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“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (Psalm 37:1-2)
 
Christians, satan’s minions are at it again, now striking us here in the NY/NJ area. It is in the midst of these disquieting times that we are called to be Biblical voices of reason. As others panic and search tdesperately for solutions, let us be the calm and fret-less ones that they can turn to. Our hope, our peace, and our joy is in Jesus Christ and we must bring Him into any circumstance as the calming Agent. This is our calling and this is our duty.

We shall not cave in. We will get up, go to work, and function as we normally do. Terrible things will always happen, but we will not be terrorized into silence or dormancy. According to my Bible, these tribulations make the obedient Christian stronger! We have the choice to cower or tower. Let us choose wisely. 

Believers and unbelievers together are negotiating the same troubled waters, but let the faithful continually proclaim the ease of Christ’s yoke and burden. Yes, we face the same pain, grief, and challenges, but Christ’s way is easier and lighter. Let us never be caught saying that being a Christian is difficult, when it is the faithless who are having the most burdensome times of it. In Christ Jesus we have the easier and lighter Way; we must be a reflection of Him in trying times. In the face of death we are fearless for one reason only: we have a hope rooted firmly in Jesus and all His promises. In troubling times it is crucial we share this hope. Share these words if you agree!
 
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive [d]and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

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Last night on Pastor’s Perspective the topic of yoga came up again. The question was asked if it was okay for the high school football coach to use yoga as part of the team’s stretching program.

Here’s the problem with incorporating yoga (albeit seemingly innocuous and void of Hinduism), into a training regiment: if and when those boys are introduced to the real thing later in life, they will likely surmise, “Oh yeah, yoga! I remember that – it’s harmless! Coach Smith taught us that.”

Oh yeah, yoga…Coach Smith taught us that.”

Many may initially suspect that this coach’s yoga is of the harmless variety, however I submit that it is not harmless, as he is setting these boys up for a disaster, regardless if he realizes it or not. His intent is (likely) not the issue, but rather that yoga is being portrayed as something harmless to a group of young, impressionable boys and some will inevitably take the bait when it’s reintroduced at a later stage of life.
If this yoga program cannot (or won’t) be removed from the school, then parents need to instruct their children that authentic yoga is satanic and that a sanitized version of these rituals only serve as an introduction to this evil practice. The fact that a coach, teacher, or sports figure is okay with it sends the wrong message to these youths and that memory will remain embedded until yoga is reintroduced to them down the road.

Case in point:

From what I can see, Russell Wilson (QB, Seattle Seahawks) is a Christian and I Russell Wilson Credit: Photograph by Peter Yangsense the yoga he does has been stripped of all it’s Hindu attributes. Based on what the Bible has to say, he should not be doing it. Nevertheless, the problem is that the thousands upon thousands of kids (and adults) who look up to and admire him, don’t necessarily know that fact. All they perceive is that Russell Wilson does yoga, he is a Christian, and therefore yoga is okay. This picture of Russell Wilson screams, “Yoga is cool.” Yoga is not cool, it is evil.

The Bible says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) and to never “put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” (Romans 14:13). Therefore, that is what we should do. If yoga, or anything else has an appearance of evil and it poses a risk that someone else might stumble, we are commanded to not do it. It’s really that simple.

*I am not knocking my brothers at Pastor’s Perspective program or Russell Wilson. It is just important that we recognize the seriousness of this issue and do whatever is necessary to correct it. I chose to talk about it in a public forum for the purpose of awareness.

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25 January, 2016 11:22

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“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Take notice that this passage begins ‘The fruit of the Spirit’ and NOT the fruit ffof the Christian, the reason being that the fruit belongs to God and is for bringing Him glory. The fruit of the Christian is a myth. When the Bible declares in Matthew 7:16 that people will know us (identify us as Christians) by our fruit and that good trees bear good fruit, the reality is that they will know we are followers of Jesus when they see the Holy Spirit and His attributes in operation.

Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:14)

When we receive the Holy Spirit, it’s a package deal – where He goes His fruit goes and it’s consumer-ready from day one WITHOUT law or regulation. The Christian on the other hand is the shipping crate and it’s his duty is to pop the lid off and display this Spiritual produce to God’s glory.

Let us abandon the notion that we’re babes in Christ and that our fruit needs to mature or other such nonsense. The reality is that in ourselves we will never master these qualities, but we have something better in the Holy Spirit. We just get need to get out of His way (die to our selfishness) and allow Him to do what He desires to do. As a result folks will occasionally notice how loving or how patient we are, at which point we will say, “Dude, that’s not me. To God be the glory.”

It’s not the power of the fruit, it’s the Power behind the fruit.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)

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“So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:17)

You’ve heard (and perhaps asked) the question a thousand times: What is God’s will for me?” Well according to Ephesians 5:17 it’s a very good question to ask.

Let’s examine the 25 times the phrase theWill of God is mentioned in the Bible and then consider the wiiwshort answer that each verse provides.  I say ‘short answer’ because there is much, much more to be gleaned in going back and examining the Scripture references in their Biblical context (click on the verse to read it in context). We would also do well to remember that while the Lord has a specific plan for each of us, it’s not primarily about us.

God’s Will

It’s the will of God that you do the will of God (duh), “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:35)

It’s the will of God that you serve, “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers” (Acts 13:36)

It’s the will of God to fuel your Christian walk, “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” (Romans 1:10)

It’s the will of God to know you and intercede for you, “And he that (searches) the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he (makes) intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:27)

It’s the will of God to change you for the better, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

It’s the will of God that you draw upon His joy, “That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.” (Romans 15:32)

It’s the will of God to send you out with the Gospel, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God” (1 & 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1)

It’s the will of God that you be submitted to Him and to every believer, “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” (2 Corinthians 8:5)

It’s the will of God to deliver you from evil, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4)

It’s the will of God that you are obedient, “Not with eye service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:6)

It’s the will of God that you work enthusiastically, “Always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” (Colossians 4:12)

It’s the will of God for you to be holy, pure, and set apart, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

It’s the will of God that you demonstrate continual gratitude, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

It’s the will of God that you are faithfully confident until your great inheritance is realized, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36)

It’s the will of God you abstain from lust, be honest, and obey the law of the land, “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter 2:15)

It’s the will of God that you could suffer for doing what is right, “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.” (1 Peter 3:17)

It’s the will of God that you be Christ-minded, “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:2)

It’s the will of God that if you suffer it is not as criminals, but as unashamed, God-glorifying Christians, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:19)

It’s the will of God that you know: “The world (passes) away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God (abides) forever.” (1 John 2:17)

I can hear some of you saying, “Yes, I know it’s God’s will that I serve Him, that I’m obedient, that I’m enthusiastic, etc., but what does the Lord specifically want me to do!”

What do you want to do?

According to Psalm 37, there’s a good chance God has already put a desire in your heart, that is, if you are trusting in Him, if you’re delighting in Him, if you’re committed to Him, and if you’re resting in Him. Now couple this God-given desire with His plan that we share Jesus with a lost and dying world, praying for direction how two realities can function as one.

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Begin each day asking the Lord, “What would you have me do today?” and sense the Lord saying back, “What do you want to do?” When I do that, sometimes my answers are errant and the Holy Spirit is faithful to correct me. But a lot of the time my answers reflect the desire that He has put in my heart and I go and do that thing. That’s not to say that things always go as I had planned, but they do always seem to go as He has planned.

Get in the habit of doing God’s will as He has already prescribed in His word and watch Him lead you directly where He wants you to be.

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Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Christianese 101

What is Christianese?

Simple words like sin, salvation, fellowship, and gospel could be considered Christianese, if the person you’re talking to isn’t familiar with them. A proper definition would be ‘the terms, catchphrases and theological jargon used by some Christians, commonly from Christian theology and influenced by popular translations of the Bible.’ Christianese (which is in itself Christianese) is something that we’re often told to avoid in conversations. We come upon articles like “The Dangers of Christianese,” that encourage us to cease, but should we?

As far as moderate Christianese is concerned, I would disagree that we should stop, as long as our words are applicable to the conversations in which we’re engaged. I am a Christian and I speak the Christian language in an appropriate manner when it is appropriate.  What typically happens next is a conversation develops. If I use a word that a person does not understand, they generally say something like, What does that mean?” and you know what I do? I tell them what it means and the conversation goes deeper. It’s probably what occurs in your conversations too. Oh, and guess what I do if they use a word I don’t understand? That’s right! I ask them what they mean. As a result we’re not only having a conversation, but we’re learning stuff about each other!

Christianese and Discernment

I was being seated in a diner a few years ago and the waitress asked me how I was doing. I responded as I usually do, “I’m blessed more than I deserve.”

DSCN1750The waitress said, “Oh that’s nice, I wish I was.”

She got the gist of what I was saying.  A conversation was blossoming and I couldn’t wait for her to return to the table. As I sat down, my Christian acquaintance rebuked me. “Ya know, David,” he said in his lovely Australian accent, “she didn’t understand a word you said because you’re talking in Christianese.”

I was taken aback. His words made me feel as if I did something horrible.  When the waitress returned I said not a word except to tell her my order.

A lot of water has passed beneath the bridge since that incident and I have learned much. I realize now that my friend was wrong and I was wrong for listening to him; I had forfeited an opportunity to have a wonderful conversation with our waitress. God only knows where it would have gone — I had been given a measure of discernment and direction from the Holy Spirit, and I ignored it. Shame on me for listening to the wrong voice.

The Real Controversy

The real issue has nothing to do with non-Christians not understanding the words that Christians use, in fact it’s quite often the opposite – they do understand, or at the very least they recognize it as Christian jargon and as a result they are offended. They’re offended because they don’t like Jesus and they don’t want to discuss their sin. If they sense that they’re conversing with a Christian, they go on guard immediately. If they cannot suppress our enthusiasm (often with some undelightful language of their own), they will attempt to leave the conversation entirely.

It is here that some well-meaning Christians (at least I’d like to think they’re well-meaning) have determined to come to their aid. Their counsel: stop talking like Christians! In other words, they want us to take that little light of ours and put a basket over it, or better yet, slide it under the bed before we leave the house in the morning. Talk about quenching the Holy Spirit!  (If you don’t know what Quenching the Holy Spirit,” means, click the link).

Why?

I wonder why my brothers and sisters in Christ do this? Are they ashamed of Jesus Christ and/or their Christianity? Are they embarrassed that they lack boldness and confidence in their faith? Are they trying to protect a relationship? Have they witnessed an overly aggressive believer in operation and therefore want to solve that problem by silencing all Christians? Are they adhering to some false doctrines of their own which prejudices their reaction to the truth? Are they nominal (or minimal) believers? If you’re a Christianese-squelcher, please tell me why in the comments below.

Whatever their reason…

Don’t Buy the Lie

Friends, please don’t buy into their nonsense. I’m not talking about those who muddle a conversation with complicated phraseology or weighty theology (they need to know their audience). I’m referring to us simple folk who desire nothing more than to talk and act like the new creations that God has made. No, instead of rebuking you, I want to encourage you to continue expressing yourself as a Christian should and to be ready to answer any questions that arise, being sensitive to the reality that folks might not understand a word or a phrase you’re using. Also be sensitive to the fact that a Christian conversation is not a Gospel presentation until God says it is. It is when we attempt to force the latter upon an unwilling audience that we often bruise or become bruised.

He that saith he abideth in Him (Jesus) ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked. 1 John 2:6

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“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (Romans 13:1)

As per chapter 13 of the Book of Romans, God appoints governing authorities for a specific purpose. Here it is: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (Romans 13:3-4)

But if you do evil, be afraid

In theory, those who are appointed by God to these authoritative positions, be they police officers or Presidents of the United States, are Obama Face Palm-240x180to be ministers of God’s goodness, but this is not their only calling. They are also avengers (those who take vengeance), called to execute wrath (strong and fierce punishment) on those who do evil, for the sake of God’s righteousness and for those who abide by His laws. Never should they condone evil practices or suggest that those who long for justice are ignorantly riding their horses highly.

But Wait!

Didn’t God say, “Vengeance is Mine!” Is there not coming a day when God will pour out His wrath on an unrepentant world?

Yes, these things are true, but clearly, as the Romans 13 text demonstrates, God does not expect (or require) that the law-abiding world stand idly by while satanic-driven terrorism floods our streets. Prior to proclaiming [that] vengeance belongs to God, the Scripture maintains that whenever possible we’re to live peaceably with all men and to not exact punishment ourselves – God has appointed governments to exact certain punishments. The ultimate vengeance that belongs to God alone concludes with condemnation. Men and governments have no such authority, but neither must we wait to douse the fires of those who desire to set us ablaze. We are free to eliminate them and then trust God to judge them and us accordingly.

Meanwhile…

With God’s help, we’re to love and pray for those folks who do evil, remembering that Jesus took their sins to the cross, as well as ours. If they’re not aware of that Good News, then it’s our duty to tell them, if and when God affords us the opportunity to do so.

Hold Them Accountable

Don’t be fooled into believing that our only option is to be found in the voting booth. In America, the authorities that govern us (appointed by God) have also provided us many liberties. Let us boldly utilize them, while never forgetting to pray for the leadership of this country and also how God would use us.

Frankly, our leadership is not effectively doing the job God appointed them to do. The Romans passage quoted above tells us that ‘if you do evil,’ you should be afraid of the governing authorities. When I look around the world today, I don’t believe anyone looks at our president with fear. Based on his words and actions they may in fact see him as an ally or a sympathizer. This should not be and it’s okay to say so.

In this light, it’s okay to vocalize our concerns and to pray for these problems to be rectified. All of this certainly, and yes Biblically, falls into the category of submission to authority. So pray for salvation for those who may need it and also for Holy Spirit revival for those who need that. Pray for obedient boldness for those [who] God may be calling to leadership positions and that others may step down for their failure to uphold the tenets of their offices.

Hope

Our ultimate hope is in Jesus Christ, but let us also be good stewards of the goods and governments He has provided. Let no one neglect them as they wait for Christ’s return.

“Jesus taught peace, love and forgiveness. He came to give His life for the sins of mankind, not to take life. Muhammad on the contrary was a warrior and killed many innocent people. True followers of Christ emulate Christ — true followers of Muhammad emulate Muhammad.”

Franklin Graham

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