Categories
Uncategorized

GOD CAN STILL SAVE SODOMITES – IF THEY REPENT!

“Do you not know that the unrighteous WILL NOT inherit the kingdom of God? DO NOT BE DECEIVED: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (a catamite), nor sodomites (homosexuals), nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God. And such WERE some of you: BUT YOU ARE WASHED, but you are SANCTIFIED, but you are JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”  (I Cor.6:9-11)

I fear that once our courts change laws (and they have certainly been wrong BIG TIME before – like Roe v Wade, allowing the murder of the unborn) we as Christians “little by little” surrender our role to continue to stand for TRUTH and the conscience of the nation deteriorates even further into immorality & destruction! However, immorality in EVERY form, including fornication, adultery, incest, bestiality, & homosexuality (our modern “man made” term for sodomy) will ALWAYS be SIN before God … and ALWAYS, IN EVERY CASE be wrong! [Also, by the way, a “catamite” (this is the meaning of the word “effeminate” in verse 9) meaning “a boy in soft, luxuriously clothing (in a feminine way) and used for sexual intercourse by other men.” (In other words, they were not “the initiator” but rather “the responder”), yet still they must repent of their sin to be saved.]

But according to the Apostle Paul, (under the inspiration of God – meaning this IS God’s heart on the matter) any of these people WHO REPENT OF THEIR SIN (which means to turn away from and STOP doing it) CAN BE SAVED! However, THEY MUST REPENT IN ORDER TO GET SAVED! God does not change His standards to allow them to GO ON IN THEIR SIN, just so He can “love them” into His kingdom! Jesus does NOT “COME INTO A HEART” where He is NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE OVER! He IS Lord … and only SAVES THOSE WHO BOW TO HIM AS LORD!

This was the testimony of some of the believers in the Corinthian church! They had formerly been involved in these sins of immorality … but NOW, had repented and became follower of Jesus Christ! NOTE: “such WERE some of you, BUT NOW you are WASHED, SANCTIFIED, & JUSTIFIED! In other words, they were NO LONGER committing those sins!

IF YOU DON’T REPENT OF THE IMMORALITY, YOU CANNOT BE SAVED! PERIOD! Jesus paid much too high a price to lower God’s standards of holiness and let you be THE EXCEPTION to His rules! REPENT and PLACE YOUR ENTIRE TRUST in the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross and you too can be saved! Fail to repent … and you will be eternally damned to the devil’s hell. You “CANNOT inherit the kingdom” (become an heir to God’s kingdom) unless you repent! Sorry, but … “it is what it is!” You must make the choice!

Categories
Uncategorized

WE NEED A REVIVAL OF REPENTANCE!

This is a word, that has basically disappeared from the church and the language of most believers in America … REPENT! The reason, I suppose, is painfully obvious! WHO WANTS TO CHANGE?! That could be costly … it might cost me my job, or some friendships, or even cause tension among family members … and it might even cost us some church members! Whoa! Don’t talk to me about something that might create tension in the church! But the need is NOT a fresh challenge about THE GREAT COMMISSION, because in spite of what most would say, that was NOT the last message of Jesus to His followers! His last message was about THE GREAT COMMAND … and that message was REPENT! As He addressed the issues in 5 of the 7 churches in Asia Minor in the Revelation (only about 40-50 years after they had been established), He told them to REPENT!

The Greek word used for repentance – Meta-noeō, means to think and act differently afterwards, to think in such a way that it causes you to behave differently afterwards. Some today, in a very weak use of the word emphasize that this is merely “a change of mind” however, the consistent use of at least a portion of the word has a lot more power & meaning than that. The words used all involve two things: Change & movement! So, let’s define REPENTANCE as “a change of mind that ALWAYS brings about a change of lifestyle.”

Again … CHANGE & MOVEMENT! Jesus was TRANSFIGURED, Enoch was TRANSLATED that he should not see death, Paul TRANSFERRED a comparison to himself & Apollos for the sake of the Corinthian church, and we are told we are to be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of our mind. ALL of these words begin with the same Greek phrase – “META” For example, the Greek word – meta-morphoō  (from which we get the word metamorphosis) is used for TRANSFORMATION and of course the word picture is a caterpillar inside the cocoon being CHANGED into a beautiful butterfly!  Enoch was MOVED from earth to heaven, Jesus was CHANGED into a different level of glory in the disciples presence!

It may indeed be COSTLY, but this is a message that needs to be “shouted from the housetops” once again across our nation, BEGINNING WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD IN CHURCH! It was the message of the prophets in the Old Testament, it was the message of John the Baptist as he prepared the way for Jesus, it was the message of Jesus while here, it was the message of Stephen, Paul, Peter & John in the New Testament! Here is the message of Jesus to His church: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev.3:19)

 

Categories
Uncategorized

A Tribute to Del Fehsenfeld Jr. – Founder of Life Action Ministries

 I wrote this tribute a number of years ago for one of Del’s daughters who was serving in revival ministry at that time, on our team. I am sharing this publicly on the 25th Anniversary of his home-going. Del died on November 21, 1989 at the age of 42.

Del was a man of God … unique to this age … sent from God … Del was my friend!

Del was a man of faith.  Del paid the price of reputation and fellowship of peers and background in order to obey God in direction for Life Action. Knowing that most of his peers were afraid to make a break with their religious moorings in order to be obedient to God and in order to stand for truth, Del counted the cost, put his own reputation and that of Life Action on the line, and obeyed God.

Del was a man of passion … intense in anything he did. His praying, his thinking, his “sensing” in services, his preaching, even his note-taking … I can still see him sitting, taking notes. The way he wrote was fast and with purpose. I expect that each page below his notes (like each life under his influence) had an impression from the previous page! Del was impassioned … there was never any doubt about that.

Del was committed to obeying the scriptures. The Word of God had to be foundational to whatever we were doing if we were going to ask God to empower and bless our efforts. If obedience to the Word of God meant a total change of direction for our ministry, then we would pray, get the mind of God through the Word of God and the counsel of other Godly men, then pray some more, pull out the notepad, start conceptualizing and giving birth to what we perceived to be the heart and mind of God. Del’s approach to any new thoughts or ideas was not, “What will our constituents think about this?” but, “Is this from God? And if so, how do we as a ministry fit into making this happen? Does this further the cause of revival for the glory of God?”

Del was a prophet … much like a salmon, constantly swimming upstream, and almost always against the mainstream of much of Christianity in America. Del was not at home in this world, and would not risk the unique blessing of God and His sanctifying power over Life Action just to get into churches for ministry. He did not lend himself to following the trends of the day in the church movement, and was constantly confronting the “Madison Avenue” technique of doing church work. Del would often say,

“One of the problems in much of our church work today is that we sit in a meeting room and make our plans, then ask God to bless them … rather than getting in the Word of God on our knees first and getting the mind of God, then moving ahead with the confidence of knowing that what He has ordained, He will bless!”

At the same time, Del was always ready to use the latest innovations in equipment and media technology with a spirit of excellence in order to help communicate the burden for revival. He was not out to make Life Action Ministries a popular ministry, but only concerned that it be a holy, God honoring ministry. He knew and lived out the reality that a prophet and a prophet’s ministry would be uncomfortable for most of what was standard for modern day Christianity. Del was a threat to nominal, programmed, popular Christianity and knew it!

Del was teachable and expandable, even though he knew what he believed and where he stood. He was not threatened by bringing other strong men around him to help promote the glory of God. Yet at the same time, if he sensed in their philosophy a tainting of man’s thoughts versus God’s thoughts (a pragmatic approach to ministry), he was not afraid to say, “I can’t accept that unless you can show me that in scriptures.”

Del was, in many ways, “unspotted from the world.” He was sometimes perhaps a little naïve and uninformed in the ways of the world, yet really … in a healthy way. He was a pilgrim, a stranger in this world. He was not however, unwise or undiscerning about the ways “the wicked” one would try to interrupt or deceive. He was a soldier who did not “entangle himself with the affairs of this life.”

Del loved his family. One indelible impression left on my heart, while we were praying in the bedroom of his trailer in the midst of his sickness in Fort Smith, was seeing him weep openly for the spiritual condition and future of his dear children. He and Judy knew those children were uniquely, each one, a gift from God.

Del’s desire was not so much for a long life, as it was for a “totally surrendered … obedient to God … recklessly abandoned … living for His glory” life.

He did indeed live and die for the glory of God!

Categories
Uncategorized

Who “OWNS” Your BODY?

I Cor. 6:19,20  What? know you not that your BODY is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and 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.

Rom. 12:1,2  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you PRESENT YOUR BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, HOLY, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

 

I suppose that just one of these verses would have been enough, but the truth of the matter is, we could add a dozen more to bring out the challenge of my thoughts today. Our BODY, as a Christian … who owns your body? I have made this statement for years and cannot back down from it’s ramifications: “The MOST TANGIBLE demonstration of your surrender to Jesus Christ as your LORD(or the lack thereof) is what you DO with YOUR BODY!” What do we see in just the verses quoted above, IF INDEED, you are a Christian?

1)    God inhabits, (dwells inside) of you. You are a representation of our holy God.

2)    You DO NOT OWN your body, Jesus paid the price of ownership with His personal death – you have been REDEEMED.

3)    Everything you do therefore as a Christian, should be ONLY that which brings GLORY TO GOD – that is, attracts attention to Jesus, NOT TO YOURSELF.

4)    Every day, and every minute of every day, we are commanded to PRESENT OUR BODIES for GOD’S use ALONE.

 

This is the reason why we are told, “Whether therefore you EAT or DRINK or WHATSOEVER YOUR DO, do all to the glory of God.” (I Cor.10:31)  Folks, we just don’t seem to “get it!” This is NOT YOUR BODY to do with as you please! This is why, when I got saved, I stopped drinking alcoholic beverages IMMEDIATELY, I stopped smoking that very night, my immoral lifestyle was to be no longer. The places I went changed, my value system changed, the things I spent “my” money on changed … the things I LIVED FOR was radically NEW! We have all seen the signs the women carry, while marching in favor of their “abortion rights” … the signs say things like, “My Body, My Choice!” or “Keep Your Hands Off My Body!” of course with the implication that abortion (also known as murder) is my own business … don’t tell me how to live MY LIFE! Well, you know, there is a sense in which I understand lost people thinking and acting like that because they don’t have the “capacity” to understand ‘ownership’ of the Creator over that which He has given life, they are still in darkness and enemies of the cross and God’s plan for their lives … at this point in their existence. But WHAT ABOUT CHRISTIANS?! SHOULDN’T WE KNOW BETTER?

To a large degree, we are NO DIFFERENT than the world around us (which the earlier verses warned us against – DO NOT BE CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD)! We “choose” to live our lives based on our own opinions and the opinions of “friends” around us. So, how does that show itself? We listen with “God’s ears” to the same junk that lost people do, we watch with “God’s eyes” the same junk coming out of Hollywood that consumes their lives, we drink with “God’s body” the same control substances that they drink or inhale or shoot into their veins! Again, the question begs to be answered … “Who Gets Control?” In America today, we present our bodies to “the world” rather than to God! We paint, we poke, we pierce, we party, we parade, we pollute “our bodies” … all under the name of “freedom” & “liberty” as a Christian! We don’t want to admit it … BUT, MANY CHRISTIANS ARE IN BONDAGE TO THEIR LIBERTY! We demand our freedom to do with “our bodies” what WE WANT and then display it for the world to see! I say again friends, you do not “reach” the world by being LIKE the world! The question demands an answer … who is “reaching” whom?

Once again, “The most tangible demonstration of your surrender to Jesus Christ as your LORD (or the lack thereof) is what you do with ‘your’ body!” Perhaps, we need to do some serious contemplation & ask God the question, “Lord, what do my actions and use of this body reveal about “ownership” in my life?

Blessings,

Tim
P.S. – want to ask more about this? Write me: tim@aaarm.org

 

Categories
Uncategorized

HERO TO ZERO is a mighty QUICK TRIP!

The king spoke, and said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of MY power, and for the honor of MY majesty?” While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, ‘O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from you.’ (Dan.4:30,31)

“But he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave ME a young goat, that I might celebrate with MY friends.” (Lk. 15:29) 

Ever wondered what King Nebuchadnezzar & “the elder brother” had in common? It’s quite simple … and you and I face this same danger on a daily basis! They had an “eye” problem … oh excuse me … an “I” problem. Oh, may I never forget that “Hero … to zero … is a quick trip!”

The king had been warned a year earlier to “break off his sins & iniquities by righteousness” and it appears he did … for 12 months! But then, he began to look around and take PRIDE in all that HE HAD DONE! Hence, the “I” problem … I, me, my! The elder brother did the same thing … look again at his words … I, me, my. We are SO prone to exalt ourselves rather than to humble ourselves (the first key to REVIVAL according to God in II Chr.7:14). Ever stop & listen to your words? Are they filled with “I” … “me” … “my?” After all, I have it on a good authority that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” This is SO SCARY to me!

Remember the words of wisdom, “Pride goes before destruction & a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Pro.16:18) It just doesn’t take long for me to get my eyes off Jesus & others … and on to myself. There is the downfall, because in spite of what our present society says friend … IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT YOU … or me! How empty, the life that lives by the philosophy of “me first!” Oh Lord, please keep me alert to the chronic temptation of PRIDE in my life, for it is inevitably my constant nemesis. I find myself, as did Martin Luther, who stated, “I fear more than the Pope himself and all the priests of Rome, the pope called “SELF!”

This story does however have a “happy ending” at least for King Nebuchadnezzar! After seven years of eating grass like an ox, having wetness cover his body like the dew of heaven, his hair grow as long as eagle’s feathers and his fingernails grow like claws of a bird … he came to his senses (repented), lifted up his eyes to the heavens, his understanding returned (put him back in his place) and he openly declared for the entire world in the Babylonian empire WHO the real God of heaven was and honored and praised HIM! Read it for yourself in verses 34-37 of Daniel 4. Look at his last statement: “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and THOSE THAT WALK IN PRIDE … He is able to abase.”

Thank You Lord for this painful, yet all too true statement … and somehow Lord, keep my eyes open and my heart tender to MY NEED in this warning.

Categories
Uncategorized

SATAN – AN ANGEL … OF LIGHT? YOU BETCHA!

II Cor. 11:13-15  “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

Have we forgotten who the enemy is? Do we expect Satan to knock on our door with a red suit, pointed ears & tail and a pitchfork and say, “Hi, I’m Satan, the loser that God kicked out of heaven, and I’m here to destroy your life, family & influence in this world!” No, actually that only happens at Halloween, and those are not “the real thing.” The real one, theologians believe was the most beautiful of all God’s created messengers, whose “heart was lifted up because of his WISDOM, his RICHES & his BEAUTY (Ez.28:2,5,17). He was “perfect in all his ways UNTIL iniquity was found in him.” He “sinned … therefore he was cast as profane out of the mountain of God” Dear friend, can I introduce you to the two primary Old Testament passages that expose to us the history of Lucifer (Is. 14 & Ez. 28 [the prince of Tyrus]), whom again, most theologians agree was the third archangel of God. Perhaps even the most beautiful of the three (along with Michael – the warring angel & Gabriel – the announcing angel). He was IN the Garden of Eden, clothed with the most brilliant of coverings (v.13) thus called ‘the anointed cherub,’ and his musical ability “thy ‘pipes & tabrets’ prepared in him the day he was created.” Lucifer was probably “the master musician” of heaven BEFORE HIS FALL (this is why he still wants to use music – without a doubt one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind, as a destructive, divisive force within the church). Can I challenge you to study Eze. 28 in light of getting a clear picture of this beautiful, yet masterfully deceptive created being also known as Satan?

“Every precious stone was his covering” and his ‘view’ of this perhaps aided in his downfall – there in the presence of God, the Source of All Light, he saw that light radiate through his covering and thought he had light in himself … but he did not. Take the most beautiful stones in the world, place them in a room of TOTAL darkness and the stones will not reflect anything and thus no beauty to behold. It is the LIGHT that brings out the reflective beauty. Lucifer went from being a Principal of the Light to becoming the Prince of Darkness in one foul swoop! Satan was deceived by his beauty, his riches and his wisdom … now he uses these same tactics to bring a downfall in our lives. “Self deceit” began with Lucifer.

Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, in his masterful book, “Your Adversary, the Devil” does an excellent job of exposing the master deceiver and his plan for taking men down! I don’t want to send anyone on a long, extensive investigation into our enemy … because I know of cases where people have probed the mysteries of supernatural powers only to find themselves entangled and attacked in the demonic world of Satan, but we must not, as Paul warned us in II Cor.2:11 be “ignorant of his devices.” We must instead be sober & vigilant … knowing he is out to deceive, to disillusion, to divide, to devour, to defile & to destroy TRUE CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE in this world (I Pet.5:8).

I suggest the best way to identify the counterfeit is to become more knowledgeable of the real thing. Just as Federal agents learn to detect counterfeit money, by handling millions of dollars that are REAL … you can best acquire a discerning heart to avoid the deceiver by deepening your understanding of TRUTH. As Paul said, “I would have you to be wise unto that which is good and simple concerning evil.” (Rom.16:19) Have you forgotten that Satan knows the scriptures? Have you forgotten that he tried to trick JESUS with the twisting of the scriptures? And have you forgotten that Jesus, as our Example, overcame his temptation by ACCURATELY using the Word of God to refute him?

We haven’t even gotten into the original text yet! Here is my point … Satan using the scriptures to pervert & deceive is not a new trick … it is one of the oldest and most well used “lures” in his tackle box! Why trade it off now? He doesn’t need a new lure, the old one is still catching the big fish like it always has! Is this a follow-up to the post a few days ago on “The Bible?” You betcha! How does “even Satan himself” get “transformed into an angel of light?” Simple, he introduces deception through whatever tools he can find. What? Do you mean even through the scriptures? Yep … it’s not a new trick. What has the church fought against for thousands of years … perversion (twisting) of God’s purified Word.

Don’t take my word for it … be a Berean Christian … search the scriptures! Be discerning. Look at what John Gill, a noted British theologian, had to say about this specific passage (vs. 14) over 250 years ago:

“… now Satan, the enemy of mankind, sometimes appears in the form of one of these; as he did to Eve in the garden, and to Christ in the wilderness; and by such appearances he often imposes on mankind; PRETENDS THE GREATEST FRIENDSHIP, WHEN HE DESIGNS NOTHING BUT RUIN; and UNDER A NOTION OF GOOD, either honest, or pleasant, or profitable, DRAWS ON INTO THE COMMISSION OF THE GREATEST EVILS; and, under a show of truth, INTRODUCES THE MOST NOTORIOUS FALSEHOODS AND ERRORS; and, under a pretence of religion, all sorts of idolatry, superstition, and impiety; IT IS IN THIS WAY HE HAS SUCCEEDED IN HIS ENTERPRISES AND TEMPTATIONS; these are his wiles, stratagems, and CUNNING DEVICES.”

Dear friends, “study to show yourself approved unto God … rightly dividing the Word (logos) of Truth.”

Categories
Uncategorized

10 Commandments for Social Media (Commandment #7)

Commandment #7

 

Admittedly, this one has been a while in the writing. It’s really hard to cover in one blog this subject. This is especially true today, in our society, where some of the things needing to be addressed are so “counter culture.” But, here goes an attempt anyway.

Do you recall how astounded people were at the teaching of Jesus as he spoke to them by the seaside in what we call the Sermon on the Mount? The gospels record that He “taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes and Pharisees.” The difference in His approach was that He went after the heart. Even when referring back to the original commandments, He was demonstrating that He was after the motivations of the heart. So it is with this next commandment, thou shalt not commit adultery. He is of course speaking of being morally pure in both mind and action. Obviously, being and becoming morally pure is more than just NOT committing physical adultery, as Jesus states that “if you’ve lusted in your heart, you too have committed adultery.” So, how do we apply this principle to our social media?

 Exo 20:14  Thou shalt not commit adultery.

 1)     Do not use your body or that of another for impurity – in thought, action or habit.

Have you noticed how “loose” our society has become in our morals? You may ask, how do we define moral impurity? I would say in simple terms, that “moral impurity is improper uses of my body resulting from an improper thought life.” In other words, that which we put into our minds (through primarily the “eye gate” and the “ear gate”) finds its way down into our hearts and then comes out in our lives – through the avenue of our body – that is the physical use of our body. In other words … it goes HEAD HEART HABITS. That would include our senses – taste, touch, sight, smell & hearing. What are you doing with your physical body (all the members of our body – including eyes, ears, mind) and how is that demonstrated through your words (or social media avenues)?

Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So, just how important is it that we guard our heart … in order to guard our thoughts … in order to guard our communications on the internet, and of course all other avenues of social relationships as well. You’ve heard the old adage, haven’t you … GI – GO? This of course stands for … GARBAGE IN … GARBAGE OUT! In other words, we cannot feed the garbage into our minds and expect anything else to come out in our lives. So, let’s answer two questions in this commandment. 1) How do I guard what I put into my mind & heart? 2) How do I gain and maintain moral purity in my relationships & communications on a social level.

1) There is such a plethora of information available to us today through books, magazines, radio, television, internet, cell phones … not to mention, just day to day relationships with people. It is just … there! It is “in your face” … so to speak. And one way or another, your mind is going to gather information and feed it into the system. So very practically, the scriptures tell us how to guard our heart. Proverbs 4 tells us to guard our heart by guarding what we DO with the physical members of our body. Notice:

Pro 4:23-27  Keep (guard) your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.  Put away from you a froward MOUTH, and perverse LIPS put far from you. Let your EYES look right on, and let your EYELIDS look straight before you. Ponder the path of your FEET, and let all your ways be established. TURN NOT to the right hand nor to the left: remove your FOOT from evil.

 We see from this passage the importance of what we say, what we see, what we think about, where we go and where we steer our focus & thought life. If we keep this strictly in the physical realm of our body, we should have enough to keep us busy. But what about when we consider how the internet is constantly leading us, or at least suggesting to us “pathways” to go down. Every time we have a notice pop up on our screen, or a random e-mail inviting us to visit a site.

So, when we add to our physical world, the whole world available through media, our pathway to destruction is just “one click (of the computer mouse) away.” How do we stay on “the straight and narrow,” as verses 26 & 27 encourage us to do, when it comes to the pathway of communication  and information. We must guard our eyes and our ears. I’ve often said, “You may not be able to prevent what you SEE, but you can prevent what you LOOK AT. You may not be able to prevent what you HEAR, but you can prevent what you LISTEN TO.” We are responsible for that to which we surrender our eyes and ears.

There is an interesting observation given by Peter in his second epistle in chapter 2, verses 7 & 8. He writes that even though Lot had once been a righteous man, he had ‘troubled his righteous soul’ by day after day, seeing and hearing the ungodly deeds of the ungodly people among whom he and his family were living. The more you SEE it and the more you LISTEN to it, the more it affects your own soul, and I might add in his case, also his entire family. So even in reading the daily “chatter” on the social networks, we must learn how to guard our hearts. Some things are beneficial to our souls, some are not. We must learn how (as they say when eating fresh pan-fried fish) to “eat the meat and spit out the bones”!

There is a cycle of how we form habits that is worth mentioning at this point. What we LOOK AT (or LISTEN TO) forms into a THOUGHT, what we think about forms into an ACTION, and the more consistently we repeat an action that forms into a HABIT. And what do we do with HABITS? Well of course we feed them again … so we look, then think, then act, then form habits. This can be a good practice or it can turn into something hard to break. So, let’s take the challenge to form good, Godly habits that show up in our social media avenues.

>>>            LOOK              >>>      THOUGHTS     >>>      ACTIONS        >>>      HABITS

Now, on to point # 2.

1)     How do I GAIN and MAINTAIN moral purity in my relationships & communications on a social level.

Last week, I awoke (because of a need to go to the bathroom) about 3:30 in the morning. I made an interesting spiritual discovery that morning. I found that WITHOUT TURNING ON ANY LIGHTS, I COULD FIND MY WAY IN THE DARKNESS, out the bedroom door, down the hall and into the bathroom without turning on any lights & amazingly without hurting myself! Why … because I’D BECOME USED TO MY SURROUNDINGS and my eyes had ADJUSTED TO THE DARKNESS.

Rom 13:12-14 tells us,  “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us CAST OFF the works of DARKNESS and PUT ON the armor of LIGHT. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

My heart is SO burdened that we who claim the name of Christ have become adjusted to the darkness & since we can find our way around in it, we convince ourselves that “it’s all right” that “it can’t be that bad, if so many ‘good’ people are doing it,” or as the song said, “it can’t be wrong, when I feels SO right.”

Dear friends, THE ENEMIES OF YOUR SOUL HAVE NOT CHANGED! Darkness (the world), the “flesh” and the devil have no need to change their tactics, as long as the “old faithful” ones are still working. We have been ensnared into the world’s system many times through the social media avenues … simply by casually accepting and even encouraging others to flaunt their independence, perhaps even their rebellion against purity on their profiles. Whether it is through pictures or comments or just through “sharing” the thoughts and opinions of others with a simple “Like” button – many of us who claim the name of Christ are tainting His reputation with our attitudes and postings. We who are followers of Jesus are SO tempted to compromise our standards, to look like, talk like, act like “the world” & it seems by looking on our profiles many times that the world has won! We seem to be SO driven to get a pat on the back from the world or from even carnal (at best) believers! Why are we SO driven to want lost people’s approval rather than the approval of THE ONE before whom we shall ALL stand one day to give an account?

When I open my tackle box to fish, I find that I tend to go back to my old favorites … the ones that reeled in the nice catch the last time out. No need to change our lures. That old “purple worm” (for Large Mouth Bass) may be chewed up a bit, may have lost some of its luster … but if the hooks are still intact & the line still solid, I’m going to pull it out and use it again! The devil has no need to change his tactics … and in reality he hasn’t in 6000 years now. His old lures are still working! The “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (I Jn.2:16) are still very alluring to us as humans, even if we are saved. We are being hooked by the darkness. Have we become “comfortable” IN THE DARKNESS? Jesus said, “men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.” Paul said, “make NO provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof!” (Rom.13:14)

Okay, now for some practical pointers to contemplate and hopefully implement in our lives to help with P.U.R.I.T.Y. in social avenues (hopefully the acrostic will help you remember):

 

Present your body as a living sacrifice.   Rom.12:1

  • Remember … you are not your own!”
  • Yield your members continually.  Rom.6:13; II Pet.2:8,9

 

            (If you take this step daily and even moment by moment, it should affect what you post and what you look at on the internet. From my own observations on many Facebook profiles, just taking this first step seriously will cause many to remove many of their pictures & “likes” of music, videos & “heroes” on the web. You may react to this and say, “why would I clean up my profile?” Very simply … because if you are truly a Christian, then you are NO LONGER your own! You belong to Jesus by way of His redemptive work on the cross. He purchased YOU with His own blood. Act like it!)

Utterly abandon the “catalysts” to your flesh.  I Cor.9:27; Pr.4:23

  • Remove the “garbage.”  Rom.13:14; Col.3:5-10
  • Run from the “paths” of temptation. II Ti.2:22; Gen.39:12

 

            (If you take this one seriously, then whether someone is looking over your shoulder or checking your “History” regularly or not, more times than not, it will change what you post or view. Remember what we read earlier, we must cast off and then put on. Get rid of the junk on your site, clean up pictures of you partying & drinking with lost people! Stop posting all the pictures of you at Rock Music Concerts watching lost people [who, by the way, make a mockery by their lifestyle & value system of the Jesus you claim to love & serve] and acting as if there isn’t supposed to be a difference between your choices and those of lost people in the world. Do you really not know that you are supposed to be “strangers and pilgrims” on this earth (Heb.11:13; I Pet.2:11) and that your value system is supposed to reflect on His kingdom rather than this world which is perishing?

            Girls – stop posting pictures of you with your bikinis on! I know you won’t like that I said that, but in reality, it looks like nothing more than colored underwear! If you wouldn’t go out in public with just your underwear on, then stop posting for the world to see what you are supposed to be hiding behind those clothes (and I might add, preserving for your future husband alone to behold)!

            I know that as a man I take a risk by being so bold as to challenge you on your clothing … but I believe it’s about time someone got honest. If your boyfriend or husband won’t tell you what it does to his thoughts, or if your own parents won’t step up to the plate and protect you for your own good, then perhaps a “stranger” can “love you enough” to tell you the truth. You are causing men to stumble by the way you are dressing and posting on the internet! Oh yes, I do hold ‘us as men’ responsible for what we are looking at … 100% responsible … but you posted the pictures & will be held responsible as well.

            The second part of this is … run! Get away from the places of temptation. Nowhere are we told to get as close to the edge of a cliff to see how risky you can be! We are told in scripture to “flee from youthful lusts” and to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against our souls,” so learn how to avoid pathways on the internet that will lead you into immorality in any form. It could be in your viewing, your music, your postings or perhaps even those you’ve chosen to “follow” online on a regular basis. There are some “friends” that I’ve had to “un-friend” because of language or philosophy that they have chosen to identify with on their public site … and I am sure there are those who have “un-friended” me because of a stand I’ve taken on a particular subject that they disagree with … that’s okay too. “He that walks with wise men will be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” So, sometime in your life you will have to choose!)

Renew your mind with the Word of God.  Psa.119:9,11; Rom.12:2

  • Discipline the use of your time/mind.  II Tim.2:4-7
  • Memorize & meditate in the scriptures daily. Jos.1:8; Ps.1

 

            (This one certainly speaks for itself … but the only way to change our way of thinking is by the cleansing of the Word of God in our hearts and minds. This will do more to reform our value system and give us insight into what pleases God on a daily basis than perhaps any other input into our lives. It will set a safeguard over our thoughts, our words, our viewing & listening, our friends, our purpose in life.

            This will be a personal discipline that will show up immediately in ways you cannot imagine. And as you realize that God is changing you from the inside out, let it begin to show itself in your language, your postings and choices in life. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”)

Invite the help of a Godly mentor.  Heb.3:13, Jms.5:16

  • You will have to humble yourself.  Jms.4:10; I Pet.5:5-7

 

            (This one will definitely take some initiative on your part, and frankly, with so many living out their lives online in a fantasy world, rather than developing true & meaningful relationships with others in “face to face” encounters, it may take some doing. A survey from George Barna’s Research Group a number of years ago revealed that by 2012, 70% of professing believers indicated they would be getting their spiritual nourishment from the internet. There is a problem with that. Not that there isn’t a lot of very helpful information available on the web, there is. It’s just that there are certain ingredients in the DNA of Christian growth and fellowship that can only take place in person.. One of those is called accountability. Someone has said, “Without accountability, the Christian life is optional.” They are correct. We need the help of others in order for our lives to stay consistent and clean.

            Accountability will only be as good as “what you bring to the table.” In other words, if you want someone to help you in growth, they must know what your struggles are. If you are tempted to view questionable things on internet, if you have problems in relationship with your parents or other authorities in your life, if you’re tempted to really want the approval of your peers to the point where you will say & do things that you later regret – those needs must be shared with your accountability partners. If for example you’re tempted to spend too much time on the internet or too much time playing video games, etc., tell them that. Transparency is essential to deep, lasting relationships and a desire to grow spiritually. To do this, you will need to humble yourself & get truly honest.)

Take God seriously!

  • Live in the fear of God.  Eccl.12:13,14
  • Commit to be different … for His glory.  I Cor.10:31

 

(To make a change in your morals is a very serious matter. In a day in which everything is so “loose” in society, for you to gain and maintain moral purity is going to require that you be distinctively different from the culture. It will require a cleansing of the thought process (Phil.4:8) and such a different pattern to your life from 90% of professing believers today that many of your friends will perhaps think you’ve “gone off the deep end.” You will begin to develop Biblical convictions in your life (I’ve been doing an intense study on this subject in the last few months and believe it is essential to being a “World  Changer”), BUT with all that being said … you will NEVER regret being on that road. Choosing the pathway of Daniel, the Hebrew children, Joseph, Esther, Ruth can be costly, but worth it!)

 

You can walk in victory!  I Cor.6:11;10:13

  • Follow the example of others.  Dan.1:8; I Tim.4:12

 

(Here is the goal … victory & freedom! Freedom in conscience … freedom in your heart & mind … freedom to impact others within our society … freedom from bondage to your flesh … that is the reward promised here!  In the passage identified above, Paul testifies to the Corinthian believers after going through a long list of moral sins, “and such WERE some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

      Dear friends, if I could sit across the table from you right this minute, look you in the eye, and speak a word to your heart, it would be this. I want you to know, you can be FREE! There is not room here to witness of the multitudes who have been set free and stayed free when they finally came clean, agreed with God about their need, repented of the” junk” established accountability with Godly leadership and set themselves on a journey to testify to others that they too can find freedom in Jesus Christ with His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit and His Holy Word in their lives. Jesus said, You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free! Oh, dear friend, live free & become proactive in helping others on the road to victory!)

Categories
Uncategorized

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.

Categories
Uncategorized

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

Categories
Uncategorized

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!