10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment #6)

10 Commandments for Social Media

Commandment #6

     As we approach the next commandment, we get into something that most of us would readily “pat ourselves on the back” and say … “no worries mate” that doesn’t apply to me. It is a biggie after all … thou shalt not kill. We would never think of ourselves as a murderer! For the most part, we have grown up with a respect for human life & everyone’s right to their own (that is, except the unborn … but that subject will “have to wait for another day” as they say). If you remember, our forefathers who established “the American experiment,” came to this land to take the Bible seriously and establish a unique government founded upon a Judeo-Christian ethic that protected an individual’s “right” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

     Do you remember that line in “It’s a Wonderful Life” where God is in heaven talking with Clarence, “AS2” (Angel – Second Class) about the situation that George Bailey is engaged in and He says something like … “He’s thinking seriously of throwing away God’s greatest gift.” I’m not sure of the exact quote (and I probably should know it as many times as we’ve watched this movie as a family), but that is the essence of the line of thought! Life IS the most sacred gift God has given us, and for the most part in the real world … you only get one chance at it. Oh, I know that in the world of video games, you get as many chances at life (start over) as you want … but that IS NOT reality. So, as we consider this command, the essential question for us to ponder is this … how do I “value” the life of another? How do I keep from taking away from another their “essential being?”

6)     Exo 20:13  Thou shalt not kill.

     So, there it is … do not kill – do not destroy (take away the life) through any means, of another rational created being – not physically, not with words, nor with anger in our heart (as Jesus taught). How do we keep from killing another … especially in today’s society where to a large degree we’ve bought into the philosophy that “it’s all about me!” You know, when we buy into the idea that the world evolves around me, then it’s rather easy to justify thinking … saying … doing anything necessary to advance “me” at the expense of others, because we’ve become “man – centered” rather than “God – centered” in our mindset. So, to address this command, we must remember that when Jesus walked on this earth as “one of us,” He taught that the essence of God’s commands for men was not merely external conformity, but rather internal heart change. That is the essence of much of the teaching of the Beatitudes.  “You have heard it said … BUT I say unto you …” This is where our Christianity either comes to LIFE … or  DIES on the vine, as they say.

By the way, I hope you are not one of those misguided American believers who feels that since the 10 Commandments were given in the Old Testament and we are now living in the dispensation of grace, that “none of that O.T. stuff has anything to do with us to benefit our Christian lives.” Oh, how wrong you would be, and would then have so much from a New Testament perspective to answer for if you believe that.  Just for an example and then we’ll move on: Jesus Himself often quotes in a positive way the 10 commandments (Mt.5:21-28; Mk10:19; Lk.18:20; Jn.7:19), then we have other New Testament writers referring to them in a positive light as well, meaning they were still important and in place in the age of grace – Paul (Rom. 2:21-24, 13:9) & James (Jms. 2:8-11). They (the 10 Commandments) make plain the moral law of God by His very nature and you cannot remove them anymore than you can destroy God Himself! So, here, I think is the essence of this command when it comes to social networking:

  • Do not allow jealousy to find its way into your comments concerning others in a social media avenue.

For our purpose then, of using social networking for edification, exhortation & advancement of the kingdom of God, we must go beyond the essence of actually ending someone’s life (which hopefully none of us would ever entertain such a thought) into heart attitudes that reflect the same destructive force, in essence, of removing another person’s existence. It has been said that jealousy is “the fear of being displaced.” Be honest now, is there someone you would just as soon “did not exist” because you compare yourself to them, or feel in some way in competition with them? If they weren’t around, I could be his/her best friend. If they weren’t around I could be Dad/Mom’s favorite? If they weren’t around, I could get that part in the play, or they might ask me to take that solo instead of her/him! Jealousy is a deadly disease.

The question we must ask ourselves is “do I entertain negative thoughts toward another person that are destructive in nature?” Do I have “a desire to kill” their reputation, their thoughts, their agenda, their opinions or philosophy of life that is different than mine? Now, before you take that line of thinking too far down the road of “tolerance” … let me say that there are some philosophies in existence “out there” that need to be destroyed, that need to be challenged and confronted! That is not what we are talking about here … we are instead talking about not tearing down another person just to make ourselves look better. Not attacking a person just because our opinion or outlook on life is different.

  • Do not use social media avenues as a means of “self promotion” or “self protectionism” … leave your reputation with God.

There is a difference between defending the reputation and glory of God (standing for TRUTH) … and defending our own reputation (standing for SELF). We are to be ambassadors for Christ, as His representatives we should stand for truth, we should “speak the truth in love” & we should “contend for the faith” as Jude commanded. However, for the most part, it is not our job to tear down someone else in order to make ourselves look better. I personally have encountered a number of situations in the last few years in which I could have said something that might make me look better then someone else in a given situation, you probably have too … but that is not our place to do … especially when it would be “at the expense” of someone else’s reputation. That is indeed the temptation in this commandment … will you destroy someone else in some form, in order to protect yourself? That is what we are NOT to do. You shall not kill! We must develop the mindset of John the Baptist when people came to him attempting to stir up a comparison (a jealousy) between him and Jesus. His response must become ours – He must increase, but I must decrease.”

  • Do not allow vindictive, destructive attitudes concerning others to enter into your use of social media avenues.

Do you remember that passage of scripture we referred to in another of the commandments … “death & life are in the power of the tongue?” That is what this challenge is all about. To “kill” as we look in the New Testament is addressed by several of the writers in dealing with heart matters that affect another person.  Remember Jesus’ words concerning Satan himself in Jn. 10:10, “the thief comes to steal, to kill & to destroy.” That is the thought addressed here. What might be the destructive force of our words to steal from someone (rob their good name unnecessarily), to kill (annihilate their personhood, their worth), or to destroy (to slander their reputation in an angry or vindictive manner). Jesus, for example warns of condemning & calling someone a fool & holding a deep, vindictive, indignant contemptuous anger without a cause (the Greek word means “as if to spit upon”) in our heart toward another as equivalent to the desire to kill them and places us in a position of deserving judgment upon ourselves.

I witnessed firsthand a Youth Pastor & his wife – who felt they were mistreated & unappreciated at their church. She determined to use Facebook as a means of “getting their message out” to the youth and their parents. (Along with the rest of the world, I might add!) Here was the problem with that decision: much of what they reported was false, meant to make themselves “look good,” secondly they were telling perhaps 1,000’s of people who were neither “a part of the problem or a part of the solution” (that is known as gossip), thirdly it added “fuel to the fire” rather than helping solve grievances, fourthly it damaged the reputation of God – as others thought of how that particular church handles conflicts within the congregation, fifthly – because it was broadcast to the world, their sin (as Nathan the prophet told David the king years ago) “gave great occasion to the enemies of God to blaspheme” His name (II Sam.12:14). I was grateful that in this particular case, two of the Youth Workers (women) did the Biblical thing and went directly to that Youth Pastor’s wife to challenge her words & manner of handling this situation. She listened to them, agreed with them, and said she would remove her past statements from public viewing. They prayed together & left rejoicing that God had honored their handling of the scenario in a Biblical manner! However, by the time they returned to their own home, they also found that she had “de-friended” them on Facebook! What “Junior High” mentality! No wonder lost people in the social realm point the finger at professing Christians & say “what have they got, that I don’t have?” Unfortunately, in many cases they are right … we act just like, or worse than unbelievers in the handling of problems.

So, here’s the bottom line – do not kill! Don’t use social media as a means of “venting” your personal feelings concerning another. As a rule of thumb:  Private matters should be handled in a private setting (if it’s going on in your heart & mind – handle it there – between you and God). Personal matters should be handled in a personal setting (if it’s going on in relationship with someone in particular – handle it with them alone). Only public matters should be handled in a public setting … and then, only through a proper Biblical fashion.

Becoming Disciples of the Word of God

I’ve entitled this article “Becoming Disciples of the Word of God.” What is a disciple? In simple terms, a disciple is “a learning follower.” We all know of course that in a portion of what we call “The Great Commission,” Jesus calls upon us to “teach all nations,” that is more accurately translated “make disciples” or to “enroll as a scholar.” So we see that in that commission comes not only the command to go and share the gospel, but also to enroll believers to be disciples … so that they may grow personally and become capable of sharing with others the good news of the gospel. So, our goal should be “to know Christ and to make Him known.” Though we will not take the time to advance this thought here, I firmly believe that Jesus taught not only that we should “believe on Him” in order to be saved, but also that EVERY BELIEVER ALSO IS CALLED TO BE A DISCIPLE … NO EXCEPTIONS!   

There is a burden we carry as we’ve traveled for 35+ years across the country in revival ministry.  We’ve had the privilege to minister in some of the most solid, Bible preaching churches in our land.  That burden is a desire for God’s people to grow in love with the scriptures, and develop the daily habit of spending time with the Lord in His Word.  As one man said, “The Bible is ‘God’s love letter’ to His children and brothers & sisters … we ought to read our mail daily!” I think perhaps one of the greatest experiences for us as believers is what has been called “the joy of personal discovery.” To be able to get alone with God, open & read His Word, and then have the Holy Spirit of God (who authored the scriptures) teach us about God – Himself, reveal His plan for our lives & then learn how we can grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was indeed Peter’s exhortation in his first epistle, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby.”(I Pet.2:2)

Over and over again throughout the scriptures, both Old & New Testament we are exhorted about the importance of having the Word to feed our souls as believers. It should be a daily practice in our lives, a Godly exercise (I Tim.4:7-9) that helps keeps us strong in the Lord, & a necessary tool for Godly fellowship with other believers & for being able to confidently share the gospel with unbelievers. Remember Paul’s exhortation to Timothy:

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.  Take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear thee.     1 Tim. 4:13,16 (KJV)

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. II Tim.2:15

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. II Tim. 3:16,17 

And then, of course, we have the wonderful testimony given of the Berean Christians in The Book of Acts:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures dailywhether those things were so.  

Acts 17:11

             For these reasons (and a myriad of others that could be given from scripture) the following suggestions and guidelines are given to help us as “ordinary” believers to “get into the Word for ourselves and allow the Word to get into us!” Let me begin by giving you a simple outline for basic Bible study, and then we will look at each one in greater detail!

 

Here are the 5 steps:

1)    Request

2)    Read

3)    Record

4)    Respond

5)    Reproduce

 

It’s really quite simple … you just have to get started. The longer you “practice” the more it will become a habit, a good habit. So, here goes!

 

1)   Request:

 

  • Ask the Spirit to guide you into all truth.   (Jn. 16:13, I Cor. 2:9-13, I John 2:27)

As you read the scriptures listed under this heading you will see for yourself that one of the primary ministries of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to teach us the scriptures and the commands of Jesus. When I sit down to spend time with the Lord in the Bible, I begin with a prayer, asking God to teach me from His Word, to show me the true meaning of a passage and also how it applies to my life. Even as a preacher, I must come to the scriptures for my daily sustenance, that is, for my “meat, bread & potatoes” if you will … oh yes, and also my dessert! His words are “sweeter than honey” (Ps.19:10; 119:103) & Job also tells us “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”(Job 23:12).  

I will tell you that many times I’ve opened my Bible and started reading without a conscious prayer and dependency on the Holy Spirit to guide & teach me … you know what I mean, sort of going through “the motions of devotions,” and about two chapters into that process find that I’ve not learned anything nor had anything I read to stick with me! In other words, I’ve basically wasted my time and energy. When I realize that … I ask God’s forgiveness for trying to “do it on my own,” then go back and reread the very same passage, now with a ‘conscious dependence on Him’ to teach me … and it seems as if the passage explodes off the page and I learn new insight into God and His ways! We need Him to teach us the scriptures.

 

  • Whatever God reveals … I will obey !

 The second lesson I’ve learned about this time is to be sure I am in agreement with God and His way of thinking. Remember the passage where Isaiah tells us that our natural way of thinking does not usually line up with God’s? (Isa. 55:8,9) So, for me, I’ve learned in my prayer to say something like this, “Lord, I don’t know what You are going to show me in Your Word today, but I want to go on record, before we even get started, that I agree with You!”  Whatever that may require, if it means changing my way of thinking about a particular subject, or if it means a change in my lifestyle, I am going to obey the Lord.  Let’s remember this: The key to understanding truth in the scriptures is obedience. (Psa. 111:10) So, let this attitude prevail in our devotional time … “Lord, whatever You speak to me about, I will obey!”

            We have the example in scripture of Ezra, whom God called a “ready scribe.” This verse tells us why he was a ready scribe.

Ezra 7:10 – Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

 

He had:

  • Prepared the heart
  • Sought God’s Word

He was:

  • Committed to obey
  • Committed to teach

 

2)   Read:

  • Consecutively – Do not hop, skip, and jump through the scriptures! Do not try the “close your eyes and point to a verse” approach to discover God’s will on a daily basis. That can get you into trouble! Your growth in understanding the Bible should come about little by little, line upon line, precept upon precept (Isa.28).  If you are “new” to spending time in the scriptures, perhaps you want to begin with the Gospel of John in the New Testament.
  • Slowly … thoughtfully This is not the place to try out your speed reading! Your are not running a race here. Study of the scriptures is a marathon, not a 100 yard sprint.

 Neh. 8:8 – So they read in the book of the law of God distinctly and they gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

  • Examined the text – “distinctly”
  • Expounded the truth – “gave the sense”
  • Explained the teaching – “caused them to understand”

3)   Record:

You need a notebook or a journal or perhaps even a wide margin Bible in which to record what God is saying to you through your study time. You will find that you remember a larger quantity of what you read and record, versus merely what you read.

 

What is God saying to me?

I)           Ask Questions

 

a)     What does it say?    Who, What, Where, Why, When ??

  • Who? – who is the author and who are the recipients of the letter?
  • What? – what is the cause – is this letter being written for instruction, to praise God or someone receiving the letter, is it in order to inform or notify the recipients of what God is doing or has done?
  • Where? – written from where and to whom?( It has impact to consider what Paul is saying when sitting in prison telling the church at Philippi to “rejoice in the Lord always” and to “be content, no matter what the situation” presents to them.   To think of John writing Revelation while being exiled on the isle of Patmos, suffering for his faith has impact on your reading, etc., you get the point.)
  • Why? – to be able to line the book up with one of God’s four purposes for giving us the scriptures, sometimes help us with reading & comprehending the message, the purpose for this letter. Based on II Tim.3:16, is this letter written for doctrine, reproof, correction or instruction in righteousness? Some, of course, include far more than one purpose.
  • When? – sometimes understanding the history of a book helps especially in Old Testament when reading a book written during captivity or when the hearts of God’s people were perhaps not focused on serving God as they ought to be, or like the book of Judges where you learn that the reason for such chaos and unusual happenings in the people of God was because “every man did that which was right in their own eyes.” No wonder they were in such a mess!

 

b)     Consider the context in which it was written. 

Remember:  A text, without a context is a pretext! i.e. – the conclusion drawn is “misleading or an untrue” interpretation.  

For example, Mt.6:33 is sometimes quoted to say “if we seek God, He will give us whatever we want based on this passage.” If you study the context of this passage, the “things” which God promised to add to you are specifically food, drink & clothing as outlined in verses 25-33, not a “fill in the blank” with whatever you want.

Another example would be: Jn.12:32 in which Jesus said, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” This is often used and quoted by a Worship Leader in a service to say, “let’s just lift up Jesus in our singing and He has promised to draw men to Himself.” God may indeed draw men to Himself during Christ exalting singing and preaching, however, when you read the passage in its context, John, the writer of the gospel tells us in the very next verse that Jesus said this “signifying that kind of death he would die.” In other words, the “lifting up” Jesus was talking about was his death through crucifixion, not just an exciting praise service. That is the meaning of this text, in its context … Jesus was to be crucified and through that sacrificial death, He would “draw all men unto Himself!”

 

c)     What does it mean ?

What are the principles that I should “take away” from this passage? Sometimes it is helpful to use a good dictionary to look up key words, or to learn to use the cross references and concordance already available in most of our Bibles. I am convinced that “the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself” … use the cross references that others have already studied and shared with us in the center columns of your pages. It’s also good to read an accurate commentary along with your personal study. Probably the most well known and longest standing, practical and trustworthy one that comes to mind is Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. Usually reasonable in price and usually comes with Bible Software programs at no added expense.

 

d)     What should I do as a result of this passage?

      This is a helpful train of thought to develop when studying the scriptures. As I am reading and reflecting … is there a promise to claim … is there a command to obey … is there a sin that needs to be confessed … is there an example I need to follow in this passage?

           

II)              Summarize:  Here are a few suggestions you may want to use to help you grasp spiritual truth.  You may want to develop:

  • Chapter Title
  • Paragraph Title
  • Key thoughts (sometimes I’ve mulled over these for weeks on end):

                                    * What do ye more than others? Mt.5:47

                                    * Ye have not so learned Christ! Eph.4:20

  • Look for repeated words or phrases:    * “Ye are” …  I Cor. 3:9b,3:9c,3:16

                                                                          * “In Whom” … Eph. 1:7,11,13; 2:22; 3:12; 4:16

  • Identify a key verse in the passage

 

 III)    Paraphrase  – you may want to write out a passage in your own words and personalize it by “putting yourself” right in the midst of the passage. For example, let’s take a personal application of Psalm 1:1 –

 

Ps.1:1 – I will be blessed of the Lord as I learn to guard myself against the counsel of the ungodly (which really is any counsel that is not based on the absolute truth as revealed in the scriptures). I will be blessed of the Lord as I refuse to take upon me the attitudes of those who do not know Christ, and as I refuse to become comfortable as a scornful man or a mocker of God’s Words and Ways!

 

            One tool that might help you in doing this is “The Amplified Bible.” When used properly, this Bible can be a great help in giving you understanding of a particular passage and presenting it in language you can get your mind around. In the front of the Amplified Bible is a key that tells you how to use it. It will give you certain words that are the true meaning of original language, some are English equivalents at the time of the translation, some are a modern way of  expressing the true meaning of the verse. Use the key correctly and it is a great tool.

 

          4) Respond: Ask yourself the question, what is the proper response to what God has shown me today?

 

  • Is there something for which I can praise God?
  • Is there something I need to take to Him in prayer?
  • What would be a proper response of humility as I see what God has shown me today?
  • Is there a change that needs to take place in my life… something I need to do in obedience to the Lord?

      5) Reproduce:   Be committed by God’s grace to see Him reproduce in the lives of others what He is doing in you by freely sharing with others His fresh work of grace in your heart. Verbally telling others what God is showing you helps produce accountability in our Christian lives. We all NEED accountability … someone wisely said, “Without accountability the Christian life is optional!”

 

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  Phil. 4:9  (ESV)

 

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11

10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment # 5)

As we turn our focus from the commandments related to God and start to focus on the last six focusing on our relationships with others, we should see how the first four work their way into everyday occurrences in life. How do we “love our neighbors as ourselves?” These next six will definitely put some handles on that issue for us. This first one of course establishes one of the foundational principles of God’s protection & plan for our lives. That is, that we learn to see authorities through His eyes. As our society continues to break down and forsake the Word of God, is it any wonder that many of us have such a hard time seeing our parents from God’s viewpoint. Then we have to ask ourselves the question … how do we honor our parents through the avenue of Social Media? I think it will show up in words, in attitudes we display, in counsel we give to others about their relationship with their parents, etc.. For some it may be areas that no one else besides us and our immediate family can pick up on … like posting things that we know our parents would not approve of, or things that reflect negatively on our family heritage. When someone still struggles with particulars about their family, it tends to show up in little things shared with others in a public setting (like Facebook) but with a hidden message to our parents. I am asking God to quietly “put handles on this one” for us, as we see this principle from His perspective.

 #5) Honor your parents – deliberately, intentionally, proactively – so that God may honor you.

 Exo 20:12  Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

You will notice of course in my “contemporary” translation of the verse above that I expanded a bit on the word “honor.” The simple reason for that is to identify what exactly the word honor means. Honor is not merely an attitude, though it is that. Honor is a verb, meaning there are tangible avenues through which honor is demonstrated.  One thing you will notice in scripture about honor is this: “blessing” (honor) is ALWAYS deliberate, conscious and proactive … whereas “cursing” (to dishonor) can be either deliberate, conscious and active … or it can be unintentional, unconscious and inactive. In other words, what you discover is this: the absence of blessing actually warrants the presence of cursing.

You may say, but my parents do not deserve being blessed or honored for that matter. There are decisions they’ve made, there are lifestyle choices they’ve lived that I cannot respect. How can you expect me to honor someone I do not respect? Actually, you can do just that. There is a difference between honor and respect. Honor is something we are commanded to do (I know this generation does not like the word “command” but nonetheless it is a good word and in this case, it is the RIGHT word, as far as God & Jesus are concerned … Ex.20:6; 24:12; 34:28; Mt.22:40; Mk.10:19; Lk.18:20; Jn. 14:15,21; 15:10; Eph.6:2). So, yes we are indeed commanded by God to honor our parents, but respect may indeed in some cases fit into another category. If you will, honor is required by God (for our own benefit) and respect may be something that has to be “earned” by the recipient. Respect may come “naturally” when the character of the recipient is worthy of being followed, listened to, and patterned after. Honor on the other hand is “required by God” because He chose to place this person in your life or in this case, actually used this person to bring you into the world! When one refuses to honor their parents, it actually reveals an attitude problem with God (because ultimately He is the one Who chose to use them in your life)! [It is my own opinion that in most cases, even when it comes to the matter of honor, if we look long enough, we can also find reasons for “esteeming” this person “highly because of the position God has given them” … if we stop to look long enough! I know … not always, but sometimes we just need to take the time to look beyond our own hurt & anger to get a clear picture of the subject involved.] But, what about a situation in which the parents do something that is not worthy of honor … perhaps they even sinned, perhaps they even hurt us in that sin … what do we do then?

There is a story in Gen.9 that perhaps gives us some insight into how to respond to a parent when they disappoint us intentionally or unintentionally through the choices they make that directly affect us. This incident takes place after Noah and his family have survived the flood, come out of the ark and now find themselves reestablishing life on the purified planet earth. The scriptures tell us that Noah planted a vineyard and once the grapes have grown, he picks them, makes wine with them and through partaking of the fruit of the vine (and obviously too much) he becomes drunken from the wine. Not only is the “preacher of righteousness” (II Pet.2:5) passed out in a drunken stupor, but is also unclothed and lying naked in his tent. Ham (the second born), walks into the tent, sees his father, drunk & sprawled out naked and leaves the tent to tell the other brothers all that he saw. We don’t know exactly how he reported it, either with a lighthearted, mocking spirit of dishonor, or just wanting to tell something negative & slanderous about his father that he knew and others did not. “Hey guys come look at Dad, he’s drunk as a hoot owl and laying in his tent without a stitch of clothes on!” It is interesting to me that as of the time in history when this event occurs, it had not yet been written that “you are not to look on the nakedness of thy father” (Lev.18:7), nor had it been written that “you are to honor your father & mother” (Ex.20:12) … but it is very obvious that these things were ingrained in the heart.

When Shem & Japheth hear the report from Ham, they immediately take action to remedy the situation and refuse to enter into the mocking of Ham. The scriptures report that those two brothers quickly pick up a large garment (a clothing item in some form), they wrap it around both their shoulders and then walk backwards into the tent, until they can sense that they are in the presence of their father, with “their faces backward,” so that they “saw not their fathers nakedness” and “covered the nakedness of their father” and left the tent.  In other words they refused to look on their father’s nakedness … even though he was “in sin” as this event took place. The Bible does not tell us how, but in some way, when “Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his younger son had done.” The story goes on to tell us that because of what Ham had done there was a curse placed on Canaan (the youngest son of Ham & believed by most theologians to have been his favorite as the “baby” of the family). Many theologians also believe the curse was placed upon him because in some form he was a participant in the mockery of Noah in the tent. What is the principle application of this story to our lives today? My take on it is this. None of us are “perfect parents” and none of us have “perfect parents,” but it is still possible for us to honor – deliberately, intentionally and proactively those imperfect parents that God has given us. There could be situations in life in which you need to “cover” your parents – refuse to look on their fault (maybe even their sin) in order to “cover them with honor.” Remember, in the long run, you are the one who suffers most by not honoring those whom God Himself has placed in your life for His own eternal purposes. 

As Solomon reminds us in his writings, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Pro. 18:21), and so it is with honor, one of the primary means of showing honor is in the words we use when speaking of and to our parents.  And of course, whenever we “write” something on the internet, it is the same as “speaking it” from our mouth.  If you long to honor your parents in social communications you must remember … it could be words, it could be attitudes (even mocking), it could be in your “counsel” to friends on FB, it could be by displaying a lifestyle you know dishonors the heritage you were raised with, or “flaunting your independence” from your upbringing (“I’m so glad I’m out of that house” mentality).

So, how can I honor my parents & my heritage through the social media? You will first have to enter a mindset something like this:

You must:

* Be convinced that this is your“duty as a child.

* Take time to contemplate the basis of your blessing.

* Be selective of your wording.

* Make a conscious effort to write or express in some form the blessings.

* See yourself as a messenger of God.

Be proactive in the tribute or blessing.

Keep it up!  Do not stop blessing!

A number of years ago, I found myself counseling a young lady, now out of her home, serving the Lord in full time ministry … yet hindered by some very difficult home situations, especially with her mother. I challenged her with some “projects” to take care of when she went home that year for Christmas. Things like …

  • spend special time with just her,
  • show special interest in her world,
  • hug her,
  • fix her favorite meal one night,
  • verbally express thanks for little things she does for you,
  • clear your conscience in areas where you rebelled against her,
  • talk about good memories of times when you were living there with her,
  • tell her you love her,
  • clean up after yourself – without being asked,
  • tell her special things you learned from watching her life,
  • think of other ways you can invest in her.

It was life changing for that daughter! When she returned after the holidays, she was a changed girl herself! About six months later, she sent me a book in the mail called “The Gift of The Blessing” coauthored by Gary Smalley & John Trent. She wrote to me in the introduction page, “I thought you might like to see in written form the life changing principles you shared with me when we talked!” Truth will indeed set people free!

Perhaps you will want to take the time to write a “tribute” to honor and bless your parents. A number of years ago, Dennis Rainey wrote a book called “The Tribute.” He & others within a worldwide ministry had discovered that there was a whole generation of Christians actively involved in serving the Lord in ministry around the world, that somewhere in their pilgrimage, had walked away from the privilege and responsibility of honoring their parents, and now years later found it was hindering their own family relationships and ministry. So, the book was written to give them some “handles” on how to remedy that situation. You can still probably find the book through an internet search and read it for yourself. When my wife and I read it, we determined that it would be good for us to write a “tribute” to our own folks.

Even though my own father was already in heaven at that point, when I wrote one to my Mom, I also found ways to include Dad in the tribute. The scriptures tell us, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” In other words, if you want to develop a mindset of honor, begin by taking an active role in blessing your parents. For those who may want to investigate this further, I’ve attached in another blog the tributes that Nancy and I wrote to our folks if it might help you to see how you could do this as well. You can find those through this site: http://aaarm.org/2012/04/honoring-your-parents-through-a-tribute/.

In my own study of principles of scripture I have found that you never reach an age where you can dishonor your parents and be honored by God. Might be good to proactively … honor your father and your mother!

Honoring Your Parents Through a “Tribute”

In one of the other writings posted here (Commandment #5 of Social Media) we spoke of the importance of honoring & blessing our parents. In that post we mentioned perhaps writing a “Tribute” to them as an expression of thanks & a tangible means of blessing those who have poured so much of themselves into our upbringing. When you think of how much God says in scripture about the importance of honoring your parents, it becomes essential that we figure out “how” we can do that. Remember this … in scripture, “cursing” can be active or inactive, but “blessing” is always proactive – it is conscious and deliberate!

Exo 21:17 – He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

Pro 20:20  – Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.

Pro 30:11 – There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.

You can honor your parents while you are living at home with them … and you can honor your parents even after you are out of the home. And, if I might add something more to the thinking … you can actually still honor your parents, even if they are no longer living. You can do that by what you say to other family members, or to your children (the next generation coming along needs to learn this too), or you can yet honor your folks by a written tribute shared with others … or perhaps even shared with the Lord. I have encouraged many who did not honor them while they were alive with this suggestion.

 “Take the time to WRITE OUT A BLESSING to them, then either go to their gravesite,

or if that is not possible, get alone on your knees before the Lord, verbally deliver it

OUT LOUD to the Lord, and ask Him if He would also deliver it to them for you.”

             I wanted to give you a couple of examples, by way of “The Tributes” Nancy and I wrote to honor our parents a number of years ago. Sometimes, seeing and reading something already done by someone else gives us a better idea of how we might approach the same project in our family. I also want to say that as much as this may indeed bless your parents, I can guarantee you that YOU will be the greatest beneficiary of completing this exercise. This will truly teach you, as Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

            Remember, if you decide to do this, make a “big deal” out of it! Have it printed up nicely and placed in a quality frame, perhaps matted and ready for your parents to hang it in a place of recognition in their home. Believe me, if your parents are anything at all like ours … they will want others to see it as much as they want them to see the most recent family portraits! When we presented ours to my mother, we did at Christmas time with all the kids & their mates present, also all the grandkids & great grandkids! Once Mom opened it, my oldest brother had asked me to read it to Mom, one of the grandkids filmed it taking place. All was quiet, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room and when it was finished the room broke out in applause for Mom! We will never forget it!  Below are Nancy’s and my tribute given to our folks years ago.

Delivered to Logan & Kay Coffer:

MY TRIBUTE OF LOVE

 “How can I say thanks for the things you have done for me, things so undeserved, yet you did to prove your love for me…”

 God has poured so many undeserved blessings into my life, and one of the greatest of His blessings has been you, my wonderful parents!  You have given me a tremendous heritage of godliness to follow.  My earliest memories are of church nurseries (and how I learned to stay there without crying) and sitting on the front row (or the organ bench, as needed!) while Mom played the organ and Daddy led the singing.  In our family, you taught us that Jesus was the head of our home and that everything we did was to please Him.  There was never a question whether or not we would go to church – we were there every time the doors were open and were involved in everything there was to offer  . . . and we loved it!  Thank you for showing me the joy of serving Jesus and for leading me to Him at an early age!  Today, my family and I literally “live” on church parking lots and are ministering in churches nearly every night . . . and love it!

Our home was always a very safe, secure place because the word ‘divorce’ was never used.  We knew our parents were committed to marriage for a lifetime.  Thank you for sticking together in good times and bad, and for growing together in love over the years.  Today, my children are secure in knowing that divorce is never a possibility in their family either!

We had a lot of fun growing up.  I have special memories of dress-up parties, backyard wading pools, playhouses in the garage, camping in Branson, helping sack Avon orders, picnics, rides and roller skating at Doling Park, matching dresses, church plays and school plays, Singing Teens, Highlanders, Duke and Duchess, Scout (the glue-factory reject), driving around Southern Hills to look at Christmas lights, Silver Dollar City, singing as a family, Volkswagens, and so many more.  It takes a lot of time, money, and energy to keep three lively girls entertained, as I am finding out!  I am grateful for the extra effort and the sacrifices you made to provide much more than our “needs”.  Today, my children are excited about “little things” like dress-up clothes,  new crayons, going to Nanny and Papalo’s, country stores, travelling in a trailer, dressing alike, Silver Dollar City, singing together, and meeting new people.  

Daddy, I have learned so much from your life . . . contentment, faithfulness, integrity, forgiveness, gentleness.  You have always worked hard, yet you never let it interfere with your family priorities.  You were there at every concert, ball game, parade, or play your girls were involved in.  You led us spiritually and taught us to find God’s will in every area, then you had the faith to let go and let us follow Him wherever His path took us.  I have seen you treated wrongly at times, yet never have I seen you retaliate or become bitter or resentful.  You have been a wonderful “picture of God” to me!!

Mom, I don’t know anyone who has more of a servant’s heart than you.  No matter how hard you have worked or how tired you are, you are constantly looking for ways to serve others first.  You have a genuine love for people and are always concerned about finding out their spiritual condition. Thank you for teaching me to cook, clean, sew, be thrifty, run a household, be hospitable, and raise a family with a heart for God.  You have shown me how to be a servant to others, just as Jesus was!

Thank you both for allowing the Lord to direct your lives and for following His leadership and instructions for our home.  My life and the lives of your grandchildren will benefit for years to come because of your example of godliness.  I love you and I praise God for you daily!

 “…The voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude; all that I am or ever hope to be, I owe it all to Thee!

TO GOD BE THE GLORY! !


 Delivered to Libby St.Clair:

Thank You . . . Mom!

 How do we begin to say ‘thanks’ to one who carries the name … Mom ?  Everyone who knows you would expect to find you listed in the favorites of “Who’s Who of Moms in America”!  We would even go so far as to say perhaps never has a mother lived so single-mindedly,  giving herself so unselfishly for her familyYour  sacrificial spirit through the years has been incredible, and you’ve shown us what “tenderhearted and kindness” look like in human form.

You’ve always worked hard, never one for wasting time! Thank you for the innumerable hours spent just keeping our family of six in clean and neat clothes (we still remember the blue jeans that used to hang on the line in Bassett with those metal pants stretchers, and the old pot you would use for getting Daddy’s railroad hat just right  —  all starched and ironed!). Late at night you could be found sewing clothes for us, and putting patches on torn knees in our pants.

You weren’t one given to hobbies or extracurricular activities unless they involved your family.  You gave yourself to the greatest and most unselfish career a woman could have —  Motherhood.  We always knew when we got home from school . . . you would be there!  That’s probably why you never got your driver’s license until after Daddy went to be with the Lord . . . you seemed to have no need for personal pleasure unless it centered around your family.  We found security in watching you and Daddy be faithful to each other, not only in good times,  but  through  lean and hard times as well.  You’ve just always been there to help out — whether it was when Ron had his accident, or when Brenda & Wayne were in their head-on collision, or the times you’ve taken Sue for her treatments, or helped with newborn babies.  You are such a blessing!

Thank you for giving of yourself in countless late night hours when one or more of us were sick. You were usually the last to bed, and the first to rise in the morning . . . fixing breakfast.  Thank you for always keeping a clean house . . . a dirty ring around the bathtub didn’t a chance with you, even if one or more of us left it . . . which we did often!  The schedule for an engineer’s wife was never easy, because in order for Daddy to have proper lunches to take with him required you getting up all hours of the night.  And you never just “threw something together”, there was always thought and consideration of what he liked put into each meal.  We remember Daddy coming home with compliments from others about food he had shared with them — and how “lucky” (blessed) he was to have you! And they were right.  Our friends always commented about the delicious food, and often asked for recipes to take home to their moms!  The meals at our house were always the best (still are)  . . .  you are a wonderful cook!

Thank you for raising us in a fun-loving and happy atmosphere.  We remember laughter and games, Daddy playing the guitar and yodeling with Aunt Kate, the two of you singing and dancing around the living room.  And thanks for always being there during our times of achievement — whether it was at beauty contests, plays, graduations, band and choir concerts, or sports events (like swim meets, bowling, and skating)

And what have you done since raising your children?  Well, since then you have been there for your grandchildren (and great grandchildren) — encouraging them, loving them, listening to them, praying for them, giving yourself for them  . . .  just like you always did for us! 

 Thanks so much Mom.  We love you and honor and bless you for  giving yourself for us!

 Brenda & Wayne    *    Ron & Sue    *     Ken & Hedda    *    Tim & Nancy

10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment # 4)

        Perhaps as we start to focus on this fourth commandment, we need to be reminded again that in the “Ten Commandments” given us in Exodus 20 and then repeated often in scripture, that the first four center around our view, relationship and worship of God (hence, our OBEDIENCE to Him), and the last six are the out-workings of our relationship with God, as it is demonstrated in our treatment of other human beings. Also to remind ourselves that Jesus Himself, when answering the lawyer who came to question Him, in quoting “the greatest command,” did not state it without tying it together with “the second,” which is “like unto the first … thou shalt love thy neighbor, as thyself.” Jesus completed the lesson saying, “On THESE TWO commandments HANG ALL THE LAW & THE PROPHETS.” Wow, did you catch that statement? On these two hang ALL the rest of scripture! You could sum up the entire purpose of God as revealed in scripture in these commands – loving God with all your heart, soul, mind & strength … and then demonstrating that in everyday life by caring for the needs of others, as you care for your own needs. That is a sermon in itself, isn’t it!

        Reading and obeying this fourth command is hard for us today, especially in America … in our “busy” society, our “rush, rush” lifestyle, our “multi-tasking” activity.  I think this command is VERY HARD … to STOP … and REST … but GOD did! We think we “always have to be doing something!”  Even in that mentality, I personally think a lot of us are just “running.” Running from choices we’ve made, running from consequences of those choices, running from relationships, running from responsibility, running from ourselves, & yes, even attempting to run from God.

        When you think about it, doesn’t that sound absurd? I mean if God is Who He says He is (and He is), can you imagine any created being trying to “run” from God! I’ve often said, ‘to me, one of the funniest passages in all of scripture is Jonah 1:3’ – “But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” Really Jonah … you are going to get away from the presence of Almighty God? So, Jonah … how’d that one work out for you? Maybe you should have read Ps. 139:7-12 before taking that adventure. “Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence?”… By the way folks, how many times can you think of where reading & grasping a better understanding of scripture (God’s Word for us) could have saved us a whole bunch of trouble?  

        We have become, at best, “Martha” Christians, when what we really need is to learn to be a “Mary” Christian. You do remember Mary & Martha don’t you, the sisters of Lazurus – the special friend of Jesus, the one He raised from the dead? Oh, to develop a “Mary heart.” Perhaps then we could rephrase with a different meaning a proverb, “A ‘Mary’ heart does good, like a medicine!” Believe it or not … there is a lot of truth in that statement! In all of Martha’s running & cooking & doing good things, thinking surely this will score me some “Brownie points” with Jesus … He instead spoke truth into her life,  “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Lk. 10:41,42 What was that good portion that would not be taken from Mary? She “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word.” Oh dear people … to REST like that! What would that “do” for you?  Here is our fourth commandment for Social Networking:

  4)               Remember to set aside a day each week specifically for reverence & honor to God. Set apart one day as God did, to rest. (This doesn’t negate the fact that every day is the Lord’s (Rom.14:5,6), it only emphasizes the fact that you are supremely dedicating in a unique way, 1/7th of your time to focus on your Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.)

 Exo 20:8-11  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

 

Wow … here are at least SOME of the key thoughts we should ponder:

1)     Remember that special day of each week …

2)     Keep it holy

3)     On the seventh day, you shall NOT do ANY work … instead, rest & reflect

4)     The Lord set the example in place during His week of Creation …

5)     He blessed & hallowed that day & set it apart … we are supposed to as well …

        Okay, let’s break this down a bit, take it out of the realm of theory and bring it into the world of practicality. Let’s put some “working clothes” on our Christianity! I will attempt to be brief, but give us a bit of a “handle” on each one … you can personalize it for you. Expand it, pray over it, ask God to make it real in your life. That’s the only way this Christian life becomes real … through personal obedience to God!

1)     Remember that special day of each week

        I am finding that each of these parts requires a personal discipline on my part. This one is the mental faculty at work. Mark it on your calendar if necessary to remind yourself. Remember, “the part of us that works the best is our forgetters!” Get the help of others (accountability) by sharing with them that on this day each week, you will not be doing any “non-emergency” communications on Facebook or any other social media “toys,” oh sorry, I meant to say “tools!” (Until you try this one, you can’t imagine how hard it is! Remember Paul’s words to us in I Cor.9:26,27 –  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.)

        This will be hard … to keep your fingers off the keyboard, to not turn that music on, to not pick up the remote control, to not respond to that personal note on Facebook today. Remember, UNLESS it is an absolute emergency! If it is … then answer. Jesus said to “get the ox out of the ditch on the Sabbath,” He also healed on the Sabbath didn’t He? (Maybe, if it’s not an emergency, you could just give them a “heads up” that you’re taking a day of rest from the messages and will be back tomorrow. Trust me … in most cases, it will be okay. The world will not fall apart without our thoughts or feedback on most subjects!)

2)      Keep it holy

        Don’t be afraid of the word. Holy simply means in our context, something that is set apart, clean, dedicated or consecrated to, or sanctified. I look at it this way – “sanctification” means something that is set apart for God’s use alone. This one takes the mental and spiritual discipline of focusing ONLY on the things of God that bring glory to Him and will count for eternity.

        There are two aspects of making this work, much the same as a battery to start and run your car. There is a negative terminal and there is a positive terminal. BOTH must be connected to complete the cycle and accomplish its purpose. So it is with something “set apart” for God. There MUST be a separation from and a separation to in order for this to work. Or if you will, a “putting off” and a “putting on” as scripture reminds us in the New Testament (Eph.4:22-24 & Col.3:9,10).  This one obviously flows naturally into the next aspect, which should help put some “handles” on this for each of us.

3)     On the seventh day, you shall NOT do ANY work … instead, rest & reflect

        So, here’s how this works for me. On this day in particular I must not give myself or my time to those things which I might otherwise enjoy doing or working on. This might mean not turning the television on! Uh oh … did I just lose you? Did you just decide to stop reading this article? Did you just feel your hair rising on the back of your neck & “claws” coming out from under your fingernails? Are you ready now to fight for & defend your television? LOL! No need … I like television as much as the next guy. I’m just saying, if we are going to take this command seriously, it is going to “cost” us something. It may be your video games, your computer games, your crossword puzzles, your music, your YouTube … whatever. Let’s allow God to personalize that one for you … I expect (from what I know personally of the Holy Spirit) He’s already done that.

        Here’s what this means … there has to be the removal of the normal activity of this day, in order to give that time instead over to learning God’s way of thinking about my life choices. So, in the removing of daily habits of “time – use,” now that time is for “rest & reflection.” I now use that time to fill my mind & heart with scripture (not that I don’t do that every day, but now there is more time – quality & quantity, given over to His mind as revealed in  scripture). This is also time given to reflect back on this week’s activities – things I did, things I wrote on Facebook, etc.. Go back & review what you wrote, what you shared from other’s sites, etc.. As you look at them now, in retrospect … do they fit the categories listed by Paul, under the inspiration of God, in Phil.4:8 – “whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely & of a good report?”

        Learn from this reflection. Maybe there are some things that need to be deleted (and if deleted, maybe an explanation in their place telling “why” you removed it – this is a way of keeping a clear conscience). Remember, if we are going to be involved in social media, it needs to be done in a way that it reflects well on the name and testimony of our God (refer back to Commandment #3). Use this, not only as a learning time personally but also as a teaching time for others that may follow your posts. This is part of our Christian duty with other believers “teach & admonish one another.” It may also be that this day of reflection & solitude to God will bring out some wonderful lessons to be shared with others in the coming week, even some things to be shared devotionally with your family or Core Group at church. Cultivate a lifestyle of proactive growth patterns in your life. Remove the rocks, dirt clods & weeds … work the soil … fertilize the good seed … water the field!

4)     The Lord set the example in place during His week of Creation

        You do remember don’t you that we have been created in His image and after His own likeness? There are specific ingredients God put in us as His finest creation that are not found in either material things created or in the creature world outside of man. Use this time to worship Him, to wonder at His majesty, to pay Him homage for making you after His own image. After all, He did personally pay the price for my redemption with His own Son and His perfect, pure  & precious blood (I Pet.1:18,19)! Reflect on His goodness in your life, after all “He daily loads us with benefits!” Thank Him! Praise Him! Remember Him! Look back on His blessings! Count your blessings … name them one by one … count your many blessings … see what God has done!

5)     He blessed & hallowed that day & set it apart,we are supposed to as well

        You know, there is a quality that comes into your life when you hallow that day to the Lord. There is a rest & peace … a “settled-ness.” When you think about it … a day of rest is very much like a day of fasting. You are doing without “natural things” to give yourself over to “supernatural” purposes. If you’ve ever taken a fast – whether it be from food, or from a favorite thing you like to do – maybe music, or t.v., or games, or sports of some kind, a personal pleasure … there are at least two things that become obvious.

        One is to discover how much “control” that particular delight had over you. The second is to discover a “gold mine” of other good things God has given to us – perhaps things eternal. Things that bring peace instead of turmoil. Answers instead of more questions (Jms. 1:5-8; 3:17,18). Spiritual “sowing” instead of “fleshly sowing” (Gal. 6:7-10). Health instead of disease (Pro. 17:22). Comfort instead of anxiety. Rest instead of hurry. Joy instead of “happiness.” Depth instead of shallowness. Maturity instead of childishness. Quiet instead of noise.

      Do these “gifts” (peace, answers, health, comfort, rest, joy, depth, maturity, quiet) sound inviting?

Put God to the test!

Go ahead … He’s up to the challenge!

He will bless & hallow your day!

In the words of Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” …

Good Sabbath!      Shalom!  

10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment #3)

 

            I must confess, I am excited to be able to “dive into” this one! Not merely because it is going to address “head on” the issue of language used by professing believers in our land, but because of the positive, pro-active opportunity it provides for us in our hearts to “honor Christ the Lord as Holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” as Peter exhorts us to do in his first epistle (I Pet.3:15 ESV).  Wow, did you get that message? You & I have the opportunity to magnify the reputation of God in our conversation to others … both saved and lost alike!

            I thank God that He has given men the knowledge to be able to invent such social media tools as we have available to us today. Now granted, you & I both know how damaging and “relationship-breaking” these tools can, and have been used. But I do not believe the instrument “in and of itself” is the problem, but rather the avenue through which ungodly men (and also many “fleshly” believers) have chosen to display the lusts of their own hearts. After all, the corruption in this world came as a result of the lusts (evil desires) of men. (Eph.4:22;   II Pet.1:4; I Jn.2:15-17)

 in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as Holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

             So, if God gives men the ability to design tools of communication that make the world a smaller place (and that certainly is the case today), should not we as His ambassadors avail ourselves of those tools to spread the good news of the gospel? We can either ignore a world that is heading “full speed ahead” into eternity without Christ, or we can “step up to the plate,” learn how to use these tools properly and do ALL we can to fulfill the Great Commission of Mt.28:18-20, even on the internet! However, we must remember that “to whom MUCH is given, MUCH WILL BE REQUIRED.” (Lk.12:48) As much of a blessing as the social media CAN be if used correctly, it will equally be a curse if we as Christians exercise no better sense in its use than lost people do. I guarantee you … lost people ARE reading, they ARE watching, they ARE looking for answers … (even if they don’t know it)! So, let’s get to it!

 3)     Do not use God’s name & reputation in a flippant manner to “cover your own backside,” or to excuse a self-centered lifestyle.

Ex. 20:7 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.

                John Gill in his commentary explains this commandment in this way: “You are not to ‘make use of the name Lord, God or any other name of The Divine Being, in a light or trifling way, i.e.- without a show of reverence & affection to Him; … the name of God ought never be mentioned except in a grave and serious manner, and with an awe of the greatness of His majesty upon the mind.” I must “confess” to you that I have a pet peeve … do you have any of those? Well this is mine … okay, one of mine!

            Have you noticed that one of the favorite terms people like to use these days is the word “awesome?” And they will use it for almost anything … a funny story they hear, a new idea someone came up with, a slam dunk on the basketball court, a new outfit some girl is wearing, an interception and touchdown in a football game, etc.. Well, could I suggest that the word “awesome” should be preserved & limited in its use, or it will quickly lose its true meaning. This word, I believe, should be preserved for God & His miraculous works – period! We should only really “stand in awe” of His greatness, His might deeds, His creation, His character and nature. So, if you want to use that word to describe a sunrise or sunset, the grandeur of the mountains, the beauty of fresh fallen snow, or the power of the crashing waves on the shore … then absolutely, go for it! Or if you are describing a fresh move of God on the hearts of His people, or the wonder of a child created in His image, or the joy of a brand new “baby” Christian who has just been born again … then I say, “Yes” absolutely … these things are indeed “awesome,” and worthy of our praise to our God! Stand in awe of Him … Him alone! Okay … I’m done with expressing that pet peeve … I think! My point is, let the word “awesome” be preserved for God and God alone – this would of course include His creative skills being displayed for His glory!

      The Jewish writers all agree: this command forbids all profane oaths; imprecations, and curses by the name of God.” They further caution, “swearing by the ‘name of the Lord’ ought not to be used but for the confirmation of a thing, and putting an end to strife.” The second part of the verse reminds us of serious consequences when taking His name in vain, “it is strictly forbidden, it is severely punished by the Lord,” … “for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain” 

          It seems that in recent days in Youth Conferences for our modern, American “Christianity” as it might be called, that the “hip” or “cool” thing to do is to curse (yep, you heard me right) – cussing in the message to use the “shock” method & to be “relevant” and draw in lost people & “seekers.” As unbelievable as that may seem, I am told it is happening. I personally have never been in a conference or service where this has happened, but I can tell you without hesitation, if it ever does happen while I’m there – I am getting up right then and walking out (even if I might be on the platform as one of the speakers)! There is absolutely NO place for that in Christianity! I don’t know about you friend, but that is one of the first things Jesus took out of my life when I got saved … and for the most part, no one even had to tell me what were curse words. I knew … and so do these guys that are doing it! You should be ashamed if indeed you are a follower of Jesus … and you should stop immediately!

        I’ve even watched some interviews on YouTube in which the speakers attempt to justify doing this, with statements like … “we’ve got to show the world that we are real and authentic and that we struggle with things just like they do.” Are you kidding me? [I am also glad to report to you that some of the other younger speakers, who have a strong following have put out a plea to these speakers (also on You Tube and other Social Media avenues) to say to them, “we don’t think this is the right approach.”] I’m not sure that the Social Media avenue is the way we should be handling these issues … I know many see it and that may be good, but in reality, if we want to follow the scriptures, someone who knows these men and has a relationship with them, should be going to them privately and rebuking them and appealing to them to repent. [I also believe, according to the scriptures their repentance & confession should be public … their sin (and that is exactly what it IS) was public and made a mockery of the God they claim to love and follow, and therefore their repentance should be just as public.]

        When are we going to stop hiding behind our profession of “love for Jesus,” and our “freedom in grace” to talk that way?  And when are we going to stop hanging out at the bar and drinking with our lost buddies … all under the guise of saying “Jesus was accused of the same things?” “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”  Was Jesus a friend of tax collectors & sinners? Absolutely, and we should be too … but it doesn’t mean we have to live like they do! I agree that Jesus was accused of this, but there is not one shred of evidence that Jesus did what they said! After all, if he had been “a glutton,” would that not be a sin? And of course, we know Jesus NEVER sinned!  For such an High Priest became us, Who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;          Heb. 7:26 

            The second thought interestingly is that the scholars warn us not to “use the name of the Lord as a cover-up” or as an excuse for our “own” interests. In other words, we should be careful of using the phrase, “God told me to!” Certainly we are very guilty in this age of expressing that “God led us” to do something. We seem to use this phrase as a means of silencing any and all questions from observers. I cannot tell you how many times in counseling, over 35 years, that I’ve had someone tell me “God led them” to do something, when what they did is in reality directly forbidden by scripture! Especially in this age of tolerance, where many say “there is no absolute truth” and “who are you to force your opinion on another believer?” People actually think you are being judgmental or self righteous to challenge them Biblically on something they’ve done, supposedly, “in the name of God.”

            This is not to say God does not lead us as His children, He most certainly does, but to use this phrase or similar, as a means of not having to give account of our actions, is nothing less than a “cop-out!” This statement “for the LORD will not hold him guiltless” is given more as a warning to remember that the reputation of God is more important than us positioning a situation to make ourselves look good. In other words, we must stop hiding behind the name of God to “cover our own backside.” Don’t “blame God” for your own thoughts or your own foolishness or impetuous behavior.

        John Wesley said, “It is the duty of Christians to give the world a right opinion of God.” To that thought, I give my own hearty “Amen!” This is our challenge in this commandment … to give a glorious reflection of God & His glory to those who are viewing our lives or reading our reactions on the social networks!

“It is the duty of Christians to give the world a right opinion of God.”       John Wesley

There is one thing that is “near & dear” to the heart of God – that is His own glory, His own reputation, His own “name’s sake.” He wants to “be known,” both by His people and by those who thus far have chosen to reject or resist Him.

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake. Psa 115:1

      Over and over again, we see in scripture that God moves and works for His own name & kingdom’s sake. Here are just a few examples taken from the Psalms … you can investigate this for yourself and see throughout the Bible, God moves for His glory:

  • Ps. 25:11  For Thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.
  • Ps. 31:3  For Thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for Thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.
  • Ps. 79:9  Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for Thy name’s sake.
  • Ps. 109:21  But do thou for me, O GOD the Lord, for Thy name’s sake: because Thy mercy is good, deliver thou me.
  • Ps. 143:11  Quicken me, O LORD, for Thy name’s sake: for Thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.

             To follow up this line of thinking a bit further, God makes Himself known, so that people will find no room to doubt His reality, His power, His existence, and the fact that He is Sovereign & in control.

  • The Lord, for example, told Moses, I have hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.”
  • He commanded Joshua to set the stones from the riverbed of the Jordan River in Gilgal as a testimony so that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty.”
  • David told Goliath, This day will the LORD deliver you into mine hand; and I will smite you & … the Philistines this day … so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”
  • Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, Seven years will pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men.
  • God spoke to Cyrus, as the king (who did not know God) and explained to him, “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides Me there is no God; I established you, though you do not know Me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides Me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.”

Our God wants to be known in this world. It’s quite simple … He has left us here to be mouthpieces for His kingdom, His power & His glory!

       Does this not make you stop and wonder, “How much of my ‘venting’ on social media would be different if I only took the time first to think and consider the reputation of God displayed in my words?”We are told in I Corinthians 10:31 – “Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or WHATSOEVER you do, do all to the glory of God!” This is our purpose … that everything we do, should bring glory to God. So, here is the challenge of this command – before we write, or share, or vent, or whatever else you choose to call your social expressions … we must ask ourselves this question, “How will this reflect on our God, His name, His reputation, His glory!

Remember:

You are not your own. For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.  1Cor. 6:19, 20

10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment #2)

            Solomon tells us in his words of wisdom, “Death & life are in the power of the tongue”(Pro.18:21). This morning as I was reflecting on this whole issue, I could not get away from the warning James gives us concerning our words. James, as you may know, is considered by many to have written “the Proverbs of the New Testament” since his letter is filled with such practical wisdom for everyday life. I don’t think I’ve ever read chapter three in his epistle without coming away convicted in my heart about my own personal need. I want to review a few of those verses, let them soak in our spirit & see if God may use them in your heart as he does in mine. I’ve abbreviated them (taken out portions that you can of course read for yourself) in order to highlight the special warning to our hearts as we “speak” through social networking with others & for the Lord. Spend a few minutes, not just reading but meditating (chewing) on God’s Word:

 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect (mature) man, able also to bridle his whole body … So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is … setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell … no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (Jms.3:2-10 abbreviated from English Standard Version)

            You may remember that in this passage, James parallels control over the tongue to a bit in a horse’s mouth, a rudder on a ship & a fire that burns up the forest. All of those are preventable choices … we use the bit to turn the horse, the rudder to turn the ship and know better than to strike the match that sets the forest on fire! Have you ever been guilty of saying (writing) something in an e-mail, a comment line, a thread in Facebook, etc., sent it, and as soon as you did, know that it was too spontaneous … too “off the cuff,” too reactionary, without being thought or prayed through? I must confess … I surely have.  And then had to spend the next hours (or even days) trying to clean it up, clear my conscience and ask God to bring healing to my heart or others. I assure you … that is NOT fun! As you know, if you read my last blog, I am approaching this subject through the Ten Commandments which God gave us in Exodus 20 & often repeated throughout the Old & New Testament. So, the Lord willing we will discover together the importance of applying the principles taught in these 10 commandments to our use of the social media. If you’re ready, let’s tackle #2!

 1)     Guard your heart against idols – do not make, bow down to, or serve any “graven image” of ANYTHING God created.

 Exo 20:4-6  You shall not make unto you any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep my commandments.

            Wow! This is “a biggie” you might say, and we certainly won’t sufficiently cover this subject in one article. Perhaps we can at least tackle two parts of this commandment. One would be to perhaps define “what is an idol?” Then we will note the specific warnings given in this passage of “attraction to” an idol. Many times, revival came to God’s people when they tore down the “high places” and removed “the groves” … these were of course the places set up for idol worship. I do hope you realize however, that this is not just an Old Testament issue. As a matter of fact, I have often mused over the last warning that John gives us in his first epistle, “Little children, keep yourself from idols.” (I Jn.5:21) Wow John, I think you said “a mouthful” in that little closing!

            Let’s look at it in its context to see if we can understand why this man of God, so in love with Jesus, has a concern of idolatry for his listeners.

    We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him(self), and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.   1Jn 5:18-21 

 

So, can we “bottom line” and capture a “take away” from John’s warning here:

1) We have an enemy – Satan

2) The whole world lies under his power (Here is what John Gill writes in his commentary about “the world” –  the men of the world, the greater part of the inhabitants of it, who are as they were when they came into it, not being born of God; these are addicted to sin and, wickedness; the bias of their minds is to it, they are set upon it, and give themselves up to it, are immersed in it, and are under the power of it: or “in the wicked one”; they are under Satan, the god of this world; his influence, and led according to his will, and they are governed by him, and are at his beck and command; and this is known, by sad experience, it is easy of observation)

3) We possess “truth” in the person of Truth Himself – Jesus Christ & His Word (Jn.17:17)

4) We must apply the truth of His Word to the temptations of the devil & his domination of the world 

5) We must refuse to surrender any part of our being to “the world, the flesh & the devil.”             (I Jn.2:15-17)

             [This is a subject for another time, so I will just mention it and move on, but do you realize that we ALL worship something? We were created to worship … it is our DNA & of course God’s purpose for creating us was that we might be wholly, entirely surrendered to worshipping Him! (Rev.4:11, Eph.1:3-14) So, as I said, that theme is for another time, but please understand … you are going to worship something or someone!]

            One thing we can quickly learn in studying about idols is that they may be an actual object, or they may be a figment of our imagination – something “set up” in our mind or heart. Idols are something that we give value, time & attention to. Someone simplified the definition by saying, “it is anything in life that you devote your money & time to more directly than you do your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”  By using this simple definition, I must confess that there are things that immediately come on my radar screen that I have to reflect on & ask myself to be honest … is that an idol in my life? Certainly one of the greatest problems in the people of God today (beginning with that guy I shave in the mirror each morning) is to relegate truth merely to our minds, thinking that because I KNOW a truth, therefore I am LIVING that truth. And as the saying goes, (and as we know) “nothing could be further from the truth!” This study will do more harm than good, UNLESS we obey whatever God shows us personally.

            So, an idol could be an object – either something created by God, or something designed by man. Or it could be an idea or philosophy exalted in our lives or society. Wow … there’s a lot out there, isn’t there? We could “worship” a person (including ourselves or our own body), a pet, a statue, a T.V. program, a sport (or sports team), an artist (including Christian musical artists). There is a reason, you know, why they call the show American Idol! It could be even a performer or a comedian or a reality show that you just HAVE to see and follow every week, after all we ARE SO entertainment oriented in America today (even in the church). It could be an author (including Christian writers or theologians), or dare I say, even a “doctrine” can become idolatrous? (I know some Christians who are more in love with their “Calvinistic doctrines” than they are their Savior! I expect that will raise some eyebrows … but it is true, nonetheless. Many of us have witnessed the intellectual pride of contention over a doctrinal position cause factions & division within a body of believers. When Paul addressed it in Corinthians, he said that when they are followers of Paul, Peter, Apollos, etc.[add your own favorite teachers’ names in America] that they were carnal and acting like lost people.                   I Cor.1:12-13; 3:3-6,22-23;4:6)  

            Now, our second consideration is this, an idol according to the second commandment is something WE 1) make, 2) bow down to (worship) & 3) serve. If you are familiar even on a casual basis with the Old Testament – you remember the illustrations and the warnings about idolatry. [Exodus 34:12-17; Num.25:1-11; Deut.7:1-6,12:1-9; Isa.44:8-22; Psa.115:3-11; 135:15-18] Over and over again God’s people were told – do not take them unto yourself (remember Achan – Josh.6:18;7:1,10-13,20-26), because when you do, then you WILL bow down to them & serve them.

Here is where we must pray (again) the prayer of Psa.139:23,24 – “Search me, O God.” Caution, do not “search yourself” that is dangerous because our hearts are “deceitful & desperately wicked” & inevitably, we will leave things uncovered, unconfessed & therefore unchanged & still imbedded in our hearts. Again, perhaps we need to consider the subject matter of our media networking, our conversations, our postings of “our favorites” (movies, music, add-ons, likes & dislikes, maybe even our political leanings). If at this point, we find ourselves becoming defensive or reactionary, we need to ask ourselves “Why” are my emotions so heated or elevated? Is there something on your Facebook (or whatever other media avenues you use) that reflects negatively on the reputation of God and His followers? Have you chosen “a hill to die on” that you are unwilling for God to remove from its place of high influence in your life?

            Anything … anything that we are hesitant to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives has undoubtedly become an idol in our lives. We do not want to hear God say of us, as He did of Ephraim in Hosea 4:17, “Ephraim is joined to idols, leave him alone.”

Please Lord, do not leave us to ourselves!

Little children (of God) … keep (guard) yourself from idols!

10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment #1)

In recent days I have become increasingly burdened over some of the uses (or should I say misuses) of the social media avenues available to us. I am a firm believer that we as Christians should use every tool placed in our hands to get the gospel out to the world, but I also believe that it should be done in a way that honors God and brings glory to His name. As Paul exhorted us in I Cor.10:31 – Whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, DO ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD!  For that reason, as I was praying over this issue, I thought, why not approach this through the ten commandments which God has already given us … written with his own hand! I’m sure you’re probably already aware of the two headings of those commands. The fact that the first four are in conjunction with our relationship to God and the last six are in conjunction with our relationship to man. That’s why Jesus tied them together as the first commandment “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind & strength,” and the second which is“like unto the first, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Would to God we could see clearly that the demonstration of obeying the first commandment is evidenced in obedience to the second!

So, the Lord willing we will discover together the importance of applying the principles taught in these 10 commandments to our use of the social medias. Let’s get started! 

1) Remember “you are not your own” – keep a single eye to God’s glory & His reputation alone. I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.

ABOVE ALL ELSE is this – to recognize that all you do or say reflects on God. If you are His and claim His name as your own, then you are responsible to see to it that everything you do reflects His nature, His character, His reputation – goodness, righteousness & truth (Eph.5:9). We are told to “let our light so shine, that others may see (or in this case – read & observe, witness) our good works & thereby glorify God who is in heaven” (Mt.5:16). Is it not true that obedience to this one principle alone would wipe out at least half of what is displayed to the world on the profiles of professing Christians?! When will we learn, in reality, that “it is not about us?”

What Would Jesus Do? This phrase has become so commonplace on our lips or symbolized on a necklace, bracelet, a bumper sticker (or dare I even say tattoo) that it has lost its significance as proven by our actions. But in reality – this IS “what it all boils down to” as the saying goes. How much am I governed by His Lordship (ownership) over my life? If I go to church and close my eyes and raise my hands (as a picture of homage, worship & surrender) to Him, then should not someone expect to be able to see that reflected the rest of the week in my actions, my words, my value system? And, by the way, are they not right in looking for that evidence according to scripture … should not my walk match (or exceed) my talk? Are they asking too much? Are they being “unfair” or expecting more from me than that which God desires to see in my life? I think not. “Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Rom. 2:3) You then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Rom 2:21-24)

Doesn’t that last phrase place an incredible responsibility upon us as believers, as followers of Christ? If you are going to claim the name of Jesus, then live up to His reputation, His honor. Do not live a lifestyle (even in social networking) that reflects negatively on His glory! Does He not “lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake?” (Ps.23:3) Do you remember Nathan’s words to David when facing him with his sin against God with Bathsheba? “By this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme.” In other words your behavior gives ammunition to the enemies of God to bring ill repute on His name. So the question we must ask ourselves is this: As I let people into my “private life” through a social network, do they see a consistent, reputable testimony of God’s ownership over my life? How about my information page, my profile, my photos, my likes & dislikes … do these reflect and magnify in a positive way the name of my Redeemer, the one who led me out of captivity & bondage? I often tell teenagers, “I used to say, let me walk into your bedroom at home and look around for 10 minutes and I can tell you what you are “in love” with … the posters on your walls, the magazines, the music, the cleanliness (or lack thereof), & the clothes in your closet. All of these reveal where your value system really lies. But, I don’t have to visit your home anymore to discover this, do you know why … because you are my friend on Facebook, and I can now enter anytime, anywhere!”  It is usually at this point that things become very quiet & reflective in the room!

It’s true, our value system is revealed through the “windows” of our profile on Facebook. How does it reflect on the reputation of God, when we claim to be “sold out to Jesus Christ” and then write the junk we put on FB? Oh, the broken hearts … because “my boyfriend hurt me” … but then two hours later, when we’ve made up again, we have a mended heart and all in the world is well again! How silly, how 7th grade-ish (I know, I just made up a word)! But let me hasten to say, it’s not just junior high age that does this. I know some adults who are constantly telling to the world how their day is going … point by point, line by line, verse by verse. Really?! Do you really think the world needs to know that you’re having a sappy day or that you’ve got lots of laundry to do & don’t know if you’ll ever catch up! Really! I have a recommendation … get off of the computer and “git ‘er done” as they say! Come on, we have time to tell the world all our feelings today, but not enough time to get things accomplished (which will, by the way, in and of itself, many times, take care of those wimpy feelings).

I recommend a personal inventory. Go back, open up your info, your pictures, your likes & dislikes, your attachments, etc. and ask yourself, “Does this reflect well on the name of God?” Is this “what Jesus would do?” Do these pages allow others to “see your good works” and thereby “glorify your Father, who is in heaven?” Do people looking into the window of your life and testimony (through Facebook & other social media avenues) see a good, Godly, wholesome, convicting & challenging image of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.(Col 4:5,6) Does your speech through the social medias have “grace, seasoned with salt” to make others thirsty for what you have, or does it make them say, “If that’s Christianity, I want nothing to do with it?”

 A final question befitting the first commandment: Does my reputation (revealed voluntarily through social media) testify that I take seriously the first commandment – to have NO OTHER GODS before Jesus? Maybe in order to be objective in this search we should begin by doing two things: One – pray (& mean it) the prayer of Ps. 139:23,24 – Search me, Oh God … , and Two – ask others (Godly, wise advisors) their thoughts as they look on our profile (Pro.18:17; 12:15; 21:2). Do these two things seem a bit “scary” to you? If so, then I would say perhaps that is God’s way of letting you know already in your conscience that there are some things that need to be cleaned up or perhaps removed all together.

Oh, and let’s remember … this is only commandment #1. One down … nine to go!                Blessings,  Tim

Blessed Assurance – Jesus is Mine!

   Have you ever taken a walk through an old cemetery? (I love to do this!) If you do, take time to read the headstones and observe family history within a row of markers. In some places, without any prior knowledge of people personally, you can, in a matter of minutes, find yourself caught up in the sufferings and hardships others have gone through. You realize that in past generations people seemed to be more conscious of the realities of life and death – suffering, loss, loneliness and the haunting realization that life is uncertain … death is sure … and eternity is where we are all headed! It is here, among these reminders of truth and reality that, if we are quiet, we hear in our spirit that inner voice that calls us to be ready, to be sure we are prepared for the inevitable … an unavoidable encounter with the Living God. It is toward this appointment that the apostle John devotes much attention in his first epistle.

   The beloved disciple John is a very intentional writer, and he desires his readers to clearly know his purpose for each letter. In each of his books we find somewhere in his personal remarks his reason for writing. Whether it was to praise a faithful brother, or to expose a professing believer who had misrepresented the gospel, or to assure his “children” of his love for them and his joy in hearing that they walk in truth.
   In John’s gospel account, his purpose is for us to know (to comprehend and understand by faith) the deity of Jesus Christ, and find that through believing in Him (firmly clinging to, relying upon and totally trusting His faithful sacrifice on the cross) we may inherit eternal life (20:31). When he writes the epistle of I John, he addresses in several passages his intended purpose for these writings, and then sums them all up in 5:13 saying, “these things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.” In other words, the gospel of John was written so men could be saved and the epistle was written so that we could know we have been saved!
   John’s literary technique is to use contrasts. Throughout the letter he is comparing — light to darkness, truth to error, life to death and you see the earmarks of what it means to be born of God. These patterns along with the phrase “we know” give us the foundation for the doctrine of assurance.
   As we approach this most important of all subjects, facing the realities and certainties of death and life, let us ask God to search our hearts. After all, the answer to these questions determines our destiny for all of eternity and therefore requires our utmost attention and honesty. Let’s take earnest heed to Paul and Peter’s warnings in their writings:

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.  II Cor.13:5

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure II Pet.1:10

   When I ask someone to complete this project, I encourage them to get alone with God with a notepad, pen and their Bible. To begin by praying, asking God to clearly reveal to them either through conviction that they have never settled their eternal destiny with Him, or to confirm and give confidence to them through the scriptures that they have indeed been “born of God.” To realize that through the Word of God and the witness of His Spirit they can have confident assurance of their relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom.5:1). Keep in mind, no human being is capable of giving us this assurance since only God can see our hearts. But indeed God can, and I believe longs to, give you that blessed assurance that Jesus is yours and you are His!
   Could I encourage you, as you investigate the fruits or evidences of eternal life mentioned in I John, to open your heart to God and ask Him the following question …
Is this true, or has this ever been true in my life?

Remember this foundational truth:

Spiritual birth produces spiritual life which produces spiritual fruit!

It may not appear to the same degree in each of us, Jesus said, “some thirty … some sixty … some hundredfold” … but there will always be fruit where eternal life has been granted. Church history reveals that our Christian forefathers were not hesitant to ask of professing believers that there be “credible evidence of regeneration” in their lives.

   Keep in mind as you seek God that the Bible does not tell us to examine our testimony (i.e. – what I did, or said, or where I was at the time, or what I prayed – these are all past tense) but the Bible does exhort us to examine ourselves – present tense. In other words, you should be able to put your life “under the microscope” – the light, scrutiny and magnification of God’s Word and see “life” – credible evidence of regeneration. Clear evidence that you have indeed been born of God, translated out of the kingdom of darkness and into His glorious light, transformed from death into life, regenerated by the quickening power of His Spirit into sons and daughters of God.

As you read, ask yourself this question: Is this true, or has this ever been true in my life?

A child of God lives a life patterned by obedience.

…. we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. I Jn. 2:3-4

   This wonderful word, to “know” Him means to know and to be known. It involves a two way perception because of a relationship. It represents the most intimate level of knowledge and is used as a Jewish idiom for the deepest level of physical intimacy between and a man and woman. Adam knew Eve his wife. Gen 4:1

• Do you know Jesus and are you known by Him? Is this demonstrated through a lifestyle of obedience to the scriptures? Yes ___ No ___

• Are you known as one who walks in the light – that is, you attempt by God’s grace to live up to what God has asked of you as His child? Yes ___ No ___

A child of God demonstrates a genuine desire to do the will of God through a God centered, separated lifestyle.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it: but he who does the will of God abides for ever. I Jn. 2:15-17

We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. I Jn. 5:18-19

   Have you made a clean break with your past? The scriptures teach that one who is born of God becomes a new creation in Christ. Do you find yourself still in love with the same old things? Has there ever been in you a repentance from dead works, a turning away from the things of this world that so dominate the value system of unregenerate men?
   Has there been in you a change of mind that brings about a change in lifestyle and choices? That is what repentance is. John the Baptist, when speaking, was not afraid to ask for and give examples of repentance in the lives of those who would claim to follow God. Change is what he called for … “if you have more than you need, give some away. When doing your job as a tax collector treat people with equity. As a soldier, don’t treat people violently, don’t falsely accuse, and be content with your pay.”(Luke3:8-14) In the very culture in which they lived, John said their lives should be different than their culture, not conforming to the rest of society, but being transformed by a different way of thinking. Repentance will be evident in one’s life.

• Is new life evidenced in you by the things you spend your time with and your money on?         Yes ___ No ___

• Has knowing and doing the will of God, even if it costs you friendships and changes in lifestyle and activities, become of utmost importance to you? Yes ___ No ___

• Can you honestly say there are no habits that control you that you would not eagerly give up should God ask you to? Yes ___ No ___

• Can you say that you are grieved by the wickedness of the world and no longer live under the sway of the devil? Can you say that you have separated from those things that hinder a walk of holiness and are now set apart for God’s use alone? Yes ___ No ___

A child of God is capable of knowing and receiving the truth as taught by God.

But ye have an anointing from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I John 2:20
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you: I Jn. 2:27

   One of the wonderful blessings of being born of God is the ability to understand spiritual truth. God will actually teach you truth from the Bible because He is the author of the scriptures and takes upon Himself the duty of leading you into truth. Jesus said the truth will set you free! When you are born of God, He places the Holy Spirit in you to be your teacher. He indwells you in order to reveal Christ to you in the scriptures, to lead you into all truth, and to glorify Christ through your life. (John 16:13-14)

• Can you say that you know what it is for the Holy Spirit to be your teacher? Can you read and understand spiritual truth in the Bible that unregenerate men cannot? (I Cor.2:14-16)                 Yes ___ No ___
• Do you know what is to have a desire to read the Bible? Does God show you areas of need and give answers for your spiritual life because of what you read in His Word? (I Pet. 2:2)       Yes ___ No ___

A child of God practices righteousness (right living before God), and is capable of living an upright life by God’s power within?

If you know that He is righteous, you know that every one who practices righteousness is born of Him. I Jn. 2:29

• Can you honestly say that you delight in living an upright life that is different than what you desired and fulfilled before coming to Christ? Would others who knew you “before Christ” in observing you now be able to give witness that there is an unexplainable difference in you?           Yes ___ No ___

A child of God lives a purified life because
of his hope in God.

… we know that when He (Jesus) is revealed, we shall be like Him … And every man who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure. I Jn. 3:1-3

   One of the first evidences that someone has come to faith in Christ will be a God–given desire to be pure. Peter urges us to add to our faith, first of all, virtue. It was virtue that came forth out of Jesus and brought healing to those in need. Everyone who comes to Christ, no matter how clean their life may have been before, is in need of an ongoing purifying work that only God’s Spirit can bring. The realization that we will soon be face to face with The One called Faithful and True, Who in righteousness will judge and make war, Whose eyes are like a flame of fire (Rev.19:11-12). This realization sets before us a standard to be purified even as He is pure!

• Can you say that you possess an inherent desire to be pure in your daily behavior? Are you quick to confess sin whenever God reveals it to you? Yes ___ No ___
• Do you know when God’s Spirit is convicting you of impure thoughts, wrong motives, and attitudes toward people and situations that are displeasing to your Heavenly Father?            Yes ___ No ___

A child of God does not continually, habitually practice sin.

Whoever has been born of God does not sin; for His seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God …  I Jn. 3:9-10

   What an incredible blessing it is to not be able to “get away with sin!” Can you recall those wonderful times when God gave you such a sensitivity to wrong that you could not live with sin reigning in your body? Does sin bother you quickly after being committed or perhaps even while in the midst of it, or do you seem to not really be troubled much about it until a preacher declares it to be wrong, or until someone else comes long and points it out to you? Because God is holy, He will not tolerate that which is unholy in the lives of those He has redeemed.

• Can you honestly say there is no sin habit that you cannot get freedom from? Is there an urgency in your spirit to be done with sin? Do you find it is a grievous thing to continue in sin? Yes ___ No ___

• Knowing that our Heavenly Father “chastens every son that He receives,” are you convicted by God and chastened by His loving hand when you disobey? (Heb. 12:6-8)    Yes ___ No ___

A child of God has a genuine love for the brethren that is demonstrated through undeniable selfless service.

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. …
Whoever hates his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. I John 3:14-15

• Can you say that by your heart motivation as well as your actions that you demonstrate a genuine love for God’s people? Do you readily “lay down your life” in practical everyday ways to minister to the needs of other believers? Yes ___ No ___

• Do you live in such a way as to put the interests and needs of others ahead of your own and are you quickly convicted when your life demonstrates selfishness versus the God-like quality of serving others? Yes ___ No ___

A child of God is indwelt by the Spirit of God.

And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. I Jn. 3:24
By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because he has given us of His Spirit.      I Jn. 4:13
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. Ro. 8:16

• Can you say that as you consider the scriptural evidence required by God of being born again that you have a perfect peace in your heart? (Rom. 5:1) As the Holy Spirit sits upon “the witness stand” of your heart to testify of the condition of your heart and life, does He indeed bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God? Yes ___ No ___

A child of God openly confesses Jesus Christ to be Lord, the Son of God.

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.               I Jn. 4:14-15
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God … I Jn. 5:1

   We are living in a day in which it is not “politically correct” to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the only way to God. There are many who would even say that you are being divisive to state such a thing. However, Jesus Himself was very clear in stating, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, except through Me.” (Jn. 14:6) It is very clear in scripture that only through confessing Jesus Christ to be the Lord can anyone be saved. (Mt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9; Phil.2:11; I Jn.4:3)

• Can you say that you freely and without apology confess Jesus Christ to be the Lord of your life and the only begotten Son of God? Do you firmly believe in your “heart of hearts,” as Jesus Himself declared that He is the way, the truth, and the life … that there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby you can be saved? (John 14:6, Acts 4:12) Yes ___ No ___

A child of God experiences personally the overcoming power of God.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. I Jn. 5:4

• Would it be true of you that you know the overcoming power of God in relation to the influences of the “world,” the lost community around you? Can you say that the effect of the cross in your life has broken the draw of the world system for you? (Gal. 6:14) Yes ___ No ___

• Is there in you a pattern that reflects the fact that you are a stranger and pilgrim in this world and that by faith, you live for another world? (I Pet. 2:11-12) Yes ___ No ___

A child of God lives with a deep inner confidence and assurance that he possesses eternal life.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. I Jn. 5:13

• Can you say as you take this examination that you have that deep inner confidence only God can give that the one true and living God has redeemed you and lives in you right now giving you the assurance that you belong to Him? Yes ___ No ___

If these things are true in you, then rejoice and praise God with assurance that you can testify together with John:

He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.               I Jn. 5:12
And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
I Jn. 5:20

If these things are not true in you, then remember:

Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved. Rom. 10:13

Dear Friend, you can cry out to God in prayer wherever you are for salvation and forgiveness of your sins. God will hear, He will forgive, Jesus will become your Savior and Lord!  If you do this, or God gives you assurance of eternal life through this journey,  please let us hear from you! We would love to rejoice with you in your own …                                            Blessed Assurance that Jesus is Yours!

 * Note – All scripture references are from the New King James Version of the Bible.

Tim St.Clair  –  tim@aaarm.org
AAA Revival Ministries

Why No Change in Professing Believers?

We live in a day where what we claim with our lips, seems to be contradicted by our lives. Unfortunately in much of American “Christianity,” no one seems to challenge that. We have so catered to the spirit of tolerance, that even in the church, we very rarely “hold each others feet to the fire.” If we are honest, we would have to admit that several things hinder us from practicing Biblical Christianity – of obeying the “one anothers” of the New Testament. We are commanded to exhort one another, pray one for another, confess our faults one to another, admonish one another, forbear one another, forgive one another, be kindly affectioned on to another, love one another, edify one another, bear one anothers burdenshave the same care one for another, etc.. So what hinders us from “getting into each others lives” – caring, encouraging, challenging, reproving, considering one another to provoke to love and good works?

I think many things hinder us, but perhaps to mention a few: a fear of man, a lack of love, being consumed with ourselves, a lack of obedience to the scriptures, perhaps an ignorance of our responsibility within the body of Christ. In any case, the current spirit of indifference within the body of Christ has caused a powerless form of religion under the guise of being called “Christianity,” allowing many attendees who’ve never had a transformation in their lives and lifestyle to feel comfortable in our churches. Church history will tell you that our Christian forefathers did not hesitate to call for “credible evidence of regeneration” in the lives of those wanting to join the church – today, you can join our churches as easily as you can join the Rotary, or Moose lodge or AARP!

I think the primary reason for this is the lack of a call for repentance — either in the lives of unbelievers, or in the lives of believers. As I study the scriptures, I find that repentance is not only something you do when you come to Christ, but something that is to continue in our lives until the day we see Christ face to face. I challenge you to examine in the scriptures and show me one person, who repented, whose life was not different afterward. Think of the New Testament – can you think of one person who encountered Jesus that was the same afterward, as they was before? Most all were changed to the good, only a few met Jesus, and decided to follow a different road — Judas Iscariot, and the rich young ruler — who went away very sorrowful because he had great “riches” and would not surrender them to Jesus, though he claimed he had been following all the commandments “from his youth up”. On the other hand, the prodigal son, when he repented knew that his return to the father would involve “a change of mind that brought about a change of life.” Some American theologians in our day try to take the power out of repentance, by saying that the word really only means “a change of mind.” The only problem with that proposition is that the overwhelming evidence of scripture is NO ONE was the same after meeting Jesus – being “a new creation” was not merely a positional truth, it was backed by a changed life — every time!

When John the Baptist called men to “bring forth fruits worthy of repentance,” and they asked him what that would look like in their lives, he gave them tangible “handles” for that change. He said, if you have two coats — give one to someone who has none, if you have extra meat, do the same. The tax collectors said, “What shall we do?” He said, do not collect more than you are supposed to (don’t line your pockets with their money because of your authority). The soldiers said, “What about us?” To which he said, “Do violence to no man, don’t accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages.” Now, I ask you, could He possibly have been more down to earth in addressing people right where they live? In essence John was saying, if you follow God, your life will be diffferent. In other words, be sure your life demonstrates what you claim with your lips.

Just one more thought about repentance. The Greek word, metanoia is a combination of two parts — meta (change) & noia (mind) — thus the loose interpretation — a change of mind, however — you need to know that the root of the word is CHANGE! This is not the only use of this root in the New Testament. You are familiar with New Testament words like: transformed, translated, transferred & transfigured. Each of these words begins with the same Grk. word — meta. The word itself involves two key thoughts — change and movement. All the words you know involving that prefix have in them the same idea – something that is moving, something that is changing. Transportation, transmission, transpose, transact, transplant, transfusion – these all involve action, movement, change from one place to another. So, why are we afraid to call for change in the lives of professing believers?

Rom.12:2, says we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind – the word – metamorphosis means Christians are to be different than the world. The J.B. Phillips translation of that verse says, stop allowing the world to squeeze you into it’s mold!” We are to be metamorphosized — you know the most recognizable illustration of that word is the transformation of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly! Oh the amazing difference between a worm crawling to advance his progress and a butterfly at liberty to fly! When the prodigal son returned to his father (which by the way, the entire of chapter of Luke 15 is about repentance) he knew numerous things would have to take place. While in the pig pen, “he came to himself” ( a change of mind), he said, “I will arise” (activated his will), “will go to my father” (return from the place of rebellion), and “will say to him” (repentance involves confession), “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against thee” (conviction over sin), and “am no more worthy to be called your son” (attitude of unworthiness), “make me as one of your hired servants” (obedient heart to do the father’s will).

I believe it is time again for us to call for changed lives if someone is going to claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ. The real power of God is demonstrated through a changed life. One reason why there has been no national revival in America for over 150 years is because we have stopped preaching for change! In times of genuine revival, the world sits up and takes notice because believers lives are different. Their lifestyle is uniquely noticeable, calling attention to itself, not because it is “like” the lost people around it, but because it knows the power of surrender and separation. A true believer lives for a different cause. Not money, not popularity, not worldy gain, not the deceitfulness of riches, not a lustful, never satisfied, covetous heart. A repentant believer talks differently, lives differently, gives differently, and is controlled by different viewing and listening habits. In the “unrevived” state of the church in America, we have spent millions of dollars & thousands of man-power hours trying to convince a lost community around us of their need for Jesus — much without power and to little avail. Church history records that in the revived state of the church, lost people will “climb over Christians” in an effort to get to God for salvation! 2000 years of Church history proves that the greatest times of regeneration of lost souls have come, not as a result of a direct evangelistic effort, but because of genuine revival in the lives of born again Christians. After all, the word “revive” means to live again. In order for something (or someone) to live again, they must have had life to begin with. Revival is NOT lost people getting saved, that is regeneration. Spiritual awakening (lost people coming to Christ) is a result of revival! Oh Lord, wilt Thou not revive us again, that Thy people may rejoice in Thee!