Sunday, July 5, 2015

Username and Password

If you are reading this you have some computer skills, which means to me that somewhere along the line you have an online identity that requires a Username and a Password. I have several and am using Dashlane app to try to get them accessible when I forget one. Don’t know about you, but that has happened to me – more than once.

That made me think about the Book of Life:

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:3 KJV)

As Paul referred to it, so did John through the book of Revelation:

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5 KJV)

. . . ending references with:

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:19 KJV)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Username and Password were simple:

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Close, but it is possible to use the name Christian without having the faith that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of God, Savior. That is a requirement:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18 KJV)

There is so much more to being a follower of Christ than getting one’s name written down in church membership. That is not the same as having one’s name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. There will come a time when those not written will worship another:

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8 KJV)

Believing that God’s plan from the foundation of the world included His Son is only the beginning of our journey. There is much to learn along the way, ministries to accomplish and witnessing to share. There is affirmation to read:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31 KJV)

John felt strongly enough that he repeated:

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:11-13 KJV)

So do I.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Let Me Introduce Controversy

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This blog is probably to sound totally off the wall, but I ran across this paragraph in Being On God's Side – please note that I’m not advocating the site, but find myself asking/answering questions from paragraphs such as:
For example, many of them are likely unaware that the largest Protestant denomination in America, Southern Baptists, cannot even tolerate a centralized church government, much less a central government controlled by the church. Thinking that a nation full of Southern Baptists wants to establish a theocratic regime is about as absurd as believing anarchists want to create a centralized government.
There is much more in the article that I found to match my own views, but this one hit home. I grew up in a Southern Baptist congregation, though now I belong to an Independent Baptist congregation because it is closer to the teachings of the church I knew then.

Yesterday I wrote of Peter’s statement:

But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:19-20)

That’s very much what “Being on God’s Side” says – and it’s directed as “An Open Letter To The Religious Right.” Yes – that means me, and I’m being convicted by much in this article. For example, would you agree with their quote from Lincoln:
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was purportedly asked if God was on his side. “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side,” said the President, “my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
The next couple of paragraphs include some interesting definitions :
. . .  it contains three of the most controversial ideas in American politics: that it is legitimate to invoke the name of God within the realm of political discourse; that God’s existence isn’t merely symbolic, but that he is always right; and that since God takes sides on certain issues, some people will be divinely justified while others will stand in opposition not only to their political opponents but to the very Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.
If you find these ideas absurd and repugnant, you are most likely a secularist. If you find them to be embarrassing truths, you may be on the religious left. If you find them so obvious that they hardly need stating, you are probably a member of the so-called “religious right.”
I do fall within that last category – I find that God exists, He is always right, He has given us definitions for issues and when sides are taken, some are in opposition “to the very Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.” Guess that throws me to the right.
Protecting the sanctity of innocent human life and defending the traditional definition of marriage are clearly essentials. Those matters are based on principles that can be clearly derived from our traditions and holy texts.
That was written five years ago – in 2010 – and now we have not only lost the sanctity of innocent human life but the definition of marriage. I can accept that a portion of our populace does not support this, but that does not mean I should change my position, does it? My beliefs certainly did not change the position of the opposition – and that opposition is not supported by tradition nor holy texts.

I appreciate your thoughts – and comparisons with scripture.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Not Pleasing

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A missionary posted a graphic with:

But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:2-4)

… and a question:

How are we told to speak unto others the gospel?

I do hope you got the answer: BOLD. And I hope you understood that there was much contention. Most important to me is being allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel. All the gospel, as Paul spoke before church leaders did:

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:27)

Paul gave all the advice, the purpose, of what God had inspired him to speak and write. By this I can make the connection through:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)

. . . to us, especially with the word “charity.” That is used today to indicate something given to another who has less. But the original Greek, ἀγάπη [agapē] is defined in Strong’s Concordance as:
G26 agápē – properly, love which centers in moral preference. So too in secular ancient Greek, 26 (agápē) focuses on preference; likewise the verb form (25 /agapáō) in antiquity meant "to prefer" (TDNT, 7). In the NT, 26 (agápē) typically refers to divine love (= what God prefers)
I know, I’ve defined it in my blog before. But, I’m still having a problem applying it myself to certain people. To certain groups. To the seeming multitude who dislike hearing about our Lord and the boundaries He gave to people who are to teach us about Him.

I’m disheartened when I hear the word “love” used to justify actions outside the boundaries given both by Jesus, the Christ, and the men he sent out to spread His good news. Thus I become nothing more than the sounding brass and tinkling cymbal Paul describes.

Does that change God’s message?

No – it can’t. Which brings me to an answer Peter gave during another contentious hearing (please read the background in previous verses):

And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:18-20)

It is up to me to be certain I’m giving what I read from the Bible with love – no matter who is hearing the message and how contentious it is. The good news must be stated factually, even if the person receiving it does not respect God’s word. Why?

We love him, because he first loved us.

Don’t stop there – the message continues:

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4:19-21)

If we don’t, we are not pleasing to men nor God, are we?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Have You Read It?

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I have – and the Lamb wins. Oh, a lot of things have to happen in between. Jesus’ disciples (just as most of us) wanted to know what and when:

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (Matthew 24:3-7)

All those things have happened since the beginning of time. Wars have been the subject of stories and they bring famine and pestilence. Earthquakes constantly remind us that our world isn’t as firm a foundation as we would like to believe. Wars and earthquakes will continue past today – and God knows when, we don’t.

Paul was inspired to tell us:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7-8)

God knew, others didn’t. Over the years of biblical history, God entrusted portions of His knowledge to others for specific purposes. I believe John’s Revelation has a specific purpose, too.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: (Revelation 1:1)

Unfortunately, we are all interested in the “must shortly come to pass.” Believers pray that means soon. Unbelievers laugh at us for waiting two millennium for nothing that has happened. Both forget:

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8)

There is a problem, though, if this information is not shared:

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)

Preacher’s need the assistance of his congregation to fulfill their responsibilities:

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. (Romans 12:4-9)

Others have cried, as we do now:

And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? (Revelation 6:10)

God knows when and we don’t. But we do know – the Lamb wins!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Watchman–Can We?

FireWatchtower
Have you ever seen a fire watch tower close up? The ones I’ve seen aren’t as tall as this one, but neither were the trees. It takes training just to get to the top of the tower and more training to know what to watch. Even more training to know who to contact and what to tell them.

If you want to volunteer to watch at the Angeles National Forest, you must take three classes. The Orientation class takes a couple of hours, Interpretation four and Operations seven. That’s for volunteers who belong to Angeles National Forest Fire Lookout Association.

Changes in communication has turned many of these watch towers into camping sites or vacation rentals – even for sale. A list is available at Forest Fire Lookout Association. Same for lighthouses – check out United States Lighthouse Society.

So what does that have to do with this blog? I see a correlation with Bible-based Christian churches. Some fall into disrepair – as shown on a Dallas news program last week – as attendance falls and there are insufficient funds to maintain. Some become historical sites – more tourists stop by than congregants. Some are sold for homes or shops.

Some remain in business – yes, that word is correct, business – through television advertising, product sales and contribution requests. I’ve found most of these speak of John 3:16 but would never mention John 3:18.  They are consistent in repeating 1 John 4:8 but not 1 John 5:12. They do not believe 2 Timothy 3:16.

Not all scripture is given for us to follow. Abraham had more than one wife and many would like that to be possible today. God’s plan differed, according to His Son in Matthew 14:3-9.

So, can churches return to their first responsibility?

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:13-18)

Did you get that? “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  I know, you read it the first time – but the Bible repeats important principles, so I will, too. The Christian church exists on the premise that the Jewish Messiah was here as Jesus, died to bring life eternal, continues to exist as He always has and it is our responsibility to share this message:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Can we do that?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I owe readers an explanation . . .

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The weeks following our vacation have been difficult and I’ve neglected posting here, so I'll close the month with this explanation:

My beloved husband has been in outpatient four times – two where his graft failed and two for his plasmapheresis treatments plus in the hospital twice for thrombectomies – removal of blood clots from the graft – and about one doctor’s appointment each week since our return. Another graft failure today.

June is Myasthenia Gravis awareness month. I’ve posted each week in Facebook, but haven’t taken the time here – it does take longer to post here because it’s not just off the top of my head, which is the way my FB posts usually are typed (and at times deleted because I did not research and verify as I do here.)

I’d love to post here that my Beloved Husband was miraculously cured of MG, but pragmatism tells me that’s unlikely. He is not alone and we are blessed by his treatments keeping him functionally healthy. Others are not so lucky and are praying earnestly for miracles.

Five years ago our church was praying for such a miraculous cure that did not happen, and the patient’s husband wrote “If God Does Not Heal.”

One of the verses he included helped him then and us now:

But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. (Luke 4:25-27)

Biblical miracles did not include all of the sick or needy at any given time. There were specific incidents that glorified God while helping someone. They are examples, lessons for us. One we tend to overlook are three young Israelites who witnessed their faith to a king:

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:17-18)

Trusting that God is able to deliver under any circumstances – but if He doesn’t deliver as we asked or expected, that does not change Him and should not change us.

Just as I would like for people to be aware of Myasthenia Gravis, I would like for them to be aware of God and His relationship with mankind. I can only do this by what He’s done in my life – no miracles, but a daily walk that increases my joy of life.

Even in sorrow, even in concerns regarding our future, I am comfortable in the hope taught through the Bible. Thus, I would follow Peter’s admonition:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15)

And, I can agree with the husband’s close, though healing was not coming:
I know that God is able to deliver her. But if not, bless the name of the Lord, because in all things, God is, and will always be, sovereign
A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: (Psalms 103:1-2)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Think About Your Pastor

DearGod-ThankYou
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:1-5 KJV)

Your pastor is promised a crown that is not available to the rest of God’s people – a crown of glory that does not fade. It is a tremendous responsibility. The work he does has stringent job requirements:

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:1-7 KJV)

Men who do not have a good report to those outside the church receive a great deal of news coverage and we often stereotype all by gleeful reports of spiritual failure. We all have the tendency not to understand that could be any one of us.  Our responsibilities to our pastors are a bit shorter:

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. (Hebrews 13:7 KJV)

Paul has a bit more:

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-14 KJV)

These men are called, as the apostles were and as we are, with differing responsibilities:

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, . . . Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: (Romans 1:1, 6 KJV)

As the called of Jesus Christ, we see in Him how we should be:

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15 KJV)

Forbearing [adjective (of a person) patient and restrained; synonyms: patient, tolerant, easygoing, lenient, clement, forgiving, understanding, accommodating, indulgent;] and forgiving [adjective: ready and willing to forgive; synonyms: merciful, lenient, compassionate, magnanimous, humane, softhearted, forbearing, tolerant, indulgent, understanding] – how do we fit into those words when it comes to our Pastors?