Sep 25

It’s What Grandparents Do

granddadMy grandfather served as the County Assessor of Wetzel County, West Virginia for nearly 20 years. I remember an occasion when I was just a little boy, that my Granddad loaded me up in his car and took me down to the courthouse. I remember it being quite a large and impressive building. When we got inside, do you know what we did? My granddad took me from office to office to “show off” his grandson to all his co-workers.

Question — What seminar do grandparents have to attend to train them to talk about their grandchildren?

You know the answer to that question. There is no seminar. Some things just don’t need to be taught. A grandfather “showing-off” his grandson doesn’t require a seminar or training session. It just comes naturally.

If that’s the case, and it is, then why do we offer “a lack of training” as an excuse for not going forth and “bragging on Jesus?” We don’t need special training to speak a good word for Jesus, we just need greater love! Give it some thought.

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Sep 19

The Power of One Word

airplaneWhile flying home from Denver, Colorada last week, I sat next to a man who was reading his Bible. We struck up a conversation and I soon realized he believed he had the spiritual gift of healing.

After giving me a couple examples of how he used his powers, he asked me if I believed what he was saying. I told him that my beliefs aren’t based on experiences, which can sometimes be deceptive, but upon what the Bible teaches. I then proceeded to explain 1 Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 4 as he followed along in his Bible.

When I finished he said, “I see what you’re saying, and have never really studied this before, so I don’t have an answer, but what I do have are my experiences, and I know that God has given me the power to heal.”  So, for the remainder of the flight, (nearly three hours) this man recounted story after story of his alleged healings. I had already made my point that my beliefs aren’t based on experiences but upon what the Bible teaches, so as he shared these stories, I simply let him talk. There was no need to argue point by point with all the stories he told, but as I sat and listened, I wondered what I could say that would expose his error.

When we eventually touched down and regained phone signal, this man’s phone “dinged.”  He had a text message from his son. It was a picture of his son’s finger that had been cut while he was using a weed-eater. When this man saw the picture of his son’s finger, he said, “Oh no, my son has cut his finger and from the looks of the picture, he will probably need a few stitches. I need to get off this plane and take him to the hospital.”

It was then that I broke my silence and simply asked, “Why?” The man swung his head around and stared at me with a look that resembles that of a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. For a moment, he just froze. It looked like he was searching for words, but they escaped him. The force of that one word was convicting. This man just spent nearly three hours trying to prove had had the power to heal people, but his first thought when he saw that his son was injured was to take him to the hospital.

The take-away from this story is that one word that has the backing of Scripture is more convicting than thousands of words lacking Scriptural backing.

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Sep 01

It’s Just Too Hard!

talk jesusIn 2004, Mel Gibson directed the movie, “The Passion of the Christ.” The movie was a soul-stirring, graphic depiction of the death of Jesus.

I ran across this picture of Mel Gibson sitting on set with Jim Caviezel, the man who portrayed Jesus in the movie.

Some may find this picture offensive and think I shouldn’t have used it in this article, but I think it begs to be allegorized.

In this picture, there sits Mel Gibson, seemingly explaining something to the “crucified Jesus.” While this is just a movie set, I couldn’t help but think of how we all must some day stand before a crucified Savior and give an account of our lives (2 Cor. 5:10).

When I saw this picture, I couldn’t help but think how hollow our excuses will ring when we offer them to a Savior who died for us, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8).

Can you imagine offering any of the following excuses to a crucified Savior?

  • “The reason I didn’t follow you was that it was too hard.”
  • “I just felt like Christianity expected too many sacrifices from me. After all, I did have a family.”
  • “I would have been a better disciple, but none of my peers were into that, and they made fun of me, making it hard for me to be faithful.”
  • “It just cost too much to be a Christian.”

Do you see what I’m saying? This picture, at least for me, is a poignant reminder that the feeble excuses we frequently use to justify our lack of devotion and sacrifice will be embarrassingly and woefully inadequate in the presence of a crucified Savior.

So tell me again, why you couldn’t faithfully serve the Lord? Better give that some thought in light of the above picture.

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Aug 26

Getting out of Religious Ruts

ruts2I have a confession to make — I like ruts; well, more precisely, I like my ruts – yours, not so much. My ruts have served me well, and I’m comfortable in them. However, as much as I like my ruts, I realize that if I stay in a rut long enough, and allow it to get deep enough, I will eventually “bottom out.” At that point, the ruts that once served me well will actually impede my progress.

I say that to say this: We may have some “religious ruts” we’re quite comfortable in, but out of which we need to climb before they impede our progress.

What religious ruts am I talking about? Consider these.

  • What’s the Name of the Church? Many Christians do not realize the church you read about in the Bible doesn’t have a name. Wait! What? Of course, it has a name! Have you never read Romans 16:16, “the churches of Christ salute you?”Yes, I’ve read that verse along with dozens more that offer varied “descriptions” of the church, but which offer no “proper name” for the church. A description is not the same thing as a proper name.  Failure to make this distinction will eventually “bottom us out” in a rut that results in a denominational view of the church; a view that measures faithfulness by being in a church that has the “right name.” The irony of that is we get so invested in the correct name of the church, when God, in his wisdom, chose not even to give it a name.If we stay in this rut long enough, we will become sectarian, and be the very thing we oppose.  We’ll find ourselves denominating ourselves by saying things like, “I’m Church-a-Christ” in the same way our friends say, “I’m Baptist,” or “I’m Presbyterian.”Get out of the rut! Recognize the church doesn’t have a name, but has many varied descriptions, and begin using them. It’s not that using the expression, “church of Christ” is wrong, it’s not, but when we get to the point that we use it exclusively, as a proper name, we’ve bottomed out in the rut.
  • What Do We Call Our Church Leaders? Answer this question in your head, “Who must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, etc…?” I’m sure that the vast majority of those who answer this question will answer with the word, “elders.” I find that interesting because the actual text from which these qualifications are quoted uses the word “bishop,” not once, but twice. So why do so many answer with the word, “elder?” Could it be that we’re in a rut?

    Would eyebrows be raised in our congregations if we began praying for our “pastors” (Eph. 4:11) instead of “elders?” Would anyone wonder if we announced a “bishops'” meeting following morning service instead of an elders’ meeting? If so, then we’re probably in the rut of using “elder” exclusively. I once received a phone call from a sincere Christian lady who was concerned about the direction her congregation was heading because she read in their bulletin that they were beginning the process of appointing additional “shepherds.” You see, it was the “wrong” word. Had they said, “elders,” all would have been well.

    This rut will rob us of the richness and fullness of this work, that at least the apostles thought was broad enough that it should be described by a variety of terms (pastors/shepherds, bishops/overseers, elders/presbyters). Get out of the rut of using only one term to describe church leaders before people think it’s the only correct term.

  • My Church, Your Church, or His Church? On several occasions, I have cringed as I listened to an unsuspecting novice step onto the hidden landmine of “personal pronouns.” Here is how it usually goes. A seeker in our weekly Bible class, who is interested in learning more about God’s word will say something like, “Does your church believe…” only to have a well-meaning brother dismiss his question to rebuke his verbiage by saying, “I don’t have a church. It’s Jesus’ church, not mine.” This usually leaves the seeker with a confused look on his face, wondering what just happened.

    If one speaks of “my” church or “your” church and means to suggest ownership, then, of course, he needs to be corrected. But that is not what people mean when they say, “my” church or “your” church; they mean “identity with,” not “ownership of.”  And we use this sort of language all the time. I will speak of “my Pittsburgh Steelers,” and I have yet to have anyone correct me by telling me they’re not mine. They understand I’m not speaking of ownership, but of identity with.Unless we’re willing to correct the apostle Paul, we need to get out of this rut of correcting people for not using our preferred pronouns.  Did you know that Paul said Jesus was raised from the dead according to “my gospel” (2 Tim. 2:8)? Wait, I thought it was the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16). It’s both. It’s not an either-or proposition. If we can understand what Paul means and allow him to speak of “my gospel,” then we need to extend the same grace to people who speak of “my church.” Get out of the rut and don’t let your preferred verbiage get in the way of reaching the lost.

These aren’t the only examples of “religious ruts” that could be identified, but they do illustrate the danger of getting out of balance, limiting ourselves, and codifying our preferences.  Give it some thought.

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Aug 24

What’s Your Bible IQ?

dustyHow well can you do on this brief, five-question quiz?

  • Who was rebuked by Jesus for caring more about temporal things than eternal things?
  • To whom did Jesus offer “living water” that would cause one to never again thirst?
  • Which disciple was given a second chance to follow Jesus after denying him?
  • Who postponed obedience to Christ by procrastinating for a “more convenient season?”
  • Who was the captive who gained his freedom in exchange for Jesus’ death?

If your answers were (Martha, the Samaritan woman, Peter, Felix, and Barabbas), give yourself partial credit. But none of those answers are what I was looking for. However, if you answered each question with your own name, then give yourself full credit!

Okay, so the quiz is a “trick,” but if you go back and re-read all the questions, you’ll see that your name is a perfect answer to every question. The purpose of this little quiz is just to remind you to internalize the Scriptures. The Bible is a great book, but if we don’t make personal application of its truths, it will do us no good. Give it some thought.

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