Archive for the ‘ Christian Unity ’ Category

VerseD: Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32, ESV

As Chrisitians, we have been failing to be kind to each other.

Denominations are not the problem. Sects are not the problem.

We are the problem.

Forgive and be kind, as Christ did for us.

VerseD: 1 John 4:11-12

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
1 John 4:11‭-‬12, ESV

One of the signs you are a saved Christian is a love for the Church. Just as Jesus was rejected by His own people, we may deal with rude, obnoxious people, or even those who are mean and reject us.

But we still love them.

What is the Church? Where 2 or 3 Gather …

Welcome back, people of the interwebz!

Today we are looking at what it means to be the Church in terms of two or three gathering together.

First, a look at Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV):

 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 

Two things to discuss:

1.       We should encourage each other;
2.       We should not neglect meeting together.

Last week at church, we had to “deal with” two men who had issue with each other. They had an awkwardness between them. Their wives had an awkwardness. Being a small house church, we dealt with feeling that awkwardness.

These two men probably did it right. They had tried talking it out, but there was still awkwardness between them. So, the pastor called them out, and told them to go talk it out. After the music started, he joined them. Eventually, they were able to come back in, and it was resolved.

This leads us back to Matthew.

In Matthew 18:15-20 (ESV), Jesus said:

 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” 

They did this, they were able to talk about it, but there was still an awkward tension.

16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 

I knew what was going on, as well as the pastor, so there are at least two more people.

17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 

(Treat them as sinner: SHOW LOVE AND GRACE! It may mean kicking someone out of church, but be willing to welcome them back while continually showing love and grace! Thankfully, this was not necessary in this instance.)

18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” 

(We could definitely dive into “whatever bind … loose” and “where two or three are gathered” in more detail, but that is not the focus of today!)

Many people take this passage, verse twenty in particular, to mean that we have church wherever two or three people gather. While this is true, that is not the context of this passage.

It is about church discipline.

This is about handling disputes between Christian brothers and sisters, how to get along.

And it is nice to be a part of a church that lives this out.

This passage is telling us that we should lift each other up in Christ. In this instance, we see Hebrews 10 in action: encouraging each other and not avoiding each other.

Perhaps you are dealing with problems with brothers and/or sisters in Christ: maybe a literal brother or sister, or a parent, or another relative or just a friend.

Regardless, “do not neglect meeting together” means work it out with them in the Name of Christ!

These two guys worked it out in only about five minutes.

Iron sharpens iron,
    and one man sharpens another. ~Proverbs 27:17
  (Proverbs 27:14 mentions how a man who loudly greets his neighbor in the morning is an annoyance … coincidence? DEFINITELY! ;P)

In short, it takes work! Just like in marriage or other relationships, it takes work. If you have problems, you deal with it … in Christ.

Therefore, go out and be excellent to each other!

daniel

Splitting Hairs

There are no two ways about it. Wisdom is good. Find some at Proverbial Thought!

Recently, I have heard a lot of interesting views on things.

One of the topics I have heard a lot over is hair.

First, I saw some videos on YouTube in which men with long hair and women with short hair were called sinners.

Then I had a conversation with someone who said men with long hair are not Christians.

Then I read a blog entry that said women with short hair will take down society.

Finally, I had a conversation with someone who just wanted to know about proper hair length for men and women.

A lot of this is based on 1 Corinthians 11:

Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
vv. 11-15, ESV

I only find this so interesting knowing of passages such as Numbers 6, which Paul would have known well:

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.

All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.
vv. 1-5

We all have heard about Samson. (Judges 13-16. Who, honestly, gives some credence to men keeping their hair short!)

There is evidence Paul himself took a Nazirite vow (see Acts 18:18).

Now, I am not saying all of the people who said these things are necessarily coming from a judgmental frame of mind. Most, if not all, may simply be trying to approach life from a biblical point.

However, how many times have we gotten caught up in particulars only to push people away? Whether it be hair, drinking, smoking, clothes, tattoos/piercings, end of life plans, church paint/carpet colors, political affiliation, or music choice, we could certainly show more grace to each other.

If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
1 Corinthians 11:16

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
Titus 3:4-11

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charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
1 Timothy 1:3-11

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Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29

 

Fighting Over Dad

There is nothing to fight over: find wisdom over at Proverbial Thought.

You may remember last year I wrote a series of posts about my puppy dog (the last one found here).

Soon after the New Year, we got another little guy, a little brother for our pup, if you will.

These two have an interesting way of greeting me when I come home:

When I enter the house, they start biting each other.

I could not help but think about how often we see this in churches: we begin arguing with each other, biting each other with our words.

We can get so caught up in our squabbles that we can miss out on our Father greeting us in His house, through His Holy Spirit who regenerates our hearts and pushes us to love and good works.

May we get over ourselves and put on the righteousness of Christ!

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
Titus 3:1-8, ESV

Giving Thanks to the King – Jingle Bells and Over the River and Through the Woods

Be wise and give thanks by increasing your wisdom by reading the thoughts at Proverbial Thought!

So far this month we have looked at some of my favorite Christmas carols. However, this being the week of Thanksgiving here, I will take a moment to look at a couple of songs often confused as Christmas carols but in fact are Thanksgiving songs.

Both songs today were written about the same time, the mid-1850’s, and both in the area of Medford, Massachusetts!

First is “Over the River and Through the Woods”, originally written in 1844 as a poem by Lydia Maria Child as “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day”. Here are the original words:

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”

Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Here is a modern singing for your enjoyment:

Here are some updated lyrics, as well:

Over the river and through the woods
To Grandmother’s house we go.
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
Through white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the woods,
Oh, how the wind does blow.
It stings the toes and bites the nose
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the woods
To have a full day of play.
Oh, hear the bells ringing ting-a-ling-ling,
For it is Christmas Day.

Over the river and through the woods,
Trot fast my dapple gray;
Spring o’er the ground just like a hound,
For this is Christmas Day.

Over the river and through the woods
And straight through the barnyard gate.
It seems that we go so dreadfully slow;
It is so hard to wait.

Over the river and through the woods,
Now Grandma’s cap I spy.
Hurrah for fun; the pudding’s done;
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie.

Jingle Bells was written around 1850 by James Lord Pierpont as “One Horse Open Sleigh”. It has become one of the most famous Christmas songs in the world!

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bobtail ring’
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight!

[chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot.

[chorus]

A day or two ago
The story I must tel
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell
A gent was riding b
In a one-horse open sleigh
He laughed as there I sprawling lie
But quickly drove away.

[chorus]

Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young,
Take the girls tonight
and sing this sleighing song
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! you’ll take the lead.

[chorus]

Why I Enjoy These Songs:

These songs are a reminder to be light-hearted during this season.

At this time of the year we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. And we should admit it, when we are at peace we enjoy life more.

What I like about the lyrics of Jingle Bells is evidenced in the third and fourth verses: the sleigh tips over, and someone laughs at them struggling in the snow before riding off!

Why is that so great?

The final verse brings us full-circle and reminds us to HAVE FUN!

My take on that is that things happen in this life that are out of our control. Our reaction can either be to wallow in our misery or to take things as they come and realize God is in control.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4, NIV

With “Over the River” we are reminded of the importance of loved ones, that we should do what it takes to be with them and bypass distractions to ensure our time with them.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrew 10:24-25, NIV

And of course, may we always remember this:

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:18b-20, NIV

Sing joyfully! Give thanks to God always!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Getting Out for a Walk

Do not stray from knowledge; rather find wisdom through Proverbial Thought!

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Philippians 2:12-18

Needing to Go for a Walk

Last week I wrote about my dog and God’s control over our lives. I return to the topic of my dog this week.

My little puppy is a joy to have around . . .

. . . especially when he begins to make a lot of noise.

. . . especially when he nips at our hands and heels.

. . . especially when he tears at furniture and furnishings.

. . . especially when he destroys things.

Usually, there is a simple fix: he just needs to go for a walk!

When all he does is get fed and hang around the home, eventually things build up inside that must be released. He needs to walk around, meet with others, and “release” all that is locked up inside. Only then does he behave well.

Needing to Go for a Walk

We can get the same way in the Church.

Many people grumble and make a lot of noise about what they do not like or how they think things should run.

Many people complain about others, and they begin to gossip and fight.

Many people tear apart relationships and congregations over meaningless squabbles.

Many people destroy their own or their families lives.

You may already know where this is going:

The biggest problem with many in the Church is that they do not get out of the Church enough.

They sit in their chairs and get fed, and they are surrounded by (and even help) others who are constantly being fed. Yet, they almost never step outside to meet others and share what they have been fed and thus lead them to salvation.

14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”16 These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Jude 1:14-23

When we hold onto all of the good things God has given us, even attempting to keep His Holy Spirit to ourselves, what really builds up inside is our own selfishness and pride. We build our sin instead of righteousness.

Then we lash out and complain.

All we need to is go Walk.