Archive for the ‘ Wayward brother ’ Category

VerseD: Proverbs 27:5-6

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Proverbs 27:5‭-‬6 ESV

It hurts more finding out others did not want to hurt your feelings rather than spare you difficulty and pain by correcting you.

Nip sin in the bud. Confront it in love, with gentleness, and sooner rather than later.

It hurts less than consequences.

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 07/06/2014

Do not torment your soul and get wisdom as expounded at Proverbial Thought!

I know this is the weekend of Independence Day here in the good ol US of A (Yep. I put the “of” in there!), but I am making my way through written poems from several years ago!

Also, I think the poem today is rather apropos.

On a weekend celebrating independence and freedom, this poem looks at the effect of taking our own independence of God (not bothering to have Him in our lives). It can be about a believer who loses his or her way or the lost soul of an unrepentant sinner wondering if there is something else out there.

When I wrote this, a friend of mine was going through a severe crisis of faith, and he started doing things he knew were stupid. And he suffered for it.

Do not turn away from God. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV) And, “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” (v. 14)

As Red Green says, “Keep your stick on the ice.” And “Remember, I’m pullin’ for ya. We’re all in this together.”

___   ___   ___   ___   ___   ___
the torment of a soul apart from God
___   ___   ___   ___   ___   ___
the torment of a soul apart from God
avoiding all that is holy and good
depriving itself of happiness
avoiding the things of holiness
knowing that life with Him frees
always staying just out of His reach
the torment that never goes away
though at times may ebb and sway
destroys the body and the mind
because it can never seem to find
a peace or a joy that can last
or a way to forget the past
the torment that that soul endures
chasing everything that is impure
trying to deny that God exists
and always willing to just persist
because of fears that love will reveal
the darkness that it always feels
the torment of a soul at the edge
like standing on the railing of a bridge
fear the only thing that is hindering
but unable to stop the wondering
if God could really love trash like this
if God   __   __   __   __   really is

Taking It to the Streets

Take yourself to Proverbial Thought for some thoughts on wisdom!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses …” (Hebrew 12:1, ESV)

The context of Hebrews chapter 12 is that the Preacher has just finished going through the “Hall of Faith” of all (from our Old Testament) who were considered righteous for their faith in God. This is the immediate meaning of “so great a cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us. This verse can also be taken as a call to a holy life to share the gospel.

At the Purphill Altar

Photo courtesy of Jackie Moore

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely …”

I have seen many street preachers in my life. Some were okay, some were downright mean, and a few have been great. This past weekend I helped bring two friends together in marriage in New Orleans, LA.

 

After the ceremony and reception there was an after party on Bourbon Street. Immediately outside our venue were some street preachers from a local church.

WP_20140607_028I liked them because of their difference. They did not merely condemn those partaking in Bourbon Street’s offerings. Instead, they called others to follow their example of following Christ by laying aside every weight and sin which can cause someone to stumble.

Were they perfect?

No, but at least they were trying to fulfill our calling to take the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20).

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV

We are surrounded by many witnesses: those who have gone before and call us to continue, the angels who minister to us as we minister to others, and watchful world. We may stumble, and they may use it against us, but this is why we strive to lay aside every weight and sin which so easily causes us to stumble. Then we can run for the glory of God, bringing the lost to Him!

Another Adulterous Wife and the God Who Loves Her

Once again, I remind you to get some wisdom from those inspired by God’s wisdom over at Proverbial Thought.

There was a man who was called by God to speak out against the wrongs and injustices in his nation.

He spoke out against the nation turning away from God to follow its own lusts. He spoke out against the rising violence. He spoke out against the rise in crime. He spoke out against the rise of disrespect for parents. He spoke out against the lies of the government leaders as well as the religious leaders. He spoke out against the partnership of those leaders with different religions and hostile governments.

While this could be someone from any moment in the past fifty years in pretty much any part of the world, you probably already guessed that this person is in the Bible.

The First Adulterous Wife

Hosea was told by God to take a wife who was little more than a prostitute. Even though Hosea and Gomer had three children together – a son, a daughter, and another son – Gomer began to live and sleep with another man.

When things began to go badly for Gomer and she found herself on the auction block as a slave, God told Hosea “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” (Hosea 3:1) Hosea essentially paid his entire savings to buy his adulterous wife from prostitution and slavery.

The message was and is clear: Just like Gomer, Israel had sinned by turning from God to the false gods of other nations. They neglected their relationship with God, they neglected their children and parents, and they neglected common decency.

God’s punishment for these sins was exile. But God loves His people.

He brought the nation, at that time divided in two, back to the Promised Land as a united people.

Beyond that, and this is where the Christian Church comes in, God sent His own Son as payment for the sins of not only Israel but of the whole world! In essence, God sacrificed Himself in payment for the sin we are all guilty of committing: worshiping anything other than God!

Another Adulterous Wife

If only those who believe the truth of God sending Jesus Christ to die for our sins never strayed!

If you look around our world today, especially within the Western World of Europe and North America, there is much corruption.

Leave governments out of this. Except for the mini-nation of Vatican City, national governments are not of God. He may have established the governments of the world for this time (Romans 13:1), but they do not govern the matters of God. They govern the matters of people. (Regardless of what most of the world and the Conservative Right say of the United States of America, it is not a Christian nation.)

Read the newspapers and watch the news on TV. Hardly a week goes by without hearing of some sex scandal, controversy, or fraud from some church or denomination. Many congregations, leaders, and denominations choose to work more with governments and other religions than with other congregations, leaders, and denominations. Many compromise their beliefs to appease the masses, the government, other religions, or simply passing fads or ideas.

Looking around today seems to show a Church which has left its Groom (Christ) to have relations with those who do not believe in or even mock the God of the Universe.

God’s Love

Even with all of the sins the people within the Church of our Lord continue to commit, He still loves her.

His Bride continues to allow many sins to be committed in His name, but I think there are good reasons He has not brought the same judgment on the Church as He did on Israel.

For starters, His faithful are still loving the least of these and showing God’s love.

Among those who rob God are those who give more than their fair share.
Among those who compromise their bodies are those who remain chaste and pure.
Among those who compromise their beliefs are those who remain steadfast in faith.

Secondly, God holds back His wrath because of His promises.

He has promised that His wrath was poured out on His Son.
He has promised that His wrath is not for His faithful.
He has promised that He will wait until He separates His faithful from the world.

Lastly, God holds back His wrath because of His love.

If God is not willing that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9), would He not give us time to repent, to choose His love in our hearts?

Hear the Truth and Turn

We each, in our own time, sin against God, yet He so desires to be with us that He died on a cross for our forgiveness and waits to destroy the world until His proper time.

As Peter said:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
2 Peter 3:10-15

Let us not worry about the sins going on around us in the name of the Lord. Instead, let us focus on our own relationship with God. In the process, God working in our lives will either cause guilt leading to repentance or guilt leading to further sin.

In any event, we are to remain pure to God to the glory of God.

Causing Another To Sin

First of all, a reminder to head on over to Proverbial Thought. Amazing commentary on Proverbs that blows my mind every day is sure to be a blessing to you. Read Pastor Baker’s words for today, and make sure to catch mine tomorrow. Again, every contributor is amazing (apparently even this simple man), but only because of the Amazing One who dwells within us!

A week ago last weekend I joined many men from my church and many other churches at a Men’s Retreat. Out of 27 churches, less than a handful were not affiliated with any Baptist denomination.

I tell you that simply for this reason:

Some of the young men from our little church (including myself) decided to go play a game of cards and talk with each other. As we sat down, I jokingly said, “Guys, we can’t play cards! We are in a Baptist camp surrounded by Baptists!”

Now, keep in mind that we were not gambling. We were just playing a card game and talking, often needing to remind each other to actually play the game!

About an hour later, a man we dubbed “Squirrel-Hat Guy” because of a squirrel tail hanging from the back of his hat came up to our table. He asked “Are you all from the same church?”

“Yes.”

“What church are you from?”

“FHL – Faith, Hope, Love Community.”

“That explains a lot.”

And he walked away. (He did the exact same thing to another table of young men several feet away.)

We were kind of stunned.

A couple guys asked “Were we just judged?” There was some joking about asking him about his hat or asking what church he came with and then saying “That explains a lot.”

I later thought about more …

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

“Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!
Matthew 18:6-7

Had I not warned them, albeit through a joke, that we might stir up trouble? Had we not willingly continued on a path knowing it might lead to others stumbling?

Who was more guilty here?

Granted, Squirrel-Hat Guy could have handled the situation better.

Granted, we could have played our games somewhere less likely to attract so much attention.

However, both parties (all three parties) involved could have controlled themselves better. Though we had the freedom to play a card game, we could have heeded my joking warning and done something different:

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. . . . So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
1 Corinthians 8:9, 11

And we could have done a better job of following the verse that says “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22, KJV)

Further, he may not have been judging us for playing cards. He could have just thought we were playing the wrong kind of card game or were playing it like a bunch of n00bs!

In any event, while both parties are guilty of something, we definitely take the larger portion, for we set up the circumstance and then even continued to judge the perceived judger.

Now ask yourself:

How might I be causing others to sin/stumble?
How am I judging others, whether accurately or unfairly?
How do I lift up others?
How do I share God’s love and grace?

We are called to not judge, but to love unconditionally. I obviously still fail, but it just helps prove to you that I am a fellow human!

May we learn to rely on our risen Lord to make us ever more like Him, that we might love and give grace without making judgments. May we just love as He loves.

It’s the End of the World As We Know It … Again …

Perhaps you remember five months ago all of the hype over Harold Camping and the impending rapture he calculated from the evidence in the Bible would occur on May 21. I made some comments on the whole affair here, here (tongue-in-cheek) and here.

Well, this week brings about part two of his prediction. You see, Harold explained that on May 21st God’s work of salvation came to an end, that the Holy Spirit was pulled from world (except believers, of course). No one else can be saved (be led to Christ). Instead, the final rapture in which the Elect (those who are saved) are taken up to meet Christ is the air takes place at the exact same time as the final judgement and destruction of Creation. This is all to happen …

This Friday, October 21st (2011, if you are confused on which “this Friday” I mean).

I have covered this topic before, as referenced above.

You know, if he is right about this date, amillenniallists have it all right (except the date. That is Harold Camping). On the other hand, if Harold has been right all along, then premillennialists are more right. I personally do not think postmillennialism has any basis in truth at all, but I will be friends with you even if you do think it has any basis in truth at all.

After that little rabbit-trail …

Can I get any comments? What do you think: Is the world coming to an end this weekend, or do we have more time? Or are we possibly disappearing before Friday?

Or do you think God has a rather hilarious sense of humor and will use this Friday to end everything as we know it to really shock Harry Camping … and everyone else?

My What Big Sheep You Have!

Now that we know how to deal with false prophets (and other Christian-sinners), it is time to ponder people patronizing the pews of pesky perjurious prophets … and other bad teachers.

So fat ... so lazy ... don't wanna move ...

How is it that so many people can fall for such obvious mis-truths and blatant problems with hermeneutics (bible interpretation)?

First off, I am going to state that it is not all on these false teachers. We have had quite a stint of poor preaching and teaching in this nation (and through much of Western culture for a long time) that many people who go to church struggle with the basics of Christianity. When less than half of us know Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection and a third of us think Jesus sinned, there is a problem. This means the Church at large has been failing them.

Years of not receiving solid teaching keeps people spiritually malnourished.  We could call these people the seeds that grew among the thorns or are (or can become?) weeds.

The thing is, what most people are getting is the equivalent of junk food. Eating junk food can keep people going for a while, some even appearing perfectly healthy, but eventually from that most people will grow fat and tired and unable to even handle good food. When people get poor teaching, it is much the same. They can start out loving the message and may even produce some good fruit in their lives, bu they often become spiritually lethargic, unable to discern what is truth.

This, then, is how people can fall for lies, half-truths, and scriptural fudgings.

Bringing in Jillian Michaels … for souls …

As with those who lead them astray, we need to love them towards truth. Calling them morons, idiots, heretics, blasphemers, retards, snakes, wolves-in-sheeps-clothing, blah, blah, blah, on and on (I have heard/read all of these and more in the past few weeks, so there are too many to link!), only pushes them further away. You may actually be doing more harm than those poorly teaching them! You become just as guilty as the false teachers!

Telling them of their error is necessary, but it can and should be done with gentleness and respect. They deserve the same grace and patience we have all been given by our Lord. We just may be working through years of spiritual and psychological abuse, so it is needed! As Paul reminded us, it must all be done with love! Sometimes that means putting these poor sheep through some “The Biggest Loser: Spiritual Edition” with Jesus hosting and us working as trainers, guiding them through spiritual exercises and feeding them with healthy teaching. It will be tough on all of us, but it takes hard work and perseverance.

There have been great thoughts shared over the past couple of weeks! What else have you? Am I right? Am I being too nice? Am I naive? Have you dealt with anyone who has been sucked in by sneaky false teachings? How long should we work with them?