What’s Your Bedrock?

Screenshot (1440)Caption:  A typical family, as they “shelter in place,” worshiping in spirit and in truth via FBC of Sycamore livestream on Sunday, March 22 @ 10:30am.  FBC Sycamore Livestream

The magistrates ordered [Paul and Silas] to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  (Acts 16:22–25, NIV 1984).

My Musings –  Greetings from northern Illinois (the “s” is silent), where we are sheltering in place.  Yesterday Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order telling all Illinois residents to shelter in place until at least April 7. “My bedrock has been to rely upon science,” Pritzker said of his decision.

I don’t mean to disparage science (after all God created the science behind His creation) but our bedrock is, and always has been to rely upon God.  Whether we acknowledge Him or not.  Whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in.  Even when we “shelter in place.”  Maybe it will be an inconvenience.  But we have not been “stripped and beaten.”  We have not been “severely flogged.”  While some may feel like it, we have not been “thrown into prison.”  Under such extreme circumstances, “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.”  We can do the same.

A final musing: “the other prisoners were listening to them.”  During these scary times, the world around us is listening to and watching us.  What are they hearing? Are they hearing griping, complaining and wailing, or are they hearing positive, reassuring words of encouragement and hope about the God we trust?  What are they seeing?  Do they see the same kind of fear that is gripping the world around us, or do they see calm, peace and assurance?

My Advice – Our circumstances have changed.  Our attitude, behavior and outlook need not change. Our bedrock is on “Christ the solid rock.”  Be like Daniel. “Now when Daniel learned that the decree [executive order] had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.”  (Daniel 6:10–11, NIV 1984).  In Illinois, for a season, we cannot come together in person to worship, as is our custom.  But we can still gather together “virtually” to worship in Spirit and in truth “just as [we] had done before.”  And that’s what really matters.  And as you do, remember, people are listening and watching what the Christians do during “such a time as this.

God bless, and have a “yabba, dabba do time,” and draw closer to God and your family  whether you are required to shelter in place or not.

 

Increasing Measure

Screenshot (1396)

My Musings – As we wrap up my musings on discipleship and “Got Spiritual Milk” we might be asking ourselves – what now? Have we arrived at the place where God wants us to be? The answer to these questions is simply in remembering what was learned at the outset: Growth and maturity, are a process that takes place over time. We looked at twelve key “steps” that are essential to following Jesus and realizing our full potential as His disciples.  It is not a magic formula that in twelve “easy” steps will make us a model disciple. For each individual step is a process of its own leading us into a spiritual transformation that is continually evolving.

Justification – Like Paul, we must realize that we have not yet been made perfect. We have been saved. This was a past event, never to be repeated, where once and forever God made it “just as if I’d never sinned.” Justification is a legal term signifying that the all claims of God’s moral laws have been satisfied by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and that those accepting the terms of that sacrifice (believe and receive) are acquitted.

Glorification – Because we have been justified we have a future destination. Someday we will enter God’s presence and we will be made perfect. Glorification, as the term is used in the Bible, refers to the ultimate perfection of the believer.

Sanctification – In the meantime, we need to keep pressing on toward growth and development, adding to our faith in increasing measure. Sanctification is a fancy theological term that means being purified and made holy. It is a continuing process happening now that connects our past justification with our future glorification. It is not a perfect process, because “we have not yet been made perfect.” There will be up and downs. We will encounter speed bumps along our path as Satan tries to sidetrack us along the way. He cannot change the fact that we have been justified. He cannot change our final destination. But he can influence our journey between the two points hoping to make it less victorious that it might otherwise be.

So by now, we should know and understand that discipleship does not refer to a past event or our future destination. It is the journey that we are on here and now. It is not twelve steps and done. It is twelve steps in increasing measure until the journey is done. We do not know when our journey will be over. So we continue in our efforts to add to our original step of faith. We add goodness (role of a servant), knowledge (illuminated by the Word, engaged with the Church), self-control (hold out against sin, Spirit-led lifestyle), perseverance (suffer with Christ, pray on all occasions), Godliness (desire what God desires, learn spiritual wisdom), kindness (is Christ-like in attitude, involved in evangelism) and love (proven by love).

None of these are things that we will achieve perfectly in our lifetimes. But we can possess them in increasing measure.

Increasing means to become progressively greater. The increase can be a gentle slope or a steep grade. It can also be exponential. What it will be, to a large degree, will depend on our efforts. Paul instructed his readers to “make every effort.” Half-hearted efforts will only give us half-hearted results. We do not want half-hearted results. What we want is to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Screenshot (1398)

My Advice – A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We took that step when we accepted Christ. That decision has already been made. The question before us now is: are we satisfied with remaining an infant or do we want to grow? If we want to grow, the question then becomes: how much effort do we want to put into it? De we want to make every effort? Do we want to grow in increasing measure? Do we want to keep pressing on? So how are you answering these questions?

Garage Sale Fellowship

Screenshot (632)

My Musings – Spent time these past few days with my two older brothers as we helped our 85 year old mother with a garage sale (selling many items that she and my dad had accumulated over 66 years together).  We had many visitors to the sale.  Some were neighbors, some were dear friends, some were mere acquaintances, most were strangers.  They represented different ethnicities and social “classes.”  We exchanged pleasantries with all, joked with a few (which garage sale had the best “junk”), had warm conversations with many and prayed with a few.  At one point I remarked to one of my brothers “if more people went to garage sales, the word just might be a better place.”  What a great time of fellowship with those we knew and those we did not.

As a world becomes more and more polarized, we sometimes lose sight of the fact we all have one Father and Creator – who loves us all.  We have one Savior who did not just die for certain ethnicities, social classes or the “deserving” – He died one for all.  He will save all who believe and receive.

My Advice –  Forgive as He has forgiven you.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Give to those in need.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Entertain strangers. Do not oppress or mistreat the alien among you (ouch!).  Love your enemies (say what?). For “[w]hatever you did [or did not do] for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did [or did not do] for me.”  (Matthew 25:40, NIV 1978).  Finally, have a garage sale – just for the fellowship of it all.

Finally, Whatever

Philippians 4:8Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – We are, to a great extent, what we think about. If we think about these things, they cannot help but improve our attitudes. But if we think about the opposite, it can only erode our attitude.

My Advice – Be careful about the things that you allow to occupy your thoughts. Whether good or bad, they will eventually affect you. Make sure they are good.

Whatever Happened to the Wages of Sin?

Screenshot (18)

Introduction – Setting The Stage

Romans 3:23 – [A]ll have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (NIV 1984).

Romans 6:23[T]he wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (NIV 1984).

Wages – A payment in return (www.the free dictionary.com).

Gift – Something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation (www.merriam-webster.com).

Hebrews 9:27[M]an is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away [save from] the sins of many people (NIV 1984).

Save – To deliver from sin.

Savior – A person [Jesus Christ] who helps people achieve salvation, or saves them from something [Hell] (https://en.wikipedia.org).

Jesus Christ – The only name that has the power to save (www.urbandictionary.com).

Acts 4:12It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead …Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (NIV 1984). Continue reading “Whatever Happened to the Wages of Sin?”

Whatever Happened to In God We Trust?

Screenshot (9)

From Providence – We Are Favored By God

We Do Declare – We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.(1) Continue reading “Whatever Happened to In God We Trust?”

Whatever Happened to Evangelical Christianity?

Screenshot (4)

Introduction – What Does It Mean To Be Evangelical?

Evangelical – of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels. (Webster)

In a 2007 survey by the Barna Group (a leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture), 38% of the respondents self-identified as evangelical, suggesting a large segment of the U.S. fit this designation. However, of those respondents adhering to Barna’s nine-point criteria for being an evangelical, only 9% of the respondents could be considered to meet the definition of evangelical. These nine points are: Continue reading “Whatever Happened to Evangelical Christianity?”