Why Question Him?

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The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”  (John 18:19–23, NIV 1984).

My Musings – The same line of questioning must be answered by each individual when they come face-to-face with the Gospel.  “If I said something wrong,” Jesus [asks], “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why [do you not accept me]?”  Many, like the religious leaders, will falsely accuse Jesus of not speaking the truth.  Others will simply refuse to believe the truth, even if they cannot refute the truth.  But some will recognize the truth and believe. To the [those] who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:31–32, NIV).

My Advice – Which are you?  Do you falsely accuse?  Do you simply refuse?  Does the truth induce?  Which do you wish to be?  Read my musings on “The Born Again Experience.”  Then choose — accuse, refuse, induce.

Ears of the Heart

Original post May 26, 2020. Unfortunately, many never miss a chance to speak up, while missing the multiple opportunities to listen up. Regrettably, I feel I must include myself in that.

The Brew Is A Musing

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Proverbs 18:13, 15He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame.  The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out. (NIV 19840

“You’re short on ears and long on mouth.”― John Wayne

“I never miss a good chance to shut up” ― James Patterson, Along Came a Spider

“One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears – by listening to them.” – Dean Rusk

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

“[R]emember we’re trying to understand their point of view, not necessarily agree with it or support it.  Understanding…

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Always and All

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Be joyful always; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Say what?  Joyful always?  Thankful in all circumstances” This is God’s will for those who are in Christ Jesus?  Really?  Yes, but be careful that you are not reading into it what it does not say.

It doesn’t say be happy always –  Happiness is more often than not dependent upon circumstances.  And there will be things that happen in our lives that we will not be happy about.  Joy, on the other hand, is not dependent upon circumstances. It can be maintained even when negative things occur in our lives.

It doesn’t say give thanks for all circumstances – Suffering, loss and pain are among the things that we would rarely, if ever, be thankful for.  But we can still be thankful despite (in) all of these things.

My Advice – How can be be joyful always?  How can we able to give thanks in all circumstances?  Well, first of all, it is impossible without a personal relationship with Christ.  For it is the Holy Spirit living within the believer that makes it possible. Yet, even believers struggle with this from time-to-time, some more than others, those new to the faith more than those who are seasoned veterans in the faith.

The astute reader will have noticed that I omitted a phrase from the above verse.  A very important phrase.  In a sense, a conditional phrase.  For without it it is hard, perhaps even impossible to achieve these lofty goals.  The phrase?  “Pray continually.” This is not about dry recitations, or confused babbling.  It is an attitude.  A state of mind.  A constant and close communion with our Savior, that sometimes doesn’t even need words.  An ever deepening relationship, that satisfies beyond measure and is not diminished by the difficulties that life throws at us.

The thing to remember is that this is a journey, more than it is a destination.  Growing closer and closer to our God, until one day He calls us home.  Then, joy and thankfulness will be complete.

Encouraging Words

Original post May 28, 2018. Death has been brought to the forefront this Memorial Day. To all those who have lost loved ones, I know the sting. But, “when the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54–55, NIV 1984).

The Brew Is A Musing

Memorial Day

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And…

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Towards A New Birth of Freedom

Original blog May 27, 2019. Our mettle as a nation and as a Church is being tested once again. This time by by an enemy that is, for the most part, invisible. In the past, we drew together to fight a common foe. What about this time?

The Brew Is A Musing

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John 15:13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (NIV 1984)

Musingsof Others – Today I’ve selected the musings of others to share as we commemorate Memorial Day 2019 and those brave soldiers who laid down their lives for their fellow country men and women.

  • Francis Scott Key – “Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave?”
  • Unknown – “Our flag does not fly [“yet wave”] because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.”
  • George Washington – “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”
  • Abraham Lincoln – “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the…

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Be Fishers of Men

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Guest blog, by Pastor-at-Large, Stephen Persson, First Baptist Church – Sycamore.

https://www.fbcsycamore.com/about

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  Matthew 4:19

My favorite COVID-19 story is about fishing. Trout fishing that is. A couple guys I know came up with an ingenious way to catch their limit for two weeks straight. They had heard that the stream in the White Pines State Park had been stocked with trout in preparation for the season’s opening. Intending to show up there as soon as the opening arrived, they were disappointed to hear that the governor shut down all state parks in Illinois.  That meant that no one could travel into the park to the pools where the delicious trout were eagerly waiting to be caught.

So they did a little thinking; How could they get the trout to come to them outside the park or how could they get into the park without being in the park to catch the fish? And then it came to them.  Although White Pine State Park was under the jurisdiction of the DNR, the waterways were under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers.  And the Army Corps of Engineers had no restrictions on being in the waterways.

So they hatched a plan. They parked their car by the bridge outside the park, put on waders  and walked in the stream until they arrived at the pool where the fish were waiting for them.  And did I mention that they caught their limit every day for two weeks straight?  I’ve told that story more than a dozen times. I really love it! What do you think I like the story so much? Is it:

A. I love to tell fishing stories even when it stretches the truth a bit?  (This is a true fish story)
B.  I delight in finding ways to beat the system by circumventing the rules?
C.  I like the way that this story encourages me to be creative as I pursue fishing for people?

Well, I wish I could say it is C.  But I’m pretty sure I like the story because I have a sinister desire to try to beat the system. So I’m going to face up to that reality and ask God to give me a greater heart to capture people for the glory of God.

It’s T Time

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TrembleAn angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord’s voice: “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look. (Acts 7:30–32, NIV 1984).

TruthJesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  (John 18:37, NIV 1984).

Trust – “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.(John 14:1, NIV 1984).

Turn – “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.” (Acts 3:19–20, NIV 1984).

TransformationNow the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17–18, NIV 1984).

TranquilityRejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4–7, NIV 1984).

My Musings –  Part of one idiom tells us to make sure all our T’s are crossed, which means to take care of every detail, including the minor ones.  In a relationship with Christ there are no minor details.  Above are some of the T’s in a vibrant walk with Christ, that kind of build upon one another.

  • What makes you tremble?  The thought of facing God apart from Christ is something that should make everyone tremble.  But if anyone is in Christ there is nothing in this world that should make us tremble. “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, NIV 1984).
  • Where do you go for the truth?  In response to the above statement Pontius Pilate responded, “What is truth?”  Something I think we can all relate to today.  Anyone on the side of truth listens to Christ. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, NIV 1984).
  • Who do you trust?  Trust is a very fragile thing in this life, easily broken, difficult to restore.  Jesus will never break faith.  “If we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot disown Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, NIV 1984).
  • Why should you turn around? One cannot come to Christ going in the opposite direction. “Now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:9–10, NIV 1984).
  • How could one possibly not be transformed? – If there is no transformation, there was likely no salvation in the first place.  We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:3–6, NIV 1984).
  • Could anything less result in more tranquility? – Isn’t that what we want after all?  Peace?  Contentment?  Nothing else in this world can give us lasting tranquility. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Here’s another idiom for you.  Make sure you have your ducks in a row.  These ducks above all.

Inspired by Deacon Josh Johnson’s sermon on May 24, 2020.  Check it out at: https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons