What He Said Was Important

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Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28–30, NIV 1984).

My Musings – How does one move from “weary and burdened” to “easy and light?”  By being “gentle and humble.”  By being imitators of Christ.  In Jesus’ day, the Jews were looking for a political or militant solution to their years of bondage.  Their early excitement over Jesus (“could this be the Messiah“) gave way to disillusionment and hostility, as gentleness and humility did not quite meet their expectations of a deliverer.   They preferred ruthless and pompous.

They failed to understand just what kind of bondage the Messiah came to deliver us from.  They were seeking “peace in our time.”  Christ came to offer peace for all time.  They were seeking deliverance “at all costs.”  Jesus offered peace that demanded the greatest cost.  They were seeking liberty in the land.  Jesus was offering liberation of the heart.  They wanted vengeance.  Jesus offered forgiveness.  They wanted unconditional surrender.  Jesus offered unmerited grace.  They wanted independence.  Jesus offered relationship.  They wanted a manifesto.  Jesus offered their names written in the Lamb’s book of life.   They wanted rebellion, Jesus required surrender.

My Advice – So what have we learned in 2000 years?  Will we as the Church advance the Kingdom of God through pollical activism or by proclamation of the Gospel?  Through force or faith?  Harshness or gentleness?  Arrogance or humility?  By becoming 21st century Pharisees or by modeling ourselves after 1st century believers?  By engaging in crusades or by taking up our cross?  Let’s learn from Him.  “You have heard it said, but I say to you …”  Our country’s and the world’s problems will not be solved from the outside in, only from the inside out.  It’s the heart not the head.  It’s the eternal, not the temporal.  It’s the narrow path, not the broad path.  It’s the Great Commission, not the great omission.  The time is short.  The harvest is great.  The workers are few.  Let’s get on with 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?”

An Inconvenient Truth

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Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”  (Acts 24:24–25, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “When I find it convenient.”  We do know he sent for Paul frequently, hoping to be offered a bribe (verse 26).  So it seems likely that it was not the time that was inconvenient.  It was the truth. Perhaps, he never had any intention of finding a more convenient time for the truth?  Perhaps he kept putting the truth off, feeling he would some day have a convenient time? Sadly, we do not know if Felix ever found it convenient.

My Advice – Of course we know that for some, the truth will never be convenient and they will flat out reject it.  For others, they find the truth convenient (they are definitely interested), but for whatever reason, the time is not.  That is a mistake.  They may not have “two more jumps” (or even one) at the truth.  We have no assurance there will be another opportunity.  That’s the inconvenient truth.  “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”  (2 Corinthians 6:2, NIV 1984).  He’s “coming down here” and the time will not be convenient if we are not ready.

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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?”

I Know Him!

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Sunday Amusings – “Santa! Oh my god! Santa’s coming! I know him! I know him!” (Buddy, from the movie “Elf”).  A funny movie.  “I know Him!”  A serious matter.

Someone greater than Santa came once before.  Born to a young Jewish virgin, yet the Son of God.  Born into this world as an innocent baby, yet the pre-existing Creator of all that was made.  He was born to suffer and die.  Not for His crimes, but for ours.  He had to die for us, for we could never have “a righteousness of [our] own…but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”  A greater gift than Santa could ever possibly give.  The gift doesn’t come to us automatically.  We must put our faith in Jesus.  We must accept the gift He offers.

My Advice – Someone greater than Santa is coming again. He said He would. Not as a baby this time.  Not as a sacrifice this time.  Either as our Savior or as our Judge. “Jesus! Oh my God! Jesus’s coming! I know him! I know him!”  Do you?  It’s important that you know Him before He comes, or before He calls you out of this world.  We cannot count down the days like we do for Christmas.  It (His return or our death) could happen at any time.  Either way, you want to be ready.  You don’t want to meet Him as Judge.

Four Words

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My Musings – When studying the first chapter of Genesis, the focus of many are on the details and why they can or cannot be taken literally.  But even before getting into the details are the first four words.

Four Words: Their Basic Definitions

In – Expressing the time period [beginning] during which an event [creation of heavens and earth] takes place.

The – Denoting one or more people [God] or things [beginning] already mentioned or assumed to be common knowledge. Used to point forward to a following qualifying or defining clause or phrase [created the heavens and the earth].

Beginning – The point in time or space at which something starts.

God – the Creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme Being (IAM).

Four Words: Expanding Our Understanding

Common Knowledge – The Creator is clearly seen in His creation. It is understood that an intelligent design means there is an intelligent designer. Order and complexity did not happen by chance or accident. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20, NIV 1984).

The Point In Time Something Starts – God is not that something. Because “in the beginning, God” was already there. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8, NIV 1984). God is self-existent (existing independently of other beings or causes), the “uncaused causer.” God is transcendent (existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe – time, space and matter). “I am who I am,” “I will be who I will be,” or even “I cause to be what is.” This is not a “name” that makes God an object of definition or limitation. Rather, it is an affirmation that God is always free to be and act as God wills. (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary).

The Creator – Of the many names used for God in the Bible, the one used here in Genesis is Elohim, which is a plural noun. (Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, Calvin, J., & King, J.). Only two persons (Father and Holy Spirit) of the Trinity were specifically mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2). The third person of the Trinity (Son) is inferred, but not fully revealed. “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26, NIV 1984). The revelation came later. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1-3, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Let’s focus on the Creator.  That will put us in a much better position to appreciate (not worship) His creation.

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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Keeping It Holy

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My Musings – The Sabbath day, according to the Old Covenant is the seventh day of the week (Saturday).  For most Christian faiths, however, the day of rest and worship is the first day of the week (Sunday), because that is the day Christ rose from the dead and ushered in the New Covenant.

It certainly is observed much differently today than when I was a kid.  Nowadays there is less rest and less worship.  We rush here and there doing this and that and at times are more exhausted by Sunday evening than we were on Friday evening.  We can sit and watch football all afternoon, but the sermon better be over by noon at the latest, so we can get on with “our” day.  Of course, that’s if we are there at Church at all.

My Advice – Jesus said that man was not made for the Sabbath, the Sabbath was made for man.  We need that day to set aside for our rest and to commune with and worship our Lord.

Be That Voice

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My Musings – Leadership is not measured by the number of people that report to you. It is measured by the number of people that follow you. People may report to a title on a business card, but they follow a leader. People have to follow the boss. They want to follow a leader. So what makes a person want to follow, as opposed to having to report?

It is a responsibility that hinges almost entirely on character.  Leadership is about integrity, honesty and accountability. All components of trust.  Leadership comes from telling us not what we want to hear, but rather what we need to hear.  To be a true leader, to engender deep trust and loyalty, starts with telling the truth.  (From “Leaders Eat Last,” by Simon Sinek).

My Advice – People will follow and be loyal to those they trust.  People will trust those who show integrity, honesty and accountability.   These are shown by being truthful, telling people what they need to hear, whether they want to hear it or not.  The “voice” of truth is the “voice” of trust.  People will “listen to” (follow) a “voice” like that.  Be that “voice.”