Where’s Brother Waldo?

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Romans 12:18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – All too often, whenever a potentially divisive issue is discussed, either the truth is compromised in the name of love, or love is compromised in the name of truth, as if the two (love and truth) were mutually exclusive. They are not. The reason we know they are not is that Christians are called to speak the truth in love.

  • Truth – Being prepared to speak the truth is more than merely knowing what we believe. It also means that we are able to provide clear reasons for why we hold the beliefs and convictions that we do. If we cannot do this, the truth may not be compromised (the truth remains the truth), but our credibility can certainly be questioned.
  • Love – We should also be prepared to communicate the truth in a gentle and respectful manner whenever called to do so. While we would expect the same from those with opposing beliefs and convictions (especially if they too are Christians) this is not always the case. When this is not the case, it is not an excuse to throw love out the window. For even if we are equipped with the full knowledge of the truth and can eloquently and convincingly communicate it “in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, [we are] only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” We merely end up winning the argument while losing the heart. In essence, “[we] gain nothing.
  • Truth and Love – “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle [beliefs, convictions], you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” – Rick Warren
  • Conscience – We must remain faithful to both the truth (as the Holy Spirit instructs us in the truth) and love (as our Savior modeled for us). This is really the only way we can keep a clear conscience and maintain our credibility with others.

As we Christians watch our views become ever more unpopular in an increasingly polarized culture, the temptation to defend ourselves in vitriolic, even hateful, ways will grow. As we interact with others virtually or in our communities, we must remember our call to live like Jesus. We must not adopt secular rules of engagement regardless of whether culture is religious or irreligious.Ed Stetzer

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My Advice – Always do your best to take the high road.

 

A Rigor Mortis Faith

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Or possibly the work of a Cereal killer?

James 2:14 -24What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Early in his post-reformation ministry, Martin Luther referred to the Epistle of James as Continue reading “A Rigor Mortis Faith”

Time to Fall Back?

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Psalm 145:18The LORD is near to all who call on him.  (NIV 1984)

My Musings – At times, He seems distant to me, most likely because I have distanced myself from Him, not because He does not want to be close to me.  At times, my prayers seem to go no further than the ceiling, but that does not mean that He is not listening.  At times, I feel so empty of Him, but that does not mean His Spirit has departed from me.

My Advice – If you feel the same at times, ask yourself what I ask myself – “who moved?” Like the prodigal, we may have fallen, but we can “fall back.”  We can return.  Like the prodigal’s Father He’s watching for our return.

 

Proven by Love

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John 13:35 – “All men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another.” (NIV 1978)

My Musing – Love. Little else is as captivating or inspiring as love. It is, perhaps, one of the most sought after and motivating experiences that anyone can have. As a subject matter it permeates movies, songs, books, television and advertising. Yet Continue reading “Proven by Love”

Holds Out Against Sin

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James 4:7Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (NIV 1978)

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My Musings – Sin. Our earthly nature. We read the items on the list (sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed – among others) and are outwardly repulsed by them. Yet, because we still have a sin nature (our old self) we Continue reading “Holds Out Against Sin”

Suffers With Christ

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Philippians 3:10 – I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering.

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My Musings – Trials and suffering are an inevitable fact of life for the Christian. Just like a newborn baby, it seems like no sooner are we born again than we are being slapped around just to make us to cry. Or so it seems. Certainly, our new adversary the devil will do everything he can to discourage us, keep us from growing and just make us cry. But Satan is not the source of all the “slapping.” Sometimes God will also permit difficulties in our lives. These may involve some crying too, but that is not their real purpose. God wants us to take that first breath of spiritual air. He wants us to learn to live the new life we have begun in Him. He wants to instruct us, train us, develop us, and yes, sometimes discipline us. To learn to walk in faith, He knows that we will have to take a few spills along the way. Just like our physical parents, He is there to make sure we do not hurt ourselves, to pick us up and to help us along our way.

But that is not all. Just like our physical parents are there to protect us from actual harm from bullies, our heavenly Father is also there to protect us from any real or lasting harm from that ultimate bully, Satan. While God wants us to learn how to stand up for ourselves, He is always there to make sure things do not get out of hand. With the insights that we gain by fixing on eyes on the unseen, perhaps, we can better understand and appreciate why we must encounter so much trials and suffering in our earthly lives. In so doing we will be in a better position to endure “the fellowship of sharing in His suffering,” which are “light and momentary,” by focusing on the “eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Maybe we will even stop seeing the cloud in every silver-lining.

My Advice – Trials and suffering should not catch us off guard. Nor should we consider it strange when we do encounter them. For Jesus very clearly told us we would encounter persecution in this world, simply because we were His followers. In fact, He said if we will unwilling to “carry our own crosses” and follow Jesus (a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief) we could not be His disciple. These are hard sayings, but we must understand that Jesus not only willingly carried Hs own cross; He was nailed to it and died on it for us in order to give us eternal life. It is the promise (His promise, sealed by His blood) of that eternal life that makes the suffering and trials here on earth bearable.

Coming Soon – An updated version of my Bible study “Got Spiritual Milk?” will soon be available in the Store link on my home page. What you see above is a short excerpt the chapter dealing with the ninth of twelve “steps” discussed in the study.

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Encouragement for Fellow Bloggers

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Isaiah 55:11[S]o is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (NIV 1984)

My Musing – As a blogger, it is easy to become discouraged at times.  You write a blog that you feel particularly good about and receive no comments, likes or shares and very few views.  You begin to ask yourself, why am I doing this?  This is a question we should continually ask ourselves.  If we are doing it for the comments, likes, shares or number of views, then perhaps we are doing it for the wrong reason (perhaps our own glory?).  But if we are doing solely for the glory of God (soli Deo Gloria), statistics are not the point.

If God has called us to the ministry of blogging, He merely calls us to be faithful.  Being faithful does not always mean being “successful.”  At least in terms of statistics. Jesus had a mere twelve followers and lost one, but look what happened. When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13, NIV 1984)

But if the words we are blogging are in reality going out from the “mouth” of God (we should be so blessed), then they will not return empty, but will accomplish whatever He desires.  As a blogger, I may never actually see the results, and the results can never really be measured by comments, likes, shares or views.  But if He uses any blog of mine to accomplish just one of His purposes, that will be statistic enough.

My Advice – Blog on, soli Deo gloria!