Archive for May, 2014

A young man once received a letter from a lawyer stating that his grandmother had left him an inheritance. To his astonishment, it was $50,000 plus “my Bible and all it contains.”  The youth was delighted to receive the money. However, he knew what the Bible contained, and because he wasn’t into religion he didn’t bother to open it. Instead, he put it on a high shelf. He gambled the $50,000, and over the next fifty years he lived as a pauper, scraping for every meal. Finally he became so destitute, he had to move in with his relatives. When he cleaned out his room, he reached up to get the dusty old Bible from the shelf. As he took it down, his trembling hands dropped it onto the floor, flinging it open to reveal a $100 bill between every page.

The man had lived as a pauper, simply because of his prejudice. He thought he knew what the Bible “contained.”

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

                                                                                                              ~2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

Dear Faithful Pastors/ Leaders,

Please consider the following:

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.

Love them anyway.

If you live right, people will accuse you of selfish and ulterior motives.

Live right anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten by man tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.

Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.

Think big anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.

Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them

Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you may get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you have anyway.

 

I happen to be one of many who are so glad that you decided to give of yourself and to sacrifice for the Lord ‘anyway’. The apostle Paul says that we shouldn’t boast of ourselves, so if I may, I would like to take this opportunity to boast on your accomplishments in Christ; Please indulge me. Consider these things:

 

  • God has used you to build and/ or maintain a Christ centered church from humble beginnings and to lead many souls to Christ, providing them with a solid foundation of Biblical teaching to stand upon.
  • You have been faithful to the Lord and his church and have maintained a good name amongst those that are without, that the name of the Lord and his church be not blasphemed.
  • You have spent countless hours in deep study of God’s word to feed the Lord’s flock the sincere milk and meat of the word which establishes Christian converts and keeps those whom the Lord has chosen from falling.
  • Many times you have encouraged (perhaps without even knowing it) those who were without strength and weary, to fight another day and to travel another mile through your examples and perseverance.
  • The lives you have touched in your ministry are forever changed by your sacrifice and generosity. Though many may never be able to express their true gratitude to you, rest in this truth: the Lord is not unrighteous to forget your labor of love and will recall every kindness and every mercy you have shown when you stand in his presence.
  • The foundation you have laid is a good and true one, upon which others may firmly stand and build together a spiritual building fitly framed together that groweth into a holy temple in the Lord.

 

It is a comfort to know that the criteria God uses to define a successful church are not numbers, nor multi-million dollar budgets, nor even a state-of-the-art building, but rather the heart of the church.  For in the heart of the church lies its character, its love, and its affections. May your heart always beat with passion for the Master and with a desire to lift up his standard in the world through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and may your church ever be a place where true disciples of Christ are molded and shaped by the lives of its leaders and members as they continue to look steadfastly unto Jesus—the Author and Finisher of our faith.

God Bless you for your love, devotion, and rich testimony in Jesus Christ which has made those under your leadership partakers of true greatness. May the Lord keep and strengthen you by the power of his might, now and forevermore. God bless.

 

 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.

   And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:

   To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

                                                                                                                 –1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

3 John 1:9-10
  I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
  Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church

Here, John writes of a man named Diotrephes who had made it his ambition and desire to ‘have the preeminence’ among the people within this particular church.  As a result of his own pride, haughtiness, and thirst for power, he had evidently refused to share an epistle from the Apostle John which had been addressed to this congregation and, adding insult to injury, he even refused to allow the people access to John or any of the other elders who were acquainted with him.  In his description of Diotrephes, John presents us with a picture of a man possessing a desire to control people for the purposes of accomplishing his own agenda and for his own glory, rather than the Lord’s.  Due to his deep-seeded disdain for (and, no doubt, jealousy of) the disciples and their rank in the Kingdom of God–coupled with his strong desire to be the sole recipient of honor and allegiance from those under his authority–he had not only forbidden the people from fellowship with John and other true Believers in Christ, but also sought to turn the peoples’ hearts against them through the devilish means of slandering them with malicious words whenever the opportunity arose.

In case that wasn’t enough to achieve this devious goal, Diotrophes also retaliated against any who dared disobey his unreasonable and ungodly commands by making public examples of them in casting them out of the church.  Though he may not have physically thrown them out or even demanded that they leave in every circumstance, he would have no doubt made remaining in his presence (and under his authority) unbearable for those who would not bow to his self-centered demands and, in a sense, would have ‘driven them out’ via hostilities and abuse.  Hence, if these dear saints were not ‘cast out’ in word and deed, they were certainly done so in spirit; being forced to choose between remaining in such a hostile environment or departing in the interest of their own spiritual and physical self-preservation (which is really no choice at all).  It is a terrible thing when those who are charged with the nurture and care of the Lord’s sheep take it upon themselves to become ‘Lords over God’s heritage’ and, as a result, become tyrants and taskmasters over those whom they have been charged to love and protect.  Such is the sign of a wicked and perverse generation which is to precede the coming of the Lord. As it was in John’s day, so it is in ours.

Diotrephes’ overbearing behavior is reminiscent of the type normally associated with many of the modern day religious cults that seem to be popping up everywhere nowadays.  Normally, when we hear the term ‘cult’, we usually think of the more obvious and most extreme examples such as the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Moonies, Scientologists, Branch DavidiansJim Jones, etc.   However, many of the same unhealthy and destructive behavioral patterns found in these groups have crept into many mainstream Christian churches where they are cultivated, promoted, and at times, even celebrated (though often inadvertently and in more subtle, less obvious ways).  Here are some warning signs to look for which may indicate that you are indeed part of a cult:


 

1)  You are told not to question what is being taught because the leaders are honest and want the best for you, so you must trust them.

2)  Someone in your group has replaced you as the one who makes your choices in life.

3)  You are told not to ask questions why anyone left your particular group or church.  Rather you are to accept the answers the leaders give you such as: ‘they fell into sin’, ‘they didn’t receive correction’, ‘they weren’t open’, or ‘they had a bad heart and didn’t want to be disciples’.

4)  You are told that you must be with their certain church or group to be saved (rather than by faith in Jesus Christ alone).

5)  If you want to leave, you are being told there is no other church/denomination that practices truth and you will be led astray or go to hell in doing so.

6)  You are constantly being made to feel inferior, having your past failures brought up again and again in a non-constructive and condemning fashion.

7)  You are taught to have an excessively exalted view of the leaders of your group or church via their use of  (primarily Old Testament) scriptures that are taken out of context in order to discourage you from ever challenging them and as a means of making themselves appear above reproach.

8)  Those in authority put down other churches (and people) as a means of building themselves up or making themselves look better.

9)  Your leaders call those who leave their particular group or church ‘fall aways’, ‘enemies of the cross’, ‘dogs returning to their own vomit’, etc. while using the examples of Korah and Judas or citing Bible verses out of context (such as I John 2:19, Romans 16:17-18, 2 Thessalonians 3:14, and Hosea 4:17), as a means of discouraging you from fellowshipping them.

10)  They recommend for you to primarily be around their people, expecting you to be at all the group activities;  if you aren’t, your spirituality and dedication are questioned.

11)  Those in authority defend or justify all that they do (sometimes to irrational and absurd lengths), even though it can be unbiblical, harmful, or wrong.

12)  The leaders of your group lack humility in their shepherding duties and arrogantly demand that you blindly obey what they say.  In addition, there is subtle manipulation in the way they deal with you (and others) on an individual basis via statements such as:  ‘real Christians obey their leaders’, ‘if you were truly following Jesus you would see what I’m saying is right’, or ‘true disciples did not question Jesus’. 

13)  The personal preferences/opinions of those in authority are taught as doctrine and forced upon the hearers, who are then expected to adhere to them with the same (or greater) esteem as that of actual sound Biblical truths.

 

 

 

If the topic of evolution has never come up in your witnessing encounters, it undoubtedly will at some point.  Christians need not be intimidated by it.  Instead, here are some questions you can ask to help an evolutionist think through these issues while gently (yet effectively) exposing the irrationality of the theory itself.

1)  Where did the space for the universe come from?

2)  Where did matter come from?

3)  How does a strictly material, constantly changing universe give us immaterial, universal, unchanging laws (such as laws of logic, science, and morality)?

4)  How did matter get so perfectly organized?

5)  Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing?

6)   When, where, why, and how did randomness become non-random?

7)  When, where, why, and how did life arise from non-living matter?

8)  When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?

9)  Why would natural selection favor sexual reproduction over cell division, which is more efficient and less costly genetically?

10)  With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?

11)  Why would any plant or animal want to reproduce more of its kind since this would only make more mouths to feed and, thereby, decrease the chances of survival?

12)  Which of the following evolved first and how long did it work without the others?: 


(a) The digestive system, the food to be digested, the appetite, the ability to find and eat the food, the digestive juices, or the body’s resistance to its own digestive juices (stomach, intestines, etc.)?

(b) The drive to reproduce or the ability to reproduce?

(c)  The lungs, the mucous lining to protect them, the throat, or the perfect mixture of gases to be breathed into the lungs?

(d)  The termite or the Trichonympha symbiotes that live in its intestines and actually digest the cellulose?

(e)  The plants or the insects that live on and pollinate them?

(f)  The bones or the ligaments, tendons, blood supply, and muscles to move the bones?

(g)  The nervous system, repair system, or hormone system?

(h)  The immune system or the need for it?

The King's Men

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“O Lord God, remember me…”. 

Samson spoke these words as he stood bound and blinded between those two infamous pillars.  It was a desperate cry for help that was heard and answered by almighty God Himself.  A great deliverance was wrought that day, even as the man himself died.  In this we have a portrait of salvation, for where Samson’s story ends, the Christian’s story begins!  Through repentance and faith in Christ, we too experience God’s glorious deliverance as we pass from the power of darkness into marvelous light and are thereby released from the oppressive dominion of sin over us, as the atonement is applied to our hearts and minds.  We are crucified with Christ, yet we live and walk in the newness of life–having been raised up with Him by the mighty power of God and transformed spiritually into new creatures!   No longer the slaves of satan, we are born again…

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