My son, forget not my law; But let thy heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and years of life, And peace, will they add to the (Proverbs 3:1-2, ASV). A mother in all her years tries to give counsel to her children in such a way her counsel will not only be helpful in navigating the difficulties of life, but counsel that will help the children live a long and prosperous life. Parents like these can say they truly love their own children. This is not always the case, however. Some recent headline: “Police: Parents starve, bind, cage, 21-year-old disabled son” (7.11.2018), “’Faith healing’ parents plead guilty in newborn’s death” (7.10.2018), “Man convicted of attempted homicide in spiking of girlfriend’s drink with abortion pill” (8.2.2018). It is possible the second headline will generate more sympathy and/or understanding with these parents who were deceived by false religion; not likely one will say these parents did not love their child. This is hardly the case with the other two headlines. The problem with all three is their source of philosophy in life: man! With the Lord, however, the guide in life is His way. There is NO CHANCE a child, an adult or anyone will be hurt morally and or spiritually by the Lord’s way of thinking, for He gives guidance in life to instruct people away from moral failings, away from the pitfalls of life that others find themselves in. It is true, it must be admitted, some who have refused the Lord’s way will feel threatened by this way of thinking and seek to administered punishment to the others living in accordance with the Lord’s way. They did this to Jesus should be expected by those who love Him that will be done to those who love the Lord. Nevertheless, as one applies the Lord’s way, before him or her is understanding, moral protection, prosperity and long life. In place the Lord has set the components of life that is best for each.
If from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and one can be known by the quality of the fruit produced, then it is reasonable to conclude that both the words spoken and the deeds done are indicative of the person’s heart. People are able to see this and judge. People of spiritual maturity understand this, but people full of sin (or self) care little for the logic of this—at all! It is interesting these are the same people “love” the Lord and assert they would NEVER deny Him, but their lives have denial written all over them. The deeds we do, the words we speak, and the thoughts we think reflect correctly on (or against) the Lord’s influence on our lives. What direct influence do you show? RT
From Bulletin Gold Extra, edited.
I once listened to an interview Dan Rather had with Willie Nelson. Dan asked Willie if he was religious. Willie replied he was not, but he was spiritual. This was an interesting answer, but not sure what that means. What does spiritual mean? In Willie’s case, it does not mean religious, though he might have some religious inclinations in him. Google defines it as relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. To me, this definition is not helpful. Relation to or affecting the human spirit? This is another way of saying something like, “There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth” (Prov. 30:12, ESV).
This boils down to: “I don’t want to commit myself to the Lord and His way of thinking and doing. It demands too much of me, so much that I simply don’t have time, neither do I want to take the time to adjust my life to comport with His.” Do you know of many people like this? I do.
People who think and operate this way will be the first to tell you they love the Lord. Yet, in spite of the words they use, their “I love the Lord” life does not correspond to the teachings of the Lord they declare they love; thus, they give the Lord a partial commitment. The Lord demands total commitment, not partial (there is no such thing as partial commitment). Those who love the Lord, on purpose, separate themselves from the ways of this world.
Those who are “partially” committed know the Lord desires more from them. In order to bridge the gap between where one is at and what the Lord desires, they apply an ointment of their own making. This ointment allows them to think they are spiritual, though not religious (as the word is commonly understood). Though one may not be as “bad” as Willie Nelson’s spiritual outlook, they still choose a different approach than the Lord’s. “I love the Lord, but I love Him as best I can given the circumstances I am in, even if that means I can only obey Him some of the time” is adopted. The “I am spiritual” outlook says things like, 1) My husband is not supportive of me attending church. 2) My children have so many activities, activities that I want them to have a part in. 3) I don’t want my kids to stand out from the crowd, because they made fun of, and I know how I felt when that occurred to me so many years ago. 4) Work takes me away, and I must make a living. 5) I am tired!
On and on it goes.
On the other hand, the Scripture teaches, “As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ To another he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:57-62, ESV).
None of this applies to me! Perhaps it does much more than you think. How many, on judgment day, will say to the Lord, “But, Lord, though I was not religious (i.e., committed), I was certainly spiritual and did love you. Won’t you let me in?”
Perhaps one will hear on that day, “Why should I commit to you when you never did to Me? You committed to your work, your family, your charitable service, but never to Me. I did not fail to see what good you did, but I never saw what good you did in My name with My life controlling yours” (John 14:6). RT
“The Ugly in Christianity” – Be sure to read the blog link by Hillary Ferguson before you read this; it will give a proper context to the remarks below.
No, it is not necessarily the case that mere attendance warrants the conclusion that one knows there is deep seated bigotry, hatred and racism existing in the heart of anyone. One can attend many gatherings, observe what is seen and still draw wrong conclusions. This occurred in the days of Jesus, and it occurs even today.
This is illustrated in the following remark:
As per any Trump supporter, her main argument was that she was a hard working American and she shouldn’t have to pay such high taxes for “no-good illegal immigrants and poor people and their lobster-buying-food-stamps” and that was that. Her argument always stopped there. Always: “I’m a hard working American.”
Well, who the heck cares? Be proud of your country. Be proud of your military. Be proud of your heritage. But don’t use nationalism as a mask for your racism and bigotry. How about instead of saying, “I’m a hardworking American,” why don’t you say, “I’m a hardworking human being.”
Whatever one might think of a political candidate because of a remark that one disagrees with, one that may even be harsh in hearing does not even come close to the conclusion that racism and bigotry is a motivation under-girding the disagreed remark.
One’s perspective about Muslims in this country might be worthy of further discussion, just as one’s perspective concerning other religious propagation, including variations of Christianity. The remark made, “Get those Muslims out.” warrants no remark from me on account that I have no context in which the remark was made. I hardly will take Hillary’s sentiment as being “context full.”
If any person loudly proclaimed “Praise the Lord! _____ is dead!” that someone ought to have been rebuked/corrected on the spot. There is nothing in the teachings of the Lord to condone such a remark, just as there is nothing in the teachings of the Lord to condone the action that because of the failings of some, one ought to run away and hide behind some feigned high moral compass of one’s own making.
The members of the church that she describes with disgust, I have met not a single one here in central Illinois. I am very much aware of many who stood opposed to those things Ted Kennedy supported, but not a single one did I hear rejoice at his death. Not one!
I think we are getting to the point of the problem near the end of her blog article. What is love? From the vantage point of the author of the blog article it appears she did not (does not) really understand love from the vantage point of the Lord. Here is what love does from the Lord’s vantage point. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11, ESV). Moreover, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1 John 5:1-3, ESV). Thus, love from the Lord’s perspective always seeks that which is best for the other person (cf. the application of John 3:16 toward man). From her blog article, all she did was withdraw.
In her closing remarks, after appearing to reject God, she judges that if one does not have a loving heart, then that particular one will lose her (his) soul. I find this amusing. Whose standard will she apply that judges one to be lost? Is it the Lord’s? She never offered any remark from Him that so states. Is the standard applied belonging to someone else? The closest she came to that was in her own assertions.
In truth, there is only One judge, and the One she rejected shows no partiality in His application of the standard He set forth in Jesus (John 12:48).
Is one REQUIRED to “go to church”? One can almost hear the lament or moan in the asking of the question. What a shame that some people, many people even ask the question. Yet, in the asking of it, it is very likely there is an exposure of one’s real desire.
If you say yes, there is a requirement, then you will be asked to show the verse that says, “thou shalt go to church!” putting such emphasis on a command/law, and little on the heart. There are a number of people who resist any affirmative answer to “going to church,” and this is because there is no desire to go. The reason they don’t want to go is because their love for the Lord is not as they think it is.
Can a case be made for attending church services? It is truly a shame that anyone would ask this question. But, it is asked, so let us tackle it.
Note where the emphasis is placed in the question. It is the word “required.” In other words, there are many people who do not want to be required by anyone, even God, to do something they have no desire to do. Of course, in this life, in our country, one can’t require anyone to “go to church” or attend church if there is no desire.
It is very often the case that with questions like this one we are considering in this bulletin article it is a reflection of an incomplete love or self-serving disposition of wanting to love God, but only to obey Him in so far as it is convenient.
For a genuine and true Christian, one not in name only, there is no other desire but to love the Lord and be with His people. Why is that? Note what the Holy Spirit says, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the fresh and living way that he inaugurated for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:19-25, NET).
Do you love the Lord? If so, then why would you (or anyone) dismiss His exhortation as He expressed it here? If you genuinely love the Lord, you won’t dismiss anything that He said. In fact, there will be no “requirement” associated with it at all; it will be a pleasure! You will be there because you love the Lord, you will be there because you love the brethren, you will be there because of the encouragement given and received, you will be there because of the teaching received. On the other hand, if you say you love the Lord, but do not want to attend, the problem is and always will be you. RT
The local church is a body of individual believers. Those who have been baptized into the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sins stand in a saving relationship with the Lord God. This saving relationship is a relationship that one is NOT to keep to him or herself, but is to take into the world and teach it to others. The reason for this is obvious.
On the other hand, there are those who will allow that relationship to die with them; they simply won’t take this message to others because, for one reason or another, they don’t want to. It can be said that those who express love to the Lord and refuse to do this have more love in their minds than in their feet and actions! The Scripture speaks to those who have a disconnected love like this…..
In the book of Judges, there was a generation who loved the Lord greatly, demonstrating this love in many ways, but one among them was in teaching the following generation the importance of love and obedience to the Lord. The third generation, however, never got the same message. Perhaps it was because they were not taught; maybe it was because they were taught but they did not allow the teaching to take root. Whatever it was, the Scripture says, they chose “not to know the Lord” (Judges 2:10). I suspect there is little doubt that some made a conscious choice to refuse the Lord’s way, but knowing the nature of people (and it really changes not), the likelihood of the older generation not teaching the younger generation like they should have been taught, that is, the love and severity of the Lord is even greater.
This is a constant reminder to each of us in this current generation. If we do not teach, and by teach I mean, if we do not take the time to inculcate the youth with the love and severity of the Lord, then the servants of Satan will gather hold of them quickly. Let us the love of God in our minds connect to the love of God in a feet and let us be a people of action, work, and teaching. RT
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, Than a fatted calf with hatred (Proverbs 15:17, NKJV). Have you ever been around a person who longs for acceptance, or love? Certainly you have. The experience of love is that quality in life that encourages a person to walk securely knowing that whatever failures there might be in his or her life there will still be acceptance. On the other hand, those who long from something they feel they do not have (and cannot get) will produce for themselves false security and acceptance. All the while, on the inside, there is bitterness and loneliness. They seek to please, but they do not always know how best to do so, so they love only as they know how – and it is not love at all.
It seems that each generation thinks of itself as being smarter than the previous generation. This applies in just about every area of life. Congregations, or many of them anyway, of the Lord’s people think they are more spiritual than previous generations because they spent time in prayer, studying the Scripture, and coming to learn that the previous generation might have been mistaken in their understanding of Scripture.
I bring this up because that which encourages a church to grow today is the same that encouraged a church to grow over 50 years ago. In the February 1957 issue of 20th Century Christian, Mont Whitson offered 6 contributing factors to a church growing. I would like to speak of two of those he mentioned.
First, the local church will grow when people within and without see the spirit of love, unity, and understanding amongst those attending at, in our case, the Highway Church of Christ. The word love pertains to one’s response to God first and foremost (cf. 1 John 5:1-3). The word unity is associated with that which Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, that is, keeping the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). The word understanding, in my view, is in understanding that we are not all at the same level of spiritual knowledge/understanding (cf. Romans 12:3-8; 14:1-13).
Second, the church grows when the members within are willing to work. That means they are all willing to work. It is not the “job” of the elders, the “job” of the preacher, or the “job” of someone else. It is my job, and yours also (perhaps it is better to say it this way: “It is my privilege and responsibility.”). What is it that you are doing to make a difference in the growth of the congregation? Are you teaching others?
Third, though not mention by brother Whitson, it is certainly worthy of mention – the local church that belongs to the Lord must (not optional) preach and teach the purity of God’s word. There is no room for opinions that correspond to a “thus saith the Lord.” If any man speak, Peter said, let him speak the very words of God (1 Peter 4:11).
In 1 John 3:1, the Lord’s apostle calls our attention to the “manner of love” bestowed on Christians. In fact, he wants us to consider it thoroughly. Exactly what is this “manner of love” bestowed on us? It is that we, those who are saved by the blood of Christ, are children of God. What is so significant about this descriptive term? This is what John wants us think on when he uses the (NKJV) word “Behold.” We are to think about, reflect on it. When we do so, then what God did for us through Jesus begins to resonate in us in a way unlike before. The word “manner” is better understood as “lavish” (Smalley), but the literal meaning of the Greek word (potapeen) is “of what country.” Thus, God’s love for us was so great that by being called His children, we are no longer of this world, but of a different world (country). Since we are citizens of a “different country” let us not live with a “dual citizenship” status.
The Bible character Job was a man that had much wealth with regard to possessions and, from an earthly perspective, with regard to his family. In but a short time, however, he lost it all. He did not understand why he lost it all in the way that he did, he only knew that it was now gone. When the dust settled (so to speak), Job lamented it all, asking for what purpose was he born.
That is an interesting question to ponder for a moment or two. If one were to ask you “For what purpose were you born?” how would you answer? You may have to think on this a bit, and then when you answer, you might offer an answer (answers) with a tinge of doubt.
The meaning of life in the physical realm is not so easily discerned. There are many who seek to establish their own meaning, but since there is much difficulty finding and keeping employment, tending to one’s obligations with life and responsibility, one hardly has time to think of questions of this sort. But considering questions like this they will, especially when life has begun to reach into the retirement years.
Job desired to understand, but clarity escaped him. He did only what any of us can do; he came to rely on God in a special way that he previously failed to grasp. We, too, must rely on the Creator for such answers. We may never experience what Job experienced, but whether our experience is great or small, reliance is the key to all.
Each of us assigns ourselves a meaning; the problem with such an assignment is that we merely guess, assigning something that is of particular interest. In the end – was there (is there) any real meaning to my life? The answer is yes, and the answer is located in Matthew 22:34-40. This approach to life will certainly make a difference in the lives of other people, and by a standard that is not of this world.