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Archive for July, 2012

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7

I had an interesting discussion with some folks last night. The general topic was the present state of our country and the world as we know it.  As we mulled over the current events, we all agreed that ‘all hell is breaking loose‘ and there wasn’t a whole lot of things we could do about it.  It was unanimous that our best recourse was to pray, but then I remembered something my pastor always says,

God uses prayer to change us and not necessarily the people or things we pray for.”

That gave me pause.

As I pondered those words, I realized God, by means of these prayers, was changing me. I’ve noticed a boldness that was never consistently there before. I’m speaking to more people about Jesus than I have ever spoken to before and I don’t even have to go out and find them, God is bringing them to me!  The coolest thing is that this is not a work of the flesh, God is doing it all; God is changing me (and hopefully others) through prayer!

Am I being revived?

I think so! Praise be to God!

Then it hit me. When a boat is sinking and everyone is drowning, what’s the first thing a person is supposed to do? If you said save yourself, you’re right. You need to latch onto the Only thing that’s going to save you or you will be of no use to anyone else. Have you ever flown in an airplane? When the little mask drops from the ceiling, what are you supposed do? That’s right; save yourself so you can be of some use to those around you.

You’re already saved you say?

Well then get to work and save somebody else! When we save others, and then they do likewise, before you know it we’re all in the life raft. So when we look around and see the world seemingly ‘spinning out of control,’ our response is simple — pull as many into the lifeboat as possible. This is no time to be coy; it’s time to be truthful. The love is implied when we say,

Yo dude! You are sinking and this is the only Boat that’s going to save you!”

If they don’t want to be saved, then move on to the next drowning soul.

Know this: the solution to our present crises will not be found in a man or plan, the solution is found in Christ alone. There is a woman in my church whose husband Al died in the Twin Towers on 9/11. Do you know what he was doing in the final moments when ‘all hell had broken loose‘ and his world was ‘spinning out of control?’ He was standing atop his desk yelling to his co-workers,

I’m going to Heaven, who’s going with me!”

Look around. Read the 2 Timothy passage again. We’re in the same predicament as Al; it’s coming down all around us. The demonic incidents we regularly witness may be nothing new, but they’re becoming more frequent and more intense; precisely how God told us it would happen. We may not know the day or the hour, but we know because of these things The Day is coming soon. We also know that we did not save ourselves, Jesus saved us.

What is our recourse?

There is only one action that carries eternal weight: sharing the Gospel! Pray for revival in your soul that the Lord will change and use you.

Are you going to Heaven?

Sweet! Who are you bringing with you?

For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows (birth pangs).  Matthew 24:5-8

  1. What do these passages reveal about God?
  2. What do they reveal about you?
  3. What’s your course of action?
  4. Before all else, are YOU SAVED? (click HERE if you don’t know)

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Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:1-4)

I like to jest.

It’s not that I can’t help it (I can), but rather it’s what I do because I enjoy doing it. Frankly, I like making people laugh. Years ago when I first came upon this passage in Ephesians 5 in regards to the art of jesting, it worried me. Would I be forced to abandon my merriment? What is jesting anyway?

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary describes a jest as simply a joke meant only to excite laughter. Religion (according to the definition) should never be the subject of jest. Jesting is concise wit that consists in trope, metaphors, double meanings, or similitude of sound in different words.

Okay I can live with that, but why does God (according to scripture) forbid it?

He Doesn’t

Just this afternoon a person (kindly) reminded me that what I said (to her and another person) was coarse jesting. I kindly corrected her and cited the Bible verse.

“In the phrase ‘coarse jesting,’ ”  I said, “what is the key word?”

“Jesting,” was the reply.

“No it isn’t,” I corrected, “the key word is ‘coarse.’ “

I  went on to say that God likely opted to use the term coarse jesting instead of mere jesting because He was making a distinction between an acceptable jest and one that is crude, gross, or offensive. The person questioned my interpretation, however I was not convicted. I’m no Biblical scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve nailed this one — I know crude, gross, and offensive when I see or hear it. I am after all a recovered coarse-aholic. Thanks be to God.

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Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8

There is a popular pastor, sociologist, author, and speaker (who will remain nameless here) who likes to speak in a manner that disturbs the listener so that they might think more deeply on the subject matter he presents. The technique is cleverly concealed by his adroit sense of humor, so only occasionally are folks enraged. In one of his more popular speeches he uttered a popular four-letter word in order to shock the audience and thus make a point. It’s said in many circles that the message was successful, so much so that this singular line is cited both in and out of the church when the subject is broached.

Three points I want to raise (without disturbance or humor):

  1. Is Jesus pleased?
  2. Do the ends justify the means?
  3. Should Christians emulate the behavior?

The answer to all three  is no — Jesus is not pleased. He would never have us sin to make a point. Good results do not justify bad behavior. Hence, this is a style that no follower of Christ should copy.

There’s no getting around the Word of God:

“But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” Colossians 3:8

Am I judging this preacher/sociologist/author/speaker?

Yes

…but not unto condemnation. I am judging him for the purpose of identification — he is an example of what not to do. This manner should not be copied (or even cited) regardless of how effective we think the technique is. The truth of the matter is that when we purposely sin (and using profanity is a sin), we are operating in the flesh and not in the Spirit.

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. James 3:1-2

It bears repeating: I am not judging this man unto condemnation. Each of us has stumbled in word at one time or another. We are all sinners saved by grace. The issue is that we should learn from each other’s mistakes, not repeat them lest we glorify the deeds of man, and thus dishonor, disrespect, and disobey God.

Turning Away

I don’t know if this man ever repented, and frankly, it’s not any of my business. But as believers in Christ Jesus, and His followers, we should be filtering everything we ingest through the Word of God. If the things we see and hear do not hold up to the Father‘s scrutiny, they should be summarily rejected.

Let no man be fooled into going backwards.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.  Ephesians 4:17-23

  1. What do these verses say about God?
  2. What do they say about us?
  3. What should be our response? 

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