Friday, March 27, 2015

Evangelical

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adjective

1. of or according to the teaching of the gospel or the Christian religion. synonyms: scriptural, biblical; fundamentalist, "evangelical Christianity"
noun

1. a member of the evangelical tradition in the Christian Church.


That doesn’t sound too bad, does it – following the teaching of the gospel or the Christian religion? Especially when “Scriptural” means: of, from, or relating to the Bible, and “Biblical” means of, relating to, or contained in the Bible. We do run into current political correctness when we look at fundamentalist, though: Fundamentalists believe that the statements in the Bible are literally true.

Oh, my – that’s when we lose people’s attention. That’s when we’re compared to: 
Progressive Christianity is a form of Christianity which is characterized by a willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity, a strong emphasis on social justice and care for the poor and the oppressed, and environmental stewardship of the Earth.
May I please take the position that as an evangelical I, too, care strongly about justice, caring for the poor and oppressed and the environmental stewardship of our planet while caring more strongly about the eternal life of each individual’s soul? To state that evangelicals do none of these things is an insulting affront that I find both demeaning and offensive to my faith and my life.

Google “Evangelical Christianity” on the internet and you will not find a single paragraph similar to “Progressive Christianity,” but you will find such additions to the phrase as: cult, vs catholicism, social darwinism. An adversarial aspect – the result of believing the Bible to hold the good news for mankind, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our savior, and that the words in the Bible are true. Such words as:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 KJV)

. . . and . . .

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10 KJV)

. . . and . . .

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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. (John 3:15-17 KJV)

Should I then be mocked and derided because I believe a couple should have a marriage as Jesus describes in Matthew 19:4-9? Must I discount the words of an apostle who spread the good news to non-Jews in that first century – yet described those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God?

In many verses of the Bible we are told what God wants from mankind. One of my favorites is Micah 6:8, which invokes in my mind words from the Garden of Eden:

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:

. . . though sinful actions had created a separation God has always had plans to heal . . .

and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8 KJV)

As an evangelical, I believe people still separate themselves from God by not accepting His forgiveness when they seek Him. And I find Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch article interesting.




Thursday, March 26, 2015

How Do We Measure?

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This graphic is of a ruler from a company that believed the slogan. Supervisors received reams of paper each year that gave measurement of man hours spent, against income; overhead costs, against profit. How many man hours without an accident. There were measurements for just about everything. Salaries and promotions hinged on those measurements.

The company paid close attention to those measurements – good ones, and ones that did not measure up to corporate standards. Employees were very aware of the measurements used. There were specific meetings to address measurements.

Now, let’s apply this concept to ourselves.

Does God have measurements? Ask King Saul, who did not measure up and then ask King David, who was seen as a man after God’s own heart. Ask Esther, who was told someone else would measure up if she didn’t. Ask Jonah, who ran away and had to live in darkness before he saw the light. Ask Moses, who tried to turn down the job God knew he could measure up to.

The first measurement is knowing God exists, but that alone is insufficient:

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19 KJV)

The second is trusting Him:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)

Let’s go back to Jonah’s story for a moment’s review – God called him for a specific task, Jonah ran. Recognizing he had placed a crew in danger, he sought to atone by sacrificing himself. God saved him in a most inconvenient way and Jonah did the job he didn’t want to do – then became upset because God’s plan of redemption worked:

And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. (Jonah 3:10-4:1 KJV)

Jonah set forth God’s measurements for Nineveh, and they measured up. Why then was Jonah angry?

And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. (Jonah 4:2 KJV)

Basically, I see Jonah saying, “I knew when you called me that you were too good to destroy Nineveh and didn’t need me to tell them that.” Jonah placed his own viewpoints, his own limits on God’s planning. He knew God measured up, but didn’t think about his own need to measure up to God’s planning.

Do we do the same by defining God by our own understanding? Have we not read:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV)

First we know He exists, then have faith that He rewards and third we are to heed His call for what He has for us to do. Oh, yes – He does have work for each one of us. I need to tend to my work, not yours.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Vertigo Lessons

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I have not given my daughter enough sympathy during her bouts with vertigo.  Yes – she has had more than one. I had one last Thursday morning – and I wish to never have another one.  I did learn a lot about a cause, though.

Sometimes it is Benign Paroxysmal Positioning Vertigo (BPPV). But, sometimes it is something else entirely – and can be worse – including simply getting older (though getting older is a good thing!)

There are some things that can be done – especially when the patient (me) could not suppress the nausea sufficiently to get to the car, much less anticipate a 25 mile drive to the ER – my doctor was out of town and his office was leaving messages. Especially when there was a house full of visitors. One was my sister, whose friend had a similar attack and had good responses to the Epley Maneuver.

My doctor did call back, suggesting across-the-counter mecilizine, which I will testify does impair thinking – it puts me to sleep. As simple to take as a child’s chewable aspirin, it didn’t take long to put me to sleep – but before it did, I was aware of conversations around me yet unable to respond. Not a nice feeling – but lots better than nausea!!

Sunday I was discussing with a nurse what was meant by a “few days” – the number of days I was told to “take it easy and not make quick movements.” I wanted to go to church, but still felt light headed. She said she couldn’t tell me not to go, but asked that I consider how many times I would sit down/get up, be in crowds, turn my head to talk to someone, what would happen if I fell – and I realized how much better it would be for me to wait.

Sunday was a lead-in to our church’s 60th anniversary. Sunday evening’s services were held  at the Cottondale Community Center, where services were held 1955-1956, before the first church building was started. That building was eventually moved to Chico, Texas, when our new building was completed – and next Sunday evening services will be held in Chico.

I felt bad about missing this special service, but I would have been a mild distraction as people asked about my health, and a detrimental distraction if I had fallen or had a recurrence. I do not wish to be a stumbling block for anyone – especially for my readers.

Vertigo was a word I knew, but nothing I had experienced. I needed help in acquiring knowledge how best to work through it, and I needed to heed the advice given. I was as new to vertigo as anyone unacquainted with Jesus as their personal Lord and savior.

Getting to know Him takes acquiring knowledge and heeding advice from someone who knows Him well. Being discipled by an actively practicing Christian is the best way to work through the Bible and acquire knowledge. Personal prayer and Bible study is good, but it’s so much better to have someone share their own experiences.

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.  (James 3:13 KJV)

It is not a question of arguments nor debates. It is a communication between people who love God, wish to do His will and seek a closer relationship. Strife is not good:

But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (James 3:14-18 KJV)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Vertigo

Sorry - no blog today. Must stay very still while fighting vertigo!  Hopefully only a couple of days!

I am following my doctor's orders. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bearing Fruit

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Nice grapevine, isn’t it? It’s bearing a great deal of fruit. That’s what a follower of Jesus is supposed to do, according to the Bible. Go back a few days on this blog, to “The Third Part” of 2 Peter 1:5. The acquisition of knowledge can become a comfortable place to stay. I got to thinking about that while writing yesterday’s blog. It is good to study, but getting bogged down in study keeps us from bearing fruit.

When we accept Jesus as our savior, we accept His descriptions of what we are to become. One is:

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5 KJV)

Jesus uses spiritual growth and fruit in a parable He gave to the crowd and explained to His disciples in Matthew 13:1-23, which ends with bearing fruit:

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:23 KJV)

Hear God’s word. Understand it – and bear fruit. Now that we’ve got that part down pat, what is the fruit?  You may be surprised to find it pretty much matches the eight parts we studied:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)

Pretty good fruit, isn’t it? Since we’ve given our lives to God . . . What? You didn’t get that part?

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 KJV)

That’s why there’s a list preceding Galatians 5:22-23. We are not always bearing fruit. It really doesn’t come naturally, as any farmer can tell you. It takes work. Preparing, seeding, watering, weeding and sometimes that’s not enough. Sometimes the ground is hard as stone:

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. (Matthew 13:20-21 KJV)

Branches get pruned and trained by the master gardener. We were given an example about what happened to the fruitless:

Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! (Matthew 21:18-20 KJV)

Take a look at a Bonsai. Even with small roots, careful pruning and care can make even a small tree fruitful. Spend time with the Lord who created Eden and can make each of us fruitful through His grace.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Does it Matter?


At the top of this blog are tabs that tell more about me.  The second tab, “What I Believe,” should be important to readers.

That entry will explain the foundation for my beliefs. The doctrine, if you will, upon which my faith is based. A lot more people read my blog than stop by and read what I believe and why I write, so I thought it might be a good idea to introduce readers to a bit more of me.

I used to have a tab called “My Witness,” because my daughter asked about it. I removed that, most because it went unnoticed, but also because every blog I write speaks of my witnessing that Jesus Christ is my Lord and savior. The Bible teaches me about what God has in mind for mankind, and what He expects from us. Through reading, learning and application of God’s word in our lives, we do His will.

It does matter what we believe. It matters in this world when His commands are not followed:

O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea: (Isaiah 48:18 KJV)

It matters in eternity, when His love is not accepted:

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 3:18 KJV)

He does continue to send messages to His people:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! (Luke 13:34 KJV)

Just as Elijah in I Kings 19, we may not be aware of all who believe. And, just as Esther in 4:14, we may not be aware that another will step in and do what God has in mind for us if we decline His love. We do need to be aware that God has a purpose in our lives for what He tells us to do and we do it by faith:

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:3 KJV)

I want this blog to send readers to look into scriptures to see if what I write is true. As always, I ask that my readers be Bereans:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11 KJV)

I do. I run across articles, websites, posts of differing beliefs and viewpoints. Some are in direct opposition to what I believe and what I post it is necessary for me to search the scriptures daily, checking to see whether those things – or what I’ve said – are scripturally based. It matters, very seriously to me, that my beliefs are biblically based.

It matters eternally what each of us believes about Jesus. Study that.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Noah, By Faith

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It’s a children’s story and often a children’s toy, as caught in this graphic from Germany. We all know how the animals went two by two into the ark that Noah built.

But that wasn’t Scott Matthew’s sermon Sunday morning. Oh, yes – we don’t just get uplifting gospel music through the Rochester family. We also get biblical preaching. Yesterday we started in Genesis 6. The first verses describe the sinfulness of the earth, but God found righteousness, too, as he did in Noah’s great-grandfather, Enoch:

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:8-9 KJV)

Noah is mentioned in nine books of the Bible, but Scott sent us to one verse in Hebrews for the message:

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7 KJV)

That’s the chapter I quote often, the chapter that gives us living examples of faith. Many of those lived in times where it appeared there was more evil than good. There were times when God was forgotten or ignored – expect for a faithful few. Or, one.

Scott pointed out five things about Noah from that one verse in Hebrews. Each thing is something we can do in our own lives and each thing was done for one reason:  the saving of his house. Not the building that shelters, but family. His loved ones, just as we love ours, and should follow his example. Here’s what Noah did to save his loved ones:

1 – He believed the words of God. By faith Noah, being warned of God . . . we can do exactly that same thing. By faith. Take a look at Hebrews 11:6, since you are right there. Faith is rewarded.

2 – Noah was moved by fear. The Preacher understood this and wrote Ecclesiastes 12:13. It’s not the same fear that first comes to mind. Check out Strongs G2125, εὐλαβέομαι, where we first act cautiously, being aware or reverencing standing in awe. That’s the fear that moved Noah, and should move us.

3 – He prepared an ark. He set out to do what God told him to do. Stepped out in faith in response to God’s word telling him what to do. That not only bears repeating, but should be our goal, too. Check that out in James 1:22 or Romans 2:13. If God’s word tells us the same thing twice (and many more along this same theme) it is important to apply in our own lives, don’t you think?

4 – He condemned the world. Not each person individually, not judged a person by his own standards. He did not join in on what the world was doing and accepted the truth of God’s judgment upon the sinfulness of the world’s action. That remains true as shown in John 3:17-18. We each have condemned ourselves, and God has shown each how to be saved.

5 – Noah became an heir, by faith, just as we are able:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8 KJV)

Scott Matthew’s sermon was much richer with descriptions and examples and many scriptures. This is but a short highlight – yet it carries the same message we've heard from the beginning of time, that through faith in God’s grace we are His heirs. Fearfully awesome, isn’t it?