Why Not Rather Be Wronged?

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Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”  (2 Timothy 4:11, NIV 1984).

My Musings – What makes this passage so significant is what transpired in Acts 15.

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.  (Acts 15:36-40, NIV 1984).

The Mark in 2 Timothy and “John, also called Mark,” in Acts 15, are generally considered by Bible scholars to be the same person.  While the disagreement surrounding Mark appears to have been quite contentious (“sharp“), and resulted in them parting company, they were eventually reconciled.  So much so that Paul wound up considering Mark to be “helpful to me in my ministry.

There will be times, when well-meaning Christians will see things differently.  It is sad when it results in broken relationships.  To amicably work through the dispute with your brother or sister in Christ is better by far.  If not, reconciliation is sweet.

My Advice – We have been called to a higher standard than those without Christ.  When you have a dispute with another believer, do you best to work it out.  Unfortunately, there will be times that being at peace with one another will not depend on you (Romans 12:18).  In such cases, “why not rather be wronged?” (1 Corinthians 6:7, NIV 1984).  Let the Holy Spirit do His work, leaving the door open for reconciliation at a later time, rather than escalating the dispute or insisting upon being right.  “Blessed are the peacemakers.

 

Name Dropper

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Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”  (John 16:24, NIV 1984).

My Musings – We generally tend to focus on the phrase “ask and you will receive,” and grow disenchanted when we do not receive what we ask for.  James, in his epistle, states that “when [we] ask, [we] do not receive, because [we] ask with wrong motives [our own pleasures].”  (James 4:3, NIV 1984).  If, as John states above, we truly ask in Jesus’ name, our motives will be pure.  I say truly, because merely tacking this phrase at the end of a prayer, without really focusing on what His will might be, is merely lip service.

My Advice – Purify your motives in prayer, before attaching Christ’s name to it.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

Get Back To Where You Once Belonged

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My Musings – Elijah had just faced down 400 prophets of Baal.  Both a symbolic and a literal mountaintop experience.  Perhaps the zenith of his ministry.  An awesome display of God’s power and presence.  Yet here he was, on the far side of the desert, cowering in fear over the Queen’s threats to his life.

Sometimes, after an exhilarating mountaintop experience of boldness and ecstasy, we  find ourselves plunging deep into a valley of fear and despair.  But most of the time, when we find ourselves in a place that we should not be, it follows a period of  unguarded complacency.

Whatever the occasion, we need to listen to God’s voice saying “what are you doing here.”  It is a call to bring us to our senses and see the height from which we have fallen.  Like in the garden (Adam where are you?), He knows exactly where we are, what we are doing and how we got there.  But He want us to know it too.  Until we do, it would be fruitless to command us to go back the way we came.

My Advice – Watch the “road signs” to keep yourself on track.  If you do get off track, realize how you got there so you can know how to “go back the way you came.

My 85 Year Old Mom Is A Cheerleader

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My Musings – The above quote from Jesus follows immediately after Peter’s great confession to Jesus’ inquiry ““who do you say I am?”  Peter replied, “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16, NIV 1984).  Most of the focus on this verse is on what Jesus meant by “this rock.”  Did he mean Peter?  Was He referring to Himself?  Or is the rock Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah?  Learned theologians cannot agree on this, so I am sure I cannot shed any light on it.  But what I want to focus on in today’s musing is “My Church.”

“My Church.”  There is no mistaking whose Church it is.  But today, many within the Church  want to wrest control from Jesus and make it (keep it) their Church.  They want the worship style to be this way or that.  The time of the service must start no earlier (or later) than this time or that time.  The preacher must not speak any longer than… Well, you get the picture.

Now today, the Church is under increasing criticism, if not downright persecution.  With the increasing influence of secular humanism, relative morality, and it’s “my” view or no view in our schools, in the media and society in general, we (the Church) are in danger of losing the “next generation.”  While there are many things worth “fighting” for in the Church, the above mentioned “non-negotiables” (style, time, length) don’t make the list.

If the Church loses the next generation, where will the Church be?  God will always have His remnant, but how big will that remnant be?  Are we really so vested in the way it’s always been done that we risk that loss?  Are we so insistent that it be “my” Church to such an extent that we have no one to pass it on to?  Now I am not saying we water-down the Gospel to Christianity lite.  There are certain things that are non-negotiable, and we know what those are.

My 85 year old mom understood this.  “Her” Church (the one I grew up in and accepted Christ) was in decline.  It was literally dying off.  Either the lampstand’s light would go out or it needed new oil.  That’s why they voted to become a “satellite” Church of a much larger congregation in a larger town.  And this brought a lot of changes.  Most of which involved those sacred items (style, time and length).  The unadulterated proclamation of the Gospel was not one of the changes.  And in the final analysis, that is what really matters – that the Truth continues to be proclaimed.

While my mom has her own ideas and preferences of what she would like worship services to be, she understood.  She embraced the changes and became one of the leading “cheerleaders” for the Church she knew was not hers, but His.  Her name is not Gladys (its Roberta), and she cannot jam on the electric guitar, but she knows “a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24).

My Advice – Always remember, and never forget, it’s His Church.  He wants to build it, not see us tear it down over things that really do not matter.

Here are a couple snapshots of my 85 years young mom:  on her knees on the floor  showing me how to fix her vacuum and snow blowing her sidewalks (plans to give that up this year).

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A Powerful Weakness

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My Musings – When we are covered by 1) God’s grace, through 2) His Son, we are plugged in to an awesome power base, 3) the Holy Spirit.  But sometimes, (many times) we get in the way of that power by relying on our own strengths, which in reality are weaknesses.  Once we acknowledge that, God’s power is perfected in our weaknesses.

Now for the understatement: “My grace is sufficient” (enough to meet the needs of a situation, adequate).  Enough and adequate, hardly seem impressive.  But the point is, no matter how small or how big the “situation,” God’s power will always be enough.  God’s power is all we will ever need.

My Advice – Admit your own insufficiencies (weaknesses), let go and let God.

Learning From Failure

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My Musings – This was a familiar pattern in the Old Testament.  God delivers the promised land into the hands of the Israelites.  They get complacent and fall into sin.  God brings judgment through their enemies.  The Israelites call out to the Lord.  He provides a deliverer (called a Judge).  And the cycle starts all over again, and again and again.  They seem to never have learned from their failings.

Are we any different?  Are there cycles of failure that we repeat time and again, never seeming to learn from prior experiences?  Of course it is better to not fall into sin in the first place. But when we do, once we are delivered and restored (following confession and repentance), we should learn from the past failure and be on guard lest we repeat it in the future.

Of course, not all failures are the result of sin. “Failure in and of itself is not a bad thing. But failing to learn from it is inexcusable.” (Alison Levine, On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership).  In our journey of discipleship, God will take us through failures (not sin) so that we will learn from them.  For it is on the journey that we learn the most and see our character develop the most. “The journey is where we find perspective.” (Alison Levine, On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership).

My Advice – What are we learning?  It would be a pity to go through the struggle and not reap the benefit of learning from it.  So pay attention.

Despicable Me?

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My Musings – We usually think that a broken spirit is a negative thing.  But how could God possibly forgive a proud and rebellious spirit? The text implies that God actually despises such a spirit.  Genuine contrition (feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming) is not possible absent a humble and penitent heart.

My Advice – Do not allow a proud or rebellious spirit get in the way of a humble and penitent heart.