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Desiring to build others up & give grace to those who visit

Archive for the tag “love”

I Want You

I have been thinking off and on lately about why I post the things that I do on Facebook/Twitter/this blog, and it seems to me that I ought to give a bit of an explanation. Obviously, my sports & other “entertainment” related posts are mostly just for kicks, and I don’t really have many (if any anymore) political posts (I pretty much try to avoid all these subjects for this blog). But what about what some might call my “religious” posts (which is exactly what this blog is for)?

Well, there are at least a couple of reasons. Some of what I post is directed specifically toward fellow Christians. These Bible verses, comments, & ideas are meant for the edification &/or comfort of fellow believers. They are meant to call them to action or increase their faith in Christ or comfort them in times of suffering. I hope that God uses my posts for these things.

More than that, though, many of the things that I post I do so in the hope that God will use them in some way to call sinners to Himself for their salvation & reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ. I often wonder if they have had or ever will have such an effect, but that is not up to me. I only (hopefully) plant the seed; God gives the increase.

So here are my desires for those of you who might read my posts who do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world:
-I want you.
-I want you to know the love that God has for His children.
-I want you to be reconciled to God so that you might avoid the punishment that is due to you for your pride & rejection of Him as the sovereign ruler of all things.
-I want you to know the peace that surpasses all understanding; a peace that in the midst of otherwise unbearable trials can leave you still rejoicing with joy unspeakable.
-I want you to have the hope that I do that no matter what happens in this life, no matter how long or short my time is upon this earth, no matter what happens to this rapidly declining, degenerating body that I now inhabit, I will one day be resurrected to a new body to enjoy the presence of God on a new earth that is free from corruption & sadness & anything bad.
-I want you to be my brother or sister in Christ; in other words, I want you to be a part of my family & to be loved as family both by God and by those who would become your brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

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A Compassionless Society

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The above quote is an excerpt from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus which is engraved in bronze on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. I quote it because it seems to me to be representative of one of the great pillars of this country from even before its inception–compassion–harkening even back to the days when the first Pilgrims came to these shores seeking religious freedom. But this pillar is tottering & may have already fallen. We now live in a country (and maybe even a world) that has no compassion–at least not collectively (I’m sure there are still those who are compassionate on an individual or personal level).

In recent weeks/months, I’ve witnessed news accounts & Twitter/Facebook posts that demonstrate just how callous we’ve become as a nation. I’ve seen busses full of children/families trying to escape conditions most Americans cannot even imagine blocked by an angry mob more concerned about how the children entered this country than what the children are running from or how desperate their needs might be.

I’ve seen a bill likely to be introduced into my own state’s legislature that would withhold state funding from communities that are willing to take in some of these refugee children.

    Do you realize that the current “immigration crisis” primarily involves children? Do you realize these refugee children are fleeing some of the most dangerous countries in the world? Do you realize that we live in one of the richest country in the world, and that although these refugees may cause a significant financial strain to local governments, if churches and individuals would step up to care for them rather than leaving the care of orphans (& widows & the poor & the oppressed & the …) to the State, it cause nearly the strain that it currently might?

And I’ve seen people up in arms over bringing home a nurse and physician with ebola who have risked their own lives to help others. Forget that every conceivable precaution has been and is being taken (above and beyond what is needed even) to prevent that horrendous disease from spreading. Forget that those infected might want a chance to be close to family before they potentially die. Forget that death is not a certainty with Ebola or that they can receive the best possible care here in the US. Forget that the greatest threat for the spread of the disease is coming in contact with the blood or secretions of someone with ebola who has not been diagnosed. Forget that this desire to keep them out of the country may negatively impact people’s desires to serve those in need overseas.

No. Only remember that Ebola is a contagious disease that wreaks havoc (in spurts) on another continent that doesn’t have the facilities or resources that are available in this country to keep something like it from spreading.

    I saw an interview with one of the doctors at Emory yesterday morning regarding the precautions in place to prevent the spread of Ebola. Do you realize the room the patient is being cared for in was designed in conjunction with the CDC to treat SARS patients? Do you realize that SARS is much more contagious than Ebola? Do you realize Ebola is not spread through airborne particles but only through contact with contaminated blood/secretions?

I understand some concern about these things; concern is normal. But what I see, or what is implied whether intended or not, by these kinds of reactions is hate. Hate for one’s neighbor (before you try to argue that these people aren’t your neighbors, look over Luke 10:25-37). Hate toward anyone or anything that might upset our comfortable little lives.

You can deny that it’s hate all you want, but I think such an overt lack of compassion & love for others can be nothing but hate.

I think what really bothers me more than anything about what I’m seeing is that much of it seems to be coming from the “Christian” Right. If we call ourselves by the name of Christ, then we, above all others, should be at the forefront of demonstrating compassion and love and caring for others in dire need. We should willingly be sacrificing our own desires, & even lives, rather than trying to save our comfortable existence in this world. Or have you forgotten this world is not our home & we are merely sojourners here? Have you forgotten Christ’s great love for us that while we were still sinners he DIED for us? Have you forgotten that we should love others BECAUSE He first loved us?

I have a recommendation for you if you are a conservative Christian: Pay greater attention to the Word of God through which you were saved than any of the talking heads in the media; they have their own agendas (or the “news” organization’s) to promote that are not God’s agenda.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭27‬ ESV)

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (‭Matthew‬ ‭9‬:‭36‬ ESV)

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (‭Matthew‬ ‭14‬:‭14‬ ESV)

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ (‭Luke‬ ‭10‬:‭33-35‬ ESV)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (‭Colossians‬ ‭3‬:‭12‬ ESV)

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭13-14‬ ESV)

“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. (‭Exodus‬ ‭22‬:‭21-22‬ ESV)

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭10‬:‭18‬ ESV)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” (‭Zechariah‬ ‭7‬:‭9-10‬ ESV)

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭25‬:‭41-46‬ ESV)

Is God a Monster?

I posted a link on Facebook the other day to a blog post entitled “Why Does God Create People He Knows Will Go To Hell?” In the post, the writer makes the analogy that to argue that God is not merciful because He does not save everyone is the same as arguing that Schindler was a monster because he only saved hundreds of Jews rather than finding a way to save thousands.

In the discussion following my Facebook post, a friend commented,

Except Schindler wasn’t an omnipotent being. If Schindler could have easily saved more Jews without effort but chose not to because they were defying him and needed to be taught a lesson, then yes, he would be a monster.

It seems obvious my friend is saying that if an omnipotent God (such as the God of the Bible) exists, then He is a monster because He does not save all people even though He could:

  • If God is all-powerful, He can save everyone.
  • God is all-powerful.
  • He does not save everyone.
  • Therefore, He is a monster

This, however, is not the God that the Bible presents. The Bible presents God as being infinitely perfect. This means, in part, that God is not merely all-powerful or all-loving or all-knowing; it means He is the essence of power, love, knowledge, righteousness, justice, wisdom, etc. All of these things have their origin in Him.

Now, back to my friend’s comment.

Let’s consider for a moment, “Why does God allow some to go to Hell (since that is really what we are talking about when we ask, “Why doesn’t God save everybody?”)?

If I commit an offense against another person, I should be punished with a punishment that is commensurate to the offense committed & to the dignity of the one offended. [The following examples are assuming the crimes are committed in Ohio] So if I toss litter out my car window, it’s a $100 fine. If I am cruel to my animal, I could spend up to 90 days in jail & could have to pay a fine of up to $750. And if I commit aggravated assault against another person, I could be convicted of a felony, spend 18 months to 6 years in prison, & pay up to $5000 in fines.

I point all this out to show that the greater the inherent dignity of the one offended, the greater the punishment. The punishment for assault is not greater than that for animal cruelty because it is more serious but, rather, because humans have greater inherent dignity than mere animals.

This understanding helps to explain why it is just for God to condemn us to Hell. Even the apparently smallest offense is an offense against an infinite being; because God is infinite, his dignity is infinite. If we are guilty of a crime against one of infinite dignity, our punishment should also be infinite.

[Click here and here (page 21 at the top) for some things that were helpful to me in understanding this]

So, this helps explain why it is just for God to condemn sinners to Hell, but it still doesn’t answer our question of “why doesn’t God save everybody?” However, this actually approaches things from the wrong angle. What we should be asking is “Why does God save anybody?”

There are at least a few things to consider here.
1. All have sinned (Romans 3:23). This is, I believe, self-evident. One doesn’t need the Bible to tell us that we are sinners. Look in the mirror. Reflect on your life. Even if you do not believe in the authority of the Bible, you should at least recognize that at some point(s) in your life, you have wronged another person–i.e.-you have done wrong (if you say you haven’t, you’re a liar). If there is a God and you have done wrong, then you have sinned against Him & are deserving of infinite punishment (see above). What reason does He have to save you from that?

2. Your good is not good enough to make up for any bad you have done. Whatever good you might try to do to make up for your wrongs is not good enough because you are incapable of perfection or infinite good. Once you are marred, once you are imperfect, there is nothing you can do in and of yourself that can make you perfect again (assuming you were ever perfect which, of course, you weren’t). If God is perfect (which, I think, He has to be in order to be God. If He wasn’t perfect, He couldn’t truly be God; he would have to be some kind of lesser being), He cannot allow imperfection into His presence, else He would cease to be perfect.

3. But you might say, “If God is all-powerful, he could just make everyone perfect or just erase their sins at the wave of His hand.” Well, let’s think this argument through for a moment. For God to be God, He must be all-powerful (as above, if He is not, then he must be some lesser being). And if that were all there was to it, then the argument put forth at the beginning of this post would stand, & God would be a monster–no argument; hands down, he would be a vindictive, hateful, spiteful, evil God. However, this is not all there is to it. God is not merely all-powerful. He is also merciful, loving, omniscient, & just (among other attributes). But here’s the thing about God’s attributes…they are perfect. He cannot violate one attribute to serve another attribute. So, although He has the power to erase everyone’s sins, He cannot do so without violating His perfect justice. The sins of each person must be paid for, either by that person (which, as I pointed out above, can’t be done) or by someone else. There is no other human being who can pay the price for your sins against an infinite God because every other human in the entirety of history has sinned…except one.

4. That One is the answer to “Why does God save anybody?” That One fulfilled God’s righteous law (that everyone else has broken). That One paid the price that no one else could pay because only He was sinless. That One took on the punishment for each & every person over the entire course of history who looked to God in faith and repentance & believed in Jesus (either as we now know Him or in the promises made by God that the Savior would come).

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15 ESV)

[…]if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:9-11 ESV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21 ESV)

Send Prayers But Don’t Just Send Prayers

A friend of mine retweeted the following on twitter: “If everyone who is “sending prayers” to OK would send some clothes or money instead, they could actually help.”

There’s some truth there even if it is a bit misplaced. As Christians, we should most definitely be praying for all those affected by the devastation caused by the tornado in Oklahoma. Pray for safety. Pray for healing. Pray for the missing to be found. Pray for comfort. Pray for peace.

But…let us also do. Let us care visibly for those in need. Let us love our neighbors as the Good Samaritan loved his (& realize that the point of that parable is that everyone is your neighbor not just those I lose proximity to you). Let us love others as God has loved us. Let us sacrifice for others as Jesus sacrificed his life for poor, undeserving sinners such as ourselves.

And continue to pray. Add to those prayer requests that God would be glorified in this tragedy and would make himself known through his people demonstrating his love toward others.

Do Not Compromise; Do Not Show Animosity

Dear Christian brothers & sisters, do not give in to culture, society, this world for the sake of avoiding conflict:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ESV)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

But also, do not despise those who stand against you & harbor anger & ill will towards them:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14-21 ESV)

Remember. You were once like them. You once were an enemy of God so have pity on them. Show them mercy. Show them love. For your Savior has done as much (& much more) for you.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:1-9 ESV)

Why Study the Psalms if I Don’t Get Them?

I’ve been trying to work my way through the book of Psalms & spend some time on each one using a commentary because I’ve always had trouble “getting” the psalms. I understand the basic gist of the psalms (or think I do), but they are generally not the inspiration & comfort to me that they are to so many people. Part of it is the structure of them; because they are poetry, I have a hard time understanding them. Call me shallow, but I’ve always had more difficulty with poetry that doesn’t rhyme (& many times I even have difficulty with that). Add to that the fact that the psalms are translated out of a foreign language with structural compositions that I have a hard time following, & it makes me want to just breeze through them to get them over with & just hope that God will somehow bless my mere completing of the task.

The bigger reason, I think, that they don’t have the effect on me that others seem to experience is that God has chosen to spare me of significant trials & sorrows to this point in my life (&, yes, I need to spend some time considering the implications of that based on some New Testament passages). Take the first 2 verses of Psalm 18 for instance (where I’m currently at in reading through the psalms):

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Now, I can accede to all that in my mind, but there is no significant sense of comfort there for me because I have not experienced that overwhelming need for a refuge & stronghold from my enemies whoever or whatever they may be.

So, does this mean that I have no reason to study these Scriptures more deeply & try to get more out of them? Absolutely not! And here are a few of the benefits I can see of studying them more in depth even though I do not experience them the way others do (in no particular order):

1. I may be able to point someone else to particular ones in the time of their distress.

2. God may more readily bring them to my own mind for comfort when I do experience trials & sorrows.

3. I will gain a better understanding & appreciation of the various attributes of God especially love, mercy, & faithfulness.

4. I may better see how the Old Testament looks forward to Christ & see Him in the Psalms (because, to quote Sally Lloyd Jones, “every story whispers his name” [The Jesus Storybook Bible])

5. I may gain a better understanding of poetry in general & in particular in how it is used in the Bible.

Was CfA Appreciation Day Worth It?

Ever since I first heard about Mike Huckabee’s Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, there was something about it that bothered me. On some level I didn’t like the idea, but I just wasn’t able to figure out exactly what it was.

I love CfA’s food & their customer service is probably the best of any company with which I’ve ever dealt. I agree with Dan Cathy’s statements, & I don’t think they were a surprise or in any way hateful. I despised the way the media created a story where (at least initially) there really wasn’t one (see here for a good explanation of this). I was only slightly surprised by the intolerance of those that claimed tolerance (Thomas Menino, Rahm Emanuel, etc.).

So why would I be suspect of CfA Appreciation Day?

Shouldn’t we show solidarity with those with whom we agree? Especially our Christian brothers & sisters? Isn’t it important to stand up for Free Speech & the Free Exercise of Religion?

Well, yes but…

The first article to capture what I was struggling with but unable to express was at Deep Roots Library. There are lots of things I could quote from the post because I generally agree with the entire thing, but, basically, I had reservations over CfA Appreciation Day because “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation”. Standing in line for hours to eat chicken (delicious though it may be) in support of a man’s biblical views is decidedly NOT the Gospel. In case you’re unaware, the Gospel is the good news that even though we have each committed treason against the Almighty Creator of the universe (also known as “sin”) & deserve eternal punishment (b/c that treason was against an eternal God), God in His mercy & grace has provided a way for us to be forgiven & reconciled to Him if we would only believe on Jesus Christ (his life, death, & resurrection) & repent of our sins (turn away from those sins & turn to Jesus).

God has called His people to go preach the Gospel & make disciples. He has not called us to fight the Great Liberal Left Enemy. He has not called us to take easy stands against a progressive agenda by doing something that we love to do anyway (i.e.-eat delicious chicken sandwiches, waffle fries, hand-spun shakes, etc.). He has called us to proclaim His good news, & that good news will be offensive to many & will cause us to be hated & persecuted; that is a promise from God! We are told that we will be hated for Jesus’ sake, but we are not told that we should go forth & try to make people hate us. In fact, the Apostle Paul tells us to live in harmony with one another, to not repay evil with evil, & to live peaceably with all (Romans 12:14-21).

By reacting in this way, are we acting in a loving manner & turning the other cheek? Or are we fighting fire with fire (by doing what amounts to anti-boycotting a boycott)? If so, is that the Christ-like way to respond? When we do such things, I’m concerned that it harms our testimony to the Gospel. I think this is similar to an article on poor tipping that I linked to on my Facebook page a week or two ago; when we tip poorly or react to something negative in kind manner, we may be failing to demonstrate the love, mercy, & generosity that Christ has shown to us. When we fail (& we all do & will sometimes) at these things, it demonstrates to the world that we are no different from from the world. What Christ did & what He taught was radically different from what the world taught & continues to teach.

I don’t think it was necessarily wrong to support CfA Appreciation Day, but we each, on an individual level, should examine our hearts closely before doing these kinds of things to ensure that we are doing it out of love rather than merely in a reactionary way or out of spite. And we should be aware of how those that we might hope to win to Christ may view our actions.

Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:35) And, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”(Matt 22:39)

I just wonder if this is what was demonstrated last Wednesday or not. I wonder if there were not better ways to stand up for the 1st Amendment, &, even more so, were there not better ways to demonstrate God’s love, grace, mercy, & forgiveness without compromising our beliefs.

Here are some other posts that I found helpful:

Why the Chick-fil-A Boycott is Really about Jesus

Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day: A bold mistake

A response to my Critics

Lots & Lots & Lots O’ Links

So I haven’t had much time to post anything on here for a few weeks, but I’ve still been collecting links to things I find interesting, important, &/or edifying. So here’s a whole slew of things I’ve come across…

A little on the gay marriage debate to start with:

A thought on the homosexual marriage debate – Reformation21 Blog.–It is important to keep in mind Romans 1:18-32 when thinking about or discussing homosexual marriage. Let those verses influence your perspective on the subject.

Carl Trueman also has a little blurb on this subject–Around and About – Reformation21 Blog.

Along those same lines Alan Shlemon at Stand to Reason Blog asks  Is Homosexuality the Worst Sin of All?. He makes several good points, not the least of which is

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 places homosexuals among other sinners like thieves, drunks, swindlers, and fornicators. And 1 Timothy 1:8-11 lists them among liars, rebels, slave traders, and other sinners. There’s no special designation for any of these sins

Going Down? Dawkins, Doubters & Debauchery–The problem with holding staunchly to an atheist world-view is that eventually that world-view breaks down & you cannot defend your position.

The Name–We cannot make God’s name greater; it is already great.

Read more…

What Our Culture of Death Has Wrought

After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?. As absolutely horrible as the ideas put forth in this article are to even contemplate (& as horrendous as it is that a peer-reviewed journal published it), having this article out could actually be a positive thing for those of us who value the sanctity of life. As John Knight of Desiring God points out, “[The authors] have, in fact, done a great service to the cause of the unborn by openly and clearly connecting the argument for infanticide with abortion.” And that’s just it, I think the average person would be appalled at the thought of infanticide, especially of otherwise “normal” babies. Most people, I suspect, would consider that to be murder (and rightfully so, I might add!). But, if someone considers abortion to be a  perfectly okay choice for whatever reason the mother wants (and many do think this way), then it is only logical that infanticide is also okay for whatever reason the parent(s) decide. The fact that this has been published in a well-respected peer-reviewed journal should, it seems, be an indication of the increasing acceptability of such ideas, at least at the academic level (which means it is only a matter of time before it is acceptable at the lay level).

Read more…

What are we missing in many of our churches today?

Just some things that have been going through my mind today/recently:

I wonder if we’re missing something in the church today. It’s easy for us to say that the church is the people not the building, but I think it’s hard for most of us to really live that out. We have so identified ourselves with the place in which & the people with whom we worship that it’s hard to remember that we are parts of a body. And that body is to be active. In Ephesians, Paul tells us that certain people (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds & teachers) are given to the church to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry”(Ephesians 4:11-12). So what is this “work of the ministry”? Well, it seems that it is doing service since the word translated “ministry” in the ESV is the Greek word diakonia, & to be sure some other translations do use the word service here. What does this term diakonia imply? Well, preceptaustin.org has it defined as

the rendering of assistance or help by performing certain duties, often of a humble or menial nature, including such  mundane activities as waiting on tables or caring for household needs—activities that in men’s eyes (but not God’s!) are without apparent dignity.

In other words, we who are Christians need to be serving others. And I think God’s Word is pretty clear on this (see the parable of the good Samaritan, John 13:34-35, Galatians 5:13-14, 1 Peter 4:10), but we seem to ignore this a lot in the church (& I am chief among you!).

We think that if we go to church, sing songs, pray, be nice to the other people there, etc., we are fine; there’s nothing else to it. But doing those things does not demonstrate that we belong to Christ (i.e.-claiming the name Christian).

How do we demonstrate that we are Christ’s?

By loving one another as Christ has loved us (John 13:34-35).

And how has Christ loved us?

When we were still His enemies, He died for us! (Romans 5:8) That, my friends, is the ultimate act of service! He died (& was raised) so that we might have life (Mark 10:45)!

Jesus’ entire life was an act of humble service (Hebrews 2:9); He gave up all the glory & honor that He had in heaven with the Father, to be “made lower than the angels” in service to us.

He even demonstrated service to others through His actions, most notably at supper with His disciples when he performed the most menial of acts of his day (John 13:1-17). During this demonstration of service Jesus said,

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 13:14-15 ESV)”

Don’t be deceived into thinking this is a call to literally wash one another’s feet, but rather, it is a call to humbly serve one another (see Jamison, Fausset, & Brown and I’m sure other commentaries).

So let each of us be active members of Christ’s body, serving one another & serving others so that “[b]y this all people will know that [we] are [Jesus’] disciples” (John 13:35).

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