Useless Studying

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.
Titus 3:9

The other day I read this article from ABCnews.com about how the Pentagon had so many studies requested in 2010 that they had to issue a study to how much it was costing, but because they were taking their sweet time with no real results the Government Accountability Office has begun a study of the initial study of the 2010 studies.

In other words, everyone is wasting time and money looking into unnecessary things to see who is guilty of breaking the law or at least of wasting more time and money.

Do we not do this every day in the Western (and often Global) Church?

We get caught up in who was first or the longest.

We get caught up in who said what first or better.

We get caught up in who follows God’s/Jesus’ commandments the right way or the wrong way (usually “not our way”).

We get caught up over carpet color, community placement, ministry ideas, and how many inches are to be used on the weekly bulletin.

In other words, we get into fights and quarrels over who did/said what first, who is wasting more time and money, and who is more guilty of breaking the Law.

There is a better way.

We should start with Paul’s exhortation:

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,to slander no one,to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Titus 3:1-8

For the Mothers

For the Mothers out there:

I linked to this on facebook a couple of weeks ago, but it needs to be shared again.

Thanks, mom!

Thanks, Moms!

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 05/13/2012

First of all, HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY to all of you mothers out there! Do not forget to honor your mother(s) not only today but every day. Also do not forget to call your mother (or other mothers/mother-figures) today!

Have you heard that song by Bluetree (and now other artists) called “God of This City“?

I wrote a poem about five years ago that follows the same thought. We have been called to be a city on a hill, a light that shines for all to see.

Your City

We want to see a city set up;
A city established for Your Name.
Where is the place for Your Glory?
Where do we go to see Your Face?

You have called us to be Your light.
We are to be Your city on a hill.
With a singular vision through Your Grace
We become a people after Your Will.

When we are focused on Your Life
We are a light shining on Your Earth.
We can be Your Holy City of God
Shining throughout the universe.

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 61.

“The One Who Bites Your Skin Is Dead”

For more than a week I have been sick with a cold. It is rather miserable, but if this is the biggest of my worries then life is pretty good.

Now for an intimate confession.

In this last week I also had to confess to my wife that in my tiredness and even exhaustion from work, ministry, and school, I have struggled with lust for the past few weeks. This is something that was “defeated” years ago, so you can imagine my surprise to finding it an issue. The thing that usually brought me back to my senses was the thought of my wife.

When I got sick enough to have to miss work last week, I had a lot of time to focus on prayer. One of my prayers was “Lord, there is so much going on in life. I do not need this temptation attacking me again. Take me back to that place of repentance, learning what it really means. Help me daily to defeat this lust.”

Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, I had trouble sleeping due to my congestion and headaches, but I had a lot of dreams. They were interesting and even silly, and I woke myself (and my wife) up because of acting out the end (running) and talking out loud.

Throughout, however, I kept hearing this one line, kind of like from the movie-voice-over guy:

“The one who bites your skin is dead.”

I did not know what it meant. It made absolutely no sense to me, whatsoever. Simultaneously, I was tired and disoriented from my head cold-induced dream-filled, sleep-deprived night.

It was not until Saturday night (after watching The Avengers!) that it finally occurred to me.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[g]

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[h]

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57

Firstly, God definitely heard my prayer. My lust has not been a problem since last week.

The initial thought is not a sin. Entertaining the thought and then acting on the thought is a sin. Yes, our thoughts can be a sin, but only when we dwell on them.
God has given me the way out promised, but He has also given me His strength and healing.

Secondly, I was reminded of this passage.

It is through Jesus Christ we have victory! Our Lord and God deserves all the praise.

Also, I have little problem with universalists, but this is one of their prized passages showing all people will enter paradise someday. However, this is written to believers. If I were to write a letter to my youth group saying “we all get to go on a retreat this summer because the fee has been paid,” everyone not in the youth group (children, adults, non-attendees/people from other churches) who read the letter and assumed they were going would be understandably laughed at (in love, of course) as misunderstanding the context. I firmly believe this to be the case.

(I do not “laugh at” universalists because I disagree with them. They are still brothers and sisters in Christ unless God says otherwise or their conduct proves otherwise. In fact, I understand where they are coming from, but I think they are missing the full context. I know there are times I do the same, so I have grace as I know our Lord does.)

However, this is not the point of today’s posting. This is:

We have freedom from sin through our Lord’s sacrifice, and He gives us the strength to endure temptation.

At the end of history we will be free from temptation, and our Lord can help us with temptation during this life. But we must also remember we will have temptation in this life. We were never promised freedom from temptation until Christ Jesus returns in glory.

I am evidence that we still fail. Peter and Paul admitted to failing. This is why we are told to take every thought captive. I failed for a time, but our God is full of grace and mercy.

Do you trust God to help you? Do you believe He has enough grace and forgiveness for you?

He does.

It may be hard to believe at times, but He helps our faith grow through practice and endurance.

Endure, brothers and sisters.

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 05/06/2012

Interestingly enough, today’s post was prepared before I went on the Men’s Retreat and before I prepared this last week’s posting.

I wrote this poem the same day I received my work evaluation at Sign*A*Rama. This was also a month before I lost that job, and I still think God played a role in my losing that job. (I also take responsibility for my own faults) This is a poem about living for God and not this world.

ultimate evaluation

at work we get evaluations

usually to recap how we’re doing

sometimes we get promotions

sometimes we go packing

the evaluation we need to work for

won’t be seen until we’re fired from life

this evaluation comes from the Lord

will we spend eternity in darkness or light

as we work towards this holy end

we need to ensure we are good with God

when we reach this ultimate evaluation

have we been living for the Blood

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of Godby daniel m  klem, page 57.

A beautiful prayer. As I reblog this, it is after 3:30 in the morning. I have been sick, and I have missed work. I just had some crazy dreams, and this prayer was waiting for me in my inbox. Thank God that Bob Blincoe of Frontiers was listening to God!

Bob Blincoe

O Loving Christ, who did tell the man Zacchaeus to look into Thy face until he desired God, until Thy loving-kindness was better to him than the greed that was ruining his relationships, come to this place, let us behold Thee, Jesus Christ, for we too are much in need of desiring God; and O holy Christ, who did restore the adulterous woman by Thy forgiveness and by Thy gracious invitation to begin again uncondemned, minister Thy healing words today, for Thy loving-kindness is better than sexual anarchy.

O nail-pierced Christ, who did hear the prayer of the penitent when Thou wert dying on the cross, and did take the thief to paradise with Thy dying breath, minister from the depths of Thy love to us in this place, for Thy loving-kindess is better than dying angry. O Christ, Son of God, who did appeal to Thy Father that final…

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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.