Edification

Edification

Matthew 11:28… Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. I find that in spite of my best efforts and intentions to focus on our Lord in my life, life (in this world) still often times becomes burdensome. I often get caught up in the issues of “being in this world” and lose my focus and where my focus ought to be. For me, this most often involves either business or family issues that often make life feel “very heavy.” During my morning quiet times, when I sometimes find myself feeling sorry for myself, our Lord reminds me and convicts me of others in my life who have “real burdens!” Two fellow believers who are battling cancer and another brother whose wife, in her mid-50s, has just been diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s just as she retired from teaching a year ago! As a result of much meditation and discernment, I have felt a strong call to edification in my ministry. Even committed Christians often get tired, discouraged and overwhelmed from carrying the weight of worldly responsibilities. They need to be reminded of where their true hope is in Jesus and his promises. They need to be told that you care about them and are praying for them! No one will doubt that Paul was a great evangelizer! But he also constantly edified the Christian communities he established. How many times do we read in Paul’s letters that he is thinking of them, thanking them, showing appreciation and encouraging them to trust God to help them work through the difficulties they...
Six Commitments in Walking by Faith

Six Commitments in Walking by Faith

Because we walk by faith, it must have challenges; otherwise, we would not need the God-given faith. Our only evidence that our faith is in God is how we walk by faith. Everyone does walk by faith; the question is, “faith in what?” The evidence of faith illustrates whether our faith is in God or elsewhere. God intends us to love Him as He loves us. He loves us unconditionally—we are totally undeserving of it. God’s love is a matter of choice. God gives us our faith to walk with Him regardless of the challenges and to love Him as a matter of choice. Joni Eareckson Tada is perhaps the greatest example of this in our time. As a quadriplegic, she has demonstrated this choice of faith in God and impacted countless lives. Her ministry of Joni and Friends distributes wheelchairs and other aids to indigent people all over the world. They share their faith while doing so. She has influenced the lives of many people who had no reason to hope. (Joni has published a book telling her story.) She had every worldly reason to run from God but has stayed the course, even though in tremendous pain. She says she simply turns it over to Jesus. I believe that if you intend to walk with Jesus there are some commitments you must first make: 1. The bible is the infallible Word of God and the inerrant Word of God. The giant question for those who do not agree with this, yet profess Christianity is what then is your source for knowing God? 2. You must continually work...
Sacrificing Truth

Sacrificing Truth

Throughout Scripture we are exhorted to follow, believe, do, understand, speak, know, trust in, and be in, the truth. Our post-modern understanding of truth is a funny thing, though, and we’ve gotten far off the mark these days. R.C. Sproul’s definition of truth is “…that which conforms to reality as it is perceived by God.” This simple definition works for me and in this context, I am the chief of sinners. Certainly, most believers see this problem as it exists in the world today, but I contend that this is even more prevalent within the church than without – which may be a much greater evil. Here are five ways in which I’ve witnessed my own the sacrificing of truth: 1. Call it cultural. If it wasn’t meant for me, I don’t have to do it. 2. See No Evil. If we intentionally ignore evil, we aren’t accountable for it. 3. My Truth, Your Truth. There are many “truths,” and one is as good as the next. At the heart of this deception is the “figurative vs. literal” debate. I do not want to live in a world where I get to determine what is true. 4. The Sliding Scale. Perhaps the most prevalent, easiest to adopt, and hardest to recognize, this deception suggests that some “truths” are more important to God than others. 5. Love Conquers All. “Loving” others while disobeying God is to hate God, clear and simple. J. C. Ryle once quoted “Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of Peace.” I do not know how narrow the gate...
Right and Wrong: Who Decides?

Right and Wrong: Who Decides?

“…but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” Ephesians 6:6 A friend facing a moral dilemma recently said to me “I am struggling with my decision, but I want to do the right thing”. As we talked together in an attempt to work through the issue, I asked the question, “Do the right thing by whose standards?” This seems to be the key question as we face many of the difficult decisions of life and attempt to do what is right. “Do the right thing by whose standards” is the question. It is not that there is a lack of standards. Standards abound all around us. Everyone has their standards because everyone believes in moral absolutes. Meaning that everyone has a point where they declare what they believe to be right and wrong. At some point everyone will say “that is wrong” and in so doing they declare what is for them a moral absolute. The issue isn’t whether or not people believe in moral absolutes, the issue is who gets to decide what the moral absolutes are. That was the issue in the Garden of Eden and it is the issue today. A key distinction of being a Christian is that we affirm the fact that God gets to decide what is right and wrong and, in turn, we get to obey. To do otherwise is to expect to have a relationship with God on our terms as opposed to His. Something He is not anxious to do. As Followers of Jesus Christ we must not succumb to the pressure from the world...
Asking and Seeking

Asking and Seeking

A.S.K.ing in Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”, Ask:  to beg, call for, crave, desire, require and it will be given –of one’s own accord, to give one something, to his advantage; to bestow, give as a gift Seek:   to seek in order to find; and you will find: to come upon, hit upon, to meet with; after searching, to find a thing sought Knock:  to knock with a heavy blow; and it will be opened: to grant something asked for What should we be A.S.K.ing (Ask, Seek, Knock) for? Verse 11 tells us our heavenly Father will give us what He defines as “good” or useful.  “…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” When we approach this question biblically, we quickly identify that it is not simply about asking God for whatever we want.  We should consider asking for (requesting/begging), seeking (in order to find), and knocking for (indicates aggressions) something(s) more “good” than just anything we want. Later on in Matthew 7, v. 21 He says, “He who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” Consider if this is more about aligning our will (what we want) with what He wants (what is good), and then being intentful about asking and pursuing His desire for us:          Am I working His will to include what I want, or I...
That Dreadful Question

That Dreadful Question

My soul, wait in silence for God only.  For my hope is from Him. Psalm 62:5 Several years ago, I came across a friend whom I had not seen in quite some time. We exchanged the typical greetings and quickly shared several pleasant comments with each other. Immediately following, he looked at me straight in the eye and raised a question that no one had ever asked me before. Ever. “How’s your soul?” he asked. What kind of a question is that? In addition, who asks that kind of a question? At first, I almost took offense. The audacity. I stared back for what felt like an eternity. I am usually pretty good at drawing from a deep well of witty comebacks for such moments. Usually, there is no shortage of clever responses and at times, they even sound genuine. This time, I was speechless. Stumped. Interestingly, his genuine stare begged a genuine response. He proceeded to wait patiently for me to answer the question. I could not even come up with a fabricated response. I remember taking a deep breath and proceeded to mumble a few incoherent words. It has been several years now since I had that memorable interaction and I have never forgotten the question or the stare for that matter. That particular question, however, has caused me to periodically slow down and think about my soul. It is so incredibly easy for me to stop and think about a million other things, but it is so hard to think about my soul. Why is that? The prophet Jeremiah says, “The heart is more deceitful than all...