Stepping Away To Step “In”

This week, Fox News reported that rap star Chance the Rapper (Aka, Chancelor Jonathan Bennett) is taking a sabbatical. The 25-year old rap-artist is temporarily stepping away from the limelight to spend more time studying the Bible. In a message to his fans, the artist said, “I’m going away to learn the Word of God which I am admittedly very unfamiliar with,” he continued. “I’ve been brought up by my family to know Christ but I haven’t taken it upon myself to really just take a couple days and read my bible.” (Read Full Article Here)

In a culture such as ours it’s refreshing to see someone with such a public platform as Chance to admit that they want to know more about the Bible. Even more refreshing is to see such a willingness to remove himself from all distractions in order to do so.

In the article, Chance goes on to say this, “We all quote scripture and tell each other what God likes and doesn’t like but how much time do we spend as followers of Jesus to really just read and KNOW his Word.” Adding, “I’m definitely guilty of not devoting time to it.”

How many of us would be willing to hit the pause button on whatever it is we have going on (i.e. work, career, school, etc…) in order to spend more time connected to God through his word? How many of us, like this young man here, are guilty of not devoting any time to God or his word? Perhaps it’s time we stepped away from what we believe to be important and step “in” to what truly is!

The Bible tells us that faith comes by hearing and knowing God’s word (Cf. Romans 10:17) and that we are to be diligent in presenting ourselves to God (Cf. 2 Timothy 2:15). In fact, it is only through our study of the Bible that we can even know God and his will for our lives (Cf. 1 John 2:1-5; Psalm 119:104-105).

So let’s determine to step away from the distractions and let’s determine to make time for God’s word. You’ll be glad you did!

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Posted in Bible Study, Christian Living, Commitment, Dedication, Faith, Focus, God, Jesus Christ, Knowledge, Priorities, Self-Examination, The Bible, Time Management, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Some Things Will Never Change

Hasbro has determined that the buying hotels and houses aspect of Monopoly doesn’t much appeal to millennials, who “can’t afford it anyway.” So just in time for Christmas, the company has released a new version of its classic game, Monopoly for Millennials, in which players, whose game pieces include an emoji and a vintage camera, gather experiences rather than property. On the box, Rich Uncle Pennybags holds a takeout coffee and wears ear buds and a “participation” medal that reads, “If you had fun, you won!” USA Today reported the game’s experiences include “Thrift Shop” and “Farmers Market,” along with dining at a vegan bistro and attending a music festival. But make sure you Uber home: There is still a “Go to Jail” space on the board. [USA Today, 11/14/2018]

Times are very different than when I was a kid. I remember playing Monopoly for hours with my parents and trying to buy as much property as I could so I could build houses and hotels and make a fortune on the rent. Sadly, we live in a culture that wants to change everything, including the games we all used to play. And while I’m all for progress and change, not all change is for the better.

Thankfully God never changes. He “…is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). And not only does He never change, his word never changes either. Jesus would say in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” In other words, the Lord will never be unreliable and he will never change what he has said. Therefore, when Jesus says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16), you can rest assured that he means what he says and if you desire to be saved you will obey his words.

So many want to change the message of the gospel. They want to change the way of salvation and the words of Christ. In fact, some people believe that so long as you have participated in anything religious you’ll win and that eternal life in heaven will be assured. But God has a standard by which we are to live, a standard that will not change and a standard that we will be judged by (Cf. John 12:48). And if I have chosen to ignore that standard or worse, attempted to change that standard, then I will be held responsible when the Day of Judgment comes.

Change is inevitable. And I have certainly seen many changes in my life. But I’m thankful some things never change. And I’m thankful I serve an unchanging God!

Posted in Baptism, Change Agents, Day of Judgment, God, Jesus Christ, Salvation, The Bible, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Just Because You Do, Doesn’t Mean It’s So

You may have seen recently where Emile Ratelband, a Dutch man from the Netherlands, has petitioned the court in Arnhem to have his age changed.  That’s right, he wants to change his age. The 69 year old told the court that he did not feel “comfortable” with his date of birth and wished to make himself 20 years younger stating that his “official age did not reflect his emotional state” and that “he was struggling to find both work and love” (Full Article Here).

We live in a time where man has once again shown just how depraved he is. We have women who wish to be men and men who wish to be women and others who wish gender could just be fluid. And now you have a man who instead of coming to terms with his natural age, wants to change it (as if a court notarized document can really change a man’s age). And the truth is, just because you try to make such a change, doesn’t mean you’ve changed anything.

In life there are things that we can change and there are things that we cannot. And sadly, people tend to be more focused and concerned about the things they cannot change so much so that they fail to consider the things they can. In Matthew 6Jesus spent some time addressing the things that mankind worries over. And he says in verse 27, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” You see, no amount of worrying over one’s years will result in added time. You will get the time you get. The focus shouldn’t be on how much more can I get; the focus should be what am I doing with the time I have been given?

Jesus advice…”Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). By putting God first and seeking after his ways we will find our focus less on self and more on Him. When we try to change ourselves to what we think we should be we might find that we are far from where God would have us to be. Therefore, instead of trying to focus on what we want, perhaps our focus should be on what God desires. It’s time we stopped being so self-absorbed and time we started listening to God, allowing him and his word to change us into something fitting for the Kingdom!

Posted in Christian Living, Focus, God, Kingdom, Priorities, Time, Time Management, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

That Day May Come Sooner Than You Realize

Not long ago I read a post on Facebook that said, “One day, sooner than you expect…you will be sitting in a movie theatre, watching a superhero movie from Marvel, just as you’ve done lots of times before. But this time, it’s different. This time there is no cameo by Stan Lee…this time, the words, “In loving memory of Stan Lee” will appear on the screen. And when you see these words, you are going to start crying like a baby. You know you will. And so will I.”

That day came this past Monday as word of Stan Lee’s passing made its way across the world. The man, who gave us a whole slew of comic book heroes, is gone. Someone said of Lee, “It’s like losing that crazy Uncle who always had the best stories.” I have to admit, I teared up a little when I heard the news, not that I knew Stan Lee personally, but because the man who introduced us to some of the most amazing superheroes in his imagination was gone.

I wish I could tell you Stan Lee was a faithful Christian, but I can’t. I wish I could tell you he loved the Bible and God, but I can’t. In fact, Lee had once been asked about whether or not he believed in God, to which he said, “…I really don’t know. I just don’t know.” I would like to say he came to know, but what I do know is this, Sunday he was here and Monday he was gone. And so it will be for all of us and one day all that will remain is a memory, a memory of who we were and what we were about; a memory of a life that had been and that no longer is.

Life goes by quicker than we think. James tells us that our life is like “…a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). That being the case, we must make the best use of the time we have (Ephesians 5:16). And whether we are given 20 years or 95, we must use the time we have to seek the Lord (Matthew 6:33). Because one day we will stand before God’s judgment seat and on that day we willbow and we willacknowledge the one who created us. And the deeds that I chose to do while on this earth will be brought before me and my eternity will hinge on what I chose to do with the time I was given (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Romans 14:10-11).

I may be remembered for a great many things, but if fearing God and keeping his commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13) isn’t at the top, I’ve failed miserably. None of us is going to live forever and eventually death will come, but for every day we are granted we have a choice to seek and to serve the one who cangive us eternal life. And since we don’t know when our time will come we better make haste to prepare ourselves, because the end will come sooner than you think!

Posted in Day of Judgment, Death, God, Heaven, Hell, Judgment, Obedience, Preperation, Priorities, Salvation, Time Management, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Value of Working Together

When October Books, a shop in Southampton, England, got ready to move just up the street into a new building on Oct. 28, about 250 people showed up as volunteers to form a human chain, handing the shop’s more than 2,000 books 160 yards from one location to the other. “It’s amazing. The power of community coming together and achieving something like this,” said Jani Franck, who participated in the chain. October Books was forced to move after a rent increase in its old building. “It was a tremendous show of support … and we’re moved and incredibly touched by it,” Clare Diaper, who works at the store, told the Guardian. [The Guardian, 10/29/2018]

It’s amazing what all we can accomplish when we work together. So often, in an effort to boost our own ego, we act as if we don’t need anyone else to fulfill our accomplishments. Yet, imagine what all can be accomplished when we set self aside and give our fellow man a helping hand.

Such is especially true of the church. We have been given a commission by God to take the gospel to the entire world (Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:19-20) and yet if only a handful of us are doing that, then only a handful of souls are being reached.

In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul speaks about the human body and he compares it to the church. And he reminds us that like the human body, the church has many members and each member brings something different to the table, yet none of us is more important than the other. And he makes it a point to tell us in 1 Corinthians 13 that the key to success is love. Love isn’t prideful or rude, but its patient and it finds a way to work with others so that no one suffers and that all might rejoice together.

There is much work to be done for the Kingdom and the only way we will have success is if we work together and do our part.

Posted in Attitudes, Christian Living, Church, Evangelism, Humility, Self-Examination, Uncategorized, Unity, Work | Leave a comment

DNA Does Not Authorize SPECIAL CONSIDERATION

[Editors Note: This article is not meant to be political in any way, but merely an observation from recent events that will prayerfully lead you to a more important spiritual consideration.]

Elizabeth Warren, Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, is the most recent person to claim to be something she’s not. In a recent news release, Warren claimed that DNA testing has linked her to a Native American heritage that she has been citing for some time. Warren, who is likely a presidential contender in 2020, is using these results to neutralize attacks about her ancestry by President Trump and other Republicans, yet according to Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr, “A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship” and cannot “distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America” (USA Today Article). Sadly, Senator Warren’s DNA results appear to be a ploy to further her political career, yet the truth is, DNA Does Not Authorize you to receive special consideration.

In John 8, Jesus was talking to some Jews about discipleship and he says that only those who abide in his word, who know the truth can be free (v.31). Their response to Jesus was to cite their heritage and to let him know that they had never been enslaved to anyone (v.33). Jesus then talks about sin and how those who practice sin have become slaves to sin (v.34). In fact, he acknowledges their heritage but makes it clear that their heritage didn’t exonerate them from the consequences of their sins. If they would be free from sin it would only be through Jesus (v.36).

It doesn’t matter where you come from. Whether you are Native American, Hispanic, European or anything else, the truth is we have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and our sins have separated us from God (cf. Isaiah 59:1-2) and regardless of your heritage if you don’t have Christ and if you aren’t “in” Christ (Cf. Galatians 3:27) you aren’t free from sin!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Posted in "In" Christ, Baptism, Christian, Discipleship, Freedom, Heritage, Jesus Christ, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Wish I Would Have Learned More

September 24thmarked the 3-year anniversary of my dads passing. 3 years of being unable to tell him what’s new. 3 years in which his grandkids have continued to grow and excel. 3 years of changes, yet as I sit here this morning and think about all he has missed out on in 3 years I am more disappointed by the fact that I didn’t spend the 39 years we did have asking him more questions.

In the course of my 41 years I have lost both my parents and all of my grandparents and while I know some things about them I can’t help but wish I had taken the time to learn more. To learn those stories that only they can tell, to come to know them on another level than just mom, dad, grandma or granddaddy. Sadly, the tragedy of death makes it impossible for us to learn things we took for granted in life. And while I wish I knew more, one thing I do know (that I did learn from those who are now gone) is that I don’t want to wait until I die to learn more about God.

The Bible tells us that there is coming a day in which all men will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). And that day will either be a day of joy or a day of great sorrow (Cf. Matthew 25:31-46). For some, that day will be the day they have anticipated their whole life, the day in which they will get to spend eternity with the one they spent their whole life getting to know. Yet for others, that day will be a day in which the one they should have come to know will declare that he never knew them and they will learn that for them nothing but eternal punishment and torment await (Matthew 7:23).

I may not get all the answers I wish I had about my family who are now no longer with me, but I am thankful that God has given me a book, the Bible, in which I can learn about him and all about the desires he has for me. And if I will obey him and faithfully serve him all the days of my life, then when this life is over I will hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Matthew 25:23).

Don’t allow this life to end only to stand before the Lord wishing you had learned more. Take advantage of the time you have and use it wisely, because eternity is at stake!

Posted in Bible Study, Christian Living, Day of Judgment, Death, Faithfulness, God, Jesus Christ, Judgment, Knowledge, Obedience, The Bible, The Lord, Time Management, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Didn’t Know

Things got tense for passengers on a GoAir flight from New Delhi to Patna, India, on Sept. 22 when a first-time flyer mistook an emergency exit door for the restroom. Travel + Leisure magazine reported that fellow passengers asked the man, in his 20s, what he was doing, to which he replied that he “needed to use the washroom urgently” and returned to tugging at the door. Airport official Mohammad Sanowar Khan explained: “Pandemonium prevailed … and he was restrained. … He said that the confusion happened because he had boarded a flight for the first time in his life.” The unnamed traveler was questioned at the Patna airport. [Travel + Leisure, 9/26/2018]

I feel sorry for that young man (and the passengers who had to go through that moment), but his story reminds me that not everyone always knows what is right. Sometimes we expect people to know things that they may not have ever been taught and when they make a mistake because they didn’t know things have a tendency to get intense. Take a person who has never worded a prayer before or someone who has never attended church services and someone chastises them because they say or do the “wrong” thing.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t correct wrong behavior, truly the Scriptures teach us otherwise (cf. 2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:14) but how we approach a person should be considered. I’m reminded of Apollos (Acts 18:24-26), a man who was “competent in the Scriptures” and who “had been instructed in the way of the Lord,” but who “knew only the baptism of John.” He had come to Ephesus and was speaking “boldly in the synagogue” but when it came to baptism he wasn’t saying the right thing. Some might have been moved to blast him or to call him out publicly, but Priscilla and Aquilla pulled him aside “and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” In other words, instead of trying to embarrass Apollos, they chose to show “complete patience” (2 Timothy 4:2) as they taught him that which he didn’t know.

What about us? How do we treat someone who may not know the “right” thing to say or do? Do we mock them? Or do we show patience and lovingly teach them what is right?

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

Posted in Attitudes, Ignorance, Judgment, Patience, Self-Examination, Teaching, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Perhaps You Should Try A Different Approach

School resource officer and part-time police officer Maryssa Boskoski, 32, was called into a classroom at Liberty Preparatory School in Smithville, Ohio, on Aug. 30 to help rouse a sleeping student who could not be awakened by the teacher or even the principal. When Boskoski arrived, The Washington Post reported, her solution was to unholster her Taser, remove the firing cartridge and pull the trigger, causing an electric buzz that woke the student and shocked the school community. Smithville Police Chief Howard Funk placed Boskoski on unpaid leave and told WEWS news station Boskoski had been disciplined a month earlier, also for a Taser-related incident. An investigation was ongoing. [The Washington Post, 9/6/2018]

While I can’t speak for the situation, I’m pretty sure there was another way to wake that student up. One things for certain, as human beings we don’t always think out our approach. Especially when it comes to approaching others with the gospel.

When it comes to “waking” people from their spiritual slumber there are some who think you gotta hit ‘em with everything you got. And while that approach may get their attention, it might not always “pay off” in the end.

I find it interesting in Acts 8, as Philip taught the Ethiopian Noble Man, that he didn’t bash him for what he believed or even make him feel stupid for what he didn’t know, instead, he took what the man knew and taught him Jesus (v.35). The result… a brother in Christ (v.36-38).

Too often, we find “shock” value in being overly aggressive with the truth, when in all reality a gentle and loving approach would suffice. Yes, there are times where we need to be direct and firm, Jesus certainly taught us that (Cf. Matthew 21:12-13), but most of the time we need to be patient and understanding with those who may not know as much as we do. Keep in mind it is our responsibility as Christians to “rightly handle the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and to always teach that truth “in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

“Have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear…” (Jude 22-23)

Posted in Attitudes, Baptism, Bible Study, Compassion, Evangelism, Perspective, Salvation, Self-Examination, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Would It Change?

You may have read where “the Chinese government is destroying crosses, burning bibles, closing churches and forcing Christian believers to sign papers renouncing their faith as the crackdown on religious congregations in Beijing and several provinces intensifies” According to Fox News, this is “the most severe suppression of Christianity in the country” since 1982. (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/09/10/chinese-officials-burn-bibles-close-churches-force-christian-to-denounce-faith-amid-escalating-crackdown.html).

Its sad to see how Christians are being mistreated across the world, yet it should come as no surprise. Peter said in 1 Peter 4:12-13, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings…” (ESV) Even Jesus made it clear that we would be reviled and persecuted on His account (Matthew 5:12) and he tells us that since the world persecuted Him, we too would be persecuted (John 15:20).

But what does it change? If tomorrow you found out that it was against the law to worship God or study the Bible, if having anything to do with Jesus landed you in jail or meant you would be sentenced to death, would you do anything different? Would you abandon Christ to spare your freedom, your life, or would you continue to serve him as you always have?

Christians who lived during the first and second centuries faced extreme and violent persecution. Some were imprisoned and tortured, some faced the horror of being burned alive, others were torn apart by wild beasts. As a result some abandoned the faith and renounced Christ, but those who truly loved the Lord continued to follow him. Among the martyrs a man named Polycarp, a man who should inspire us all to serve Christ no matter what. Upon his arrest, he was brought before the Roman governor and offered freedom if he would curse Christ. Polycarp’s response…”Eighty and six years have I served Christ and he has done me nothing but good; how then could I curse him, my Lord and Savior?” Polycarp was then burned alive, but his faith never wavered.

I don’t know how bad it might get for Christian living today. For some, their faith is already being put to the test. And should the test come to us, I would hope that nothing would change and that our faith might too be found unwavering!

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21)

Posted in Christian Living, Christian Walk, Commitment, Faith, Faithfulness, Jesus Christ, Persecution, Uncategorized | Leave a comment