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

March 2018 Issue of Christian Worker (The New Testament Church)

Here’s a link to the latest PDF issue of the Christian Worker.

Here are the topics you will find:

  • The Church: Planned, Purchased, and Perfected (Tom Wacaster)
  • Identifying the Church (Cody Westbrook)
  • The Nature of the Church (Trent Kennedy)
  • The Organization of the Church (Johnie Scaggs)
  • Images of the Church (Kevin W. Rhodes)
  • Membership (Joseph T. McWhorter)

Christian Worker is an edification effort of the Southwest church of Christ in Austin, Texas.

You can subscribe to the email version of the Christian Worker paper by clicking on the publications link on their website and then following the given instructions.

Copyright © 2018 Southwest church of Christ, All rights reserved.

#christian-worker, #church-leadership, #church-membership, #church-organization, #gods-eternal-purpose, #spiritual-analogies, #the-church-in-the-old-testament

Flashy Numbers

There’s a bottle of soap in my bathroom that has “33% MORE!” printed in large font across the top.

Beside the large print numbers and words is a little, tee-tiny asterisk.

Look at the bottom of the bottle and you’ll find the purpose of the asterisk spelled out (with a little, tee-tiny font that rivals only the asterisk) – “Than 18 oz.”

In reality, there is no real substance to the flashy numbers on the soap bottle. The only thing the company did with the “33% MORE!” print was solve a math problem.

Don’t fall prey to the flashy numbers of pop-religion.

Sow the seed (Luke 8:4-15). Be respectful to others, be faithful to your brothers and sisters in Christ and to God, and don’t be a troublemaker (1 Peter 2:17). And don’t keep caught up in the confusion that swaps what we get from worship with what we bring to worship (John 4:20-24).

For out of all to whom the good news has come, only a small number will get salvation.” (Matthew 22:14 BBE)

#advertisements, #impressing-others, #popular-religion, #spiritual-analogies

Ahab the king of culture change

Ahab was the king of culture change. His 22 years of reign greatly contributed to the multiplied years of misery the northern tribes of Israel would experience.

He married a woman with a name directly related to pagan god, and he had a father-in-law with a name of Ethbaal! (1 Kings 16:31)

He setup an altar for sacrifice to Baal, within an actual temple to house it, in the capital city of Israel. Furthermore, he created an additional place specifically for the worship of other idols. (1 Kings 16:32-33)

Ahab wasn’t content in allowing other Israelites to worship Baal. He served and worshiped Baal on a personal level. (1 Kings 16:31)

And, for the “cherry on top”, he intentionally disregarded Joshua’s plainly spoken warning by allowing the city of Jericho to be rebuilt under his reign. (1 Kings 16:34)

Indeed, Ahab was the king of culture change, and he continues to set the mold for all the politicians of the western culture who are hell-bent on creating a new morality, standard and way of life for any nation built upon biblical principles.

For look! The wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow on the string, that they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart. If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes behold, his eyelids test the sons of men.” (Psalm 11:2-4 NKJV)

#culture-wars, #king-ahab, #spiritual-analogies

Solar glasses and souls

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9 NKJV)

Unfortunately, not a few in the religious world are under the impression that all people who claim to speak for God are actually speaking the truth of God. Furthermore, there are some who refuse to believe that some individuals intentionally pervert the truth of the gospel. Truth be told, as it is seen in the above scripture reference, claiming to speak for God does not equate to speaking the truth of God; nor do all individuals care about the people they teach any more than the doctrine they use as food. And I can prove it with a simple analogy!

Have you heard about the eclipse thing that will happen on Monday, August 21st? The news has been talking about it the last two months! And you know what else the news has been talking about for the last two months? Insufficient, fraudulent and dangerous solar glasses that have been sold under the guise of proper, authentic and safe ways of watching the eclipse.

There are people selling solar glasses, fully aware of their product’s short-comings, willing to sacrifice the eye-sight of people for as little as two dollars! And if people are willing to do that with someone’s physical eye-sight, why should it be a surprise if some are willing to so the same thing spiritually speaking (2 Peter 2:1-3, 18-22)?

If you’re going to watch the solar eclipse, be safe and test the solar glasses you’re going to use. And if you’re going to listen to someone teach about God’s word, be safe and test what they teach with God’s word.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  (1 John 4:1 NKJV)

#false-teachers, #solar-eclipse, #spiritual-analogies, #spiritual-illustrations

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

Get ready for the appointment before the appointment arrives

I have a dentist appointment for a cleaning today. Too late to prepare for it now!

Preparing for a dentist appointment (i.e. brushing teeth, flossing, rinsing, etc.) the day of an appointment isn’t wise. Why? It should be obvious. Taking care of our teeth is something that needs to be done on a daily basis; getting ready for the appointment well before the appointment is the wise way to do it.

No, I will not be going to my appointment today without evidence of past mistakes. The oral health of my past is my past and I can’t change that (all I can do is trust the repairs my dentist has made and take care of them), but I will be going knowing full-well what kind of efforts I have made before during the last six months to be ready for today.

I do not think any reasonable person will disagree with any of this advice. Personal experience proves it to be true. So how beneficial would it be to take this advice and apply it our spiritual lives?

We all have an appointment that we will keep and no phobia will prevent it (Hebrews 9:27). Preparation is key. And proper preparation doesn’t mean waiting until the day before. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not your judge, but your Judge and my Judge has been imploring people for millennia to use all of our life to prepare for eternity…not the day before (Ecclesiastes 12). Hence, we would all do well to follow his advice to prepare ourselves for the great appointment day (Acts 17:30-31).

Today is the day of salvation because tomorrow may be too late. And it’s much better to live these words than to sing them.

We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

#judgment-day, #spiritual-analogies, #spiritual-preparation

Watching the replay for ourselves

I spotted a spiritual lesson in the middle of a historic basketball game last night that was too good not to pass along.

Two players, under the goal, were vying for position when the referee whistled one player for a foul. Well, the accused player couldn’t believe that he would be guilty of such an accusation! The open hands of an innocent plea and a disagreeable disposition of unbelief followed suit…that was until the player looked up at the arena’s replay screen which clearly showed his arm locked around the arm of his opponent; hence: a foul had indeed been committed, he was guilty as charged, he stopped arguing with the referee, and he got back to work.

The lesson is this: when we look at the gospel and see an error in our lives, there’s no point in arguing with God against it – just look at the replay screen, repent, and get back to work.

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:19-25)

#guilt, #honesty, #repentance, #sin, #spiritual-analogies

Don’t ignore God’s calling

God has a calling for everyone, and his calling demands our attention – it shouldn’t be minimized or ignored like a call from someone we don’t want to talk to…you know, the way we treat certain calls today because of caller id. Remember the time before caller id? The phone would ring and we had to answer it without knowing who was calling or why. Today, whether at home or on the road, our phones let us pick and choose which call we want to answer by revealing the caller – and I’m afraid many of us Christians have the same mentality toward the calling of God to serve him in his kingdom. If we maintain such a mindset toward God’s calling we’ll get stuck with the “I’ll call back later” mentality – a mentality which takes it for granted that God will answer us after our intentional repeated ignoring of him; God has caller id too, you know.

For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)

#calling, #serving-god, #spiritual-analogies

The Judge Who Wants Us To Succeed

Close to a year ago I read a story about a judge who spoke to a defendant standing before her after she recognized him as a childhood classmate.

Several days ago there was a follow-up on the story with a very interesting twist. As the defendant was being released from jail, the judge was actually there to meet him with a hug. Talk about a judge who wants someone to succeed!

Now that I mention it, there is actually a judge, who will be everyone’s judge, that wants us to succeed – and his name is Jesus.

Despite the fact that we’re all individuals and law-breakers who deserve to be found guilty (Romans 3:23), the judge of the world (2 Corinthians 5:10) wants to know us, and he wants us to receive a leniency of the highest order in order that we may live eternally in him and with him (John 6:37).

The next time you think no one wants you to make it, think about the judge who stretched out his arms wide for you upon the cross and who wants to greet you with the greatest hug ever given as we pass from this life to the next (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

#day-of-judgment, #jesus, #jesus-as-judge, #spiritual-analogies

If we want the shot to count…

I try to look for spiritual/scriptural connections when I watch TV, read news articles and walk around in this world. That’s why when I saw the video below, I immediately thought of, “…if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” (2 Timothy 2:5)

I’m not taking anything away from the shot – it’s amazing! But regardless of how amazing it is to our eyes, the shooter was out-of-bounds in the eyes of the rules…so the shot didn’t count.

We would do well to remember Paul’s spiritual admonition to Timothy; if we want our shots in life to count, we need to make sure we’re on the right side of the out-of-bounds line.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

(as a side-note, please keep in mind that TFR does not endorse any advertisements that may appear in connection to the video below)

#christian-living, #spiritual-analogies, #sports, #video

A little "self" promotion on a post about "selfies"

I don’t mention my personal blog here in TFR very much, but, if you would humor me in a little “self”-promotion here, I believe several of you may find today’s post useful as a Bible class topic, a teenage devotional (or even for many adults) or a sermon outline that ties two relevant topics together: the world’s obsession with selfies and some important scriptures that deal with self. Here’s a link if you would like to check it out.

#sermon-outline, #spiritual-analogies

Burr under your saddle?

Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,” (Ephesians 4:26)

The burrs under our saddle tend to stay there longer than they have to. They aren’t necessarily hard to remove, but…old fashioned stubbornness, right?

The longer a burr stays put, the more likely our anger is going to get the best of us. Much akin to the little teapot who can’t stand the pressure anymore – it’s going to let us know about it.

But all burr and teapot analogies aside, the apostle Paul ties together anger and sin and putting off until tomorrow what should be done today as a warning for a very good reason; and if you’re human then you know what that reason is.

Anger in and of itself is not wrong, but when that anger gets in and controls us and our plans then the anger has become a danger to our spirit which God desires to contain meekness, gentleness, kindness and holiness. You know, that stuff that anger tends to despise.

So the next time we get a burr under our saddle let us remember that the burr isn’t only effecting us, it’s affecting the way we treat our horse and the other people who are riding with us, and it’ll only get worse if we ride with it through the night. So maybe, just maybe, it’s worth the time it takes to get down off our horse to do a little house…err, make that saddle cleaning.

#anger, #spiritual-analogies

The Wind Won’t Always Be At Your Back!

There’s an “old Irish blessing” that says, “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Several days ago, on a particularly windy day, I saw a butterfly flying from place to place, from flower to flower. Of all the flying creatures that you may think of that should probably “stay home” on a windy day I think it would be a butterfly; nevertheless, there he (or she) was, flying in the face of, even in spite of, the wind.

That butterfly was a living example of Proverbs 24:10 which says, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Truth of the matter is, spiritually speaking, the road won’t always be easy to travel! The wind won’t always be at our back! The rain won’t always fall gently! And we must be ready for those days. And we can be ready for those days, for indeed, the Lord has warned us ahead of time, and his word is there to prepare us.

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25)

#adversity, #overcoming, #spiritual-analogies, #words-of-jesus

The only really long-term investment that never fluctuates

Money burns, gold melts, silver corrodes, houses fall down, pensions roll over, art fades, oil wells run dry and stocks go bust!

But eternal salvation is found in the only thing that never loses its value in the sight of God – the blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-19).

How’s our really long-term investment plan looking today?

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

#blood-of-christ, #investing, #spiritual-analogies