The most important part of a race-car

What’s the most important part of a race-car? Easy, it has to be the engine, right?

But what good is a fast engine without good brakes?

And what good are brakes without proper tires?

And what good are proper tires without a steering-wheel?

What’s the value of steering-wheel without a driver who knows how to use it?

Such was Paul’s point when it comes to the value of each member who makes up the church of Christ as he compared the church to a human body (1 Corinthians 12:13-21). The whole of the body must work together and care for one-another in order to accomplish the purpose God has for his church.

Some parts of a race-car may initially seem to be the most-important part, until you stop and remember that for each strength the part introduces into the picture there is another part of the car that covers its weakness … right down to the nuts and bolts! This is also true of the church. All parts must work together to win the race.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16 NKJV)

#church-as-body, #importance, #spiritual-analogies

Friended by God

I won’t endorse or advocate for the show because there is no way of telling what “God” is going to say or encourage, but CBS is coming out with a new show called, “Friended by God.”

Although I’m uncertain about the content of the show, I love the title and the premise which is about a man who does not believe in God but ends up being helped by the advice of some mysterious friend (called God) through social media posts. That alone gives the show so much potential for true spiritual good.

Fact is, God has friended us, both theist and atheist alike, through Jesus (Romans 5:8. Matthew 11:9, John 15:13-14), but the question remains, “Have we friended God?”

Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” (James 2:22-24)

#friend-of-god, #social-media, #tv

God bless the grandmothers …

God bless the grandmothers who bring their grandchildren to church services. They raised their own children by faithfully bringing them to Bible study classes and worship services and other church activities but their children have failed in their own faithfulness toward God and the church, leaving the “first” generation with the responsibility of spiritually raising the “third” generation. These faithful women play the role of Lois without any interest from Eunice or whoever happens to be the husband (2 Timothy 1:5).

Forty years’ worth of effort to lead other generations into God’s rest, pushing through the bad knees, the bad back, and the aching feet, they wake up early enough to take care of self and others, toting diaper bags, making snacks, wiping noses and showing enough interest in the life of a child to let them know that others are interested in their welfare. And yet, often times only viewed and appreciated as a half-day babysitter, while offering full-time love.

Time has told and time will continue to tell who is the greatest generation of God’s women; because it is never an entire generation at once that constitutes the grandest mothers, but rather individual women in every generation who rise to the call of being a faithful mother on a grand-level.

God bless the grandmothers who labor and become the great-grandmothers that keep on keeping on!

Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10 NKJV)

#christian-women, #grandmothers, #parenting

Singing in worship with the right purpose

A young boy and his mother were on their way home after attending the opera when the boy said, “Mom, that man who did all the singing must think a lot of himself.” “Why would you say something like that?” the mother asked. “Because”, he replied, “Every time the man started to sing, he’d say ‘Me, Me, Me, Meee.'”

We don’t know exactly what songs the first century church had a habit of singing together. We have the book of Psalms, there are sections of scripture that are thought of as recognizable doxologies, and we even have a moment or two when the New Testament scriptures explicitly say certain individuals were singing. But for the most part we don’t have a numbered list of songs (i.e. a modern-day songbook) that identifies what the early church used in worship.

Although we may not be able to “confidently” identify any of the first century church’s songs, we can identify how they were meant to sing … and it wasn’t with the purpose of making it all about, “Me, Me, Me, Meee.”

speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,” (Ephesians 5:19 NKJV)

Nothing about the singing of the early church was meant to be egocentric; it was quite the opposite! The early church’s purpose of singing in worship was to remind one another about the higher purpose of living in God’s calling (which is the context of Ephesians 5:19) and to bring, and give, glory to God within their heart. And if our modern-day purpose falls short of the same standard, then it doesn’t matter what song we’re singing, we’re making it about us and not about what God desires.

#singing, #spiritual-illustration, #worship

Making sure our purpose is more about Jesus than self

Based on Paul’s closing comments in Galatians 6:11-18, a question on p. 154 of the Gospel Advocate’s Foundations Adult Bible study book for Galatians (Summer 2018, Lesson 13, Paul’s Farewell) asks, “What steps can we take to ensure our focus remains on Jesus rather than on our accomplishments?”

Here are three simple answers that can aid anyone who wants to make sure what we do is to the glory of God and his wisdom displayed through the cross and not our own self-serving purposes (1 Corinthians 1:18):

  1. Examine our self in the faith that we are called to live by, not our own opinions and feelings (2 Corinthians 13:5).
  2. Do much good (if possible) in secret (Matthew 6:3-4).
  3. Remember Jesus’ sobering words about humility and the relationship between Lord and servant (Luke 17:7-10).

Following the above principals can help us make sure that we are following and serving Jesus in the shadow of his cross instead making our own front and center.

Then he said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)

#cross-of-christ, #gospel-advocate, #serving-god

A small snippet of the root of the problem

Schools don’t often make the headlines with good news today.

Mass shootings (murder), children severely assaulting classmates or their teacher, inappropriate clothing being condoned, illegal relationships between students and teachers, rampant drug abuse, and…students calling their teacher ma’am.

You didn’t read that list wrong. A young man was recently punished by his teacher for calling her ma’am.

I understand most teachers are satisfied with Ms., Mrs. or Mr., but what is wrong with a child who shows respect to an authority figure by using ma’am?

I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill but I will make a big tree out of a small root because I believe this situation is a small snippet of the root of the problem in our culture today; a culture that does not have much respect for life, personal responsibility or authority figures!

A large part of the reason these conditions exist is because these things are not truly expected anymore, not even from children in schools. And it has gotten to the point to when they are shown, the people showing these characteristics are the ones punished as if they are wrong.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20 NKJV)

#culture, #news, #respect

Jesus or Yeshua?

Some place a huge a emphasis on Jesus being called Yeshua. I’ve noticed a fair number of TV preachers on the religious channels that obviously agree.

Ever talked with anyone about the topic, or anyone ever talked about it with you? A few years ago I posted a short article on my old blog explaining my view on the matter, but if you’re looking for something slightly more in-depth, Apologetics Press recently posted a “Question and Answer” article on the topic that you might find interesting.

#bible-questions, #jesus, #questions-and-answers, #yeshua

The Bible Lands Museum Exhibit coming to Sparta, TN

Live in Middle Tennessee and looking for an interesting Bible-related weekend road-trip? The Bible Lands Museum Exhibit will be at the West Sparta church of Christ, August 24-26 (Friday-Sunday).

Exhibit highlights will include “The Sea of Galilee Boat” and “The Taylor Prism” (or the Sennacherib Prism) amongst several other interesting replicas and authentic historical items with connections to Bible events and times.

There is no charge. Details including the exhibit times and additional contact information can be found here and a poster of the event can be found here. The website of the exhibit museum can be found here.

#bible-history, #road-trips, #tennessee

What does the word Deuteronomy mean?

Remembering what Deuteronomy means is easier to me than remembering how to spell it. It’s that tricky placement of the e and the u at the beginning that gets me every time.

The word Deuteronomy, interestingly enough, does not come from the original Hebrew “title” of the letter (which is basically the beginning of Deuteronomy 1:1 that says “These are the words…“). It actually has Latin (Deuteronomium) and Greek (Deuteronomion) origins. Each of these origins roughly translates to a meaning of “second law”.

Although it is a good literal translation, “second law” isn’t “necessarily” the best way to view the point of the word Deuteronomy, or the letter itself. It’s not a second law insomuch as it is a repeating of the law. A very good way to think about it is found in Deuteronomy 17:18 where you will find the Hebrew word “Mishneh” which means, in the context, “double, copy or repetition“. In other words, “Deuteronomy” is a repeating (Deuteros, or second) of the principals and points (Nomos, or law) that can elsewhere be found in was then the existing foundation of the Law.

In the Deuteronomy letter, Moses is very much concerned with the task of making sure the present generation understands what it is about to gain and why the previous generation did not possess it! He accomplishes this through quick history lessons and by placing an emphasis on the love and loyalty and obedience, as well as the warnings that are given about the lack of such, that God requires through the covenant he is making with them (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

The above points are still pertinent today. Especially when you consider how the Hebrew writer emphasized a “deuteronomy” of these things in Hebrews 3, 4 amongst several other passages too.

#deuteronomy, #word-meanings, #word-study

Tip to better understand the Old Testament

The number of books that make up the collection we often refer to as the Old Testament is considerable; thirty-nine to be exact. And the majority of these books are considerable in length! Not a lot of Philemon’s or 1 or 2 John’s are found in the line-up, if you know what I mean.

Almost as diverse as the number of books in the Old Testament is the number of topics and situations and people to study. Because of this wide array many people end up intimidated, hesitant or even uninterested in studying the treasure trove of wisdom that God has made available through so many authors.

If you find yourself in the above categories, I have a little tip to help you better understand the Law, the Psalms and the prophets – get your G.E.D. in the Old Testament … Genesis. Exodus. Deuteronomy.

Study these books and you can get a firm foundation of understanding why so much of what happens in the Old Testament actually happens.

Yes, there will be other things to learn and other books to study (even in a book like Leviticus and especially Kings and Chronicles), but the amount of information and instruction and clarity and promises and warnings that are found Genesis, Exodus and Deuteronomy will create a framework that makes the picture of the Old Testament a lot easier to see.

#bible-study, #old-testament, #tips

Clean entertainment via meteor shower

I cannot speak for the southern hemisphere but if you live in the northern hemisphere you still have a chance to catch a peak view of the Perseids meter shower tonight.

Check out this story for more details.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1 NKJV)

#nature, #news, #outer-space

Thousands of years of tradition … that changes every few decades!

Many Catholic apologists are quick to laud the “ancient” traditions of their Church as proof of it being the one true body of Jesus.

I, for one, wonder how such a claim can honestly be made about the supposed thousands of years of tradition … that changes every few decades!

Don’t believe me? Think I’m just some hateful, lying Catholic basher? Then take, for example, one of the latest announcements of the Vatican concerning capitol punishment.

Not only is the Catholic Church changing its own position on a topic (which happens on a consistent basis, especially in connection to political pressure and power), it is also blatantly contradicting the plain, principled and authoritative writings of the word of God for the church (see Romans 13:1-7). But why should such be a shocker? After all, the Catholic Church insists, and practices thereby, that the “oral traditions” built by college of bishops and the Pope, amongst other influential leaders, have the right to guide the Church even when such practices and teachings contradict the doctrine of Christ and his apostles and prophets revealed and recorded during the first century (Ephesians 2:19-22, Jude 1:3) – not the twenty-first century!

I realize there are many Catholics who are genuine in their desire to please God and to serve Christ, and this is why I plead with such people to open their eyes to the undeniable truth that the Catholic Church is not what it claims to be. If one cannot become or be a practicing Catholic by simply following what the Bible teaches, and they obviously cannot, then why would one want to be a member of something the Bible refuses to identify, through emphatic and silent declaration, as true and honorable in relation to the undeniable teachings and understandings of the first century church?

Follow the true traditions that have guided the church for millennia, not ones that change before one generation takes the place of another.

#capitol-punishment, #catholic-doctrine, #denominationalism

Having a name like Tychicus

But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you; whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts.” (Ephesians 6:21-22)

Although mentioned at the end of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Tychicus (meaning ‘fateful’) was at forefront of the gospel in the Asia Minor area.

Average Bible students would be quick to recognize “minor” names like Timothy, Titus, Luke and Silas. Maybe even names like Apollos. But Tychicus is probably a name that slips past our notice like a basket riding Paul at Damascus (Acts 9:22-25).

Tychicus stands as a great example of those first century Christians that we know so little about but who gladly served the church. He, along with several others, stands as a great example for those who labor faithfully and diligently today but fail to become a “household” name.

When it comes to laboring in the faith, having a name that comes with fame and notoriety are not characteristics that impress God; nor do they legitimize the individual. Having a name that brings to mind serving, caring and a plugged-in attitude toward the church, however little known it is, is what accomplishes the will of God and brings glory to the gospel of Jesus.

Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here.” (Colossians 4:7-9)

#bible-names, #christian-examples, #tychicus

Childhood and chores

Did you have chores as a child? I did, and they did not come with an allowance!

From cutting the grass to picking vegetables in the garden. From cleaning my bedroom to cleaning the bathroom. From dusting the furniture to washing dishes. From feeding the dog to cleaning up after the dog with a shovel. As a child, I had certain jobs that belonged to me. And although I did not enjoy them as a child, the chores of my past have benefited my present as an adult.

There are some people who avoid unpleasant tasks and responsibilities at all cost. Such behavior leads to the folding of hands … which leads to a messier mess in life (Proverbs 24:30-34). Children need to learn about this foolish behavior.

It’s important for children to have personal chores. These chores don’t ruin their childhood. It allows their childhood, a time in their life that cannot be relived, to become the foundation that leads to a more successful life and attitude when it comes to work.

Better a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more.” (Ecclesiastes 4:13)

#parenting, #raising-faithful-children, #responsibility

Family bonds and Jesus

It’s not always the right thing to do but there are legitimate times when humanity can be divided into two divisions. Believers and unbelievers, male and female, and Jew and gentile are a few examples of reasonable divisions. Another such division would seemingly apply to people when it comes to one’s family bonds and Jesus … we’re willing to love one more than the other, or the other more than the one.

When it comes to family bonds and Jesus, some people refuse to admit or acknowledge the error of their family members. This truth is not only seen in the spiritual realm, it is also seen in the secular realm. “Suggesting” that their son or daughter, father or mother, or husband or wife is wrong produces an irrational response of deep denial, anger or a turning away from what is right.

When it comes to family bonds and Jesus, some people are willing to admit or acknowledge the error of their family members. This truth is seen in the spiritual realm and also in the secular realm. “Suggesting” that their son or daughter, father or mother, or husband or wife is wrong produces a reality and faith-driven response of acceptance, self-control and an encouraging spirit for others toward what is right.

These categories are not new. This challenge is not unique to the twenty-first century. When it comes to family bonds and our attitude toward them, the call of Jesus has not changed.

Will our choice be the blood that is thicker than water, or will it be the blood of the cross that we access through the water of the Lord’s command?

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:34-38 NKJV)

#choices, #family, #jesus