Friday, 18 May 2018

Travel the Highway of Holiness: A call to Holy living

A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it. (Isaiah 35:8 NASB) 
Is belief in Jesus all it takes to have eternal life?

You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. (James 2:19 NLT) 
Demons know who Jesus is. They believe in Him. But they do not serve Him.

To say you believe in Jesus is to say you know what He said (read His words), and believe in what He said and abide by what He said (follow Him). You have to hear Him to BELIEVE His words. Just verbally acknowledging His existence reduces Luther’s axiom, “by faith alone” to a magical incantation that forces God to welcome you to His side for your formulaic phrasing and mental acknowledgment. To try and use this to justify your continued sinful lifestyle is problematic. Salvation requires repentance.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (Gal 6:7 NIV)
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead. (James 2:26 NKJV)
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only (James 2: 21-24 NKJV)
True faith produces works. You are not saved by works, but works flow naturally from your faith. Repentance is the missing component in the phrasing. A deep sorrow for your sin and a turning away from it: Permanently. (Not perfectly, we are unable to do that, but permanently).
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. (Acts 20:21 NIV)
John spelled out specific ways in which the validity of their repentance should be demonstrated (Luke 3:10-14). Thus, metanoia ["turning away from sin"] was to be [made real] by the baptism of repentance (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3), and was to be evidenced by the changed attitudes and deeds of the respondents (Bakers Evangelical dictionary).
You will do different deeds! You will live differently. But Jesus says this Himself.
But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while the crowd was there. Afterward, Jesus found the man at the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Stop sinning, or something worse may happen to you.” And the man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well (John 5:14-15 BSB)
He is healed. But what does Jesus command him? “Stop sinning, or something worse may happen to you”. A call to holiness. And again, the words of our Lord:
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:4-11 NLT)
Jesus forgave her, He did not condemn her. But what does He command? “Go and sin no more”. Do not mock His generosity with your lifestyle. His was a call for her repentance: To holy living.

Repentance is holiness.
But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives in reverent fear during your temporary stay on earth. (1Peter 1:15-17 BSB) 
Consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am … your God. (Leviticus 20:7 HCSB)
Dictionary: Consecrate = make or declare sacred; dedicate formally to a divine purpose.
Dictionary: Holy = dedicated or consecrated to God.

Our lives are to be dedicated to God.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Cor 6:19-20 NIV)
But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT
Repent. Be doers and not just hearers. And be holy. Sin no more.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Lamentation of a God nerd

I’m a God nerd.  I like talking about God and I enjoy the company of people that like talking about God. Some people will talk sports, others about popular culture, and still others video games. But my mind is consumed with Scripture. If you are to accept that God is there, how could you not want to know everything about Him that is humanly possible? Wouldn’t you want to know what He told us about Himself? When your eyes see something that wondrous, that beautiful, they seldom wish to look away. That is the perspective of a God nerd.

The sad truth though, is that my type seems far and in between. Sure you can find Christians that like an odd conversation. But I find it hard to find people that really want to consistently dig in deeply (or even shallowly). God’s there, but they almost have Him compartmentalized off to the side. It’s like He’s in a cage and they let Him out once in a while to play with Him. Then they return Him into the cage and carry on with their life,

I don’t generally care to discuss how my work day was. I want to talk about those moments when God’s light broke through. I want to discuss insights from Scripture. And I love expounding my study for those that haven’t the desire or will to study.  I don’t mean to suggest that everyone should be a theologian. Or maybe I do. It’s just the way I’m hardwired and I don’t understand how God can’t be the central point by which every conversation orbits. This is likely a reflection of the body and its many different parts, each complimenting the other and doing a different thing. There is a degree by which we should all seek God out, but even in the OT everyone wasn’t a Levite. If David spent all his time studying Torah he wouldn’t have been able to run the Kingdom. Those that studied Torah informed him of God’s will so he could rule justly. I’m talking about the depth and breadth of study; everyone should grow in knowledge of God. If you’re not growing you’re standing still. And when you’re standing still it’s easier to walk backwards.

I noticed this theological loneliness decades ago. And the unfortunate consequence of it is you learn to blend in with those around you. It’s like in the movie “The Body Snatchers”, where a couple of humans had learnt that they could pass undetected in amongst the aliens by not expressing any emotion. You learn to never talk about God. And it seems to me that when you don’t talk about Him you start to forget about Him.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Couple remediation

Couples need to find an equilibrium, and they need to work out tensions. But in the midst of an escalating discussion, with passion growing, you may note that the elements of the discussion have been lost and both parties are speaking hurtful nonsense (fool-talking). Arguing for the sake of arguing, and this is a very destructive place to be. When anger has entered into the discussion and throttles it like the space shuttle challenger, it is going to explode. Wherever the disagreement may have begun, if you find it is moving into verbal jabs for the sake of harm, it is time to take a break. The devil works within the confines of your anger. He eggs you on to try and destroy for the sake of destruction. He particularly wants to break godly fellowship.
“Do not give the Devil a foothold” (Eph 4:27)

Break away from the inferno and allow yourself and your combatant a period of calm. It is in the quiet time away from the maddening heat that the Spirit will offer refreshing water again. But you must seek His water; Talk to the Father. Take a walk and pray, and the devil’s lies will start to unwind.  Even if you are the only one that does this, you will be in a better place to diffuse the bomb that still awaits you when you return. The devil destroys. God builds. And with the Spirits light your pride will diminish and that which angered you will seem so much smaller than it did previously.

Friday, 11 May 2018

The so called hypocrite

The so called hypocrite

Ad hominem

I am going to say several things here that fly in the face of main stream Christianity’s new found tentative character. What we’ll see is that it’s been hoodwinked. Thesis statement: The predominant charge of hypocrisy against Christians is a bludgeon to silence evangelism or moral correction. 

We live in a politically correct world. People are terrified of misspeaking and being called a homophobe or a racist or a misogynist. The label and culture was purposely created to silence you from speaking light into darkness. I am going to make a strong corollary from the political world that illustrates one in the spiritual. When a person doesn’t have an argument they resort to ad hominem attacks (personal name calling). It is a tactic used to silence those that think differently than you. This is a common stratagem of the political left. But what many Christians have failed to realize is that this is also used to silence spiritual correction/direction as well. I’d say that 99% of the time when someone calls a Christian a hypocrite it is an ad hominem attack. This article is not dealing with the other 1%. 

When someone calls you a hypocrite, what really shows that something is amiss is when the validity or falsity of the charge that prompted the name calling isn’t being discussed. From this, it can be seen to be a deflection away from the topic of their sinful activity or proclivity. In essence the name callers are saying:
 “Shut up because you’re a sinner too”.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

You become who you hang out with

"Do not be deceived: `Bad company corrupts good morals.'" (1Cor15:33 NASV)

deceived = πλανάω = seduced. to wander away.
corrupts = φθείρω = withers or shrivels. to spoil (as in food)

the CEV puts it this way:

"Don't fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you".

Paul was an intellectual and can be seen here quoting a common phrase of the day from Menander (a Greek dramatist) who in turn had quoted it in one of Euripides' earlier plays. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary tells us the meaning from the play indicates communion with "those who deny the resurrection". The Church at Corinth had fallen back into a sinful state since Paul had left them. And Paul puts some emphasis on the company they keep for this slippage. Your morality is strongly influenced by the company you keep. Those who deny the resurrection are bad company for close friendships.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Friendship with unbelievers

Friendship with unbelievers

James 4:4 ESV
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Wiki definition: Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people.

The "world" references its inhabitance and the lifestyles and philosophies of its people.

John 17: 13-14 NIV
13 “... I [Jesus] say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them Your Word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

Are you of the world? Who do you keep as friends? We speak of people you enjoy spending time with. Not acquaintances or people you are trying to evangelize. We are commanded to only take close friendships from the ranks of God's children (and that doesn't include heretics and `carnal christians').

2 Cor 6:14-17 NKJV
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial (Satan)? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 17 Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean,

Jesus said to follow HIm. This is His counsel. If you do not follow it, you do not follow HIm.

Abraham was a friend of God. Who did Abraham keep as his friends? People of the sinful nations around him? Or fellow followers of the Covenant?

1 Corinthians 5:9 NIV
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. (those who are unrepentant and okay with it)

1 John 1:6 NIV
If we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

If you are friends with this world you walk in the darkness. If your friends are of this world (unbelievers and false Christians) you are attracted to the darkness. If you grew defensive reading this, you need to repent. I lay out a principle found in Scripture (everywhere!!!). There can be some nuance in it, but the principle is sound. Weigh your fellowship

Samson, inversely, did take friends from this world.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Psalm 1: devotional mullings.

"Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the (1) advice of the wicked, or (2) stand around (aka hangout) with sinners, or (3) join in ("dwell" KJV) with mockers (or join those who have no use for God - GNB). But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked ("*ungodly*" KJV: "*morally wrong*" Hebrew), leads to destruction". (Psalms 1 NLT)

Observe the first Psalm and what it instructs. It creates a tension between two diametrically opposed forces/lifestyles: good and bad (life with God and life without God). The bad are walking on a "path" that leads to destruction (without God). They are actively destroying their own lives by what they do and what they say. They have no direction but are like "chaff" that blows wherever the wind (or sin) chooses. Why then would the good wish to join with them on their twisted path? What council/advice could they possibly offer us on matters that matter? A path is a direction. How can you "walk" with someone that is heading away from your goal? The company you choose is an indicator of your direction or misdirection. Heed the Psalmist and "prosper in all (you) do".

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

"Where O death is your sting"? Remembering a man of God

Billy Graham wasn’t the only great man to pass away recently. My cousin Daryl died today. He was in his mid-40s but had the intellectual development of a grade 5 or 6er. He was born with excessive fluid pressure in his brain and had several operations to put a tube in his head to drain it. As a teenager he fell into a pool and drowned, but was revived. This incident further contributed to his diminished mental state. Yet what he lacked in IQ he made up for in joy and inner beauty.

He fought so hard for everything he had in life and he was always so cheerful. He was abandoned as a new born by his birth parents and put up for adoption as a handicapped baby. God gave him what he needed: new Christian parents. Learning was slow and difficult comparatively, and friends were far and few between. What an accomplishment it was when he persisted and passed his driving test. Likewise, Daryl wanted to work and found a job at the airport. He enjoyed working like everyone else and earning his own money. He was a good little guy and a hard worker. He had so many operations in his life. Too many. So many complications. And then, as if adding insult to injury,  a year ago they found a brain tumor. They performed the dangerous operation and successfully removed it. It was such a happy day when it was tested and found to be benign. His life was filled with so many things that were so stressful. Yet he faithfully carried on with the cross in his heart: contributing, loving, and smiling.

I call him little even though he was a full grown man. I still see him as little, as a sweet little boy in a big body. He fought hard and healed from the brain tumor. He always persisted no matter what life threw at him. He was always so joyful and full of the Lord. Simple and pure. Yet a couple of weeks ago, he went to the doctor for a stomach ache and they gave him 2 weeks to live. It was another life torpedo that came out of nowhere. He didn’t understand it. He had just gotten past the bloody brain tumor a year earlier and was supposed to be healthy. He was trying so hard and things were looking positive. He died today, a week early, and will be greatly missed. I thank God for giving this little boy loving parents to hold him during his last days, and to comfort and love him as he past on. His impact wasn’t on the greater world around him, but on the hearts of those close to him. He loved God so much. I thank you Jesus that he knew what was truly important in life. I thank you Jesus that he is smiling in Your presence now.

The inclination is to wonder why, after so many successes, the Lord took him home. And when I think of him suffering my eyes do well up with tears. I suppose we start to believe that life before death is somehow preferable to life after death; that we view things from our perspective and not the Fathers. We take a temporal outlook and not an eternal one. I know for a fact that my cousin has stepped through a door from a dump into paradise: from pathways of pain to roadways of gold. He has graduated from a faithful perception of our Lord to sitting on His lap. And I praise you Lord for it. I pray that I will likewise be as faithful a servant as my dear cousin was. He was faithful no matter what life threw at him. No matter how hard life’s difficulties, Daryl would just grab onto God that much tighter, like a child grabbing onto his daddy when he needed him. He was a true man of God.

Save Daddy's other knee for me cousin.

 (1 Cor 15:5)