Why do you think we make plans without God?

Last week, in the Gospel Advocate’s “Foundations Series, Adult Bible Study” covering “Christian Growth in James in Jude”, the question, “Why do you think we make plans without considering God?” was asked in contrast to James’ admonition, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”” (James 4:13-15 NKJV)

Here are a few answers that immediately come to mind: Continue reading

#bible-questions, #james, #questions-and-answers

One word description of the ocean

I, my family and some friends recently went on vacation to a beach in South Carolina.

My daughter has been to the beach before, but she was too young to remember the experience. This was her opportunity to get reacquainted.

We arrived very early in the morning (middle of the night basically), so she was able to hear the waves but not able to see anything. I don’t know what she saw in her imagination but I know her imagination didn’t prepare her for reality.

When “we” woke up that morning (with a little prodding of, “Do you want to go see the ocean?”) we walked out on to the balcony (which was approximately 150 yards from the shore), and the first word out of her mouth was, “Whoa!” She didn’t need to say anything else.

Her anticipation was not disappointed. Her hope became reality. Her joy overflowed.

So why am I including this story on a religiously themed site? Because you should be able to get at least two or three spiritual analogies out of it.

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”” (Genesis 28:16-17 NKJV)

#children, #experience, #spiritual-analogies

How do we know God means for his inspired word to carry authority today?

There are many in today’s religious world (including not a few in the Lord’s church) who claim the letters of the New Testament fail to carry the weight of spiritual authority previously thought.

Such teaching leads to dangerously (if not blasphemously) supposed conclusions: Regulations pertaining to worship don’t apply because they were only cultural. Commands concerning one’s lifestyle is relegated to a position of mere historical opinion. Interpreting “Paul through Jesus, not Jesus through Paul” apparently due to a “greater level” of inspiration in the gospel letters in comparison to the remaining epistles.

So how do we know God means for his inspired word (particularly the New Testament) to carry the same authority it was meant to have the day it was recorded? It’s as easy as listening to what Jesus says when … Continue reading

#authority-in-religion, #biblical-authority

The importance of that wisdom from above

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:17 NKJV)

The source of pure wisdom is above us. It’s not beyond us, but it doesn’t originate with us. It’s given to those who ask for it with the right intention (James 1:5-8).

The source of wisdom reminds us about the importance of meekness and humility. If it doesn’t originate with us, the right to claim ownership disappears. In other words – a spoon-full of wisdom’s source keeps a pound of arrogance away!

Knowledge alone has the ability to puff-up one’s ego (1 Corinthians 8:1), and such a mindset leads to the very things James’ warned about: a heart filled with bitter envy, self-seeking interests, confusion, and many evil works (James 3:14-16). After considering these warnings and the solution, it’s no wonder why James talks the way he does in “James 4:1-6“.

Wisdom from above is first pure (even in relation to the remaining characteristics of verse 17) … because if it doesn’t start pure, it didn’t come from God.

The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6 NKJV)

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;” (Psalm 19:8 NKJV)

#james, #purity, #wisdom

Who’s in charge if a congregation has no elders?

The above question was recently asked and answered (in connection to the preacher’s “authority”) in an issue of Gospel Minutes. I always enjoy the Q & A section of their publication.

I believe a sufficient answer was given (the basic gist of the answer was “not the preacher”), but I would like to add one more “suggestion” that was not included. A suggestion I cannot say I have ever seen/heard included when this question is being addressed (although I hope you’re familiar with it). Continue reading

#authority, #bible-questions, #congregations

Phases of life

Phases of life are as natural as phases of the moon.

Each phase of life is meant to be used to prepare us for the next (1 Corinthians 13:11, Ecclesiastes 11:7-10; 12).

A good tip for parents is to keep in mind what life was like for us during the phase that our children are currently in. The same could apply for grand-parents and grand-children.

At this point in time, I remember clearly what it was like to start kindergarten, and to spend time with my parents, grand-parents and great-grand-parents. I keep this mind when it comes to my child. I remember the memories that I want to create for her – memories that will be beneficial for as she goes through the different phases of her life.

Life is different through the perspective of a child. Backyards are huge! Bills are incomprehensible. The necessity of learning is something that mom and dad emphasize. The toy-isle is a slice of paradise. Slides, swings, wading in a creek, walking in the woods and watching cartoons stick with you for a long time. Each learning experience (and memory) allows a different experience (and memory) to be built.

It is easy to forget about the way others go through phases in life … especially a child. But remembering the importance of these phases will help to govern the way we deal with others as we go through our own.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NKJV)

#life, #parenting, #preparation

H2H will soon be sending out its largest mailing ever

Here’s some good news worth passing along.

House to House, Heart to Heart will soon be sending its largest mailing ever – 3,217,118 copies!

According to the latest newsletter, 1,336 churches in 49 states, Australia, The Bahamas, Belgium, England, Cameroon, Fiji, Guyana, India, Malawi, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Palau, Republic of Kirbati, Scotland, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago will be working together to present the topic, “Why Does God Allow Suffering?” to the general public in their homes.