Tuesday, December 12, 2006
A college student had just heard a lecture on psychopathology. He raised his had for permission to ask a question. “Yes,” the teacher said, acknowledging him. “You have a question?”
“Yes, Professor. You’ve told us about the abnormal person and his behavior, but what about the normal person?”
“Well,” the professor responded after a pause, “If we ever find him, we’ll cure him.”
It’s because of that common trait of weirdness that Paul instructs the Ephesians to “put up with each other in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Putting up each other means keeping the relationship between us strong despite fault and weirdness. We need to do that in all of our relationships. Keep your relationship strong with your spouse, your kids, your brothers and sisters in Christ, your neighbors, your coworkers, and the family you’ll visit for Christmas. I know they are strange, but so are you. That’s Life at Work!
Friday, December 08, 2006
We’ve got a real challenge before us in 2007. We are being asked, as the body of Christ in our community, to give more each week than we have ever given. Some might say, “Have you seen gas prices recently?” Others might ask, “Don’t you know that debt loads are increasing for the average family?” Still others ask, “Are you watching the housing costs?”
The truth is that while gas prices are higher, debt loads are heavier, and housing costs are often through the roof, all that has little to do with whether people make the choice to be generous in their spiritual, charitable giving. Our choice has to do with how we answer these five questions:
Is my spiritual, charitable giving my first decision regarding money? The principle of giving firstfruits to God is longstanding. “Bring your firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God,” was God’s expectation for the Israelites (Exodus 34:26). After the captivity in Babylon, the Jews who heard Ezra read the Law promised they would give the firstfruits of the flocks and the firstborn of their herds and flocks to God (Nehemiah 10:35-36). Therefore, when we consider how we will spend our income in the future, we should consider spiritual, charitable giving first.
Am I seeing the need to support the ministry of the body of Christ with my income? The church does important work. As the “fullness of him that fills all in all” our obligation is to the mission that Christ began and placed in our hands.
Do I see my money as a gift from God and something to be used according to his direction? Paul told Timothy that money, like all other good things, is a gift from God for the purposes of enjoyment and sharing with others (1 Tim 6:17). We are stewards of our time, our abilities, and our money. We are to use money for the glory of the God, who has graciously given it to us.
Do I have allegiance to God above money? The Pharisees loved money and Jesus warned that one can’t serve both? The rich ruler (Matt 19) apparently loved his money and he walked away from Jesus though he pursued Jesus at first. Paul cautioned Timothy regarding those who pierced themselves with many griefs because they loved money and were led to all kinds of evil.
Do I trust Jesus when he says that if I will seek the kingdom of God first, then God will give me what I need? Do I really believe that I will reap what I sow?
When you consider spiritual giving first, understand the importance of supporting the ministry of the body, see your money as a gift from God, are committed to God instead of mony, and trust Jesus to provide for you daily; then you will meet the challenge of 2007 with your highest level of generosity ever! That’s Life at Work!
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Let me use disappointment as material for patience.
Let me use success as material for thankfulness.
Le me use trouble as material for perseverance.
Let me use danger as material for courage.
Let me use reproach as material for long suffering.
Let me use praise as material for humility.
Let me use pleasures as material for temperance.
Let me use pain as material for endurance.
What have the recent circumstances of your life been turned to by you? More importantly, what are you going to make out of the circumstances of your life today and tomorrow, assuming tomorrow comes? Use everything today as material for good. You won’t be working alone; God is leading the way. That’s Life at Work!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
A misspent youth? That's strange from a man whose writings about society and philosophy have evolutionary ideas oozing out of them. Here's a man who argues that mankind's youth was no different from that of my golden retriever's or that salamander whose tail broke off as he ran into the hole in the bricks of my garage. Misspent youth? Weird words from a man who would teach that this world is all there is and that when I'm dead I'll be like Rover -- dead all over.
If human life evolved from single-cell organisms and all animals came from that same source, then why should my youth be spent in any noble or God-fearing way? If life is simply the survival of the fittest, then how can youth be misspent if I am still alive today. Today is all I could have hoped for yesterday, it would seem. If this life is all there is for me and when I'm dead, that's it, then why would playing billiards everyday mean a misspent youth. Give me what is good for me now! I want to spend my youth doing what is right in my own eyes, grabbing at every pleasure possible, if this life is it.
But this life is not all there is; and while I love to play pool, I love my creator, too. Loving him gives me purpose in life. I’ve got things to do today that impact eternity. You do, too. That’s Life at Work!
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Some are continuing in immoral sexual behavior. You know that your actions are not pleasing to God, yet you won't repent. With your actions you are saying, "This relationship is better than a relationship with Jesus."
Some are so enamored by money that you'll do nearly anything to have more. You're unethical, if not a thief; you're a gambler with your families resources; or maybe just plain covetous or stingy. What you say by your actions is, "The blessings of my possessions are greater to me than the gift from God."
There is surely some "cross bearing" for the Christian in this life, but we consider it all joy to suffer here, to do without here, to resist pleasures of the flesh here, if it means heaven later. Every day Jesus says, "Will you pick up your cross!" (Luke 9:23) Everyday we answer "yes" or "no" by the choices we make from the heart. That’s Life at Work?
Contemporary definitions emphasize naming the group, as if giving the group in a group a name is what distinguishes it from the other named groups. Certainly naming the group in a group does that, but denominationalism begins long before that happens.
Denonimationalism doesn’t begin with a sign in front of a building, and taking down the sign is not the cure for denominationalism. Denominationalism begins in the heart and usually is exhibited in other divisive ways before anyone ever thinks of a name or a sign. Denominationalism begins when one Christian decides he or she will have nothing to do with another Christian because of some disagreement. Denominationalism is first seen by in a sneering looking, a harsh word, a refusal of fellowship, an inhospitable act, a move to another pew, or an act of avoidance in a foyer.
Denominational lines were drawn in Corinth according to favorite preachers, convictions regarding food, gifts of the Spirit, and bank account size. They made groups within the group, dividing from the others in their hearts; and they never made up any names or painted any signs. The body of Christ was divided. Denominationalism was in the body of Christ, and Paul’s response was to call them to repent.
You would call me an amillennialist, non-instrumentalist, pro-cooperation, multi-cup, Bible Class Christian. Some call me progressive, some call me liberal. Others would say I’m conservative. Some might say I’m balanced. I believe it's fine to pay a preacher to work in a particular place. I could use fermented or non-fermented grape juice for the communion, and I break off the large loaf instead of picking up a pre-cut piece of the unleavened bread. I think it's fine to eat and play basketball inside a building that the church owns, though it’s probably not a good idea to eat and play at the same time. Christmas parties are fine with me and so are Halloween parties. I preach about the resurrection at Easter, but I don’t celebrate the day any differently than I do any other Sunday. All these things are true about me, but here’s one thing: I’m not going to say you are less of Christian or not a Christian because you are not quite like me in these areas. That would be denominational. As much as in me is, I will keep the unity of the Spirit though the bond of peace. I will agree with you that division between us will not exist. I will seek to be with other Christians what Jesus prayed we would be. That’s Life at Work!
Friday, September 22, 2006
When the Terminator said, “I’ll be back,” he was threatening, though the threat was veiled. A few minutes later, he drove a vehicle through the doors of the building he had left moments earlier. In Independence Day, former Air Force pilot Russel Casse flew his plane into the belly of the Mother Ship of the aliens whom he said had kidnapped him years before. As he flew in to their destruction and his own, he said, “Hello, boys. I’m back!”
As the disciples stood gazing into heaven trying to catch one more glimpse of the ascending Jesus, two men dressed in white affirmed just as they had seen him go, he would come back. To some, the return of Jesus may be threatening. For some, the return of Jesus will be a complete surprise and his return will involve destruction. But for the apostles, and for us, the return of Jesus is the most glorious event we will ever witness. For us the return of Jesus is about resurrection, immortality, worship, and salvation.
One of these days
I'm gonna see the hands that took the nails for me
One of these days
I'm gonna hold the keys to the mansion built for me
One of these days
I'm gonna walk the streets of gold that were paved for me
One of these days
I'm gonna see my Savior face to face
One of these days
(FFH, “One of these Days”)
He is coming. Don’t allow the delay to cause you to doubt. There are good reasons for waiting (2 Peter 3:3-10). The time of his return is unknown, be ready today and tomorrow. The purpose of his coming is not to bear sin, like his earlier coming. This time he is coming to bring salvation to those waiting for him (Heb 9:28). If you want to be ready, you’ve got to know his word. His word, he proclaimed, will be the standard of judgment when he returns (John 12:47-50).
Come, Lord Jesus. That’s Life at Work!
Monday, September 18, 2006
If I lost everything I had right now, I would feel devastated. But then, if somehow everything that I lost was returned to me, I would be incredibly happy. Since that is true, why can’t I be happy with what I’ve got? Why would I have to lose it, and then get it back, to be content with what I possess?
At a time in his life when his possessions were few, Paul wrote to some friends who had wanted to help him earlier, but had been unable. When they were able to help him, he thanked them and taught them:
“I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:10-13).
Don’t live in jealousy or lust for what you don’t have. If you lost everything you owned, you would be happy if you got it back. So be happy with what you have today. That’s Life at Work!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
When I hear Martina McBride sing Love’s the Only House, I’m reminded in a contemporary way of this important foundational belief. She sings:
“You drive three miles from all this prosperity
Down across the river and you see a ghetto there
An' We got children walking around with guns
And they got knives and drugs and pain to spare
And here I am in my clean, white shirt, With a little money in my pocket and a nice warm home
And we got teenagers walking around in a culture of darkness Living together alone...all ll I could say is
Love’s the only house big enough for all the pain in the world.
Yea, love’s the only house big enough for all the pain.
And I can't explain it, and I can't understand
But I'll come down and get my hands dirty and together we'll make a stand.”
Loving God with all of who you are and loving your neighbor as yourself are the greatest commands (Matt 22:34-40)! There is a difference between reducing the demands and summing them up. To reduce is to speak as if other commands are unimportant as long as you do the significant. To sum them up is to state them in a concise way. That’s what Jesus did.
Loving God sums up the commands regarding our response to him. John’s readers needed to remember “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…” (1 John 5:3). The Romans needed to how love sums up our commands regarding others, so Paul wrote to them, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom 13:8-10).
When you practice lovingkindness with others you fulfill the law. Sometimes that may mean carrying their burden, or being merciful, or doing for them what you would want done for yourself. Consider what you are doing and ask yourself if it is the way of love. That’s Life at Work!
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
This was an easy question. “No peer pressure,” she replied.
I suppose she’s right, but the rest of us youngsters do experience peer pressure even in adulthood. That’s why it is vital that we keep reminding ourselves of the principle of passages like these:
“He who walks with the wise grows wise,
but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20).
“I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts” (Psalms 119:63)
As I walk with those who avoid immorality, alcohol and drug abuse, godless chatter, and dishonesty, I create in my life greater strength and motivation to avoid them, too. As I befriend those who respect their marriages and spouses, who think more about others than they do themselves, who speak in ways that build up instead of tear down, I will conform to that kind of goodness. That’s Life at Work!
Friday, September 08, 2006
We are saved by grace. The vehicle through which grace saves us is faith. That’s true at the moment sins are forgiven, and that continues to be true as I live out my post-baptism walk with Christ.
If then, my faith is gone, the vehicle through which God’s grace saves me, is gone. In this way, the salvation that was once mine has been forfeited along with my faith. In scripture, this happened with some of the formerly faithful in Galatia. Paul had preached the gospel, they had responded in faith, been saved by God’s grace; and then, they believed “another gospel.” When their faith in Jesus was gone, having been replaced by trust in their own efforts, Paul told them the horrible consequence:
“Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 2:2-4).
It is also true that since faith is the basis of my discipleship, if I turn from the way of righteousness to walk the path of sin, I am no longer a person of faith. That’s why Peter could write:
“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud’” (2 Peter 2:20-22).
My faith causes me to look to Jesus for my salvation. My faith causes me to walk according to the Spirit. If I look elsewhere for my salvation or turn back to the works of the sinful nature I do so because of a lack of faith. If salvation is by grace through faith, then when that faith is gone, so is salvation by grace.
I demonstrated my faith when I repented of my sins and was baptized for the forgiveness of my sins. I demonstrate my faith still as I keep in step with the Spirit and look to Jesus for forgiveness when I fail. That’s Life at Work!
Thursday, August 31, 2006
When people are convinced that the good news about Jesus is true, they are called in scripture to respond to that faith by repenting of their sins and being baptized so that their sins will be forgiven.
By definition, baptism is an immersion. Acts 8 helps us understand that this immersion is in water. Acts 10 lets us know that even in the incredible event of someone being given the Holy Spirit so that they could speak in tongues; they were still responsible to the call to be baptized. Acts 19 explains that if someone had experienced the baptism of John, which was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, but had not been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, they were subjects for baptism in the name of Jesus.
Many people who profess the Christian Faith agree with what we believe regarding the Oneness of God, the deity of Jesus, the work the Holy Spirit, and the authority of Scripture; but do not believe what we believe about the significance and necessity of believer’s baptism. They contend that baptism is a work; and since salvation is by faith, not by works, baptism cannot be mandatory.
We believe that salvation is by faith, not by works. We believe that one must be baptized to be saved, too. Furthermore, we believe that those beliefs do not stand in contradiction to each other. Baptism is not a work by which we earn salvation – we have no reason to boast when we have been baptized. Baptism is our response of faith, and God does the forgiving and saving in that faith response, so the work is his, not ours. Baptism doesn’t save in a meritorious fashion, as if I’ve earned salvation. Baptism saves through the resurrection of Christ; once again, the work of God.
It cannot be denied that Peter preached that believers were to “repent and be baptized… for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38). Ananias did say to Paul, “Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). Whatever one believes about the meaning of “saved through faith,” it should reflect the significance of baptism, not dismiss it.
 Later in Acts 18, Apollos; who spoke about Jesus but only knew about the baptism of John, was instructed by Priscilla and Aquila regarding the information that he lacked. One would suppose that their instruction was about baptism, considering the context. There is no mention of Apollos’ baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus like there is regarding the disciples of John in Acts 19. We are only told that he was given fuller instruction, we are not told whether he was baptized on that occasion. We know that his response was positive enough to what he had learned that when he left he wanted to go to Achaia to continue teaching about Jesus and the disciples were told to welcome him there. I believe that he was baptized at that time.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Customs are interesting, aren’t they? White shoes on August 30 are fine, but not on September 4. The bride’s family arranges the wedding, and the groom’s family provides for the rehearsal. Men remove their hats when a prayer is being offered.
Laban justified his trickery by claiming that it was against custom to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older. John and Mark remarked that customarily a prisoner was released around time of the Feast. Mary and Joseph took their infant Jesus to be consecrated before the Lord because that is what the “custom of the Law” required.
Sometimes customs are cultural. They may stick around for a long time, that’s what makes them customs, but they are subject to change with time and location; and if they change, that’s fine. Other customs have their roots in Scripture, and if they change, that’s not fine. Men and women marry when they seek lifelong companionship. Adult children take care of their aging parents. Believers in Jesus are immersed for the forgiveness of sins. Followers of Jesus pray for those who persecute them. To live, you work instead of steal. Some customs are not supposed to change. That’s Life at Work!
There are Buddhist texts called Tripitaka, the “three baskets," containing the discourses of the Buddha, commentaries on those discourses, and rules for monks and nuns.
There are Hindu writings called Vedas which many Hindus believe have no author because they are eternal texts. Historians have determined that the writings are old, but not eternal. Most Hindus have never read the Vedas or the other texts sacred to the Hindus.
The sacred text of Islam is the Koran. Muslims believe that the Koran is the revelation from Allah to the prophet Mohammed through the angel Gabriel. They believe this revelation is superior to the Bible because it is a later revelation than was given through Jesus.
The Book of Mormon, according to Latter Day Saints founder Joseph Smith, is the result of revelation being given in North America so that the ancestors of Native American Indians could know about Jesus. That revelation was written on gold or brass pages and hidden until the angel Moroni led Smith to their location. Smith was given the ability to translate these writings which to the Mormons carry the same authority as the Bible.
The Buddha, the authors of Vedas, Mohammed, and Joseph Smith are all dead; and once dead, they stayed dead. Jesus, on the other hand, though crucified on the cross, resurrected from the dead. He had promised that his apostles and prophets of God would continue the story begun in the Jewish scripture, revealing the good news about salvation in him. His resurrection which backs up his claim regarding his authority, declares all these other “sacred” writings as bogus teachings. They have no real authority and can offer readers nothing in the way of wisdom from God.
When Jesus asked the disciples if they were going to desert him like so many others had, they replied, “To whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life!” They were absolutely right. The Holy Spirit has revealed Jesus’ words to us, and they are in the Bible! The Bible is the only revelation from God and is the only authority from heaven for our faith and practice. That’s Life at Work!
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
When he was over the trauma of the medicine, he told his mom what he had said before, but in a better way. “I ate an oyster,” he said. Then, his mom punished him for deceiving her. He vowed that day that he would never again use big words when little words would do.
The communication problem between Franklin and his mom was one of vocabulary. When Jesus’ communication with the Pharisees failed, it was a problem of the heart. Jesus used common words and familiar word pictures in his stories (parables), but the hearers weren’t listening to hear. They were listening to accuse and reject. So Jesus told them, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving” (Matt 13:14).
There were others around who did want to learn, and Jesus had a message for them, too, “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear” (Matt 13:16).
Jesus has some incredibly important thing for your ears to hear, but your heart has to prepare the way for the message. That’s Life at Work!
Friday, August 11, 2006
The Word, who was God, “…became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
There is a powerful negative side and a powerful positive side to belief in Jesus. Both sides are expressed by John in his gospel story. If we disbelieve, there are dire consequences. “If you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins,” Jesus said. Then John reveals what Jesus said about belief and life: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). If we believe, there are rewards.
“Do you believe this?”
That’s what Jesus wanted to know after he told Martha about the connection between belief in him and eternal life. He wants an answer from you, too.
Do you believe that Jesus was the one about whom the Prophets spoke when they told about the Anointed One? Do you believe that in Jesus “all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form” (Col 2:9)? Do you believe that Jesus was perfect; and, therefore without spot or blemish, making him the perfect sacrifice for your sins? Do you believe that the story of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the message by which you can be saved? Do you believe that through Jesus, your relationship with God can be fully restored?
Do you believe that Jesus is the only one about whom these things are true?
Do you believe this? Believe and live! That’s Life at Work!
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Norm makes a point about a wet retriever that is significant for us. When a retriever gets wet, he doesn’t get all wet. He gets sorta wet. His coat is thick enough that water doesn’t get to the skin in a short swim. He gets wet, but not saturated. That’s good for a retriever who has fallen out of the bass boat.
God used language sometimes, though, to describe how saturated we should be in him. “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psa 1:2). “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6:53).
Steven Curtis Chapman sang in “Dive” (Speechless, 1999) about the plunge we should take and the reward of being saturated in what Jesus has to offer, “But we will never know the awesome power of the grace of God until we let ourselves get swept away into this holy flood.” Don’t get out of the water yet. Whether you dove in or fell out of the boat, get soaked to the skin in Jesus. That’s Life at Work!
Monday, July 31, 2006
Well, Santa Clause is make-believe. So is a perfect man. Since they are not real, the survivor must have been the perfect woman. Of course, since the perfect woman is the only real character in the story, it must have been her who was driving the car when it crashed!
You already know that there are no perfect people. Paul confirmed that for us when he said, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” You come face to face with imperfect people every day. You find them in the mirror, at your work place, where you eat lunch, at your church, and in your home. “… clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:12-13). Joseph Cooke comments “Grace is the face that love wears when it meets imperfection.”
That’s Life at Work!
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
A year ago my wife and I were riding in a car with some friends and their eight year-old grandson. The grandson was talking about a babysitter. He described something she had done that normal baby-sitters do, and then he added, “She’s a cutter.” Cutters abuse themselves with sharp objects.
My guess is that many of you have heard about huffing and have never attempted it. Many of you may have heard about cutting and have never attempted it. Maybe you have even spoken to your children about these activities, warning them sternly. Good for you!
I am very concerned that the children in these stories are so young, yet they have been exposed to dangerous behaviors that a few years ago were exclusive to older kids. The Bible teaches that temptations will come, but harsh judgment is due to those through whom temptations come (Matt 18:7). Who is bringing temptation, including unhealthy knowledge about these kinds of things into your home? Give the time, attention, and instruction to your kids that they need. That’s Life at Work!
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Jesus claimed authority. Matthew claimed he had authority. So at the end of the day, Jesus says that you can choose the difficult way that leads to life or you can choose the broad way that leads to destruction. There is no questioning what he means by the difficult way. It is his way as he has expressed it in the sermon.
In case the picture isn’t clear, he illustrates his final point with a story of two builders. One builder was wise. He built his home on a rock, and when the storm came, though it was ferocious, the home stood. One builder was foolish – a bonehead. He built his home on the sand, and when the storm came, because the foundation was weak, the home collapsed with a great crash!
Who is the wise builder whose home can withstand the ferocious storm? He is the man who hears the words of Jesus and puts them into practice.
When Jesus walked away from the mountain, maybe some said, “He’s finished. Let’s go home.” But it wasn’t finished for them. It isn’t finished for us either. Louis L’Amour said, “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” The words are completed, but the choice remains. Will you take the difficult road or the broad road? Will you build on rock or sand? Will you hear and do, or will you not? That’s Life at Work!
Monday, July 10, 2006
“What’s wrong, son,” she asked.
He wiped his eyes and responded with trepidation, “The preacher said this morning that it is important that children be raised in Christian homes, and you told him afterwards that you appreciated his sermon.”
The mom was puzzled so she said, “We do agree that you should be raised in a Christian home. What’s wrong with that?”
Glancing over at his little brother to show that he spoke for both, the boy sobbed, “But we want to stay with you and dad!”
It is important that your children be raised in a Christian home, but it’s not just important for kids. It is critical for you to have a Christian home whether or not you have children to rear.
A Christian home is a home in which Christ’s standards are followed, in which godly morals are the goal, in which the focus is on heavenly things, and in which relationships are lived as Jesus instructed.
Develop a Christian home - one your kids can identify as Christ-like, and one that God can use for his glory. That’s Life at Work!
Thursday, July 06, 2006
The points made by these two pictures are: (1) there is a decision to make from two options, one way is right and the other is wrong; and (2) the reward for making the right decision is great and the consequences for making the wrong decision are dreadful.
Between the word pictures, Jesus warned that there would be some who would try to give us a nudge in the wrong direction. He said:
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matt 7:15-23; NIV)
It’s the fruit produced in the lives of people that is useful in identifying false prophets and those who will “enter the kingdom of heaven.” One can look like a sheep, talk like a sheep, spend time with the sheep, yet be a ferocious wolf out to destroy the real sheep. What would Matthew’s readers have looked for if they needed to distinguish between the wolves in sheep’s clothing and the real sheep around them? They would have looked for fruit like humility, gentleness, hunger for righteousness, mercy, purity, peace making desire, and willingness to endure suffering for Christ’s sake. In short, when they saw someone who did to others what they would have wanted others to do to them, they could know that they were seeing real sheep.
They would have looked to see fruit like angry name-calling; long, lustful stares at women and divorce papers drawn up so that another spouse could be pursued; broken promises, and acts of revenge. They would have looked to see fruit like a powerful desire for recognition, love of money, and hypocritical, harsh judgment. When they saw these things, they could know that they were seeing a wolf in disguise.
One final bit of information was vitally important to determine their response to the fruit they witnessed. When they determined whether they were seeing a sheep or a wolf in disguise, they needed to know whether they were looking at others or looking in a mirror. That’s Life at Work!
Thursday, June 29, 2006
His supervisor responded pointedly, “You job isn’t to make him drink. Your job is to make him thirsty.”
Jesus said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."
Jesus is so attractive. Not in regard to his appearance. Scripture says that Jacob was good looking, but nothing is ever said like that about Jesus. His attraction is in his power, love, justice, holiness, and godliness. Much of his nature was revealed prior to the Golgotha event, but when he was lifted up, all of those attributes were magnified a thousand fold! If people will notice him, they will be drawn to him. When people see Jesus, really see him, they get thirsty.
If people hear what we say, and they are not drawn to Jesus – they don’t get thirsty – could it be that they are not really seeing him? If the picture we paint with our words as we speak about Jesus is consistently ineffective, could it be that we are not “lifting up” Jesus, but something or someone else? There will be those who consider the cross foolishness, but if we rarely see someone who sees in our message the “power of God” and believes to their salvation, we need to rethink our words. Are we trying to make people drink with our reasoning, or are we trying to make people thirsty with the good news?
When we lift Jesus up, he will draw all men to himself. That’s Life at Work!
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
God gives us what we need when we ask, seek, and knock. Since God is that way, shouldn’t we be that way. We are so glad that God doesn’t give us stones and snakes when we are seeking bread and fish. If he gives me good things, how could I, as his child, not give good things to people when they ask me?
There are two questions to consider, then, when someone asks me for something. First, would I be like God if I refused this request? Second, how would I want them to respond if the tables were turned?
Do to others as you would want them to do to you. That’s Life at Work!
Saturday, June 24, 2006
He said, ‘I'll see my wife and son in just a little while.’
I asked him what he meant
He looked at me and smiled, said
‘I raise my hands, bow my head;
I'm finding more and more truth in the words written in red.
They tell me that there's more to life than just what I can see.
Oh I believe.’
There will always be something more in the words written in red for you to find in your search for truth. There is an endless supply of living water and bread of life for you. You’ll never be thirsty or hungry, but you’ll never empty the stream or the storehouse. How should I live in these circumstances? How should I treat this person whom I have contacted? How can I have peace in my heart? What does love look like? Why do I feel like God is against me? How could God forgive me for what I’ve done? Why has God blessed me so much? How can I have hope for tomorrow in the darkness of today? How can there be anything better than what I am experiencing with the grace of God right now?
All these questions, and there is truth in the words of Scripture about them. There is more to life that just what you can see. It doesn’t all end in a slow riding hearse. I believe! That’s Life at Work!
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
So, now that they have drawn our attention, what do you think? The Gospel of Judas, though recently discovered does not reflect ideas that are only recent ideas. Most of what we have heard of the Gospel of Judas involves details about Judas’ relationship with Jesus and how that story differs from the story in the gospels of the New Testament. There are other details in the Gospel of Judas, however, that reflect influence by heretics of the early days of Christianity. The early Christians knew to disregard the philosophies of these teachers, and we should follow their lead. These false teachers were not leaders of a rival Christianity who were put down by the stronger group. They were heretics rejected by Christians who held to the teachings of Jesus as revealed in gospel accounts that they knew were authentic.
Here are three important things to remember in regard to recent exploration of the gospels of Judas, Philip, Thomas, and Mary Magdalene. First, there is little newness here. The agenda to make Jesus what people want Jesus to be is not new. That is what is happening here and we do not need to be disturbed when darkness acts like darkness. Second, the assertion that the books in our Bible are the result of stronger group beating back a weaker group is false. Third, the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are reliable. The early church knew it, and that fact can be demonstrated today. That’s Life at Work.
Friday, June 16, 2006
You would hope that a man with an emperor’s authority would at least leave a legacy of notable anecdotes. Ferdinand wanted dumplings.
Jesus said that “all authority in heaven and earth” was his. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Did he know that his position was one of authority? Yes, he did; and he did leave a legacy of notable sayings. Some of the more famous ones are: “Do to others what you would have them do to you” and “Blessed are the merciful because they will be shown mercy.”
Did Jesus do anything significant with his authority? Of course he did! He conquered sin and death! He set the captives free! He’s gone to prepare a place for people of faith, and we will rule with him. Jesus knew what to do with his authority. He is worthy of our trust and discipleship. Have you submitted to his authority? That’s Life at Work!
“I don’t stand on protocol,” Kissinger said without a flinch. “If you will call me ‘Excellency,’ that will be okay.”
I doubt anybody every addressed him “Excellency,” except in jest, perhaps. Nobody has ever addressed me that way. But I, along with other forgiven faithful folks, do have several names or designations that are important to us.
“Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:13-15; NIV)
“However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16).
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)
Friends, Christians, and Children of God! Notice that no follower is called those things because of his own greatness. Everything we are is by God’s grace. Obey him. Praise Him. Thank him for his wonderful love! That’s Life at Work!
Gordon Dalbey suggests three things to remember in your role as a dad and as a leader in general:
Watch for what God is doing in people and bless it.President Kennedy once recalled, "If I walked out on stage and fell flat on my face, Father would say I fell better than anyone else." Good fathers look for opportunities to encourage their children, not with false praise, but with honest appraisal.
Our tendency is to be quick with criticism and slow with praise. We forget that even our kids need to hear words that build up instead of tear down. Is your attention to what your kids do right at least as keen as your attention to what they do wrong. By the way, you may want to ask them instead of asking yourself. Remember that even if you don’t agree with their assessment, it is still their perspective and “perspective is reality.”
Don't coerce behavior, no matter how righteous, but lead into deeper relationship with Jesus.Trying to force "proper behavior" without a loving hand of grace stirs rebellion because it violates the child's heart, which God has already oriented, if not to do the right thing, certainly to do what Dad does. "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children" (Eph. 5:1).
Surely the command to avoid embittering your children in Ephesians 6 should cause us to reconsider manipulation and browbeating to coerce good behavior. Go out of your way to model integrity, compassion, generosity, and honesty to your children. God’s primary way of changing you is not via threat of punishment, but calling you to imitate Christ.
Recognize your faults, but don't pass them on.
All of us are going to make mistakes in front of our kids and our children will likely imitate us in it at some point. When you mess up, admit to you children, apologize and vow to do better. Why should your kids respect their mother when you speak disrespectfully to her in front of them and never apologize? Why should your sons respect females when they see you gawking at the Victoria Secret ad? Apologize today. Don’t pass on your faults!
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I read that first from the preacher’s perspective. It’s likely that you didn’t. I read it as if someone has asked me a question. I know that if I have any answer to offer, I must go to God’s word to offer the answer from heaven.
But not everyone asks the preacher. And often, the preacher has questions himself about God and heavenly things related to him. It’s not enough at the time of questioning to know that God exists. If I am going to find the true answer to my most significant questions, I’ve got to know that God has spoken and that his truth is found in scripture.
The writer of Hebrews confirms, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). I believe that careful contemplation of our universe can direct an individual toward belief in the existence of God and even the truth that he rewards those who seek him. However, to know how to seek him, we must have a God who has spoken. He has spoken. He has the answers for you and for me. That’s Life at Work!
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
His wife agreed that lambs are special, yet with something quite different in mind. She said, “Delightful creatures indeed, especially with mint sauce.”
You get a strange mix of the metaphor in the Bible because sheep are people, but the greatest enemies of sheep are also people. When the Psalmist writes, “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies,” the enemies are people. When Jesus warns about those who would steal, kill, and destroy the sheep; the thieves are people. When Paul told the shepherds of the church in Ephesus to protect the flock of God from the savage wolves, the wolves were people.
Shepherds that protect you, fellow sheep that fellowship with you, and enemies who would destroy you can all look very much alike. So Jesus offers one more warning in metaphor: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Be as innocent as sheep, but be shrewd, too. It is likely that someone is thinking about you with mint sauce. Know the difference between those who will protect you and those who would destroy you spiritually. That’s Life at Work!
Monday, May 15, 2006
I understand jokes like that. Jokes about the people in pews can be humorous without truly revealing the hearts of people in the pews. Likewise, jokes about preachers can be humorous without truly revealing the hearts of people in the pulpit. But when I saw that cartoon it caused me to consider my own preaching. Right now, I am preaching through the Sermon on the Mount. I’m preaching a series of sermons on a sermon.
The people lined up to hear Jesus were called to take sin seriously. Jesus warned his hearers about anger, lust, divorce, hatred, and dishonesty, in the end telling them if they failed to do what he said they would experience a “great fall.” Take sin seriously. Yet in the same sermon, he said, “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow.” Don’t sweat the small stuff.
We all need to hear a balance of sermons about the kindness and sternness of God. Preachers can probably do a better job of balancing them. I’ll try. Will you? That’s Life at Work!
Monday, May 08, 2006
Proverbs is full of blessings for various people. Occasionally there will be a blessing for someone, but the happiness is generated in the life of another. Here’s what I hope for you:
May your father and mother be glad;
may she who gave you birth rejoice! (Proverbs 23:25; NIV)
Rejoicing isn’t just going to happen. In Proverbs, a mother rejoices because her teaching is not forsaken by her children, and her children wisely work diligently to help the poor. Mothers rejoice when the discipline they hated to administer is effective at the time of application and into old age. Mothers rejoice when the children they made secure, return that security when the mother is old.
Whether your mom or the mother of your children has a Happy Mother’s Day is largely up to you. Make it happen. That’s Life at Work!
The Bible reveals the God who loved his creation so much, he gave his Son to rescue the creation from eternal punishment for sin. There has never been a greater love, nor will there ever be. If you want to experience it, there is only one place -- in Christ. There has never been a greater gift; nor will there ever be. There is only one place to learn about it -- the revelation from God in your Bible. People hunger for kindness directed toward them. In this world, kindness is rare. When someone reads about the loving kindness of God as revealed in Jesus, one can't help but be impressed. God wants us to be so impressed that we love him back. Do you know of his love for you? Open your Bible, but don't look for loopholes. That would be wasting time. Look for grace. That will be easy to find. That's Life at Work!
Thursday, April 27, 2006
"0, Lord, thou knowest I have nine houses in the City of London, and likewise that I have lately purchased an estate in fee simple in the county of Essex. I beseech thee to preserve the counties of Essex and Middlesex from fire and earthquake; and as I have a mortgage in Hertfordshire, I beg Thee to have an eye of compassion on that county; as for the rest of the counties, Thou may'st deal with them as Thou art pleased. 0, Lord, enable the banks to answer all their bills, and make all my debtors good men.
"Give me a prosperous voyage and give return to my sloop, the 'Mermaid,' because I have insured it; and as Thou hast said that the ways of the wicked are short, I trust that Thou wilt not forget that promise, as I have purchased an estate in reversion, which will be mine on the death of that profligate young man, Sir John Lawson."
Quite a prayer, isn't it? Humorous obviously, and shocking! It's also scary, though, because I believe that it is strikingly similar to many prayers offered in this twenty-first century. “How,” you might ask.
Many pray today, thanking God for all the ways that he has blessed them. After the thanks, come the petitions for more blessings. And there is nothing wrong with that. Yet, what the prayer above verbalized, many act out in their lives. They often go about with their attention focused on themselves, and still worse, on their own worldly possessions. When it comes to looking after someone else, being concerned about someone else, they are blind.
There are times when we need to forget about that boat, forget about those homes; forget about the things that our selfishness brings to mind. Forgetting those things, let’s pray that God will bless others, not only through his work and providence, but also, through us. We would do well to follow Paul's example who, though while he in jail, was concerned not with himself, but with the Philippians.
What do you need to pray about today that is more about someone else than it is about you? That’s Life at Work!
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
On July 3, 1863, the body of Ansell Fassett, a twenty-one year old boy wearing the Blue, was picked up for dead on the field of Gettysburg, and was listed as dead in the records. Before the burial party could reach him, however, he showed signs of life, and was rushed to the field hospital where he eventually recovered and was discharged as incapacitated for further service. He applied for a disability pension, but the record of his death was an insurmountable barrier. Struggling with his disability and the problem of making a living, he had misplaced his discharge papers. Finally, with advancing years, he sought admission to the Soldier's Home in Sawtelle, CA, but again the record of his death shut him out and he was forced to eke out a living in the most humble way. For him, Gettysburg lasted 63 years! Again he fell, and this time no moan from him interrupted the burial party. The day after his funeral in 1926 the missing discharge paper was found, but it didn't matter. The mistaken records had done their worst.
The Hebrew writer taught us, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Heb 9:27-28; NIV).
All of us will stand before the judgment seat of God. We will await the news of our admission into the home Jesus has prepared for his own. There will be no lost or mistaken records. Everything will be correct, everything will be in order, and everything will be eternal. That’s Life at Work!
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
He thought he had it all, and so did a lot of other people. We call him the rich, young, ruler. He was wealthy and he was righteous (in his own eyes). He had treasure everywhere except where he needed it most! Jesus told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor, then he would have treasure where it would really do some good He went away sorrowfully, though. He considered having treasure here more important that having it in heaven.
We are in danger of making the same decision. Oh, we don’t make it face to face with Jesus in the way the rich, young, ruler did; nevertheless, the decision is still made, and the consequences are the same. There are rich people who, like that young ruler, are too interested in their wealth to be interested in the things of God They will walk away from opportunities for eternal life just like the young man did. There are also those who barely make it between paychecks who spend their lives just trying to pay that next credit card bill, or that next car note, or that next house payment They are so busy in fact, that while not rich, the buck has become their god. They have as much interest in possessions as the guy who already has the possessions.
The two messages from those Matthew 6 and 18 are: (1) God can tell where our hearts are by the treasures that we lay up for ourselves and (2) the only treasures that will last forever are the ones deposited in heaven.
Marcus Cicero called "Out of this Life” to illustrate these truths:
Out of this life I shall never take
Things of silver and gold I make.
All Om I cherish and hoard away
After I leave, on earth must stay.
Though I call it mine and I boast its worth,
I must give it up when I quit the earth.
All that I gather and all that I keep
I must leave behind when I fall asleep.
And I wonder often, just what I shall own,
In that other life when I pass alone,
What shall He find and what shall He see,
In the soul that answers the call for me?
Shall the great Judge learn when my task is through
That my soul had gathered some riches too?
Or shall at the last, it be mine to find,
That all I had worked for, I had left behind?
That’s Life at Work!
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
If you listen to everybody’s ideas about other people and their money, you’ll quickly get the idea that you can’t win. You always end up looking bad.
You can win with Jesus, though. What I mean is that if you will cling to the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount regarding money, you will have treasure in the right place. He gives four instructions:
1. Store up treasure in heaven to assure that your heart is in the right place.
2. If your heart is greedy, or otherwise darkened by an ungodly view of money, your whole life will be impacted negatively.
3. You’ve got to decide whether you will live for wealth or God. You can’t do both.
4. Don’t spend your life worrying about what you don’t have. God knows your need and will care for you.
That’s Life at Work!
Thursday, April 13, 2006
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, and come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”
(Song 2:10-13; NIV)
Whether you’ve considered the arguments about the timeframe of the resurrection, and regardless of what you’ve concluded about them, you’ve got to admit, there is something quite natural about thinking of the resurrection in the spring when flowers appear, doves coo, fruit trees blossom, and emotions lift. I don’t know the order in which the thoughts come, but either resurrection reminds me of spring or spring reminds me of resurrection. There is too much new life around not to think of new life (Romans 6:4).
But Jesus didn’t resurrect for me to think about his victory over death on Easter Sunday. He resurrected to change my life – and change my death. Because Jesus resurrected, when I submit to baptism, I am saved. Because Jesus resurrected, I set my heart and mind on things above instead of on earthly things. Because Jesus resurrected, God will give life to my mortal body when Jesus returns.
Nothing is the same. Everything is new. It’s better than the spring! That’s Life at Work!
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
How could it be that people could know about a tomb-now-empty, yet remain the same? A resurrection from the dead is a powerful claim. You don’t just hear a story about someone coming back from the grave and dismiss it like someone told you the score between two teams that you care nothing about. Overcoming death is too big of an event for apathy.
How have you reacted to the news? Paul said that the resurrection of Jesus is my reason to put faith in Jesus, it is the proof of eternal life for me now, and the proof of a bodily resurrection for me later. The resurrection is the reason I recognize Jesus as Lord and the reason that I can bear fruit to God in my life.
The South Yukon Church will assembly this Sunday morning to eat the Lord’s supper, like we do every Sunday, because Jesus rose on Sunday. Scripture calls Sunday the Lord’s Day. Two thousand years later, we still call it the Lord’s Day. One who can come out of his own grave, by his own power, can declare his resurrection day as his own.
He wants to claim you as his own, too. He has the right, but he wants you to choose him! That’s Life at Work!
Friday, March 31, 2006
Chris Rice sings the untitled hymn most often called “Come to Jesus.” The message is that when you are weak and wounded, you should come to Jesus. When your burden has been lifted, you should sing to Jesus. When you fall, and we all fall, then fall on Jesus. When you are experiencing loneliness and pain, you should cry to Jesus. When you can’t contain your joy because the love spills over, then dance for Jesus. Finally, when your heart beats its final beat and you go to Glory’s side, you should fly to Jesus.
When you follow Jesus, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, Jesus is the focus. He is the one to whom, for whom, and on whom we are always coming, singing, falling, crying, dancing and flying.
That’s Life at Work!
Monday, March 20, 2006
“Loyalty is a sentiment, not a law. It rests on Love, not on restraint. The government of Ireland by England rests on restraint and not on law; and, since it demands no love, it can evoke no loyalty.”
Jesus told his apostles, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). John wrote later on: “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:2-4a).
More than restraint due to law, Jesus is interested in your loyalty due to love. His life, death, and resurrection, though revealing his kingship was not intended primarily to motivate subjection because of the threat of condemnation. His life, death, and resurrection was intended to evoke you to love him, so that you would obey him with all your heart.
That’s Life at Work!
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Neil Wiseman wrote Growing Your Soul to offer “practical steps to increase your spirituality.” Of course, he writes about prayer. Specifically, he reveals ten ways that prayer changes the prayer. It is important to know that by the time you get to this point in the book and chapter, the need for honest, unguarded talking with God is essential for spiritual growth. In other words, prayer won’t have the incredible impact on you that it can if you don’t open up before the God who knows your heart anyway.
Prayer unchains an individual from old habits of feeling, thinking, and acting.
Prayer takes us on a voyage of inner discovery.
Prayer shapes us into Christ likeness.
Prayer requires a wholehearted honesty.
Prayer judges integrity.
Prayer provides a long range perspective of life.
Prayer frees us from self-centeredness.
Prayer motivates action.
Prayer encourages plain talk with God.
Prayer admits absolute dependence.
Pray cultivates friendship with God.
Those things will never happen in prayers prayed in the pulpit, before meals, or in family devotionals. You must spend time in prayer alone with God. If someone else is present, it must be someone with whom you are completely vulnerable, someone with whom you will be totally honest, like your spouse or a very close prayer partner.
Wiseman recommends this exercise for prayer. Finish these lines in the beginning of prayer when you are alone with God:
Father, to make it happen in my inner world,
Free me from _______________________;
Enable me to become _________________;
And tear down every hindrance in my, such as ____________________;
I open my whole life to your will and your promise. Amen
That’s Life at Work!
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
“For Christians, prayer is like breathing.” That’s the opening line of John MacArthur’s study of prayer called Alone with God. Of course, the fact that so many of us hold our spiritual breath for so long is the reason why he wrote the book; and why this article is written. Jesus’ teaching about prayer in the Sermon on the Mount did not first address those who don’t pray much. He first addressed those who prayed a lot – at least in public.
I can imagine that those who stood in the synagogues or on street corners going on and on with their babbling thinking they would be heard because of their word count weren’t closet prayers. Closet prayers are only heard by God. These people weren’t praying to be heard by God. Unless they kept the closet door open, no one was likely to hear them and the purpose for their prayer is defeated.
To be quite honest with you, I believe that the people who pray publicly in my circles are not praying to be heard by men. I think we are too presumptuous about motives when we hear people saying some of our most famous prayer phrases, then assume that their prayer is not genuine. I think people just want to pray right – to be heard by God and to effectively lead the family.
It is possible, though, that our pure motives in public prayer are the only way that we are different from the hypocrites that Jesus addressed. How long have you held your spiritual breath? How long has it been since it was just you before the throne adoring, confessing, giving thanks, pledging loyalty, and petitioning? Has it been a month? A week? Has it even been a day since you knelt in private before the Almighty? Pray now…and breathe! That’s Life at Work!
Those are some words of wisdom for today! Someone reading this article is thinking about leaving his/her family because the thrill is gone. Leaving will not fix things. Whatever thrill you find after leaving will die, too. Husbands, find out how to love your wife with a godly love. Wives, find out how to love your husbands with a godly love. We can help you with that! You will discover that happiness for a lifetime is much better than a thrill-a-minute.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Though perhaps archaic, “alms” is still the word most frequently associated with giving for spiritual cause. So I believe you’ll understand what I mean when I say that status, money, and church intersect at “alms giving.” The big giver has replaced the “service to all” as the status symbol of choice in the church. Righteous and giving were for Jews in the days of Matthew’s writing nearly synonymous. That’s why you see these different translations of the same passage in Matthew 6:1:
“Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia comments about alms, “The later Jews often used "righteousness" as meaning alms, that being in their view the foremost righteousness.”
In the culture of Matthew’s readers, then, giving lots of money at the synagogue purchased lots of praise because giving lots was evidence of lots of righteousness. That says a lot, doesn’t it?
There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that givers were actually “announcing it with trumpets,” but they were making sure that their charity was known by all around in some way. Maybe you drop a hint, maybe you make sure your check is facing upward in the plate as it is passed, or maybe you hold the cash a little higher than you have to hold it. Maybe you can’t think of a way that lets people know about your “big giving,” but you wish you could. Jesus wants us to evaluate what our actions say about our motives. The question of the day is: Can you give generously without letting anyone know that you’ve done it?
Monday, February 27, 2006
Did you know that God cares about your body? I remember the emails that circulate occasionally that say that the elements that make up your body and your skin are worth four dollars and fifty cents. I don’t doubt that, but God has never determined the value of something buy the dollars it generates. My guess is that a dead sparrow and the wild flowers in a field are worth less than $4.50, but God is still aware of the sparrow and dresses the wild flowers.
You are body, mind, and spirit; and God cares about you as a complete person. He wants your spirit to be healthy, your mind to be healthy, and your body to be healthy. He created you with body, mind, and spirit. He has prepared heaven so that you can live there with glorified body, mind, and spirit. He isn’t going to divide you up for eternity. He wants you complete; and completely. If God cares so much about all of you, shouldn’t you care that much about all of you? That’s Life at Work!
Thursday, February 16, 2006
There are times when we are appalled at the ugliness of sin. I guess that one of the most graphic ugly pictures of sin, in my eyes, and the eyes of many others, is the gay pride marches or Mardi Gras celebrations that are shown on the news. If sin were always so ugly, we might not sin nearly as much. But sin does not always come in ugly packages. Sometimes, in fact most times, temptation comes in very pretty packages.
That was even true of the temptations that Satan brought to Jesus in the desert. Remember, Jesus had not eaten for forty days and Satan said turn this rock into bread. Jesus was going to suffer and die to establish his Kingdom, the church. Satan offered him the kingdoms if he would only bow down. Jesus was just beginning his ministry, what a wonderful presentation it would be to cast himself offthe temple to let the angels catch him. Temptation was not ugly. John wrote in 1 John 2:16 of "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life."
What happens so often is that people say the same thing about these pretty temptations that Julia said about Bandit. That won’t happen to me. But it does happen.
Now, I’ve got to be honest with you. Cuddling up to sin, treating it as if it is a pet that would never hurt you, does not always end in tragedy in this life. Sometimes people sin willingly, continually, and never seem to face any earthly consequences for their actions. I would guess that Satan works hard to see that they don’t face consequences. He wants to keep them involved in their sinful activity. But, many do have to endure in this lifetime, the consequences of sin. And those consequences are often horrible. Death, disease, broken relationships, unbearable emotional strain, just to name a few.
I can tell you, however, that willingly continuing to sin will, without a doubt bring horrible eternal consequences to you. You cannot escape God’s judgment and all of us will have to give an account for the things that we have done (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
So, what should we do? Remember these verses the lessons from 2 Corinthians 11:14 and 1 Thessaloians 5:22: Satan can be transformed into an angel of light if it means fooling you and we should avoid every kind of evil That inlculdes the pretty kinds. They, too will hurt you. That’s Life at Work!
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
For some who heard the Jesus Perspective on giving, praying, and fasting that day on the mountainside, these words were a warning about ongoing hypocrisy. Their practice was to make themselves seen when they did righteous acts. You might say they were acting righteous. It was a role they played, and they were excellent actors. The Greek word for that kind of acting is the root of the English word “hypocrite.”
For others these words, were a warning to guard their motives. That takes some serious introspection. I can guard my tongue in an instant. When I realize I’m about to say something that that I shouldn’t, I can pull back on the reigns of my tongue and keep my mouth shut. We call it “biting our tongues.” But to guard my heart in regard to motives for doing righteous acts; that may take a little time, some prayer, and some real exploratory heart surgery.
Ask yourself today, and be perfectly honest, “Why do you do the good things you do?” Are you doing them to be seen by others for admiration’s sake? Or are you doing them to be seen by God for the reward he has prepared?
That’s Life at Work!
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
The man watching the news said out loud, “It’s not fair. The biggest jerks have the best looking wives!
His wife calmly replied: “Thank you, dear.”
The story above ought to remind us of a few things about communication in marriage, and in other relationships for that matter: First, sometimes, like the man who made the foot-in-my-mouth comment about jerks and beautiful women, we say things without thinking that hurt. Some of us speak unencumbered by the thought process. Be careful about what you say.
Second, sometimes when we’ve been hurt by words we forget the Proverb, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” When your spouse says something that hurts your feelings, don’t respond with the “eye for an eye” response that comes so naturally. You can express hurt with hurting back.
Finally, see the humor in things, and when your spouse jokes in the midst of tension, laugh at it. Laughter breaks the tension, lightens the moment, signals a desire for reconciliation, and heals. Receive the signal and laugh.
Maybe you are aware that February 7-14 is Marriage Week. It shouldn’t be surprising that Valentine’s Day occurs in Marriage Week! Don’t forget to express your love in a special way to your spouse on February 14.
That’s Life at Work!
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
“Old Faithful” is not the largest geyser, nor does it reach the greatest height. Nevertheless, it by far the most popular geyser. Its popularity is due mainly to its regularity and dependability. You can count on Old Faithful. Nothing in life can take the place of faithfulness and dependability. It is one of the greatest virtues. Brilliance, genius, competence – are all subservient to the quality of faithfulness.”
Paul wrote about our reliable God, reliable words, teaching reliable men, and rearing reliable children. We are called to be faithful, dependable, and reliable. You will grow, your family will thrive, and you will bring glory to God in wonderful ways as you develop this virtue. You may not attract millions of visitors, but you will have a following. Lead them to faithfulness. That’s Life at Work!
Thursday, January 05, 2006
He lived among us for a while - that is, in our world, among people; so we say that he was here. But, we also say that when we’ve lost a dog or our little brother whom we were supposed to be watching. “He was here,” we say when people or animals are missing. The idea is that we know where he was a little while ago. We’re not sure where he is now.
Not so when we say about Jesus, “He was here.” When he came he was “God with us.” When he left, he promised, “I will be with you always.” We can talk about Jesus as if he is here, because he is. Though we don’t see him, he is here. He is with us when we eat the Lord’s Supper, he is with us as we make disciples of the nations, and he is with us as we live out his teaching concerning life in the kingdom. That’s Life at Work!
Hosea (not his real name) was getting a divorce. His wife begged him not to send her away. She wanted to work it out. "Don’t you love me?" she asked. "Don’t you know this will wreck the kids?"
Hosea responded, "Look, were divorcing. That’s it. But I promise, we’ll do it right. I’ll give you a certificate of divorce like the law requires."
It was like Deuteronomy 24:1-2 was printed bigger than the rest of the Old Testament. Maybe it was just the phrase "certificate of divorce" that was so large in the eyes of many Jewish men. "If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house…"
The Jews were using that verse as much as unbelievers use the "don’t judge" verse today. They were so accustomed to using it, in fact, that some among the disciples said "If we can’t divorce, we shouldn’t even get married."
Their idea of doing marriage right was being sure to divorce with the right forms. Jesus stressed that doing marriage right means staying together. Only in extreme circumstance could you divorce. The Jesus Perspective is that marriage was designed to last a lifetime.
Are you thinking about getting out so much, and the possibility or impossibility of divorce so much, that you are not giving your marriage the energy it needs? Quit trying to find the right way out. Refocus on staying in and getting better. That's Life at Work!
Monday, January 02, 2006
Ahab and Jezebel were the worst of the worst couples. They beat out Samson and Delilah. They were worse than Bonnie and Clyde. They were incredibly evil! Here are some things that were true about them that we should guard against in our own lives.
First, they trivialized sin. At the beginning of the story about this couple (1 Kings 16:29), it is said about Ahab that he was worse than any of the wicked kings before him and he trivialized the sins of his fathers. He not only did what they had done, he spoke about it and acted in such a way that it seemed he thought nothing of being wicked.
Second, they created an atmosphere for wrongdoing. For centuries the city Jericho that had been destroyed by the Israelites when they entered the land of promise lay desolate as a testimony to God’s power – and as a testimony to belief in the curse inherited by any who would rebuild it (Josh 6 ). Hiel rebuilt Jericho at the cost of his sons. Ahab and Jezebel made it easy to think of evil and practice evil in Isreal.
Third, they encouraged greed in each other. Jezebel couldn’t wait to get Naboth’s vineyard for her husband, though killing Naboth was the mean to getting it done. Ahab couldn’t wait for Jezebel to do it for him. They had so much, but wanted more. It was their murderous greed that ended their reign for good.
You wouldn’t take their names. Don’t act like them. Remember the cost of sin. Create an atmosphere or righteousness where you live, work and play. Encourage contentment instead of greed. You don’t have to be the best of the best. Do what pleases the Lord. That’s Life at Work.