Remembering You?

Remembering YouNo one wants to be forgotten.

The older I get, the more people I’ve known die. Over time, the memories of these people begin to get hazy. I’ll probably always remember their names and quirky or beloved attributes, but before long details slowly fade until all that is left is what you see in a photograph.

My son will always remember me, but in ever disappearing details.

Isaiah 53:8 has an interesting line regarding the Jewish Messiah. After writing of the Messiah’s death as a substitute for the sins of humanity, the prophet Isaiah asked the question: And who will declare His generation? When the Messiah died as a sacrifice, who would remember Him?

Obviously we remember Him because Jesus was more than a mere man. He is God in human flesh, the Lord of Life and the Soon Coming King. But what about you? What about me? If you passed into eternity tonight, who would remember you? And how long would that memory last?

First, God will never forget you. Since He has each of the hairs on your head numbered (Matthew 10:30), be assured that He remembers you.

Second, everything here on planet earth eventually succumbs to moths or rust or robbers. The only thing you can really leave behind is the testimony of a life lived honoring God and serving others. Soon, your name will be forgotten. The things you said will disappear. The things you’ve accomplished or built will rot away.

Begin today, living the life that you’ve always wanted to live. Live it right. Live it with purpose. Live with eternity in view.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Christ in Me

Christ in MeSome people have a hard time believing the Bible because it seems so unreal. But it could not be more real. It records us exactly as we are.

The Bible alone – of all the world’s religious books – reveals the nature of men and women accurately. Noah was a naked drunk. Abraham lied and Sarah doubted. Jacob was a cheater. Moses lost his temper. Aaron was an idolater. Rahab prostituted herself. Samson was a womanizer and David an adulterer. Elijah was depressed and suicidal. Peter betrayed Jesus and Paul argued with his friend Barnabas. This isn’t what you’d expect from ‘holy’ people, but the Bible reveals us for what we truly are.

Hollywood tries to hide the truth, but people like Charlie Sheen and Britney Spears highlight the reality of life. Washington DC attempts to cover-up its most famous. Money doesn’t make a person happy, fame doesn’t eliminate problems, beauty is much more than appearance and neither a perfect life nor perfect people exist.

Fortunately God doesn’t expect us to be sinless. He knows we are sinful, but He looks beyond our weaknesses and sees us through a different lens than we see ourselves. He sees His children through the death and life of His Son Jesus. He thinks of us as what He makes us to be, not what we think of ourselves or others think of us.

Only unreal people try to be what they aren’t. Only a fairy tale would seek to varnish truth. And only God sees past what you’ve been and done. He accepts you just as you are, but once you come to Him in faith, He sees you for what He’ll make you to be. He sees Christ living in you.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

The Merry Heart

The Merry Heart

You old sock-dologizing mantrap.”

The words were so hilarious in 1865, that the dialog of the play, “Our American Cousin”, stopped for the uproar of the crowd. It was at that moment that President Abraham Lincoln was shot in the head. No one heard the gunshot through the laughter.

Today, those hilarious words are met with odd stares. What was funny when Archie Bunker said it in 1974 is now considered offensive. Jokes that made us laugh as children, like, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” only make our eyes roll as adults. Humor changes with time and experience.

One thing that is constant, however, is that A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones (Proverbs 17:22).

One Out of 52

One out of 52It is often said that Easter is the “Super Bowl Sunday” of Christianity. It’s the one day during the year when most people who call themselves followers of Jesus attend church services and celebrate Christ’s resurrection.

In the Old Testament, Israel set aside Saturday as their holy day. Christians, however, meet on Sunday. We meet every Sunday to commemorate His resurrection.

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn … the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.” (Matthew 28:1, 5-6).

The resurrection of Jesus is remembered and celebrated every Sunday, and not just one out of 52.

What are you doing this Sunday?

Christian Evolution

DSC03073Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? The may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil (Jeremiah 13:23).

The religion of evolution teaches that life appeared on Earth about 3.5 billion years ago as bacteria. Then the bacteria changed into plants 430 million years ago, the plants became reptiles 300 million years ago, reptiles evolved into mammals 75 million years ago, mammals transitioned to ape-like men about 10 million years ago, and finally people like you and me appeared from the ape-men 300,000 years ago.

Far-fetched! Now, what proof do the followers of this religion have for their timeline? Nothing but man-made theories that change every few years.

Sadly, there are a vast number of Christians who also have a theory of evolution – spiritual evolution: goats turn into sheep by the power of free-will.

Truthfully, the best any animal can do to change into another kind of animal is for the wolf to appear in a sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15)!

If a goat becomes a sheep by exercising a choice, then the Ethiopian can become a Caucasian, a leopard can become a lion, and a sinner can become righteous simply by choice.

If a sheep and a goat spend time in the same pen, the goat will see what a great life the seep has and choose to become a sheep too. Do you see the foolishness of such thinking?

If the exercise of free-will doesn’t change a leopard’s spots, or convert a person’s sinful nature, what is the cause of spiritual rebirth? If it’s not free-will that changes a sinner into a saint, where does conversion come from? It must begin – and end – wholly with God.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13).

Taking the Back Seat

Taking the Back SeatIt was a race to be first into the car. The last was a “rotten egg” and had to sit on “the hump.”  Remember “the hump”?  Many older cars were rear-wheel drive, and “the hump” on the floor of the back seat was the housing for the drive shaft.  Anyway, no one ever wanted to sit in the middle of the back seat.  You either sat side saddle or were forever bow-legged.

The black vinyl seat in the back of the 1969 Ford Falcon was unfriendly in so many other ways to us four children. The vinyl was hot, sticky, and there was a spot where the springs has caved in. We each had our territory carefully marked out despite being packed in so together tightly. The oft heard screams of “he touched me” were never the refrain of the Bill Gaither song!

Sometimes we imagine that God did His little bit to get history rolling, then folded His hands, sat back in His heavenly La-z-boy chair and watched what would happen next.

We picture ourselves as the captains of our destiny, penning the story of our own lives, while God is just the old man watching us from a cloud in the sky.

This same philosophy occurs in nations of the world. Yet Acts 17:26 says that God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their habitation (see also Deut 32:8).  Note that God “determined” and “preappointed.”

Pride claims control. God has not created us as puppets, but we are proud and self-deceived if we believe that God is not actively and directly involved in the affairs of our lives and our world.

Dying a Thousand Deaths

sufferingJonah was unhappy with God. He knew that God was merciful, so he refused to go to Nineveh. He chose instead to travel for Spain, but God would have nothing of Jonah’s attitude. He sent a great storm to do a bit of persuading and Jonah’s answer was to God’s character was for the sailors throw him overboard.

God not only prepared a great storm, but a great fish. The moment Jonah began his descent into Davy Jones’ Locker, that big fish swallowed God’s prophet.

For three days, Jonah sat inside that fish, the digestive juices bleaching his skin and his clothes. I imagine Jonah in that dark, smelly, confinement wishing he was dead a thousand times over. Finally from the belly of that great fish, he prayed and God answered.

Everyone suffers in different ways and for different reasons.

We much prefer to suffer according to our own terms. If we’re going to suffer, we want our suffering to be gentle, short-lived, and full of immediate and obvious results. Like Jonah, we want our trials to be over right now. Dying a thousand deaths … not on our agenda.

As Christians we know that God has a purpose in our suffering. In His perfect wisdom and love for us, He knows exactly what we need to make us more godly. He knows the amount and kind of suffering that best works His purpose into each one of us.

He knows the way that I take, when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold (Job 23:10).

Who is Jesus?

Who is JesusWhen the children of Israel left slavery in Egypt, they were pursued by the chariots of Pharaoh. At the banks of the Red Sea, the Presence of God appeared as a cloudy pillar and stood between the Egyptians and the Hebrew people. The Bible says that: it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night (Exodus 14:20). To His covenant people, God was a protecting light; to His enemy He was a thick darkness.

Jesus once asked His disciples, Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?

They replied that popular opinions ranged from Him being an old-time prophet or even the recently murdered John the Baptist.

Then Jesus asked, But who do you say that I am? To which the Apostle Peter answered, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Jesus responded, Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 16:13-17).

The pillar of cloud functioned differently depending on which side of it a man stood. In a similar way, Jesus seems to be many different things to many different people, but His true identity is discerned only by a revelation from Heaven; that revelation is found only in the pages of the Bible.

The Biblical Pattern

The Biblical Pattern

God gave His Church leaders for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; that we should no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:11, 12, 14).

Pastors are spiritual leaders, but we often expect material effort and benefits from them.

The Bible defines the pastor’s role in two ways. First, he provides believers with the tools for the work of ministry. The work of ministry isn’t what we pay the pastor to do, it’s what we do for others in Christ’s name. Sunday isn’t like a football game with the pastor entertaining a crowd. At best, he’s a coach training us to play. The clergy serves the church by presenting the Word of God; believers serve by ministering to one another.

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Second, the pastor ministers to edify the body of Christ. The word edify means to build up, encourage. The goal in edification is spiritual maturity, reaching the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Becoming more Christlike is the result of healthy spiritual food. Spiritual babies need the elementary milk of the Word to grow, the mature need God’s meat to be sustained (Hebrews 5:12, 13)

Equipping and edification are the result of the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word as it is taught. God’s Word must be carefully prepared and presented as God gave it to us. The more we are taught the truths of the Scripture, the less like spiritually immature children we are, caught up in fads, easily confused and distracted, and tossed around by ideas not in the Word of God.

Pastors: give your full attention to reading the Scripture, to preaching the Word, to teaching doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you …. (1 Timothy 4:13, 14).

To Be Popular

Farah FawcettMy sister was always the popular one in school. She had the friends and followers. I might have made it through both junior and senior high school without being noticed if it hadn’t been for that little incident with the vice-principal’s moped and the flagpole … but I digress.

I never wanted to be the popular kid. I’ve never owned a pair of Nike shoes or had thick feathered hair. I didn’t get my first pair of bell-bottom San Francisco Jeans until everyone else had moved to Levi’s 501s. My eyeglasses and shy demeanor didn’t help my prospects.

After a recent blog post I was told I wouldn’t be very popular with some people. That’s okay. I don’t write to be popular; it’s about the truth of God’s Word and the glory of God’s name. In this slippery world of fame for fortune and policy through polling, we must remember that God is the sole arbiter of truth and the only One worthy of praise.

Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore (Psalm 86:11-12).