Monthly Archives: September 2009

THE OPTIMIST FELL from the fourth floor sill

And as he passed each window bar,
He shouted to the folks below,
“Doing all right so far…!”

How ridiculous! Yet there are preachers across the land that advocate a lot of feel-good religion without a call to commitment or even a call to reality. A preacher was telling a congregation that if they lived right, God would bless them with health, wealth, popularity, and happiness. Tell that to families who mourn the loss of their loved ones. Tell that to a family who loses their home in a fire. Tell that to one who works for years at a job and then gets laid off in a cut back.

Jesus Himself is described as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus calls us to have a balance in life. He wants us to be real, not some kind of phony religious nuts who go around with fake, painted-on smiles. The difference between us and the world is not measured by our lack of problems, but rather by the presence of a constant Friend who helps us through them.

In contrast to those who never appear to have a sad moment, there are some who are under the misconception that to be truly humble, we have to put on a sad look and a sad disposition. Jesus specifically warned against trying to get people to feel sorry for us when we are fasting, giving, or praying (Matthew 6:1-18).

Neither is spirituality the same as feeling guilty all the time. We believe in the awesome power of the cross of Christ to receive remission of sins and inner healing. If we are truly forgiven, why should we mope around acting pathetic? If we have the promise of eternal life in Heaven, why should we live in worry, fear, or doubt?

The key to a fulfilling Christian life is to learn to live appropriately. We must be open and sensitive to the needs and the feelings of those around us. When one member of the Body is hurting, we should all feel the pain. When one member of the Body has cause to celebrate, we should all join in to enjoy the person’s success and blessing. In doing so, we draw closer and closer each day. We become stronger so that we can better endure our hardships, overcome our obstacles, and enjoy our fellowship even more deeply. (Roger Wright)

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

–Mike Benson

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People can be like sheep

NEAR THE VILLAGE of Gevas in eastern Turkey, while shepherds ate their breakfast, one of their sheep jumped off a 45-foot cliff to its death…

Then, as the stunned shepherds looked on, the rest of the flock followed. In all, 1,500 sheep mindlessly stumbled off the cliff. The only good news was that the last 1,000 were cushioned in their fall by the growing woolly pile of those who jumped first. According to The Washington Post, 450 sheep died.
The Bible often refers to human beings as sheep (Ps. 100:3; Isa. 53:6; Matt. 9:36). Easily distracted and susceptible to group influence, we would rather follow the crowd than the wisdom of the Shepherd.

Whom are we following? One another? Or the voice and direction of the Good Shepherd? Our challenge is to avoid the mistake of the sheep who blindly followed one another over a cliff. We must make it our daily purpose to ask ourselves: Am I listening for the voice of the Good Shepherd? Am I following Him? (Mart De Haan)

Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
Much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Thy folds prepare. (Thrupp)

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Jesus Christ: Tempted in all points like we are

A STORY IS told of a man whose wife had deserted him for another man… She had succeeded in taking away their children. The estranged husband had given into depression and lost his business. Broken hearted and ruined, he became obsessed with the enormity of his troubles and refused every offer of encouragement and hope. The day came when he heard a great sermon on Christ having been “in all points tempted like as we are,” but rather than being comforted he resented the sermon and told the preacher. “Yes, Jesus suffered many things, but he never had a wife and family stolen from him. He was never married, never had children, so that’s suffering he never knew.” The preacher wisely responded, “You have seen an accomplished violinist play a great variety of music. There are only four strings on his violin, but they can produce both dances and dirges. The same four strings can cover the whole range. No, Jesus did not experience your trials in the same details, but he endured the broad range of disappointment, desertion, grief, pain, and even dying, so that the strings of his heart can vibrate with all the sad songs of life’s bitterest experiences.” (David Pharr) “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

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Some Christianity is just like professional sports

I LOVE GOING to Chicago’s Wrigley Field for a baseball game—sitting in the stands, downing a great hot dog, and cheering the Cubs on to victory…! Unfortunately, Christianity has become a lot like professional sports. As a friend of mine has observed, there are nine guys on the baseball field doing all the work and thousands in the stands just watching. And as you probably know, that’s not God’s game plan for His people. He wants us to climb out of the stands, get out on the field, and join the team. If you are wondering what good you can do on the field, wonder no more. What about your financial resources?

Jesus can take your “silver and gold” and use it to accomplish great things for His glory. But more than just getting out your checkbook, you have gifts you can contribute. God has given each of us gifts that can help advance His kingdom. Whether it’s teaching, encouraging, serving, showing hospitality, or extending mercy, each ability can yield great dividends. Let’s follow the example of Paul, who tirelessly served on God’s field for the joy of being used by Him. Believe me, it’s far more rewarding to be on the field than to sit in the stands. (Joe Stowell) “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Col. 1:28-29).

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AN OPEN LETTER to the congregation of Israel from your humble servant/priests, Nadab and Abihu

Brethren,

It is with the utmost humility that we inform you of a change of worship practices in your normal sacrificing. Be assured that we are bringing about this change only after much prayer and study.

We have recently concluded an in-depth study of the Law as delivered by our brother Moses that covered 400 days. (We might note that is ten times the length of time it took the Lord to impart this Law.)

We have decided to bring about a change in the type of fire used in worship. We are aware that there is a standing tradition of using only one source of fire, but we, as holy priests, do not feel obligated to blindly follow tradition. Numerous polls of our worshipping clientele indicate the overwhelming opinion that they do not care where we get the fire used for their sacrifices just as long as the service is conducted in a respectful and meaningful way.

We were in agreement with this growing majority, as we cannot see how a change in fire will affect anything in the least about our sacrifices. The animal is still properly cooked, the incense burned. We are of the mind that were we to secretly substitute a different fire it would be impossible for any of the worshippers to know a change had taken place.

Besides all this, we became aware of the fact that nowhere in the Law does the Lord forbid the use of what some of our detractors have referred to as “strange fire.” We feel that the lack of such a restriction was meant to give us freedom. For those who disagree, we would ask you to show us any place in the Law that tells us we cannot do something the Lord has not seen fit to condemn.

We also wish to point out that the congregation of Israel is the only religious group in the known world that willingly limits itself to only one kind of fire. We have become the laughingstock of the land of Canaan and have been ridiculed openly by many groups. This “only one fire” self-righteous policy has alienated us from everyone else. We believe this change will open up many fellowship opportunities.

Now, to set the minds of some of you at ease, we will continue to offer a traditional service using the old-fashioned fire as well as this progressive service with the new fire. As a matter of fact, we may occasionally use the old fire in our progressive service for special feast days. In this way we hope that our older citizens are still comfortable even though they dogmatically insist on a worship style which is declining and we believe to be stunting our growth.

Consider the freedom this new practice affords us! We will no longer have the expense of maintaining a constant fire in one location. This will also make it possible to appeal to a younger audience as we discover more entertaining ways to “light the fire” of our assemblies. (We hope you caught the little play on words there!)

For those who still oppose the use of new fire, we ask you not to be judgmental of new ideas. We also hope you will not use this change as a excuse to divide our people or stir up trouble within the congregation. We remind you that this has been well thought out and the majority of elders have signed on with us. It is true we have not included our father Aaron in this deliberation; but we were well aware of his tradition-bound views and still plan to leave him in charge of doing the traditional service anyway. We also have not consulted Moses, but his humility is well known and we are confident he will want to uphold the majority decision in this effort to improve our worship.

We are very much looking forward to our first new fire service. We hope you will make a special effort to be present to witness a new age of enlightenment in the church of Israel. We know God will be watching and we anticipate that his joy over seeing his people take a great step toward throwing off the burden of binding tradition will be an electrifying experience.

See you there. Bring some extra barbecue sauce, for we think this new practice is going to spread like wildfire!

For freedom’s sake!

Nadab & Abihu, DDLP (Doctors of Divine Law and Progress)

After the successful changeover in this part of our worship, future plans include the ordination of women priests, inter-idol fellowship activities with the various pagan groups nearby, and a special service called, “It doesn’t have to be Passover to celebrate Passover anymore.” (David Brassfield)

“Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.  So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD” (Leviticus 10:1-2).

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The word "from" in the Bible

The preposition FROM

 THE WORD “FROM” IS NOT ONLY A COMMON WORD FOR US, IT IS A COMMON BIBLE WORD.

 a)      In addition to being common, it is important as we see from our first reference, Mt. 1:21.

b)      It was said Jesus would save people FROM their sins.

2)      A military power cannot deliver us from sin; political power cannot free us from sin.

3)      Money does not deliver us from it and sin cannot be overcome by getting an education.

4)      The only victory from sin is through Jesus Christ.

5)      Mt. 3:7

6)      Today we see people fleeing from a danger.

7)      Mt. 5:29-30.

8)      Why would a person pluck out their own eye?

9)      Sin is bad so Jesus said we want to do all we can to stay away “from” it.

a)      God wants us to stay away FROM sin.

b)      Sometimes this is going to be very, very difficult.

c)      It may be hard because it will make us unpopular.

d)     It may be hard because a sin is very attractive to us.

e)      It may be hard because it would mean we avoid something that our friends do.

f)       FROM is a word that partly describes how Christians live.

10)  Another passage that uses FROM in the Sermon on the Mount is found in the next chapter.

a)      Mt. 6:13 – READ

b)      Before a person sins, there is usually some type of temptation.

c)      Like a fish that studies a worm on a hook, so man often looks at temptation.

d)     Mt. 7.  Verse 23 – READ

11)  What if God said to us, “Go away from me?”

12)  What if God not only said this, He said “Go away from me FOREVER?”

13)  This is what the Lord described in this verse.

a)      Mt. 8:11 – READ

b)      Jesus said people will come from the “east and the west.”

c)      Jesus used these two directions to describe people from many different places.

d)     In Mt. 13:35 Jesus said some things had been hidden FROM the foundation of the world.

14)  We can know what is right and do what is right because we have God’s full revelation.

15)  We can read it, hear it, study it in hundreds of different ways, and search it in multiple ways.

16)  All kinds of people should be doing what is right.

a)      The sad truth is that many are not doing what is right.

b)      Think about Mt. 15:8 in light of our current culture.

17)  Jesus said their heart is FAR FROM me.

18)  A person can profess to be religious.  He can say the right things and come to the right place.

19)  A person may even believe the right things.

20)  God said a person’s heart can be in a different place.

a)      Part of the problem was using information other than God’s revealed word, Mt. 15:9.

b)      If our heart has been moved away from God, it is in the wrong place.

21)  FROM is a word that matters a lot in many different areas of life.

22)  God is very serious about religion and this includes getting away from sin; are we as serious?

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Are you prepared for eternity?

  A man recently asked me to watch for a used riding lawn mower and tonight I spied one that was about like he wants.  Since the mower was located near the road I was driving on and some family members were outside, I decided to stop and get some information.

The family dog was not visible and apparently not interested in me when I stopped.  Neither did it show itself when I left my truck.  When I was a good distance from my vehicle the dog did take an interest in me and he was big.  He raced out to my location as fast as he could with teeth barred and a nasty bark.  His salivating jaws and not so dull teeth grazed my hand as a woman screamed DON’T MOVE.  It was a thoughtful but unnecessary warning.  I stood very still hoping Fido would leave me with all my arms and legs.

The woman made her way out to me, called off the dog, and gave me all the information I sought.   Making it back into the vehicle safely not only left me thankful but thinking about warnings.  We may receive a warning well before it is needed, just before it is needed, or after the fact (too late).  Some warnings are worthless and some save lives.

God has issued some warnings to the world, one of which is found in 2 Peter 3:10-11:  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  11 Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in (all) holy living and godliness. 

Do you believe God’s warning?  Have you prepared yourself for eternity?  If not, a time is coming when it will be too late.

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