Sunday, July 3, 2022

Labor Shortage

 

“Help Wanted”

“Apply Today”

“We’re Hiring!”

We see these signs everywhere. If you are looking for a job, this is a great market. Unfortunately, the market does not feel great for those who are trying to fill these vacancies, and for the patrons who are feeling the effects of the labor shortage. The service industry in particular has been hit hard; your favorite fast food restaurant may or may not be open, depending on whether or not enough people show up to work that day. When they are open, service is slow at many places.

It is taking an unusual amount of time to get things because the labor shortage has impacted the shipping industry. In May our church ordered a new appliance, and we were told it would arrive in June—of next year, thirteen months away!

It is taking an unusual amount of time to get places because the labor shortage has impacted the airline industry. Flights are being cancelled at the last minute because pilots are in short supply. This labor shortage is frustrating, and something needs to change soon. 

If we are bothered by this labor shortage, how do you think God feels about a more important one? Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 9:37, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” The harvest to which Jesus referred is a spiritual harvest, a crop of souls that are in desperate need of attention. 

All farmers desire a plentiful harvest, but not having enough hands on deck to reap the produce is bad business. Today’s restaurateurs want customers, but they also need enough of a crew to accommodate them. We want to see the lost get saved, but we need the manpower to make it happen. 

Yes, there are missionaries around the world evangelizing unreached people groups; there are pastors proclaiming God’s Word from their pulpit each week; there are evangelists traveling from city to city declaring the gospel, but it takes more than that. We need students talking to their classmates. We need employees talking to their coworkers. We need shoppers talking to their cashiers. The harvest truly is plentiful; there are people all around us who are a heartbeat from hell. Will we be willing workers?

We can help in this harvest by rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty, but there is also a spiritual element as well. In the parallel passage we read in Luke 10:2 “Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” 

God is the Lord of the harvest. When we pray for Him to send workers, it starts a chain reaction in heaven’s throne room. We must pray for the conversion of the lost, but at the same time pray for God to send people their way. Pray for God to send people to the uttermost parts of the earth. You might just find that the next worker God will send into the harvest is you.   

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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Ravens’ Beaks

 

Last week I wrote about eagles’ wings and how we need to wait upon the Lord in order to renew our strength. So can we think about a different bird this week? The raven is not a majestic bird that soars in grace like the eagle. It is actually a scavenger bird, eating the carcasses left behind by nature. Thanks to Poe, the raven has taken on an association with the darker side of literature. 

But God has worked through the raven. The fowl served a purpose after the flood, as Noah sent one out that did not return, letting him know it was not yet safe to disembark. But more importantly, God used ravens to help Elijah and to teach him to trust in the Lord. In I Kings 17 the prophet came suddenly onto the scene and told King Ahab that there would be nether rain nor dew for three years. 

This was punishment for the idolatry that had become commonplace in Israel’s northern kingdom, but it was also God’s evidence that He was superior to Baal. Ahab’s wife Jezebel had once served her father as the high priestess of Baal, and she was determined to turn Israel into a Baal-worshipping land. Baal was believed to be responsible for sending the rain, so when the land experienced drought for three years, who do you think the people prayed to? They would call upon their god—a mute idol—and beg him to send the rain they so desperately relied on in their farm culture. 

Elijah’s declaration of drought would make him a marked man, persona non grata throughout Israel. So the Lord instructed him to go to a private place to lay low while He issued judgment on the idolaters. The text tells us, “The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook (v.6).”

The brook from which he drank was a wadi, a stream that only held water after the rain, but God supernaturally allowed the brook to supply water for an extended period of time in a drought. And Elijah was taken care of by using the first Door Dash service; his meals were brought right to him from the beaks of ravens. And yes, raven are scavengers, but that doesn’t mean they brought him what they eat. One may have brought him fish while another brought him bread. While the idol worshippers prayed to Baal and starved, Elijah was eating fish sandwiches and drinking water from a wadi. 

Do you think this strengthened Elijah’s trust in God? Twice a day he witnessed a miracle from the beaks of ravens. In the next chapter he would have the famous confrontation with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, and I believe his experience with the ravens made him up for the challenge. 

Never doubt that God can supply your needs. Whether it is manna in the wilderness or meat at a wadi, the Lord can provide for us any way He sees fit. We can mount up with eagles wings and have faith through ravens beaks because our God will never let us down.   

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Sunday, June 19, 2022

Eagles Wings

 


When I was a kid I had one of those cloth Bible covers with the zipper, the kind that could hold pens and highlighters, and in my case, candy for church. The front cover was embroidered with a picture of an eagle in flight, and these familiar words from Isaiah 40:31:

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Those words greeted me every Sunday morning when I unzipped my Bible at church, and I know many people have found comfort in that passage. 

That was Isaiah’s purpose, after all, to bring comfort. The chapter opens with the words, “Comfort, yes comfort my people!” That word comfort invited a remarkable shift in mood, as the first thirty-nine chapters dealt primarily with judgment. Because of years of idolatry and rejecting of their Lord, the southern kingdom of Israel was about to be conquered by Babylon and taken into captivity. That was the prophet’s message. But the captivity would not last forever; God was not giving up on His people. Chapter forty opens with a message of comfort that God would end the captivity and let them return to the promised land. 

But the Jews would be weak and weary. After seventy years of slavery they would be physically drained, and the journey home would be no Sunday afternoon stroll. As the crow flies, the distance from Babylon (modern Iraq) to Jerusalem was between 400-500 miles, but following the river stretched the trek into 900 miles. Their slow moving caravan would spend four months on this route. How many times would their children ask if they were there yet? They were probably tired just thinking about it. 

But “the everlasting God, the Lord…neither faints nor grows weary (v.28).” When we grow weary we can wait on the Lord and allow Him to renew our strength. Waiting does not mean we sit idly by; the word is packed with action. We are not mannequins that God poses while He works. Waiting means to hope and expect. We trust that the Lord will keep His promises. We do not go in our own natural strength, but in a renewed strength. 

‭‭‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬To renew means to exchange. This is like changing clothes: you take off what you were wearing, but you replace those clothes with something new. In this instance, the captive Jews would change their strength like it was laundry. They would disrobe from their depleted, physical energy, and then dress themselves with the fresh, clean linens of God’s strength. 

Maybe you need a new wardrobe. You have been wearing that same outfit for far too long; it is faded, dirty, and threadbare, symbolic of your weakened condition. You are worn out, mentally and emotionally exhausted, but the Lord offers you something new off the rack. 

You will then ascend on high like eagles. You will run and not grow weary; you will walk and not faint. One would think that after flying we would be exhausted, but no, we will still find the energy to run. Even after we run there will still be enough gas in the tank to walk. So exchange your strength for His by waiting on the Lord. Keep hoping and trusting in Him, and you will soar to new heights. 


Friday, June 17, 2022

SBC 22 Update


The Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting is in the books, and I wanted to give a recap of some of the highlights. We were glad to represent Putman among more than 8,000 messengers in the beautiful city of Anaheim, California. 

Most notably, the SBC dedicated serious time to the issue of sexual abuse within the convention. One year ago messengers asked for the creation of a Sex Abuse Task Force (SATF) that would report back 30 days prior to this year’s meeting. The report was horrific (to quote outgoing SBC President Ed Litton, it was “a gut punch”). In response, Southern Baptists overwhelmingly voted to adopt both recommendations from the task force. 

First, the convention approved a continuing task force, called the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF), that will work for as many years as is needed to continue the effort begun by the SATF, which was only given one year to work. 

More importantly, the convention adopted the creation of a database at the SBC office. The report found that many pastors and staff members guilty of abuse were able to easily move on to other congregations and continue their abuse. The database will allow churches to run the names of potential hires to see if they have been credibly accused at other churches. The convention first suggested this back in 2006, but only now adopted it. 

There are safeguards built in. In order to be considered as “credibly accused,” the offender will have had to have confessed in a non-privileged setting, and have been found guilty in either a criminal or civil suit. This means that pastors cannot be blacklisted just on the words of a single accuser; they will be afforded due process (see Johnny Depp and Amber Herd). 

Additionally, messengers adopted two resolutions submitted by individual messengers. Resolution 6, titled “On Lament and Repentance for Sexual Abuse,” offers a formal acknowledgment and apology for the convention’s sins. Resolution 5, titled “On Support for Consistent Laws Regarding Pastoral Sexual Abuse,” calls on state legislatures to enact consistent laws making abuse between a pastor and a member of his congregation as a greater crime, similar to laws that hold teachers, doctors, therapists, and others in positions of authority to a higher standard. The imbalance of power makes the abuse worse because it violates trust. Many of the survivors in the SATF report stated that they felt they had no choice but to submit to the advances of their pastor. The resolution also calls for safeguards for pastors who report abuse from other churches, shielding them from retaliation. 

These four items of business were overwhelming adopted. They are not an end-all, but a vital first step in the right direction. The ARITF will continue the work to make future recommendations, beginning next year at the meeting in New Orleans. 

Another important vote was in regards to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). A motion from the floor called for the defunding and abolition of the commission. Speaking for his motion, the messenger said there are times when the leaders of the ERLC speak on an issue, they presumably speak for the SBC, but they do not always represent the positions of every pastor. Obviously this is true. But there will never be 100% agreement on every issue. There are 14 million Southern Baptists. How can we each agree on everything? 

Abolishing the ERLC is not the answer. The SBC president will make many statements, and we do not all agree with each of those statements, but we do not abolish the office of the president. Similarly, the ERLC has been given latitude to speak on current issues, and sometimes we will disagree. I proudly voted to keep the ERLC, and I was glad the motion to defund it was defeated. 

In Acts 1:8 Jesus said His disciples should be witnesses both at home and around the world, and the ERLC is an arm of the convention designed to carry the Gospel into the public square. They provide resources in apologetics that pastors and congregations can use, touching on topics such as homosexuality, gender issues, and abortion. With the Supreme Court likely to reverse Roe v Wade at any moment, it seems foolish to abolish the very commission that has been fighting to end Roe for decades. Once Roe is reversed, all fifty states will have to make decisions on abortion, and the ERLC is primed and ready to leap into action. 

The SBC is not perfect. It never has been, and it never will be. Ours is a history of both mistakes and struggles to get things right. We have been on the wrong side of slavery and evolution, but eventually got it right. We have wrestled internally with inerrancy. We are currently seeing a rise among some who want to ordain women pastors (with Saddleback Church currently on the SBC chopping block). With as many churches and members as we have, we are always going to have some contentious conversations. As soon as we settle an issue, there will be another problem lurking in the shadows. That doesn’t mean we are in trouble. It doesn’t mean “there is drama in the SBC,” or that conservatives need to jump ship and become independent. 

The whole point of the SBC is to cooperate together so that we can accomplish more. We strive for unity, not uniformity. We agree on what is nonnegotiable, and recognize that we have differences in doctrines such as soteriology (Calvinists and free will), eschatology (is the rapture before the Tribulation or after?), and ecclesiology (church government, for example). But we join hands at the cross of Calvary and rally around our risen Savior. I am proud to cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention, and I believe our future is bright.         


 


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Follow the Blueprints


I’m not an architect, but I have seen a few sets of blueprints in my life. I love how incredibly detailed blueprints are, with everything to scale, showing every door and window, and noting the dimensions of each component. A good set of blueprints can let the builders, plumbers, and electricians know exactly what they need to do. If you are unsure, just consult the blueprints.  

No, I am not an architect, but I can follow blueprints. Not the trademark blue paper used for sketching plans; I am talking about the pattern of conduct that mature believers should model for younger Christians. In his first letter to the church in Thessalonica (which still exists as Thessaloniki in Greece) Paul commended the congregation for doing exactly that. He wrote:

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia (1:6-7).” 

The Greek word translated as example literally means an exact reproduction, and it gives us the English word type, as in, “He is the type of person you can trust.” Paul commended the Thessalonians on their conduct; they imitated the example set by Paul, and in so doing they became an example for other churches to follow. Christians in Macedonia and Achaia, which were other cities in Greece, were able to look at the Thessalonians and know how they should conduct themselves. But the blueprint extended beyond their immediate neighbors, because in II Corinthians 8 Paul mentioned the Macedonian churches that pitched in to help the struggling congregation in Corinth. Even though the Thessalonians were in extreme poverty, they still dug deep to help meet the needs of these brothers and sisters in Christ that they had never met. 

Blueprints are vitally important. If you have been a believer for a while you need to be a set of blueprints that other people can use. There are younger Christians looking at you, and they need to know how to become a better husband and father, or wife and mother; they need to know how to conduct themselves in pressure situations; they need to know how to pray. You can be a set of blueprints that unbelievers can see as well. Your pattern of behavior can be a shining light to a lost world. They can see you and want what makes you different. Your blueprints can point them to Jesus. 

And if you are someone who has not been a believer that long, you need to be following a set of blueprints. Learn from someone who has been walking with the Lord for a while. Ask questions. Take notice. No one is perfect, but a good set of blueprints can help you along the way. You should be following blueprints until you are able to start drafting your own for someone else to follow. 

You don’t have to be an architect, but we all should be working with a good set of blueprints. 

     

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Sunday, June 5, 2022

Sculpting a Lion

 


A sculptor once made a remarkably lifelike statue of a lion. A friend of his was struck by how realistic the image was, especially in light of the fact that he could not have a lion stand still and pose while he was working on it. When his friend asked him how he was able to craft such a stunning piece of art, the sculptor replied, “I just kept cutting away anything that didn’t look like a lion.” 

That is great advice for life. No, I am not talking about us sculpting lions, but in living lives of holiness. In I Peter 4:2 the Apostle said believers are called to “live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” Being a Christian means we are called to live a set apart life—set apart from the world and set apart to God. Rather than a lion, we need Jesus to be our model, and then we simply need to cut away anything that does not look like Him.

The Apostle Paul gave us some specific character traits that might need to be cut away. Before listing the famous fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, he first mentioned what he called the works of the flesh: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (v.19-21).” 

Sinful habits are the opposite of Jesus. Allowing them to remain in our lives would be like giving a lion sculpture zebra stripes. It is both confusing and inaccurate. Another Apostle, John, would write, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world (I John 2:15-16).”

‭‭ ‬‬Are there things in your life that do not look like Jesus? A sculptor would not settle for decent or just “good enough;” she continues to work with her chisel in hand, slowly removing what should not be there. Why would Christians settle for just good enough? Our goal should be to look just like Jesus, so do not allow anything to remain in your life if it does not look like Him. ‭‭ ‬‬‬‬

Of course, we will never become sinless in this life, but that does not mean we should not be striving for it. We will finally become sinless when we get to heaven (I John 3:2), but until then, may we always be at work in our studio, chipping away anything that does not look like Jesus. 


Sunday, May 29, 2022

Chesterton’s Joy and Darwin’s Misery


British author and philosopher G.K. Chesterton had a rosy outlook on life because he could find happiness in the small things around him. He once wrote these words: “Seeing the glory of God may not require making a trip to the mountains or buying a ticket to the theater, but only opening our eyes—because I believe untold resources for mental health and spiritual joy in God lie all around us if we would but open our eyes.” Elsewhere he wrote that he learned to be thankful for small blessings, like the fact that God chose to give us noses so that we can smell. If frogs could speak, Chesterton wrote, then surely they would thank God for giving them the ability to jump. 

Let’s contrast Chesterton’s perspective with that of Charles Darwin. In his earlier years Darwin was a lover of art, music, literature, and poetry, and he was enamored by the animal kingdom. But later in life he would lament that he could no longer stand those things. He once took “great delight” in the arts, but he would later write in his autobiography, “But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost any taste for pictures or music.” 

Darwin continued: “My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts…the loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness.” He wondered why this was the new state of his mind, but he could not put forth an answer. 

I have a theory. I believe Darwin lost his joy when he closed his mind to God. At a young age Darwin was training to be a minister, but as we all know, he would eventually reject the existence of God and credit the origin of the species to random chance and evolution. I believe Darwin knew deep down that he was wrong; he may have convinced others that there is no God, but he never convinced himself. This man that is heralded in our classrooms made himself miserable when he turned from his Maker.

On the other hand, Chesterton had resounding joy in his life because of his faith in God. He knew he was made on purpose, not the product of an unexplained Big Bang. Chesterton had a relationship with the God he was created to know, and that helped him be able to stop and smell the roses. This is exactly what Jesus promised us when He said, “These things I have spoken unto you that your joy may be full (John 15:11).”   

In John 10:10 Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Darwin allowed the devil to steal his joy, kill his belief in God, and destroy his soul, while Chesterton abundantly enjoyed life. We must decide for ourselves if we want misery or joy.  


Saturday, May 21, 2022

Live While You’re Alive

 


What are your future plans? Many of us plan out our lives into major chapters—I’m going to graduate, start my career, get married, have kids, buy a house, retire, and then I’ll travel and see the world. Or then I’ll do everything on my bucket list. Or then I’ll have time to spend with family and enjoying hobbies. 

Having a plan is a good thing, but I want to encourage you to live while you’re alive. We are not supposed to spend the majority of our life getting ready to enjoy the minority of it. I want to share a parable I read recently. 

An American investment banker took a vacation to Mexico and was enjoying some time fishing. He noticed a small boat docking, where a single local man unloaded his catch for the day—three good looking fish. The banker, who spoke decent Spanish, asked the fisherman how long it took him to catch those fish. “Only a little while,” the man answered. The banker was puzzled; it was early, and he caught a few fish in a short time, and yet he was calling it a day. Why didn’t he spend the whole day catching even more fish? The Mexican told him he caught enough to take care of his family for the day and to meet his immediate needs. 

The American asked what he does with the rest of his time. “I sleep in, spend some time fishing, I take a siesta with my wife, I play the guitar, I play with my children, and hang out with my friends.” The banker couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He had an MBA and felt like he should pass on some free advice. “Sir, you should spend more time fishing. Then you can use the extra money to buy a larger boat, then hire a few employees. Then you can afford to buy several boats and hire more people until you have an entire fleet. Instead of selling fish to the middleman, you can sell them directly to the cannery. You’d have to leave this village, of course, and move into the city.”

“Senior,” asked the fisherman, “how long will all this take?” “Oh, fifteen to twenty years. But then you can retire. Sell your enterprise to the highest bidder and walk away.” The fisherman asked what he would do after that. 

The American said, “You can sleep in, spend some time fishing, take a siesta with your wife, play they guitar, and hang out with your children and friends.” 

Unfortunately that is how many of us spend our lives. Rather than enjoying the small pleasures in life and just being together, we spend time separated because of the countless hours it takes to either plan for the future or fund our lifestyle. Please do not misunderstand me: I am not suggesting that we be irresponsible, and I am not saying that it is wrong to work. But sometimes we need to re-evaluate what we call the necessities. Don’t give your best years to your company; give them to your family. No one on their deathbed regrets spending too much time with their loved ones, but wasting so much time away from them. 

“Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

James 4:13-14


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Smelling a Rotten Egg

 

“If God is real, explain all the suffering in the world.”

“If there really is a good and loving God, why doesn’t he stop bad people from doing bad things?”

Questions like these are often used by atheists or agnostics to help them explain away the existence of God. There are very good answers to these difficult questions, and I frequently write about them in this space. But for many of us, we are not going to convince someone who is being argumentative; no answer will suffice, especially when the answer requires us to wade waist deep into the theological waters. 

Instead of trying to explain why God allows what He allows, and thus play defense, we can turn that accusation around and go on offense. Dr. Frank Turek, founder of the Christian apologetics ministry Cross Examined, once had a brilliant reply to such a challenge against the existence of God. He said, “Its easy to smell a rotten egg, but its hard to lay a better one.” 

The point is that anyone can throw accusations. That is quite easy to do. Listen to a group of sports fans talk the day after a game. People who have never coached a game, or never played quarterback, will tear into the coach for a late game decision, or rip the QB for not making the right read when a 300lb. linebacker was blitzing him. In the same way, we criticize the President or governor for some gut wrenching decisions they had to make, and we often judge them in hindsight. We smell a rotten egg. The team lost the game. The legislation wasn’t perfect. Everybody sees it, and the finger-pointing begins. 

Yes, it is easy to smell a rotten egg, but it is much harder to lay a better egg. That is, we might agree the quarterback made a mistake, but how many of us could actually have done it better? As this relates to the atheist’s critique of God, anyone can find something in the world they deem as wrong or unfair and use that as a charge against the goodness or omnipotence of God. “There are children in Africa born with AIDS, therefore, God must not exist.” 

But rather than play defense and feel like we must defend God, as if God needs to be defended to mortals by mortals, we can demand the accuser lay a better egg. “OK, if God is not real, you give me a better solution. You explain human consciousness. You explain the ability to think and reason. You explain universal laws of morality, where every people group knows it is inherently wrong to steal and murder. You explain how the universe is fine tuned for human life. You explain how order came from chaos. You explain how there are laws of physics (or planetary motion, or gravity, or whatever) without a lawgiver or judge.”

While I can defend the goodness of God in a sinful world, I shouldn’t have to. The burden of proof lies with the one who rejects what all common sense (and real science) tells us: the God of the Bible is real, and He is the creator. If there are some things you do not like about God, He can handle that, but if you decide He isn’t real, it is up to you to lay a better egg.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.”‭‭

Psalm‬ ‭19:1-2‬


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Getting Along with your Conscience

Do you get along with your conscience? You are supposed to, but some people view their conscience as their enemy because it is always arguing with them. Your conscience is that little voice in your head that lets you know if you are out of line, but it can also be that voice of vindication, confirming that you are living right when there may be some doubt.  

The English word conscience comes from the two Latin words for with and knowledge. No person knows us like our own conscience, for it has more knowledge of us than any other person has. We can fool friends and family, parents and pastors, but we can never fool our knowledgeable conscience. 

When Paul stood on trial before Felix in Acts 24, he said, “So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man (v.16).” In II Corinthians 1:12 he appealed to his clean conscience when he was falsely accused (“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.”). Having a clear conscience is a wonderful blessing, but when we are living in sin, our conscience will torment us. Paul wrote to his protégé about those “liars whose consciences are seared (I Timothy 4:1-2). 

When you look in the mirror, how does your conscience make you feel? Are you ashamed of who you are looking at? If you are living right, you and your conscience will be best friends. But if you know you are out of line, you will be trying to drown out the nagging voice that is telling you to shape up. Does your conscience torment you, reminding you of your guilt? Maybe your conscience is bothering you because you have never given your heart to the Lord. 

Don’t get mad at your conscience; it is only trying to help. It has your best interests at heart. We commonly refer to the nine justices in Washington as the highest court in the land, but John MacArthur said the conscience is the highest human court. Judges are human, and even the best and most well meaning of them makes mistakes, but our conscience has too much knowledge to ever get its verdict wrong. So are you getting along with your conscience, or is it scolding you? 


When you lay your head on your pillow, what does your conscience say?

It will speak to you about the choices that you made throughout the day.

If you know that you’ve been good—you know that you’re living right

Your conscience is a welcomed friend, and it lets you sleep at night. 


But if you know you haven’t been good—you know you’re living in sin,

You don’t want to hear from your conscience. It isn’t a welcomed friend. 

So if you need to get some rest, repent of what you’re doing wrong,

Then tonight when your conscience visits, you’ll be able to get along. 


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Mustard Seeds and Sorrow

 

An old Chinese proverb tells of a mother who was distraught over the loss of her child. She was overcome with sorrow, and feeling that she would never be able to get on with her life, finally decided to visit a local philosopher. The aged gentleman told the grieving mother that he could bring her son back from the dead if she would just bring him some mustard seeds. But there was a catch. The seeds had to come from a household where no one had ever experienced suffering. The desperate woman went from house to house, investigating every family in the village. What she discovered was that sorrow is common to every person. 

That proverb contains a great truth on the reality of suffering. It is an unfortunate part of life. But I like that the philosopher chose, of all things, to request mustard seeds because that is what Jesus used to teach on faith. He said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you (Luke 17:6).” We do not need much faith when we believe in Jesus; the mustard seed was the smallest known seed in their culture, but Jesus said that is all that would be required. 

A lot of people miss the fact that our faith is supposed to grow. The point is not that we only need a microscopic amount of faith to make it through life; the point is that we only need a small amount to be saved, but that our faith, like a mustard plant, should grow into a powerful force. Jesus later said this of the mustard seed: “It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches (Matthew 13:32).” Jesus’ point is that what starts out small can thrive over a lifetime. 

Now let’s apply that back to the parable about sorrow. The Chinese mother found that no one is immune from suffering, so she never returned with her mustard seeds. But if we can learn to place our mustard seed sized faith in Jesus, then we can be better equipped to face life’s hardships. In II Corinthians 1:3-4 Paul wrote these beautiful words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

In the ninth verse the apostle would go on to say that these hardships “make us rely not on ourselves but on God.” It may seem difficult at the time, but this is what faith is. We must learn to trust that in everything—including our sorrow—God has a plan. We have to trust that He is truly working all things together for our good, according to Romans 8:28. I am not trying to minimize what you might be going through, Christian, but I am asking you to trust in God. God comforts us in our afflictions, and that word comfort means He builds our strength and better equips us to live life. Whatever you might be going through could be God’s way of refining you and growing you into the person He wants you to be. 

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Sunday, April 24, 2022

Who is Stronger?

 


Is Satan powerful? We place a lot of blame on him for the problems in this life, and deservedly so. He is responsible for the entrance of sin into the world, and since sin is the reason for all our problems, Satan bears much of the responsibility for the fallen condition of humanity. 

But just how powerful is the devil? The Bible identifies him as the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), and the god or ruler of this world (John 12:31). He certainly is strong, and to underestimate his power is a grave mistake. Some people choose to play around with occultic activities, and I believe this only gives Satan an even greater opening to temp us. 

Paul gives us a glimpse into the devil’s power in II Corinthians 4:4 when he wrote, “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” According to that verse, our adversary has the ability to blind people to the truth of God. Unbelievers remain right where he wants them—clueless as to their need for saving from their sin. That seems to indicate that he is quite powerful. 

What chance do we have if the enemy wields so much power? There is good news. Just two verses later Paul would write, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (v.6).” Did you see that? Satan may have the power to blind people and keep them in darkness, but God has the power to shine the light of truth out of the darkness and reveal Himself to any skeptic. 

So who is stronger, God or the devil? In his book Spectacular Sins and their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ, John Piper said of this passage, “the blinding effect of Satan gives way to God’s light when he says, ‘Let there be light.’” When God speaks, the power of Satan ceases.  

To quote John the Apostle, “He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world (I John 4:4).” Satan has been permitted by God to exercise some authority, and this is because God wants us to freely choose Him; if there were not a choice, we are not really choosing God. Our Lord has loaned power to the enemy so that we can make a choice in our free will, but ultimately God is stronger. In fact, Satan has no power within himself, only that which has been temporarily granted him from heaven. It is similar to Jesus’ statement to Pontius Pilate, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above (John 19:11).”

So never underestimate the power of the devil, but understand that he has only brought a knife to a gunfight. God’s Holy Spirit residing in the life of a believer gives us the power we need to resist the enemy’s attacks, so we can walk in confidence knowing that Satan is strong, but God is stronger. 



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Sunday, April 17, 2022

Is God a Narcissist?

Throughout the Bible God tells us that He is the grandest being in existence, and that we are to love Him, praise Him, and serve Him. This has long been used as a negative critique of God, as atheists tell us that God is a giant narcissist demanding to not only be loved, but to be constantly told how great He is. 

People that demand to be treated as if they are superior are off putting, and those who insist on being lauded with praise are downright annoying. It comes across as childish, like a person who is insecure and thus needs to be reaffirmed by everyone else. Is this really how God is? And if so, wouldn’t that be a character flaw, and thus make Him imperfect? Is God like the Evil Queen who asks, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” 

God said through Isaiah that He will not share His glory with anyone else. When giving the Ten Commands God said, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them (Exodus 20:3-5)…”

Is God an insecure narcissist, an egomaniac that needs us to shower Him with praise in order to feel better about Himself? Absolutely not! God does not need praise from us because He is fully satisfied in Himself, whether we acknowledge Him or not. But God understands that our response to His greatness is what is best for us. Here is the thing: God loves us, and He wants us to be blessed. Therefore, God tells us exactly what to do in order to be blessed. The fact that He also happens to be the source of our blessing does not negate the fact that He wants us to be blessed. Acknowledging and worshiping God is good for us, so God tells us to do it. 

To quote John Piper in Desiring God, “He Himself is uppermost in His own affections…God would be unrighteous if He valued anything more than what is supremely valuable. But He Himself is supremely valuable…If He withholds Himself from our contemplation and companionship, no matter what else He gives us, He is not loving.” 

What Piper is saying is that God is not being arrogant, He is being honest. We are put off by braggarts because they are either embellishing or lying, or even if they are telling the truth, they are deficient in other areas. God has given us an honest assessment of Himself—there is nothing like Him in all the universe—and we would do well to recognize that and yield our lives to Him. Jesus said He is the only way (John 14:6), so this isn’t a time for modesty. 

If God were a seatbelt, He would be cruel to not tell us He could save our lives. 

If God were an oxygen mask, He would be cruel to not tell us He could save our lives. 

If God were an antibiotic, He would be cruel to not tell us He could save our lives. 

But God is not a seatbelt, an oxygen mask, or an antibiotic; He is the Savior of the world, the only one who can save us from our sins and give us eternal life. Don’t reject Him for being honest. Embrace Him because there is no one else that can save. 

 


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Fourteen Days of Happiness

One of the most powerful and feared Muslim rulers of the Roman era was Abdalrahman. According to the classic book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, there is a monument in his honor that bears this inscription from his own mouth: “I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: they amount to fourteen. O man! Place not thy confidence in this present world!”

It is hard to imagine that such a wealthy and powerful ruler would say at the end of his life that he only had fourteen total days of happiness. From the outside looking in one might think the life of the rich and famous is all happy all the time, but this shocking confession blows that thought out of the water. 

All people have a desire for happiness, and we certainly want more than fourteen days of it over the course of our lifetime. When we are experiencing moments of happiness we hope that it will last forever, but inevitably it ends. A child spending a day at Disney World exclaims, “I don’t ever want this day to end!” But it will end. The vacationers laying on the beach remark that they could stay in that spot forever. But they can’t. While seeking these moments of happiness is good for us, the knowledge that they are temporary—finite minutes on a clock or days on a calendar—makes us yearn for a deeper, more lasting happiness. 

As long as we live we should pursue happiness; obviously that should be done within the confines of holiness, for nothing that is unholy can bring true happiness. We serve a happy God, and “the joy of the Lord” should be “our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).” In our moments of unhappiness—be it sadness, mourning, depression, or whatever—we can be reminded that in the next life happiness will be all we know. And even in our moments of fleeting happiness, we can still take comfort in that same fact: in heaven we will always be happy. 

The reason we are not always happy now is sin. Before the flood, Genesis 6:5 says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Evil robs the world of happiness. But in the eternal state we could rework Genesis 6:5 to say, “The emotion of man’s heart is only happy continually.” 

The person who is happy exclaims that he never wants this moment to end, but it will. However, in heaven we will say, “I don’t ever want this feeling to go away,” and it won’t. Happy Christians reflect a happy God and attract unhappy sinners. We should strive for happiness, but even when we do not feel happy, we can remind ourselves of the eternal bliss that awaits us on the other side. Along with Abdalrahman, we will place not our confidence in this present world. But if our trust is in Jesus, our happiest moments here are but a foretaste of the joy that awaits us.     


Thursday, April 7, 2022

The Bow and Arrow of the Bible

Have you ever shot a bow and arrow? I remember the plastic bow and the suction cup tipped arrows from my childhood, but I also remember the actual bow and arrow set we got in Cherokee, North Carolina. I remember setting up targets with my brother and trying to hit the bullseye. I never mastered the bow and arrow but I remember having fun as I tried.

There are two interesting archery terms in the Bible that we often miss because one word is Hebrew and the other is Old English. One of the most popular Hebrew words that we possibly use without fully understanding is torah. We use this word because it refers to our Old Testament, and is often translated as law. When Jews today speak of the Torah they are referring to the books of Moses, the first five books of the Bible, Genesis-Deuteronomy. But the word torah comes up throughout the Old Testament and speaks of God’s law.

Psalm 1 describes the person who wants to be happy, and verse 2 says, “But his delight is in the law (torah) of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 119 also speaks of the person who wants to be happy, and it begins by saying, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law (torah) of the Lord!”

Although we translate torah as law, it actually comes from a verb form which means to direct, to guide, to aim, or to shoot forward. This is an archery term because it referred to a person who would aim his arrow at a target and shoot it towards the bullseye. Over time the word evolved and became applied to the teachers of the law. When teachers teach their students, they have a goal in mind; they want their learners to grasp the subject, so they direct their students towards the end goal. So God’s law is something that we are supposed to be shooting for.

But there is another archery term that is familiar to us. The Old English word sin translates a Greek word that means, “to miss the mark.” Etymologically, this word was used in archery by the person who stood near the target during competitions. The archer would aim his arrow towards the bullseye and take his shot, and the spotter would either call out, “you hit the mark,” or, “you sinned.” This is amazing when we realize that one of these words is Old Testament and Hebrew, and the other is New Testament and Greek, but when brought together they give us a picture of humanity.

Romans 3:23 famously tells us that, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Every single human, from the best of us down to the least, has sinned. We cannot hit the bullseye, no matter how hard we have tried. Some have sought to earn heaven by being a good person. We pull an arrow from the quiver, line it up towards the bullseye of right living, and shoot our best shot. But the devil has assigned himself the role of spotter. He shouts out with great delight, “You sinned!” And even though he is the father of lies, he is telling the truth when he calls out our sin. God’s standard for us is perfection, but all it takes is one missed arrow to forever separate us from His presence. 

This is where the sacrifice of Jesus comes into play. II Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Jesus is the only person who never sinned. He never missed the mark. But God took all of our sin—our imperfections and shortcomings—and laid them upon Jesus when He went to the cross. When Jesus was crucified God the Father was dealing with our sin. 

Now anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord can be saved because God will transfer our sin to Jesus’ account. Now we can truly be happy by delighting ourselves in the torah of God because it is not based on how well we keep it. We will still miss the mark, but our sin has been dealt with. This frees us up to do our best without fear of separation from God. We can now find His law to be enjoyable and for our own good, as it points us to God’s great character and amazing grace. 

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Sunday, March 27, 2022

Finding Contentment


 

Do you find yourself constantly wishing you had more? You wish you had more or better clothes, more money in the bank, a newer car, or a larger house. When we look around at other people, especially pictures we see posted to social media, it is easy to fall into the trap of wishing we had what other people have.

 

In Christianity we try to walk a delicate balance as it relates to our material possessions. We must learn to avoid the two extremes. On the one hand some say that the best way to demonstrate humility is to give up everything and live in poverty. On the other extreme are those who say that if you are really living the Christian life then God would be showering you with every blessing imaginable. Some people in poverty think that is proof that they love God more, while some in prosperity think that is proof that God loves them more. The truth is there are godly people that are both haves and have nots.

 

The goal of the Christian should be to learn contentment. In Philippians 4:11 Paul said, “I have learned in whatever state I am in how to be content.” According to the dictionary the word contentment means satisfaction or ease of mind. The Greek word that contentment translates comes from a word that means sufficiency. Contentment does not mean that we do not want anything or have dreams about having something else or something more. It just means that we realize that the things we do have are sufficient and we have peace of mind because we are not desperately wanting something else. Contentment means satisfaction.

 

When Paul learned how to be content he was writing those words from jail. Do you think Paul wished to be released from prison? Of course he did! But at the same time he had peace in his mind because he learned to be content with wherever God led him.

 

I believe the first step towards finding contentment is to realize that everything we have comes from God. He is the one who supplies our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19), and every good gift comes down from above (James 1:17). This takes the pressure off of us. If God wanted us to have more, we would have more. If He wanted us to have less, we would have less. You have what God wants you to have.

 

The next step towards finding contentment is to realize that our stuff is not the most important thing in life. Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Be on guard against covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in abundance of possessions.” Some people are known by their stuff. They are known as the guy with the nice boat or the lady with the fancy clothes. But that stuff is all subject to rust and dust. I would rather be known for who I am.

 

If our driving goal is to have more, even if we achieve it we will not be happy. Ecclesiastes 5:10 tells us “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.” Author Dennis Prager put it like this: “If you equate happiness with success, you will never achieve the amount of success necessary to make you happy… Identifying success with happiness is like moving the goalposts back 10 yards every time a football team has a first down—your team may be more and more successful, but the goal posts will always remain unreachable.”

 

If you think having more stuff will finally bring you happiness, you will be severely disappointed by that stuff. If a football team advances from the 40 yard line to the 50, but then the goalpost is moved back 10 yards, the team may have found success but the end zone is still 60 yards away. When we learn the art of contentment we do not need the trappings of life to make us happy. When our happiness comes from God—when the joy of the Lord is our strength—then we will have a happiness that the world cannot take away.

 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Dealing with Anger

 


 

Anger can spread like wildfire. Hurt the wrong person’s feelings and wars can break out. This was perfectly illustrated in 1894 when the Boston Red Sox hosted the Baltimore Orioles. During the course of the baseball game one player lost his temper and started a fight with someone from the other team. Within seconds both dugouts cleared as the athletes and staffs engaged in a brawl out on the field. The violence carried over into the stands when one fan punched another, and soon the entire ballpark was one big riot. During the mayhem someone set fire to the bleachers, which were wooden in those days, and the entire venue was burned. The fire was not quickly contained, and when the smoke cleared, 107 buildings in Boston were impacted by the blaze.  

 

Anger can poison our minds and cause us to believe that we need to react in kind. This way of thinking can lead us to misery as we make wrong decisions in the heat of the moment. That is why Laydon Milton, in his book The Hostility Trap, referred to anger as “the chief saboteur of the mind.” Anger sabotages our minds, telling us we need to get even or lash out or hold a grudge. When we believe anger’s lies we end up making decisions that we can regret for a lifetime.   

 

Rather than letting anger sabotage our minds into an improper response, we should follow the teachings of Paul in Ephesians 4:26-27: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” When we do not deal with our anger in a timely manner we give the devil an opportunity to cause the anger to turn into bitterness and hatred, which puts us in dangerous territory. We need to deal with anger right away.

 

Not letting the sun go down on our anger should not be taken so strictly; if you are angry at 7:00 in the morning, that does not mean you have twelve hours before you have to deal with it. The point is to deal with anger immediately. We deal with it by honestly telling the person how we feel, and most importantly, by forgiving the person who wronged us, whether they asked for it or not. Five verses later in Ephesians Paul wrote, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” We cannot control what other people do, but forgiveness is our responsibility.

And yet some Christians think they can choose not to forgive, but the Bible never gives us that as an option. I hear people say, “I can never forgive that person. I’m going to take this to my grave.” You’re going to take it to an early grave, because your refusal to forgive is only hurting yourself. Persistent anger can lead to headaches and ulcers, even high blood pressure and heart attacks. It also robs us of the joy that Jesus came to give us. Bitterness and joy will not coexist in our hearts. 

 

It has been rightly said that not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die. We act as if our refusal to forgive somehow teaches the other person a lesson, but in truth they are going right on with their lives while we are the ones who are miserable. Who really has the upper hand? When we choose to forgive we move from victim to victor and we allow the peace and joy from God to rule in our lives.    

 

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Lincoln’s Revenge

 

Before he became the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer in Illinois. On one occasion a man came to see Lincoln about hiring him for a lawsuit. This gentleman felt as if he had been wronged by another man, and he was determined to take him to court and seek $2.50 in damages. 

 

Lincoln felt that this man was being petty and even tried to talk him out of the suit. But the man could not be dissuaded. He wanted more than a few bucks; he wanted revenge. After thinking about it, Lincoln decided to take the case, but he raised his usual rate. For his services Lincoln was going to charge ten dollars. The client agreed and paid the money. 

 

The future President took $2.50 from his fee, gave it to the defendant, and told him to plead guilty. The plaintiff literally paid himself the money he was owed, and to Lincoln’s amazement, he was proud of himself at the trial’s conclusion. It was never about justice or getting what was rightfully his; he wanted a pound of flesh. He wanted revenge. 

 

Getting revenge is silly, but the idea drives people to do silly things themselves. In the pursuit of revenge men will ruin relationships, alienate ancestry, and even wage war. Revenge was never ours to go after. God claimed this job for Himself. Deuteronomy 32:35 says, “Vengeance is mine, and recompense.” The author of Hebrews quoted that verse and added to it, writing, “For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:30-31).”

 

When we seek revenge we make ourselves judge, jury, and executioner, and Scripturally we are not called to be any of those things. Our judicial system is not without flaws; we unfortunately will convict and occasionally execute innocent people. When we exact revenge on other people we open ourselves up to the possibility of sending innocent people to the gallows of our wrath. When we leave revenge where it belongs—in the sovereign hands of the Lord—we do not have to worry than mistakes might be made. And the person receiving a sentence from Judge Jesus needs no avenue of appeal for the same reason.

 

We are not called to revenge; we are called to forgive. We should not get even, but wipe the slate clean. After all, “love keeps no record of wrongs (I Corinthians 13:5),” so let’s “forgive those who trespass against us (Mathew 6:12).” That is the best way to live. I believe that, like Lincoln’s client, getting revenge will cost us in the end.  

 

 

 

Sunday, March 6, 2022

God’s Eternal Love

 


I John 4:8 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” The love of God is a frequent theme in the Bible. Perhaps the most famous verse in all of Scripture begins with the words, “For God so loved the world…” We even see God’s love back in the Old Testament. Jeremiah 31:2-3 says, “Thus says the Lord…‘I have loved you with an everlasting love.’”  

 

Not only do these verses teach us the succinct truth that God is love, but they highlight the fact that God’s love is outside of time. In fact, God’s love is eternal. Love is part of God’s nature; it is not just something that He chooses to do, it is who God is. God is love. 

 

Philosophers have used this great doctrine as an attack against God. The critique goes like this: God claims to be a God of love, but before He created mankind, there was no one for Him to love. Thus, God’s love relies on humanity. God cannot be loving unless we exist, so God becomes dependent upon His creation.  

 

That argument can be applied to the god of Islam as well. Muslims refer to Allah as “The Loving,” but how can he be loving before he allegedly created people? 

 

This is a real problem for Allah, but not for Yahweh (the God of the Bible). The solution for the Christian is found in the Trinity. We believe in the three-in-one, that God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit simultaneously. This tri-unity is unique to Christianity. Islam fiercely rejects this doctrine. 

 

Passages like Matthew 3:16-17 illustrate that the members of the godhead enjoy each other. There we read: “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” Isaiah 42:1 says the Father “delights” in His Servant, a reference to Jesus. 

 

So long before there was Adam and Eve, God was love. The warm relationship that existed among Father, Son, and Spirit is now extended to mankind, but God’s love did not originate in the Garden of Eden.

 

If God’s love existed from eternity, then it stands to reason that it will continue for eternity. Our God of love is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8),” so we need not worry that His loving nature will change. I Corinthians 13:8 tells us, “love never ends.”  

 

True children of God will live in His kingdom forever and ever and ever, and the God who makes that possible will be the God of love for just as long. 

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Taking up Christianity

 

 

In his book Spiritual Depression Martin Lloyd-Jones said that many people in the church that feel like they are not close to God are in that condition because they “are people who decide to take up Christianity instead of being taken up by Christianity.” I like that way of describing it. Christianity cannot be something we just “take up.”

 

Have you ever used that phrase—take up? Maybe you decided to take up guitar; you strummed it for a few weeks, but the callouses on your fingers got to be too much. You decided to take up painting, but you realized you are no Bob Ross. Many of us have remnants from the things we took up but never mastered. Following Jesus cannot be like a new hobby we decide to give a try. 

 

Before taking up a hobby we need to decide if we are willing to make the commitment. Do I have room in my house to set up an art studio or a grand piano? Am I willing to spend the money on the new camera or the boat with all its accessories? Some people make these decisions on a whim and then end up regretting it. Some people join a church or make a profession of faith on a whim, without first deciding if following the Lord is something they are willing to do. Jesus addressed this in Luke 14:28 when He asked, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”

 

Jesus’ point is that we would not start the construction of a building without knowing the cost. No one wants to be halfway finished and realize they cannot afford to complete it. In the same way, we should not declare our allegiance to God without first seeing what that would require, and if we are willing to pay the price. 

Instead of taking up Christianity, Lloyd-Jones said we need to be taken up by Christianity. We need to allow our faith to take control of us. This means that Christianity is not something we do, but something we become. It is not the same thing as joining a club or signing up for a membership somewhere. Christianity, when properly understood, transforms our lives. Those who merely take it up never experience the true transformation it is meant to bring. 

 

When it comes to Christianity, once we consider the cost we need to go all in. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23).” This is not like taking up a hobby for a week and then letting it collect dust. When we give our hearts to the Lord and follow Him completely, we will avoid the spiritual depression that results from not being committed to the God we claim to follow. We will grow closer to Him and not have to wonder if we are truly saved.  

 

Sunday, February 20, 2022

What are You Making?

 

 

On a nice spring day a man decided to take his lunch break and go for a walk. As he was doing so he noticed a new construction project taking place, and being the curious sort, he stopped to find out what was being built. He approached the first construction worker he saw and asked, “What are you making?” “Fifteen dollars and hour,” the man said without even looking up. 

 

Not satisfied, he approached the next worker and asked the same question. “I’m making a building.” The man was beginning to get frustrated but he asked one more person his question, “What are you making?” The third worker said, “I’m making a building, a grand sanctuary to house the glory of God. It will be the envy of all who pass it.”

 

That man was fired because he was supposed to be building a Dunkin’ Donuts, but I like his enthusiasm. We should view everything we do as an opportunity to make something grand for God. Each of the three construction workers answered the same question a different way, and their answer reflected their perspective. For the first man it was just about his salary, a means to pay his bills. For the second man it was a singular task, getting done what he was hired to do. 

 

But for the third man he viewed his occupation as a way to bring glory to God. Paul famously wrote to the church at Corinth, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God ( I Corinthians 10:31).” Even if you are making a donut shop, view it as work done for God’s glory. Make everything as good as it can be. This work ethic seems to be a lost art in the business world these days, with people doing as little as possible to get by. 

 

We need to realize that we are all making a church if we have been saved. The church, after all, is not the building but the people. When we live the way we are supposed to live we become like a church service in the eyes of other people. When you give your boss 110 percent, you are showing people Jesus through you. When you show patience and self-control, you are showing people Jesus. When you do volunteer work or put the needs of others ahead of yourself, you are showing people Jesus. We are building the church when we live the way we are supposed to live.

 

When that same idea carries over into what we do on Sundays, the church only grows that much stronger. Put your all into your attendance, your participation, your worship, your giving, and your service, and your local church will be one that thrives. Rather than just building a building, you can build a church.