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Sunday
Sep172017

Words That Have Died

Every generation or so we lose words that are relegated to the archives of the dictionary, but no longer serve a purpose in everyday conversation.

Let’s take a look at a few of them:

Perversion: the alteration of something from its original course, meaning, or state to a distortion or corruption of what was first intended: all great evil is the perversion of a good.

Few people talk about anything being perverted anymore and it’s because nothing is considered perverted today. The word is considered a judgment word, and of course it is not politically correct to judge, so the word gets shelved.

Abomination: a thing that causes disgust or hatred.

God uses this term quite often in the Old Testament. Often it is used in reference to sexual sin, but today there is no sexual sin. As a society we are slowly accepting everything that the Bible condemns as sexual sin, that way nothing is an abomination, it is just an alternative lifestyle.

Immorality:   means to fail to adhere to moral standards.

Amoral is more of a neutral and impartial word meaning without or not concerned with moral standards. Immoral is a term associated with judgment.

Immoral implies there is a standard that makes something that way, and only God is capable of setting the standards of moral behavior, which is the reason this word is rejected and not used today. In today’s thinking no one has the right to set standards for others, therefore, nothing is immoral.

Holiness: the state of being holy: a life of holiness and total devotion to God.

When I first became a Christian this word was used repeatedly as a reminder that one of our goals as a follower of Christ is to live in a state of holiness. Now it is harder today to define what standards of holiness could be used to determine if someone is living a life of holiness. Most churches won’t even touch the topic because it is a word that no longer has relevance for the 21st century.

Sanctification: set apart as or declare holy; consecrate.

This is another word that seems to have lost its place within most churches today. Declaring yourself fully devoted to Christ means you withdraw from activities that would pace yourself in step with society and the culture at large.

Some Christians who claim to be followers of Christ are simply living in both worlds without any conviction of something being wrong.

Judgment: the ability to make decisions or come to sensible conclusions. A misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment based upon behavior or rejection of moral law.

Judgment implies that there is a set of rules, laws, or precepts used as a standard to judge. If God’s Word was the standard to measure behavior of a society, it would mean that people would need to live up to the standards set forth.

Accountability: the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility: their lack of accountability has corroded public respect.

This term has lost its application because it implies that there are people who we seek to help us stay focused on what we believe and how we live.  No one wants to submit to a standard of conduct that is defined by people who have standards governed by any moral base.

Restitution: the restoration of something lost or stolen to its proper owner.

This term has all but been removed from our vocabulary in the church and in our courts system.  To hold someone accountable for behavior that has taken something from someone else has all but been replaced with an attitude:  If I get caught I will do my time and that’s it.  In the church, restitution just means you have been forgiven, but there is no cost to the perpetrator to replace what was stolen.

Repentance: feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one's wrongdoing or sin

Our culture does not like to feel guilty - in fact we like to think that people who feel guilty are emotionally flawed. Yet, repentance is not only remorse, it is turning away forever from behavior that is sinful or harmful to others. It is also a deeply religious word that often is not talked about in Christian circles today. Repentance implies something is wrong and therefore I need to change.  Most of the time we preach a gospel that has little or no repentance - we just need to accept God’s grace.  

I am sure you can think of more words like this that have met with certain death within our culture and within the Church. Words do have meaning, and when the concepts behind these deceased words are lost we lose their significance.

In God’s culture these words will again be resurrected and be brought back to life. He will use these words as He reviews how we lived our lives.  People often forget that there is coming a day when every word that is spoken will be judged.

Jesus told us in Matthew 12:35-37 that judgment day would be a day of reckoning.

35The good man brings good things out of his good store of treasure, and the evil man brings evil things out of his evil store of treasure. 36 But I tell you that men will give an account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

You may want to familiarize yourself with these dying words before they are buried and forgotten. These words and others like them are words that God uses to remind us of His standards.

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

 

 

Thursday
Sep142017

The Testing of God

“And so the Lord says, "These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.”                            –Isaiah 29:13

Does God test the heart?  Anyone can say they are a follower of Christ, but until they are tested, do they really understand what it takes to make a commitment to be a follower of Jesus Christ?

Deuteronomy 8:2

"You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

This testing of course is not for God but for you to know how sincere your commitment is to follow Him. So how does God test you?

1. Endurance:  James 1:3 Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

2. Refining Process: Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested.

3. Quality of Commitment: Psalm 26:2 and Psalm 139:23 David sought God’s testing, asking Him to examine his heart and mind and see that they were true to Him.

4. Obedience: Hebrews 11:17-19 When Abram was tested by God in the matter of sacrificing Isaac, Abram obeyed.

5. To Evaluate:  How strong your faith is and upon what is it built upon: Matthew 7:24-25 Jesus said when the storms come they will test to see if you built the house on solid ground.

God tests us to see if we have the right motives and perspectives in what we say we believe. Many followers of Christ don’t know him just like Matthew 7:21:23 describes:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy  in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

It is my personal belief that many Western Christians will be tested in similar ways just as Christians who are being persecuted in countries around the world. Our testing may look different than those in other countries, but nevertheless it will be a testing of the heart to see if we know God and to see if we are faithful in keeping His Word.

No testing is easy nor is it pleasant but at the end of the day testing is the only way to evaluate how well you are following God. Cheap talk about believing in God is quickly evaluated by how you react under the pressure of being disappointed, full of grief, or being hurt.  Many people live with great pain in their lives from past events, which creates a stumbling block in receiving anything from the Lord. God’s testing is like the quality control in a manufacturing plant where they test their product to see if it was made to the standards of the company. 

I see His testing working in me everyday and I see it around me in the lives of others as they evaluate their own growth as believers. It is extremely important to become self-aware in how you follow Christ, and it is in this self-awareness that you can truly grow in Christ. Most of us do not have self-awareness because we don’t want to be honest with ourselves about how others see us. Yet, if quality control in business is about how a product is built, we as Christians should have a ‘quality control system’ to see how we are growing.

Most of us do not have people in our lives who will give us an honest self-awareness talk - the kind of honest dialogue we need to achieve a quality control check on the kind of disciple we are becoming. Growth as a disciple of Christ comes when we are aware of what is missing in our lives. It is only when we know what those missing pieces are can we then pursue ways of making changes to achieve them.  

What is missing in your life?  Well, you might be tested to find out.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

Wednesday
Sep132017

Is Milk The Common Food Of The Church?

For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. –Hebrews 5:13-14

I have observed for the last decades or two that many Christians have a low-grade understanding of the gospel message. If you were to ask ten Christians about the main reason Jesus came you might get 50% to say, “He came to die for our sins.”  Now if you were to ask them, why He did that, you would get even a smaller percentage of them telling you it was to fulfill the promises God made to the Jewish people through God’s covenants with them.

Matthew 5:17 I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.

If you were to ask most Christians about the history of their faith, they would probably talk about the Church Fathers of the Reformation, and not Father Abraham.

Genesis 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

All families of the earth will be blessed because the Jews would be the conduits for the Savior/Messiah to appear and establish a New Covenant with the Jews that would affect the whole earth.

Jeremiah 31:33-34 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

This new covenant was given to the Jews, not the Gentiles, and it established the reason Jesus came, as He said, “I have not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but I came to fulfill them.” That fulfillment was two-fold:

  1. To fulfill the promise to the Jews of a New Covenant
  2. To graft in all mankind to this New Covenant

Romans 11:17-18 “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.”

So when the emphasis of the church never addresses these Biblical facts, you are being fed milk, which will hinder your ability to grow into a spiritually mature Christian.

Here are the two areas where “the Milk” is displacing the “Solid Food” of the Word of God. 

 

1. One of the common mistakes leaders make in the Church is their speculation about the scripture. Speculation is not fact; it is a personal belief or opinion that something will happen. I would consider this milk, because it will keep you alive but it won’t give you much health. Milk can soften the harsh reality of the truth (Solid Food), which often is messy and frightening. For example, when a leader teaches that some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased in operation in the church; that is purely speculation. There is no scriptural evidence to support this. The other area where speculation has a high degree of occurrence is with eschatology. This centers on the idea that God will perform His return to earth according to their understanding. All speculation has to take into account that His return is a mystery, it happens quickly in the last days, and no one knows the day and hour. The idea of a mystery has to do with knowing something will happen, we are just not sure on the details. The detail is what makes it a mystery, and many have taken the details and made them fit their doctrinal belief on His second coming. Speculation is an assumption, not a fact, and it should be spelled out as such.  The Bible does not teach us to speculate on the hour or the day, it teaches us to pray, be watchful and be ready. That means we are to know the season, know the signs, and be ready for what is next.
 
2. The other common mistake leaders make is their unwillingness to preach the whole council of God.
–Acts 20:27-28 For I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and the entire flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. 
Solid food is for the mature to digest and to bring the necessary protein to your body. If milk is all that is digested, you will eventually begin to lose body mass and strength. Babies cannot digest solid food, so milk was made for them. However no one stays a child forever, and sooner or later the child grows into solid food. So do our churches just preach the milk of the word and never solid food? Some believers have become so milk dependent that they are scared of the end times and would prefer not to hear it. Sorry, scary or not, it will take solid food of God’s Word to build a Church that will not compromise with the evil in our day. Life will not get easier until Jesus is sitting on His throne in Jerusalem and until then we should be inhaling the smorgasbord of solid food from His word.

Is milk the common food of the Church? If it is, we are in big trouble. We live in a day when solid food must be digested to prepare us for what is to come.

Keeping it honest and truthful….K

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Sep062017

What is it About God You Really like?

Psalm 139:4 “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it.”

What do I like about God?  I wonder if He is listening, or if He reads my blogs?  Well, okay what I personally like about God is that I can be myself around Him. I don’t have to act a certain way, much like I do at times at church to keep my reputation intact. I can just be myself. After all, what is it about me that He doesn’t already know? He already knows all my shortcomings and the outrageous thoughts that I have, embarrassing as some of those are. Most people have two game faces:

  1. What I want people to see and know about me
  2. What I really think about people and how miserable I can be. 

Now, that may make some of you uncomfortable, but you are no different than me. You think things you shouldn’t and you want to do things that would be unbecoming of a mature adult. Yes, I know, you wouldn’t even think about it, but that is baloney and you know it.

You may think I am strange, unconventional, and seriously in need of therapy, but that is why I like God so much; He just sits back and smiles. I bet His thoughts are: “I made him - what a mess! I wonder how the formula was so different for this one?”  And in spite of how unconventional I am, He still loves me. No matter what thoughts I have, actions I do, or desires I may act upon.  That’s why I love God. He knows I need help, and I know I need help, so we have a great partnership. He has become all the help I need and I need all the help I can get.

We can come up with all sorts of religious reasons why we love and like God, but mine are quite simple.  He likes me.

And by the way, He likes you too. Just in case you were feeling left out. You may be the most despicable person, always failing, and your only friend may have disowned you, but He still likes you. Isn’t that just like God?  No matter what, you are important to Him, and because of it, He just sits back and marvels at your uniqueness, His creation.

You may be able to better articulate why you like God, but for me, I simply imagine Him looking at me, taking a deep breath and just smiling. I just love that about God!

I hope you can now understand why I like God so much.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

 

Tuesday
Sep052017

Toxic People

Proverbs 22:24-25 

“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”

I don’t usually quote psychology magazines but when a friend of mine went off on me about the toxic environment he works around, it make me do some investigation. Here is how Psychology Today describes toxic people:

Do you know a toxic person? Even if you don't now, at some point in your life you're bound to have come across a person who fits the description. Dealing with such an individual can be difficult and draining, to say the least. In fact, it may challenge what you know about yourself and push you to the limits. Here are some traits to familiarize yourself with, and to help you navigate these trying relationships:

 1. Toxic people are manipulative. Their modus operandi is to get people to do what they want them to do. It’s all about them. They use other people to accomplish whatever their goal happens to be. Forget what you want; this is not about equality in a relationship—far from it.

 2. They are judgmental. Keep your eyes and ears open for criticism—about you, what you've done, and what you didn’t do. It’s never about them, and they will lie if it serves them.

3. They take no responsibility for their own feelings. Rather, their feelings are projected onto you. If you try to point this out to them, they will likely vehemently defend their perspective, and take no responsibility for almost anything they do. 

4They don't apologize. They don’t see any reason to, because things are always someone else’s fault. In many instances, although they try to orchestrate relationships to serve their own ends, they try to gain sympathy and attention by claiming “victim” status.

5They are inconsistent. It’s hard to know who you’re with at any given time because they are often not the same person. They may change their perspective, attitude, and behavior depending on what they feel they need to accomplish or what they want to have happen. (And they know how to be kind when they want something from you.
  
6. They make you prove yourself to them. Toxic people make you choose them over someone else, or something they want over something you want. Often, this turns into a “divide and conquer” dynamic in which the only choice is them, even to the point of requiring you to cut off other meaningful relationships to satisfy them. 

7. They make you defend yourself. They have difficulty staying on point about certain issues, probably because they’re not interested in your point of view or trying to reach an amicable conclusion. Remember, they are supreme manipulators: Their tactics may include being vague and arbitrary, as well as diverting the focus of the discussion to how you’re discussing an issue—your tone, your words, etc. They focus on problems, not solutions.

8. They are not caring, supportive, or interested in what’s important to you. In fact, the good things that happen to you move the attention away from them and thwart them from focusing on their own goals. Beware of people who find fault with you and make you wrong. Loyalty is foreign to them.


In #7 the author is discussing that most toxic people won’t focus on solutions because they like the problems. Yet, as Christians, our focus is always on the solution. It is about grace, mercy, forgiveness and the redemption that Jesus Christ brings into every life. Does grace, mercy, or forgiveness solve every problem? No, but it creates an environment where God can find a space to insert Himself. We can find toxic environments in our homes, in our churches, and in our workplaces and most of the time we simply put up with it.

My friend has a bad case of dislike for the toxic people in his life, and his way of handling it? Avoidance! However, in private he is very upset. I am sure many of us have situations that are similar to what is described here, and many of us probably are handling it much of the same way my friend is: by simply avoiding it. Of course it will all depend upon the circumstances we find our toxic environment, because if you confront a superior at work about his or her toxic behavior, you may not have a job the next day. Friendships are also at risk, and if you value family cohesion, it may not be wise to confront your brother-in-law. 

So how do you handle Toxic people?


1. The first line of defense against anything toxic is that you prepare yourself so that you will not be influenced by it. Toxic people are everywhere so you won’t be able to escape them completely, however you must not let their negativity influence you because it is contagious. One of the ways to build a defense against toxic environments is to focus on how God is a God of change. He is our hope and nothing can influence you if you maintain your focus on Him.

2. The second awareness is that toxic people are often unaware they are toxic. They often think of themselves as independent thinkers who have seen too much and have been hurt too often. They know what they know and nothing will change their minds, so they live and breath negative toxic behavior. Accent on what happens when God is inserted into any situation and that change is possible. There are situations where we all experience disappointment by what happens in life, but God never leaves us where He finds us. Hope is always the best antidote to toxic environments. Live a lifestyle of hope - it will sustain you in all uncomfortable situations.

3. The last thought on dealing with any toxic environments is to pray for the people and environments that are toxic. Prayer can be a double-edged sword and it can affect the toxic environment plus protect the people who are affected by toxic people.  

God leads us beside still waters. This is the hope we live for, which is far away from toxic people.  

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

 

 

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