Live out the simple before you worry about understanding the complex

I have talked to not a few people (often times not Christians) who are more interested in discussing complex spiritual topics than more simplistic topics.

Such mindsets can be more interested in “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” than they are in what Jesus Christ’s gospel reveals about their life.

The issue with placing the complex before the simple is the simple is often times the key to understanding the complex, and more importantly – it doesn’t matter what you understand about the complex if you can’t put the simple into practice!

Perhaps this story will illustrate:

Two cowboys were walking out on the western plains one day when they noticed a set of footprints.

After studying the footprints, one cowboy said to the other, “These footprints were made by three men. One was wearing a black hat, one a straw hat, and the other had no hat. Two had beards, and one had a mustache. Two carried rifles, and one had a six-shooter. One man was married, and the other two were single.”

Amazed, the second cowboy asked, “Which way are they going?” to which the first cowboy replied, “I don’t know; you can’t tell everything from footprints!”

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (1 Peter 2:1-3 NKJV)

#devotional-thought, #milk-of-the-word, #spiritual-illustrations

Relationship comparison to an old barn

With this link you can read a great article from Glad Tidings of Good Things by Neil Richey called, “Relationships are like old barns”.

Whether you’re a farmer or not, the point is too simple to not understand.

The illustration gets tied to family relationships but any relationship worth having can easily be involved.

It’s worth reading and sharing with others.

#house-to-house, #links, #spiritual-illustrations

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

Secular tip that has a spiritual use – be friendly, but clear

Here’s tip #1, #2 and #3.

In this 4th, and final, tip there is the idea of balance when it comes to the delivery of God’s word by the preacher (or anyone teaching).

Tip #4 is simply: Be friendly, but be clear Continue reading

#preaching-point, #speaking, #spiritual-application, #spiritual-illustrations

Secular tip that has a spiritual use – end goal, not entertainment

To understand where I’m coming from with this tip, if you haven’t read the first post, you’ll need to check this out first.

Tip #3 is as useful as it is straightforward. Continue reading

#preaching-point, #spiritual-application, #spiritual-goals, #spiritual-illustrations

Secular tip that has a spiritual use – remember your audience

As I mentioned in my last post about problem solving, getting to sit in on a work-related class gave me to do something I enjoy doing – finding spiritual uses in secular tips. The willingness to hone this skill allows preachers to pass along spiritual knowledge by giving illustrations that use the knowledge people already have about various secular things in life. Such is the reason why Jesus’ parables still stick to this day! Remember how to talk to your audience, and they may be better able to remember what we say.

With that being said, tip #2 is: Continue reading

#audience, #preaching-point, #spiritual-application, #spiritual-illustrations

Secular tip that has a spiritual use – problem solving

I spent the last couple of days in Knoxville on a work-related trip. The trip was useful. I got to listen to several good speakers talking about things that can, could or do affect my day-job.

One speaker discussed the topic, “Best Practice for User Experience.” The topic revolved around tips to keep in mind when creating something that will be used by others. Some of the tips had a great correlating spiritual point that can and should be used by preachers – although a couple of the points aren’t as promising. Not saying the point isn’t true (because it is)…just saying the point needs to be kept in mind due to its poor, but honest, reflection of many listener’s mindsets. Over the next the few days I’m going to share the tips I believe are worth noting.

Tip #1: Continue reading

#preaching-point, #sin, #spiritual-applications, #spiritual-illustrations

Bird’s eye point of view

A bird’s-eye point of view can be pretty amazing. It all depends upon the bird.

A bird’s-eye point of view can belong to a soaring eagle, or the flightless ostrich. The ostrich may have a point of view from seven-foot up, but it’s not worth comparing to the eagle’s point of view. Continue reading

#perspective, #spiritual-illustrations

Here’s why you train up a child

Here’s a simple example of why it’s so important to repetitively teach young minds about God’s word: Continue reading

#raising-faithful-children, #spiritual-examples, #spiritual-illustrations

Whose fault was it?

A particular city on America’s west coast has reportedly lost the “holy grail” for earthquake scientists due to…city maintenance.

The “holy grail” was actually a monitored section of an unaligned sidewalk created by a shifting fault-line.

In the eyes of the local scientific community this section of concrete was priceless. In the eyes of the local streets department this section of concrete was a public safety hazard. Neither party was aware of the other’s point-of-view. Hence, thanks to a little construction, the concrete “holy grail” was turned into a common sidewalk.

The scientific community is “mourning” its loss while the city is saying its workers did what its workers were supposed to do.

So whose fault was it? Besides the one underground I mean.

Maybe this quote from the city’s assistant manager will help shed some light. She said, ““We probably would have looked at it differently, or we would have tried to help them document it,” … if scientists want to share information with the city about sites used to monitor seismic activity, “we’d be happy to talk with them” to see whether there’s a way to alert city crews about their geologic significance.”

I have no doubt that the site under consideration was valued by the scientific community, but they failed to speak of its importance to right people. I mean, what’s a maintenance crew to do – read minds?

Here’s the spiritual application: When it comes to evangelism, or going to our brother or sister in Christ due to an offense, or speaking to a loved-one before it’s too late, or giving a good word of encouragement, or whatever else may only be known to our own mind, if we want others to be aware of how important the issue is to us, then we need to speak up. It really is as simple as that.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 89:1)

#important-things, #spiritual-illustrations

Baseball and the Bible: A great illustration

Here’s a great illustration from House to House, Heart to Heart on religious unity and authority by Eddy Gilpin. The article makes a spiritual point and plea by using a historic game of baseball that was played in Cuba in 1999 as an example of two very different teams being able to see things alike because they played by the rules.

For you Twitter users, the story even ends with a chance to tweet this short but poignant question:

If two baseball teams can see the need for authority and seeing matters alike, why can’t we in the religious…

#baseball, #denominationalism, #house-to-house, #spiritual-illustrations, #spiritual-unity

An illustration and a Scripture reference on Responsibility

I don’t know how true the story actually is but even it’s only used as a simple illustration it does help to get a point across:

When Queen Victoria was a child, she didn’t know she was in line for the throne of England. Her instructors, trying to prepare her for the future, were frustrated because they couldn’t motivate her. She just didn’t take her studies seriously. Finally, her teachers decided to tell her that one day she would become the queen of England. Upon hearing this, Victoria quietly said, “Then I will be good.” The realization that she had inherited this high calling gave her a sense of responsibility that profoundly affected her conduct from then on.

And lest one thinks that the story has no spiritual application:

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” (Philippians 3:12-16)

#responsibility, #spiritual-illustrations, #spiritual-maturity

Sometimes you have to explain it a little better

The other night I told my 4-year-old to pick up the tablet that was on the floor.

She looked at me and said, “That’s not a tablet.”

Was I wrong? Was she right? Not a chance! We just had a little misunderstanding.

You see, when I told her to pick up the tablet I was talking about that thing that consisted of a stack of papers bound together with a spine. You old people know what I’m talking about right? When my daughter heard tablet, well, because of her age and life experience, all she thinks of is an electronic piece of equipment.

The point that I want to make is that many times in life (spiritually speaking), we may take our knowledge and understanding for granted when we mention things like church, baptism, sin, being saved, and what righteousness is all about.

Remember, there are a lot of people out there who think Christ is Jesus’ last name!

This is why I had a teacher tell me one time that, while teaching and preaching, I should never underestimate the ignorance of the listening audience. It’s a lesson worth remembering for all of us.

So the next time you mention a biblical principle to someone and they make a weird look with their face – they may not disagree with you; they just may not understand what you’re talking about.

So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:30-31)

#bible-ignorance, #bible-knowledge, #spiritual-illustrations, #teaching, #understanding

I know what I saw, but I trust what I heard

I’ve watched a commercial several times (and perhaps you’ve seen it too) that centers around customers literally cutting their cellphone bills in half with various tools such as a sword, a wood-saw, and other mechanically powered cutters. A couple of the mechanical devices (a chainsaw and a hedge trimmer) caught my attention when I noticed that each of them had a power-cord attached (meaning they were electric) but the commercial had the sound effects of the gasoline powered versions. For those of you who have ever used a gas-powered version of these tools you know they sound nothing like the electric version!

The commercial reminded me of a story from the Old Testament (Genesis 27:18-23) when one individual was deceived because he failed to trust what he heard over what was presented to him through his other senses. Another principle it reminded me of from the New Testament was that we are to walk by faith and not by sight, and faith comes from believing what we hear in the word of God (2 Corinthians 5:7, Romans 10:17).

If you’ve seen the TV commercial, I thought some here might find it useful for a devotional.

#devotional-thought, #spiritual-illustrations, #tv

You'll Get Dizzy

Here’s an article that’s going in today’s bulletin at Keltonburg. I’ve heard the illustration before but I think it’s good enough to pass along in case you haven’t. I don’t know the original author or I would pass the credit along but nonetheless the point that’s made about stubbornness remains the same.

You’ll Get Dizzy

A certain man was troubled with dizzy spells, redness in his face and bulging eyes. Every day when he went to his office, he experienced these things. Weekends were not so bad, so he concluded his work was causing his physical discomfort.

He went from one doctor to another and none could tell him what the problem was. He consulted psychiatrists, psychologists and psychics. What was wrong? Why was he constantly suffering from dizzy spells, redness in his face and bulging eyes?

He tried everything, it seemed. Nothing helped. He finally resigned himself to the fact that whatever was causing all this was fatal. It bothered him so much he began to lose weight. He couldn’t sleep at night. He feared he would never overcome this. He became a nervous wreck and his health began to deteriorate. He had lost hope that he would ever recover.

He decided to prepare for the worst. He made out his will, bought a cemetery plot, instructed the preacher what he wanted at his funeral, and even made arrangements with the local undertaker. He was fully convinced of his soon demise. He even decided to buy a new suit of clothes to be buried in.

When he went into the clothing store he was measured for everything. He picked out shoes, socks, coat, and pants. The sales person asked, “What size shirt will you be needing, sir?” “Size 15, please,” he replied. The clerk said, “But, sir, I believe that is a bit small. Let me measure your neck size.” After the measurement, the sales person said, “I’m sorry sir, but your will need a 16 ½, not a size 15.” But the man insisted, “No, I have worn a size 15 for years.”

The sales person tried several times to convince his customer that he needed a 16 ½, but the man would have nothing of it. Finally, the exasperated sales person said, “Well, sir, if you insist, we’ll get out a size 15, but I must warn you, you will have dizzy spells, get red in the face, and your eyes will bulge out.”

Some people are so set in their ways, they will never admit the obvious. Some are so unwilling to change they appear to prefer to remain spiritually without comfort. Long ago, a very wise men wrote:

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkenth unto counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15).

#spiritual-illustrations, #stubbornness