Synagogue so they could easily hear and study the Word of their God.  One day the Centurion’s servant became gravely ill.  He had heard the people talk about a “prophet/ teacher” that healed people.  He summoned the elders of the Jews and urged them to bring the miracle worker to him.  They came to Jesus and beseeched Him to respond to the Centurion’s request.  Jesus consented, and as He made His way to the soldier’s house, He encountered a number of people who were bringing a message from the Centurion himself.  He was asking Jesus not to come to his house, for he felt he was not worthy.  All that Jesus needed to do was to speak and his servant would recover.  The request and expectation resulted in the servant being healed and for Jesus to say, “…I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” (Luke 7:9)  There is no hint that the Centurion knew whom Jesus really was, but he began to understand who God was.  A beautiful account, but it may not have ended there!

Forty miles from Capernaum lay the city of Caesarea, the seat of Roman authority in the conquered land of Israel.  The soldiers stationed there were the elite.  Those with certain leadership ability were promoted from other assignments to be part of the Caesarean group.  One such individual was a man named Cornelius.  He was the Centurion of the special group called the “Italian band/cohort.” This man was a devout advocate and follower of God.  He prayed continually and gave a lot of money to the people.  This should not surprise us, for this could be the same Centurion whose servant was healed while he was stationed in Capernaum.  It had been less than ten years since that wonderful miracle had happened.  His relationship with God was limited to the Jewish mindset.   Cornelius may have realized there was still something lacking in his life, so with the faith he had exhibited previously, he quests for a deeper spiritual experience.  The Bible says that he was a just man and feared God.  He also had a good reputation among the Jews.  Motivated from a vision, he summoned Peter, who was in Joppa, to come to Caesarea and share whatever God put on his heart.  Peter came with his entourage and shared the expanded Truth to a household of spiritual seekers.  The Holy Spirit fell upon them and Cornelius and his household were saved! (Acts 10:1 through 11:18)

Cornelius started on the road to eternal life, but it took him almost ten years to understand who Jesus really was.  He knew the Jewish faith, but no one had explained to him that the way to know God was through Jesus.  Cornelius and his cohort could have been sent to Jerusalem to reinforce the Roman Garrison during the Passover in Jerusalem, and even witnessed the crucifixion of the one whom had brought healing to his servant.  I wonder what he thought, when he witnessed the people turning against Jesus.  Ten years later, it all came together as Peter brought the “rest of the story” to him.  Lacking in Cornelius’ life was the new birth and the filling of the Holy Spirit.  Through Peter’s response to the vision, the Centurion would finally understand who Jesus really was.

How many pray and give their monetary donation to their places of worship and feel that is what the Kingdom of God is all about?  It is more than praying and writing a check.  It is an internal change that results in an eternal destiny.  There are people in churches today that have been deceived into thinking that the traditional and ritualistic beliefs are all that is necessary to being a Christian, but it is far more than that.  The sincerity of the people is without question, but what they need to do is sincerely quest for the full Truth.  We need more willing to be used like Peter, for there are many more like Cornelius out there!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WHY ARE WE MAKING RESOLUTIONS?

As we approach the New Year, the Promise Contracts are dusted off.  The dates are changed to protect ourselves from our innocently attempted resolution failures of the previous year.  Some people make a plethora of well intentioned vows, hoping at least some of them will be achieved.  By making enough resolutions they hope to raise the odds in their favor of being partially successful.  It is not coincidental how similar the new wave of goals is to last year’s pledges.  To some people, the failed goals of the previous year enter their minds with a vengeance.  Self-issued guilt takes stage right, while depression takes stage left.  Due to New Year’s Resolutions, we become a theatrical display of hopeful dreams.

Resolutions are just another way to point to past failures.  Rumor has it that only eight percent of recited goals will be achieved.  Yet, even with those odds, many still attempt to make them.  The first week is met with anticipatory excitement, but by the end of the second week there are small and discreet challenges to the resolutions.  To the resolutionist, there are exclusion clauses in their New Year’s Resolution contract.  Almost immediately, the rationalization and justification for the weakening of one of the promises is released.  By the end of the third week, if they have not already resigned to failure, they struggle to keep their footing.  By the end of the month, reality sets in and the “goal setter” decides to wake from their fantasy expectations and carry on with the every day challenges of life.

Looking at this from a Christian perspective, we see many promises made to God fall short of completion.  Our intent is commendable, but our lack of discipline and commitment opens the door to Satan’s attacks.  When TV snuffs our quality time in the Word, Satan will help us justify our lack of adherence due to circumstances.  We must realize that the only thing in life which we can do anything about is our immediate situation.  Jesus, in His teachings, made it clear that we are not to be preoccupied with tomorrow, but rather to center on the here and now. (Matthew 6:34)  Instead of promising to do something down the road, we need to do it NOW!  Instead of vowing to read through the Bible next year, start with Genesis 1 today.  Instead of pledging to get up everyday at 6:00 AM to pray, start doing it today; for we do not know what tomorrow holds. (James 4:14)  Instead of saying we are going to fast every Thursday, start with the day that we occupy.  The reason so many goals fail to be achieved is we are looking at days that do not belong to us.  As we get up in the morning, we should simply say, “If the Lord will, we shall live and do this, or that.” (James 4:15)

Let us not fall for the trap of promising something over which we have no control.  Instead of trying to impress God with our spiritual New Year’s Resolutions, we need to just serve Him RIGHT NOW, and continue to take one step at a time toward our finish line that could appear at any time.

Have a great and wonderful New Year….ONE DAY AT A TIME!!!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BETHLEHEM OR NAZARETH?

 

During this time of the year, Christian pageantry continues to present the Christmas story in a beautiful and simple fashion.  The reenactments of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth bring smiles to both the participants and the spectators.  From the Children’s presentation to the professional theatrical displays, the message of the birth of our Savior is accepted with open hearts.  There is no disputing over doctrines or interpretations.  There is no disagreement as to the role the Shepherds and Wise Men played in this glorious event.  What a blessing to see the Church come together in harmony and resolve!

Tradition has always been the catalyst to Biblically based initiatives.  But what happens when those traditions fail to truly represent what the Scripture teaches?  Whenever a question is raised as to the contents of a tradition, people simply respond with, “That is the way it has always been.”   Traditions have become the “sacred cow” to so many people.

There is no question that a number of Wise Men came to worship and pay homage to the new King of the Jews.  But the question is, “Where did they find Jesus?”  Was it in Bethlehem, as tradition has taught us, or could it have been in Nazareth?  To find the answer, all one has to do is read the Scripture.  The Gospels of Luke and Matthew put together the chronology of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth.

Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth.  When the Census degree was issued, they journeyed to Joseph’s ancestral village of Bethlehem to register for taxation purposes.  Upon arriving, Mary soon gave birth to Jesus.  Outside of Bethlehem, there were Shepherds tending to their sheep.  An Angel appeared to them to announce the birth of the Savior of the world.  After the visitation, the Shepherds quickly went into the village to see the baby about which the Angel had spoken.  Eight days after Jesus’ birth, Jesus was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem to be circumcised.  Returning to Bethlehem, Mary waited for 33 more days until her purification was completed. (Refer to Leviticus 12.)  They then returned to the Temple for the dedication of Jesus.  The sacrifices were offered, Simeon and Anna spoke their prophesies over the holy family, and then Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned to their home in Nazareth.

About a year and a half later, a number of Magi arrive in Jerusalem requesting information about the infant who was born the King of the Jews.  They state they had seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.  King Herod finds out that Bethlehem is the place where this King would be born.  The Wise Men leave the palace and start for Bethlehem.  Almost immediately, they see the star that they had identified months before.  They rejoiced in seeing the star again and followed its guiding light.  To their amazement, the star was leading them in the opposite direction of Bethlehem.  They are lead to Nazareth and to the house where the Savior was.  Upon seeing Jesus, they fall down and worship the King of Kings.  To accentuate their adoration, they leave costly gifts with the family.  Finally, they leave the residence and, being warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, set out on their homeward journey by a different route.

Theologically, it is not a big deal when and where the Wise Men found Jesus.  The important thing is they came and worshipped Him.  I think we take too much liberty in embellishing Biblical recounts, but there is no harm done as long as we don’t change the message.  When we build upon Biblical interpretations that are not based on factual accounts, we open the door to delegitamizing the Scriptures.  The purpose of this article is to get the reader to examine God’s Word.  I urge everyone to read Luke 2:1-39 and Matthew 2:1-12 and, when finished studying those verses, draw your own conclusion.  May this Christmas season be a time of worship and adoration.  As we exchange gifts, let us never forget the greatest Gift of all!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BE IT UNTO ME

The recount of the events surrounding the earthly conception of Mary, and the consequential acceptance of the situation by Joseph, goes down as one of the most outstanding feats of faith in the New Testament. For a young girl to accept the greeting of a total stranger and to engage in a dialogue with him is beyond understanding. To even talk with a man unattended was to break with societal norms, yet Mary, motivated by fear and curiosity, listened as he spoke with authority and purposeful intent. He told her she had found favor with God and that she was chosen to bear the Son of God. He then told her the child’s name would be Jesus, and He would be given the Throne of David, and rule over the house of Jacob, and there would be no end to His Kingdom. She stopped him, trying to sort out what she had just heard, and timidly proclaimed that she was a virgin so how was this to happen? What the man then said would cause the average person to dismiss as pure fantasy. The Holy Spirit would plant God’s seed in her. The man then told her that her cousin Elizabeth, who was well stricken in years and barren, was in her third trimester. Before Mary could catch her breath he boldly proclaimed that NOTHING WAS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD! What happened next was a step of faith that would open God’s love to all mankind. Mary opened her spirit by proclaiming acceptance of the words of this messenger of God. (Angels appeared in human form throughout the Bible, and probably in this case with Mary. Hebrews 13:1 tells us about entertaining people who are really angels.) For Mary to reach this acceptance of the angel’s words took a leap of faith unparalleled in the New Testament. (Luke 1:26-37)

Believers today are drawn to imitate the faith of so many personalities in the Scripture, but fail to include the actions of this young teenage girl, who defied all human reasoning to believe in the humanly impossible words of a special messenger. As one studies the Word of God, many teachings become hurdles and obstacles to overcome. What we do is pick what is probable and dismiss what we view as improbable. If it can fit through our Biblical colander, we will confess our acceptance of it’s intent, but if our minds reject it, it becomes a neglected Scripture that will never be underlined for emphasis. The reason there are so many inconsistencies with Christians is their inconsistency in Biblical acceptance. One cannot pick and choose his way through the Bible, but must come to a place where, upon reading its content, one can say, “Be it unto me according to Thy Word!”

Joseph, upon hearing that his fiancee was pregnant, struggled to come to grips with her “unfaithfulness”. Being an honorable and fair individual, he decided to divorce her quietly and discretely. After struggling to fall asleep, he finally surrenders to his body’s beckoning. Soon he is experiencing a dream in which the Angel of the Lord reveals to him that the child Mary is carrying is of the Holy Spirit, and the infant, which will be called Jesus, will save God’s people from their sins. Joseph awakes from his sleep, and without hesitation he reestablishes his covenant with Mary. To be so motivated by a dream that it causes one to erase premature judgment is nothing short of a miracle. What a lesson for us who have passed judgment on others without truly understanding the facts. In how many situations have Believers misinterpreted and acted on their assumptions? Why God used Mary and Joseph to introduce the Savior of the world is beyond human speculation. Our minds tend to question what we do not understand. The faithful may not understand, but they will accept the Word of God.

Joseph acted on the promptings of the Divine messenger without hesitation. There was no analysis or communal conferences to help to determine what the dream signified. It was abundantly clear that God was directing Joseph into an action that would result in a life changing influence in the world. God wants to direct our lives, but we fail to respond with our spirit. Mary and Joseph said yes to God’s Word and, because of their obedience, man was given the opportunity to know God as Heavenly Father. Let us all learn to accept God’s Word, no matter how unbelievable it seems.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IN PURSUIT OF HEALING

The subject of healing has been one of the most hotly discussed subjects in the Christian community. Is healing for today or is it a dispensational issue? Has the reality of Biblical healing continued to transcend the generational boundaries? To find the answer to this polarizing issue, one needs to go to the Bible.

The beginning of Jesus’ ministry, as well as John’s, was characterized by the word “repent.” When people saw Jesus perform the supernatural, they were drawn to the healer and His message. Through His anointing and power, people were delivered from their infirmities. Through Jesus’ compassion and anointing, people would be drawn to the God they had turned their backs on. Through His teachings, they realized their sinful nature, and by repentance they could establish a personal relationship with God. Jesus tried to teach them what life was really about. He tried to show them that God was willing to forgive their backsliding, and through His life as the Lamb of God, the door to eternal life would be opened. Tragically, many went no further than seeing and receiving the miracles. Much of Jesus’ ministry centered around the Sea of Galilee. Towns like Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum witnessed many of Jesus’ miracles but were not moved to repentance. Jesus even told a large group of seekers that they followed Him, not because of the miracles, but because they had their stomachs filled. (John 6:26) He rebuked these towns because of their lack of repentance. He told them that if the Old Testament cities of Tyre, Sidon, Sodom, and Gomorrah had experienced the Miracles which they had seen, they would have repented in “sack cloth and ashes.” (Matthew 11:20-24) Clearly we see the purpose of performing miracles was to bring people to repentance.

Today the healing ministry is centered around Believers. Certain churches are emphasizing physical healing. Sadly, the central aim of some churches is to have healing miracles preformed in the Body of Believers. What they fail to realize is that they are not following the pattern Jesus initiated. Not only are they ignoring that, but are embellishing their ministry to cater to the people’s wants. Casting their lines back to the Old Testament, they hook Isaiah 53 for the validation of Jesus’ healing ministry. The problem is they fail to understand what those Scriptures are talking about. Isaiah was concerned about the lack of faith among the people. They were not responding to the message of repentance and as a result, they were exhibiting little or no faith in God. The Messiah would one day come and, through Isaiah’s prophesy, heal them from their spiritual backsliding. When Jesus began His earthly ministry, the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1 began to take place, as well as Isaiah 53. It is important to notice that Isaiah’s prophesies were pertaining to a spiritual manifestation. (Peter would confirm this in I Peter 2:24) Physical healing was not the objective of God’s plan for man; rather, it was the reestablishing of a relationship between sinful man and Himself.

After Jesus’ resurrection, He commissioned the disciples to carry on His ministry. Mark lists the recognizable qualities of these men in Mark 16:15-18. Their purpose was to “teach and preach.” To help them achieve their objective, they were given five identifiable qualities. Those aspects would help them to open the door for their message. The book of Acts contains the beginning of the Church with the Holy Spirit in evidence. The epistles, or letters, show not so much a ministry to the unsaved, but rather, instructions to the Believers. The ministry has now moved to the “Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors/Teachers.” (Ephesians 4:11) As one reads these letters, one is surprised at how many spiritual leaders were susceptible to sickness and illness. Paul, as well as members of his evangelistic team, experienced physical infirmities. Paul even had a doctor with him on many of his crusades. (Colossians 4:14) Epaphroditus was seriously ill and almost died which caused a great deal of concern to the people in Philippi. (Philippians 2:26,27) Paul was forced to leave Trophimus, one of his coworkers, at Miletum, because he was sick. (II Timothy 4:20) Paul, writing to the Galatians, confessed that through infirmities of the flesh, he still brought God’s Word. (Galatians 4:13) Paul told Timothy that he should take some wine for his infirmity. (I Timothy 5:23) There were many healing miracles recorded throughout the Scriptures, but the healing miracles were centered around the non- believers, all with the purpose of opening their eyes to the saving Grace of God. There is a door of opportunity for the Believer that suffers from sickness and physical infirmities, and that is through the summoning of Elders to anoint them with oil as they pray the prayer of faith over them. (James 5:13-15)

Healing does happen today, but we need to put it into the right perspective. Our bodies are not created for eternity. We have a “terrestrial body” which is temporal, but we will have a “celestial body” which is eternal. (I Corinthians 15:40) When we leave this earth, we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. (I Cor. 15:51,52) Our housing is only for a season. Disease, illness, sickness can come against our clay structure at any time. I believe God heals today, but it is in His timing and at His initiative. To haphazardly lay hands on people with the intent they will be healed is presumptuous. People who have been prayed for, but have not received the confirmation of their healing, face the danger of raising challenging questions to their faith. The Gift of Healing should only be administered when God, through the Holy Spirit, directs.

Is it not ironic that the people healed during Jesus’ ministry were not there at His crucifixion? There were thousands who praised Him on Palm Sunday, but by Friday their praises had turned to jeers. Proclaiming Him King on Sunday, they saw Him as a common man on Friday. Physical healing turns the head, while Spiritual healing turns the heart. If one seeks healing of the flesh, one should should exert the same zeal in pursuing a changed heart! Why is the body so important to so many people, while spiritual matters seem to be neglected? Why do we need signs and wonders to activate our faith? God heals from the inside out; that is what Healing is all about!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FINDING WALDO

One of the things that I enjoy doing is watching people. As my wife winds her way through the grocery aisles, I secure a seat near the check out and begin my observation routine. Actually, what I do is play a little game. The object of my fantasy experiment is to guess if someone is a Christian or not. I know this might seem to border on judgment, but it is just a game with no ill intent. I realize there is no way to confirm my “guess,” outside of asking them directly, but it is fun to speculate and I do have a 50/50 chance to be right. One might ask what is my criteria for arriving at my unscientific conclusion? It is very simple, all I do is observe them. There is their facial expression, body language, and verbalage. Do they look like they have just swallowed a lemon slice or a candy bar? Do they ambulate confidence or uncertainty? Do their words show negativity or positiveness? Now, to put all these things in the right perspective, in such a short time, is to guarantee that the results will be flawed. Critics of my game will say that I don’t know the unobserved facts in each individual. That is true, but I know what the Scripture says about the Christian life style and the light that every Christian should display. I believe that the face is the window of man’s inner being. The face displays the workings of the soul and spirit.

During Christmas, children will be jumping with joy and excitement as they open their presents and gifts. Should not adults show their excitement of God’s greatest gift to mankind, and not just during this traditional time, but throughout the year? Words are the audio of the soul and spirit. What comes out of our mouth identifies and locates what and who is motivating us. Are we promoting self or the One who gave His life that we may know God?

As I play my game, I am finding it more difficult to identify Christians. Oh, I image there are “secret service” Believers, but seeing light-shinning and salt-shaking Believers is becoming a difficult task. There have been a number of times that I thought about giving up my game for it is not fun looking for spiritual Waldo anymore. I would have a better chance of finding a Believer by flipping a coin.

The world believes with their eyes. What they see determines what they will accept or reject. Materialism all dressed up in propaganda has a tremendous influence on people. People are drawn to things that they believe will bring them happiness and contentment. The advertisement conglomerates know how to draw people to their product. The parable of the Unjust Steward carries a classical phrase which states, “…for the children of this world, are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” (Luke 16:8) The greatest advertisement that the Church can present is the Believer himself! We should be a walking, talking, living example of the One whom we represent. When we go out in public, we are a “billboard” for the Kingdom of God. So many Christians believe we are in the last days. That means we are facing the imminent return of Jesus. If that is so, instead of sitting on the rapture runway with our bags packed, should we not be concerned about the lost? Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Christians are entertaining the flocks with dressed up activities, while people are facing eternity without hope.

Let our face identify our assurance. Let us walk with resolve. Let us speak of the hope of our calling. What the world sees will have a greater affect than our cars in our church parking lots.

Recording artist Don Francisco wrote a chorus years ago that simply says, “I got to tell somebody what Jesus did for me.” It is time for all of us to face up, stand up and speak up. I look forward to the day when I will stop playing my game, for spiritual Waldo will be in plain sight!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ARE YOU OFFENDED?

Entering the Christian arena, one is immediately met with scenarios that will both bless and confuse the minds of the faithful. One area that defies spiritual reasoning is the number of people that are offended by different circumstances. It is amazing how many thin skinned Believers there are. The teaching of turning one’s cheek has evolved into an invitation of presenting a verbal response. When one is offended by another, the recipient turns his cheek just enough so that his mouth faces the offender or anyone who will listen. Turning the cheek is to be a one hundred eighty, not a ninety, degree rotation. Why is it so easy to become offended? Sometimes the words and actions of the offender are greatly exaggerated. It is like people are looking for ways to be offended. It is like people are looking for reasons to justify their lack of commitment. Some of the offended show their pride by not attending church regularly. Soon, by promoting the negative, they feel justified in dropping out of church completely. Complimenting their massaged ego, their Bible and prayer life wanes away into a residence of their memory bank. These self-imposed exiled still claim to believe in God and the Scriptures, but the evidence of their profession is difficult to see.

Why is it when we have been offended or feel that we have, we take it out on our relationship with God? Why is it that we take more seriously the words of people than the Word of God? How can what people say have more influence than what God says? How can the actions of other Christians supersede God’s reaction to our obedience? Why do we give so much attention to the negative words of our brothers and sisters, and so little attention to the positive words of our Lord? How can we be so swayed by the careless words of others, while unmoved by the anointed words of Jesus? Why do so many judge their faith by the actions of other Believers? If our faith is predicated on the Word of God, then we need to be a walking example of that Word. Either God’s Word is true, or it is simply a history book. The answer will determine if our faith is real or not.

Our spiritual walk should never be contingent on the actions of others. We should never allow circumstances to determine our spiritual barometer. Instead of fine tuning our hearing so we can pick up the negatives that are both implied and inferred, let us adjust our frequency to God’s intended Word.

We must never be afraid of criticism. Let us ask ourselves if what they are saying is justified or not. If it is, let us correct ourselves and move on. If their words are unfounded, let us forgive them and move on. Forgiveness is the greatest healing medicine for treating wounds that are caused by loose tongues. Whenever we let hurtful words supersede God’s Word, we need to do a self examination and find out what has caused a resurrection of our carnal man.

If you have left a church due to being offended by people, whether they be the pastor or a teacher or a board member or just another believer, ask yourself, “Am I better off today than I was before I got my feelings hurt?” If the answer is no, we need to “Christian up” and get back to corporate worship and give God the glory for the things He has done and is doing. Have you been offended? How you respond will determine the type of Christian life that you will live. You can either forgive and forget or respond and remember. It is a no brainer!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FROM MILK TO MEAT

For years, there have been divisions within the Church. They have taken the form of Biblical interpretations, doctrines, music, and types of worship. These differences have exposed the Church to both internal and external criticism. Jesus’ warning that divisions will have a negative effect on different institutions has gone mostly ignored. (Luke 11:17)

One of the areas that seems to generate a continual flow of criticism is the preaching/teachings that come from the pulpit. The verbal challenges that seem to originate from the pews is that some feel they are not being fed! As a result of “diet” preaching, these people become dissatisfied, and threaten to leave the church in search of a fellowship that offers deeper teachings. It is true there is diversity in preaching/teaching, but there is a purpose for that.

The Corinthian Church operated in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit and were the forerunners in exhibiting the gifts. (I Corinthians 1:7) Yet something was out of order. One of the hindrances to spiritual growth is humanism dressed up in Christian garments. When Paul came to Corinth, he preached the basics of the Faith. Believers needed to have a good foundation if they were to build a life exemplary of Jesus Christ. Paul realized the church was grounded in carnality. In his first letter to them, he acknowledged that they had not grown enough to shed the carnal label. ( I Corinthians 3:1,2) He attempted in his letters to correct and instruct the fleshly orientated members. Many of the problems with the exhibiting of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit today is the result of carnal Believers that have not matured. So many are living in a “Back To The Future” sequel, where they continue to relive the carnally of the Corinthian Church. The Church needs to learn from the mistakes the Corinthians made, so it won’t make the same mistakes they did.

When the Body of Christ becomes established in the basics of the Christian faith, they will be able to consume the meat of the Word. A good platform on which to build on the Truth is the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5-7) Many times, Pastors will feed their flock what the sheep need, rather than what they want. We must trust that the Pastor is called of God and is led by the Holy Spirit. If people want deeper preaching/teaching, they need to display evidence of spiritual growth.

Split churches are usually caused by Believers who have not grown up. The Corinthian Church was hung up with personalities. There were four specific groups in their fellowship: The Apollos disciples, the Peter followers, Paul’s army, and the Jesus only people. This last group seemed to have a pious attitude of spiritual superiority. A divided church sends a message to the observing world that diversification among Believers is normal. There are differences among people, but there should never be a difference in the message that is conveyed. Jesus prayed that His followers would be one so “that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them, as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23)

It is time for the Church to grow up. Paul stated that when he was a child he did childish things, but when he grew up he put away those things. (I Corinthians 13:11) If Believers want deeper Truths, they need to grow up so they will be able to consume the “meat” of the Word. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews put all this in the right perspective when he said that Believers who should be maturing into teachers, needed to be taught the basics again. He stated that strong meat belongs to the mature. (Hebrews 5:12-14) Before we start complaining about the preaching/teaching, maybe we should ask ourselves if we have matured enough to receive the “prime rib” when it is served.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment