Archive for the ‘ Sharing ’ Category

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 09/21/2014

Do not hold back, and find some wisdom at Proverbial Thought!

Have you ever gotten a taste of God’s love and grace?

How do you know?

It is a little different than a complete life change.

A great indication is if you experience something like Jeremiah:

If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.
Jeremiah 20:9, ESV

If you can even do this in the same kind of context of Jeremiah, in which he was tired of telling the people that God was bringing destruction, you know you have tasted His Truth. Even when life is difficult, you have to say things that are not pleasant, you have to lead by example even when it is hard, you cannot help but share God’s word and His greatness.

 

waiting to burst out of me

how can i hold it in

i cannot

it must flow forth from me

if i cannot sing

i shout

if i cannot shout

i jump

if i cannot jump

i dance

if i cannot dance

i get out

i go out and tell others

i tell them of You

of Joy

of Your Grace

of Your Love

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.

My Proverbial Fellowship

Instead of my usual theological post, I am going a slightly different route.

You may have noticed that in every post I write I put a reminder to go to Proverbial Thought and read from my fellow contributors’ commentary on the book of Proverbs.

Of course I implore you to head on over there yet again, and, if you have not already, subscribe to this wonderful blog.

Last week we looked at reaching out to the lost and hurting in our broken world.

Today, I offer a reminder that we need to reach out to each other.

There is nothing like the fellowship of believers. We are able to encourage and lift each other up, and we can learn from each other.

Therefore, I am going to encourage you check out the blogs of my brothers at Proverbial Thought.

Chris Jordan

Our newest contributor, Chris out of Beausejour, MB, Canada, is also a prolific writer. He has two books, even more blogs, and writes a piece for his local paper. All I have to say is this man knows how to have fun, encourage, and spread the gospel! Go check out his blog here.

Nick and David Welford

Nick started his blog, and his dad, David, joined him as a regular contributor. These wonderful British brothers in Christ each have their own unique understanding of the Bible, the Church, and God. They are not afraid to share their struggles, challenge Christians, or share the grace of God. To read their unique view and be both encouraged and convicted, go see Nick’s blog here.

Jason Sneed

Jason lives near our founder in Tennessee. His blog covers everything theological and fun as well as musical (such as his Christmas music bracket to decide the best song!). You may notice a theme in each of these men by this point, but his blog is a big encouragement! Go see who is really on first at his blog over here.

Grady Davidson

Grady only blogs at Proverbial Thought, so you know what you are getting! His post every month therefore is filled with thought and wisdom. Continually check out his monthly posts for his reminders of our need for our Lord and Savior!

Anthony Baker

The founder of Proverbial Thought, Anthony has been our leader and strongest encouragement. With how busy we all are, we know he is busy, too, but he fills in when we slack off! (There some truth in this, but I am exaggerating slightly.) He puts in a healthy amount of wit and humor within his posts, whether they be deeply theological or “Hey, look at that shiny thing!” in nature and everything in between. In his desire to not be too legalistic but to be loving and compassionate, he lets fun, encouragement, conviction, reminders, and reality fill his blog over here.

I am thankful for each of these men and the ways they impact my growth in Christ. Help me encourage them by visiting their blogs.

You will be encouraged, too!

Ray of Darkness

I first offer you some sagely advice: go to Proverbial Thought and get some godly wisdom!

What Lights?

Have you ever been walking or driving down a road at night when it is really dark? Have you ever been there and had a car come around a corner with its high beams on?

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you have probably read and/or heard this passage read:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16, ESV

As a believer in Jesus Christ, we should desire to be the light of the world to a lost and broken world drowned in darkness. It is good to be the light and want to help people.

What if our desire to help gets in the way of helping?

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”
Luke 11:33-36, ESV

Spreading Darkness

Is it possible that the light coming out of our eyes is dark?

If we are calling out and shining light on the sins of the world, yet we are just as guilty of those sins as believers, we share an hypocritical message that no one would want to believe. Why should they? We say one thing and do another.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Philippians 2:14-16, ESV

I am not saying most Christians do this. I do not know most Christians nor their hearts.

What if there is another possibility?

What if, in our desire to be compassionate and loving, we forget our compassion and love?

The longer we walk in darkness the easier it gets to see, though we can not see with the same detail as in the light.

Obviously, those who walk in the light know this, and we simply wish to share the light with others.

Going back to my initial question, what happens when you are on a dark road and someone comes around the corner with their headlights on high beam?

Night blindness.

It is almost as though you are completely blind, or at least considered legally blind being able to see only the biggest and brightest things. Usually those sights tell us either to draw near for safety or flee from danger, such as in case there is another car speeding toward us!

This is what it can be like with a Christian approaching one who still walks in darkness.

In our zeal to reveal the sin of the world, we may come out of nowhere with our high beams right in their eyes!

We worsen their lives with our attacks on their sin!

Do not get me wrong: we should most certainly wish to help lead the world to the Savior who forgives and cleanses away their sins.

Some indeed may turn, in the induced blindness from our light, toward our light in hopes that we are someone who can help.

In a world that lives in fear, however, the most natural response is to react out of … FEAR!

Remembering the Way

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. . . .Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:1-2, 15-21

In our desire to share God’s love, we must remember to be careful in our approach. There will be times we must speed in, but most of the time we must tread carefully with love, compassion, and wisdom.

The wise will share the love of Christ by trusting the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Update: Prodigal Magazine had a very good article yesterday about this very thing! They have good writers! God is amazing!

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.

Who quotes from Philemon?!

The other day my wife was looking for a card for her Secret Sister at church. They were able to grow a little closer to each other over the months before the big reveal … last night, as of this posting. Her Sister has been through some tough emotional times, as of late, so she wanted the card to express love, joy, and encouragement. I helped her look, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that it had a quote from Philemon. I told her “You have to get that one. Who quotes from Philemon?!” It was also a beautiful card that expressed the intent. But it got me into thinking that perhaps my little series over the previous three weeks is not quite over, so I am going to quote from Philemon.

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
Philemon 6-11

For starters, how do we understand “every good thing we have in Christ”? It is by actively sharing our faith. I recently re-readTortured for Christby Richard Wurmbrand. People who are persecuted for their faith get caught primarily through witnessing to others. They also understood the peace and joy of Christ in any circumstance.

This leads to the next question: What is the best way to be active in sharing your faith?

See my previous posts (here, here, and here, as well as my re-blog of someone else’s post) for more detail, but I think I can sum it up in a few sentences.

We must live by a standard above that of this world. We must be willing to share in not only the joys of others but also the pains, trials, and difficulties of others. We must be willing to die for others in the hope that they will know the truth. Of course, we must tell others the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and all that this message entails. (Grace, love, forgiveness, and peace indeed are prominent, but there are also commands and warnings)

But I cannot tell you to do this. Christianity is not about just following a bunch of rules. Following Jesus is not about just praying and being nice. “Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do . . .”

It takes a commitment, a desire to know and love and grow in the knowledge of and love of God. “. . . yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.”

I have seen people throughout the church bicker and complain about each other and those outside of the Church. I have seen people throughout the church refuse to forgive and hold grudges. I have seen people throughout the church hate.

What good is using the authority of Christ to command if it could cause more sin and push more people away from God.

I can tell you until I am blue in the face that you need to forgive, love, and help others, but if you do not have that love in you it will never work.

Instead, I plead with you:

Seek God. Ask for the love of Christ to grow within you. Ask for the peace of Christ to grow within you. Ask for the grace of Christ to grow within you.

Only then will you be able to love others as they need. Only then will you be able to bring others to Christ.

Responses to Christmas: Social Outcasts

We have looked at how Jesus’ parents and a bed-n-breakfast owner responded to the birth of Jesus. Now for some very important outcasts:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:8-20

First of all, it is understood by many that Bethlehem was most likely a town which handled flocks used for Temple sacrifices in Jerusalem, thus making the likelihood of shepherds being nearby very high.

Shepherds were the social outcasts of the day. They were necessary as sources of food and sacrifices, but they were viewed by some as unclean (I mean, think about, they pretty much lived with animals more than other people). They supplied a need for society, but they were cut off from society in many ways. They really had a very important job!

They hear that the long-awaited Savior has been born, and they abandon their post. The shepherds left their sheep to potentially wander off by themselves (more than a nuisance than a major problem, as the sheep could probably be found later) or be attacked by other animals (shepherds also guard the flock from danger). These men potentially jeopardized their livelihood to see a baby promised to be the Savior of the world.

They did not stop there, though! They not only praised God, they went around telling everyone they saw about the newborn Savior! (And there was much rejoicing)

What about you? When this time of year comes around are you excited or tired of the garbage now associated with the holiday celebrating this birth? At any time of the year, are you willing to lose everything for the sake of our Lord and Savior? Are you willing to put your reputation and livelihood on the line for the sake of Jesus the Christ? Do you have an excitement of knowing the One True God, that you cannot help but tell others about Him and the love He has lavished upon us by coming as a human? Do you give God praise that our Savior was born? Do you give God praise that our Savior came, died, and rose again for you and me and all who will call on His beautiful Name?

If not, seek Him anew. If nothing else, consider me an angel proclaiming to you the birth of our Lord.

LET US PRAISE OUR HEAVENLY FATHER FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE!