Setting an Example, One Way or Another

1 Timothy 4:12Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Spiritual maturity has very little to do with chronological age. “Older” Christians can learn from those who are younger.

My Advice – You do not live your life for yourself alone. One way or another you are an example to other believers, non-believers and someday to a family. Be diligent in continuing to be a good example in the ways listed and in others ways that people might look up to you.

Shine Like Stars

Philippians 2:14Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It is a dark world. We should stand out because we are children of the light. We do not want to blend in or be indistinguishable from the darkness.

My Advice – There are many ways to get ahead in your career. Do it in a way that you can be proud of. Stand out by standing for what is right and by doing things the right way.

Establish Every Matter

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2 Corinthians 13:1Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – One person can deceive, so we should not take action. Two or more can still conspire to deceive, so the matter still must be established. But the deceit among conspirators is more likely to unravel due to inconsistencies in their stories.

My Advice – Take no action and form no firm opinions based upon what only one person has told you. Wait for corroboration of at least one more witness or other evidence. You will be less likely to take actions that you will live to regret.

What’s On Your T-Shirt?

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Matthew 28:18-20Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – My dad did not originate the saying, but he liked to quote it “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  I wonder what makes some think the mission statement in Matthew 28 is broken and needs our “fixin’?”

A disciple is someone who follows another person or another way of life and who submits himself to the discipline (teaching) of that leader or way.(1)  This begs the question: what would make someone want to follow and submit to Jesus?  And then, how do we make disciples?  How do we fulfil our co “mission” statement given to us by Jesus?

People need to hear from us the teaching of Jesus (what we say) and see in us the life of Jesus (what we do).  It takes more than a program, t-shirt, bumper sticker or coffee mug to communicate the Gospel.  It takes a life that is transformed.  If people do not hear and see the Master in what we consistently say and do, how can they possibly become a disciple of someone that we claim to be a disciple of?  If we are not faithful in our  representation of Kingdom living, how can we possibly expect others to want to be subject to its King?

My Advice – We cannot make disciples if we are not disciples ourselves.  What we say and what we do must be in agreement and must be a reflection of Christ.

  • John 10:27My sheep listen to my voice [what we say]; I know them, and they follow me [what we do]. (NIV 1984)
  • 1 John 3:18Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. (NLT 2013)

(1)Helm, P. (1988). Disciple. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 629). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

It’s the Gospel, Stupid!

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Isaiah 52:7How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – In the spring of 1991, following an immensely successful invasion of Iraq, President Bush’s (the first one) approval rating was 90%.  He was considered unbeatable as he looked ahead to his reelection bid the following year.  Then, the economy began to sour, and by late summer of 1992 (just weeks before the election) 64% of Americans disapproved of his job performance.  With this dramatic reversal of fortune, the Clinton campaign’s slogan became “it’s the economy, stupid!”  The slogan’s intent was to keep the campaign focused on the real issue of that year’s presidential election – the economy, President Bush’s Achilles’ heel.  They could have lost their way and become side-tracked on less important or even non-essential issues and lost the election.  The slogan was meant to be the rallying cry to get them back on track to what was important in order to win the election. It did and they did.

I think evangelical Christianity is in need of a similar slogan today to get it back to its “prime directive” – It’s the Gospel, stupid!  My intent here is not to throw rocks at someone else’s “glass house,” because I consider myself to be an evangelical Christian.  But what does the term evangelical Christian mean anyway?  Here is an excerpt from someone else’s musings [with some editorializing by me thrown in] that might prove helpful ( from https://www.gotquestions.org/evangelical-Christian.html):

“In Western culture today, there are many caricatures of evangelical Christians. For some [perhaps an understatement], the term evangelical Christian is equivalent to ‘right-wing, fundamentalist Republican.’ There is no doubt that holding to the fundamentals of the Bible will result in a certain worldview and, yes, political [political maybe, moral certainly] beliefs. However, there is nothing about being an evangelical that demands a certain political party or affiliation [or gives them a monopoly on morality].”

“The term Christian essentially means ‘follower of Christ.’  The term evangelical comes from the Greek word that means “good news.” Evangelism is sharing the good news of the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. An evangelical, then, is a person dedicated to promoting the good news about Jesus Christ. Combined, the description “evangelical Christian” is intended to indicate a believer in Jesus Christ who is faithful in sharing and promoting the good news.”

“A Christian is called [actually commissioned by Christ] to share [evangelize] the good news [Gospel], to preach God’s Word, and to set an example of [not dictate to] purity and integrity. If these callings require [require may be too strong of a term] political action, so be it. At the same time, evangelical Christians should not be sidetracked into abandoning our highest calling—sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

So, back to my musing.   It’s the Gospel, stupid!  Gospel is a word that is derived from the Anglo-Saxon godspell denoting “glad tidings” or “good news” (Baker encyclopedia of the Bible).  Among other definitions, stupid means  not intelligent, not sensible, not interesting or worthwhile (Merriam-Webster).

Evangelical Christians need not be apolitical, nor should they compromise their convictions or beliefs in the name of political expediency.  Speaking the truth in love is not mutually exclusive.  We should not speak the truth in an offensive or hateful manner, nor should the truth need to be silenced or watered down in order to keep peace and love.  While we cannot keep the world from hating us (Jesus said they would because they hated Him), nor finding the Gospel offensive (Paul said many would), we need not be hateful or offensive such that others find the “good news” to be “not intelligent, sensible, interesting or worthwhile” because of how we proclaim it.

My Advice – Let’s share what’s in our “lunchbox” with love and concern.  Let’s not beat others over the head with it in arrogance or self-righteousness.  It’s the Gospel, stupid! Let’s stay on task (get back on track).  Let’s help win the “election” for the lost.  Let’s keep our feet “beautiful” by bringing “good news,” proclaiming “peace,” bringing “good tidings,” and proclaiming “salvation.”  After all, its the only “campaign” with eternal consequences.  Our God reigns!

 

Responding Differently

1 Corinthians 4:12When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Christians are called to respond differently to things than the world would respond. We are not to return curses for curses, to resist persecution or respond to slander harshly.

My Advice – Be a blessing to others, even those who wish you ill, learn to endure hardship and offer kinds words to all even those who slander you. Do not respond in a worldly, but rather in a Christlike manner.

Except Through Him

John 14:6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – If there is more than one way to God, Jesus is a liar. If there is more than one way to God, Jesus is not one of them.

My Advice – Never let anyone tell you that there are many paths to God. There is only one and His name is Jesus. Correct them firmly but gently and explain why it cannot be. There is no need to be argumentative or try to convince them. Your job (responsibility) is to proclaim the truth (in love). It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict of the truth. It is the other person’s job to accept or reject the truth.