What does heart look like?

Hebrews 12:1 [fullscreen]

We recently had the privilege to spend time with family and friends in Texas. I’m not sure if everyone knows this or not, but it is often pretty warm in a Texas summer, and pretty humid. So, what would you think about getting out and plugging in some miles to build yourself into a stronger runner while there? Pretty crazy if you ask me. But that’s just what James (age 10) asked me to help him do. Sure, it was hot and running is hard, but he got out and did the work. (about 2.5 miles 2x while there.)

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we van imperishable.” ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24–25 (ESV)

What about us? The work our Lord wants us to be busy at isn’t always easy. Sometimes we have to endure heartache unplanned, survive the pain of growth and reach new heights (and valleys, but the work is worth it. The journey is worth it. Heaven is worth it.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” ~ Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)

2 “Must Haves” for every Gospel Preacher

“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”  ~ 1 Timothy 4:16 (NASB95)

Don’t get caught up in the latest hype or fads, successful gospel work stands on these 2 pillars…

  1. yourself: Develop personal integrity that matches your message, far greater harm than can be imagined is done when the one tasked with sharing the gospel of God’s grace destroys the impact of their work by the stain of rebellion. Paul was keenly on point  “but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:27 (NASB95)
  2. your teaching: Be true to the book. No amount of “relevant ideas”, “new line thought”, or “it will help right now well wishing” can suplant the simplicity and genuine effectiveness of the very message God wants to be spoken. The Holy Spirit charged “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” ~ Titus 2:1

Beyond this, there is clearly the need for hard work and competent answers to the challenging questions of life and Godliness, but if you deviate from these 2 pillars no amount of sophistry or worldly wisdom will undo the lasting harm done.

 

How to regain control of your Facebook Feed in 3 easy steps.

Perhaps you’re like me and enjoy staying touch with friends and family, but are not super interested in being distracted by any number of the facets of modern social media. Here’s a short tip to clear up an overly busy facebook feed.

Say you have a good friend or family member who is really into a particular hobby, maybe it’s Kayaking. Now, I don’t know why people would want to kayak, since canoeing is so much more civilized, but you love them despite this one flaw. 😉

Step one: Find this little inverted v and select it

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Step two: You may need to select the option for more as seen below

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Step three: Hide all posts from that page!

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Victory!!!!

While I illustrated this with a little bit of humor, you could easily apply it in an effort to seek that your facebook feed is filled up with things, noble, pure and good, and to keep out the few weeds that sometimes crop up

I’ll never be a Paul…

I’ve heard this over the years spoken by believers smothered by their weakness and oppressed by not only the world, by well intended but misguided fellow believers as well.

We are far more like Paul than we ever allow ourselves to realize.

  • When you stand for Christ, despite the sway of your family’s religious history.
  • When you seek to follow Christ, even though you were obstinate and slow to walk with him.
  • When you speak of Christ, even when it feels like you are alone.

At some point we allow the devil to chip away at our faith, lying to ourselves that personal perfection is the goal. It’s not, but in Christ we can be made perfect…

Stop letting your faith be shipwrecked, You are Paul, you are Moses, You are Abraham… they too were just as we are, men. They let their faith in God work with whatever and whomever they were to be whom God needed. So should we.

P.W. Martin

Gay Practice and that Pagan Context, By Doy Moyer

As the case for gay marriage continues to ramp up, we may wonder how those who are claiming to be Christians, but who also are advocating gay marriage, can actually believe that the Bible supports their views. We often hear that Jesus never said anything to condemn it. They seem to miss the fact that Jesus argued for marriage “from the beginning,” and that this was rooted in the creation of male and female (Matt. 19:4-6). He didn’t have to specifically condemn what the Law had clearly condemned in no uncertain terms.

However, the argument we are hearing even more is that the those passages that unequivocally condemn gay practice are in a pagan context and associated with the ancient idolatrous culture. These weren’t God-fearing gays who were in a loving and committed relationship, you see. These were pagans involved in ritualistic prostitution, and that, they would agree, is wrong.

We seem to argue, “that was just their culture,” for just about everything these days. The problem with this argument, though, connected to the passages that condemn the behavior, is that, as the saying goes, it proves too much. If it’s all based on a pagan context, then what about the other items condemned in the very same context?

In Romans 1, for example, Paul not only condemns “men with men” and “women with women,” he also condemns unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, envy, slander, haters of God, the insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, being disobedient to parents, without understanding, the untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.

Why isn’t anyone arguing that these are also in a pagan context, so as long as we take it out of that context, it is perfectly fine to be greedy, envious, and slanderous? As long as it’s not in a pagan cultural context, we can be insolent, boastful, arrogant, and disobedient to parents? In a different culture, it’s okay to be untrustworthy and unmerciful.

It’s the same context, and honesty demands consistency.

Further, the way Paul makes his argument is not just grounded in a pagan context, but it is grounded in creation. Paganism is a sign that people have forgotten the Creator, so they worship the creature. The reason they are doing what is indecent is because they have lost sight of God as the Creator, who alone has the right to determine proper relationships. Marriage doesn’t change the condemnation of “men with men” or “women with women” doing what is unnatural.

Let’s take 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. While pagan practices were certainly a part of the culture, bear in mind that in the very same context that gay practice is condemned, so is the practice of fornication, idolatry, adultery, thievery, covetousness, drunkenness, reviling, and swindling. Would anyone care to argue that as long as it is removed from the pagan context, it would be okay to practice adultery, thievery, and drunkenness? Why do they only pick out what has to do with gay practice to say these are just based in culture, while ignoring the rest?

One could just as well argue that Paul’s argument against fornication in the same chapter (1 Cor. 6:14-20) is based on ritualistic prostitution, so once we get away from that kind of context, it would be okay to practice fornication.

The same can be said for 1 Timothy 1:8-11. Those who practice homosexuality are right there in the middle of the unholy, profane, those who kill their fathers and mothers, kidnappers, liars, and perjurers. Who looks at that context and says, “Well, that’s just pagan culture, so in a different culture being a kidnapper would be okay”?

Taking any of these things out of a pagan cultural context doesn’t change the nature of the sin, nor does it change the consequences.

Let’s also recall that pagan practices are rooted in forgetting God as the Creator to worship the creature, as Romans 1 makes clear. When we understand that marriage is founded upon God as the Creator, and we see how God established marriage from the beginning, then we cannot argue that God ever intended anything other than male and female cleaving to each other, suitable to each other, becoming one flesh with each other.

When we ignore what is rooted in creation, with God as Creator, and begin to change the fundamental nature of God’s expressed intentions, then we have indeed become worshipers of the creature rather than the Creator.

Perhaps we are still in that pagan culture after all.

Note: I know that just as sure I post this, we will hear, “but we have to hate the sin and love the sinner.” Indeed, and loving the sinner includes a call to repentance for all of us. Notice, also, that I’m talking about the practice, not an identity. We cannot ignore what practicing any of these things in these contexts, pagan or otherwise, will do to our souls.

 

Have a great day

So, after dropping the kids off at their schools this morning, I needed to send a a text message. Siri and I normally can sort this out, but we have been having communication issues lately. No problem there is a McD’s on corner, I’ll stop there hash out the message and be safely on my way. In front of me a driver missed the turn into the Drive Up lane, so I dutifully paused and let them back up, and join the folks waiting in line.

I was poised to maneuver through the sea of cars at this point to my open spot when a gentleman in a red truck whipped up along side me. He was close enough that he was tapping on my window. I was concerned that maybe this good Samaritan had a pressing issue that involved me (like hey did you know your car is on FIRE). So I rolled down the window… at which point I was now listening to the long list of ways  I was of poor parentage, had made the worst life choices ever known to mankind, and was apparently the worst person ever.

You see while allowing that person to get back in line, I had (unbeknownst to me) blocked his departure from his parking slot. I am unaware of this shift in parking lot etiquette. I live the flow of the traffic law (and so does the rest of the world too). Wherein those who enter the flow are responsible for finding a spot to be part of the flow.

I responded with a quick, hey, Have a Great Day! and rolled that window back up. At this point since I was basically in line already it made perfect sense to get a Egg McMuffin sandwich. So with that in hand I proceed to a spot, sent off my message and was on my way. (I also got to say hey to my friend JT as well, so that a plus too)

SONY DSC

The cynic might point out that no good deed goes unpunished, for had I not let that other car back in, this would have never happened… but I’ll add this.

I’m just glad was there for him to vent to. Perhaps letting off some steam toward me will help the rest of his day. Oh, and grumpy truck dude, when I offer up prayers on the behalf of myself and others today, you’ll be on the list, I hope that great and wonderful things accompany your future.

 

6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 1:6 (NASB95)

The Problem of Private Lust by Connie Adams

Lust has gone public in America. No subject is too delicate for a television or movie script. Pornography is big business. Absolutely nothing is left to the imagination. Yet, this business would utterly fail were it not for the fact that it feeds the private yearnings of corrupted hearts. It is from this private cesspool of defilement that this flowing well of licentiousness comes. Polluted minds demand a diet of contamination to gratify illicit hunger. This creates a climate in which the problem only feeds itself.

No man ever rises above the quality of his own mind. One cannot be more perverse than his heart allows him to be. Conversely, pure and noble words and deeds first proceed from hearts that are pure and noble. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

The potentiality of private lust was recognized by Jesus when He said, “Whoso looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). In this context Jesus not only condemned the act of adultery, but also the progressions of thought which culminate in this forbidden act. It is not wrong to recognize beauty. Some have a charm and grace which is at once attractive and appealing. But it is a far different thing to allow the mind to descend to the level of fantasizing about sexual relations with one we have found to be appealing. So then, the heart must keep a distinction between admiration and lust. It is in the heart that reserves are broken down and that schemes are devised to gain attention, then seduce the one who become the object of our obsession. Adultery committed in the heart, but which proceeds no farther, may not have the frightful consequences which the overt act does – – but it is still an affront to God and destructive to the character of the one who entertains it. Recognition of the wrong and repentance are surely required.

The problem is pervasive in our society. Many streams strive to erode a channel into our hearts to pervert them. Modern television programming, to say nothing of the movie industry, grind out a continual stream of coarseness, vulgarity, sexual innuendo and compromising scenes which could wear down the best defenses of the most godly were these allowed constant entry into the mind. The print media carry reports which often titillate the senses. Even television news programming often resorts to this device, I suppose to add what is conceived to be “spice” to an otherwise dry business. The music of our time, with incessant beat, preaches moral permissiveness and does much to break down convictions and moral reserves. Perhaps the two worst offenders in this area are today’s rock and country-western music. The lyrics are not even subtle. They are brazen. How can any of us listen repeatedly to such lyrics without being affected to some degree?

What about pornography? Is it nobody’s business what a person reads or views in hisown home? Should he have the Playboy channel hooked up to his cable TV? First, those who defend such right are the losers because they defile and debauch their own hearts to the destruction of their souls. Next, they contribute to a sordid business which promotes vice of every kind. Then, they run the risk of reaching a point where they cannot separate fact from fantasy and that can lead to criminal action. Unrealistic expectations develop which create disillusionment between spouses. The price for gratification of mental lust can become very expensive.

The divine mandate to “flee fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18) must surely include flight from whatever channels of thought might lead us to this tragedy. We must not be filthy dreamers” (Jude 8) with defiled minds. In contrast to that, “Unto the pure all things are pure” (Titus 1:15). It is not enough to root out impurity of thought. These must be replaced with that which is decent, ennobling, gracious, uplifting and pure. “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Whatsoever things are…pure…lovely…of good report…think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Ultimately, the victory over private lust is bound up in the admonition of Paul to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). Christ must not only be Lord of my external conduct; He must rule my mind. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom 8:6). Paul wrote, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom 7:23). Folks, this is a war we must win. Shall private lusts conquer us, or shall we bring our thoughts into captivity to our Lord Jesus Christ?

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14). “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1).

Indeed, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste!” It was God’s purpose to put His law into our hearts and write His precepts in our minds (Heb 10:16). When the mind is so filled withthe knowledge of truth and right, then whatever thought-form is inconsistent with that divine system is rejected as repulsive. It cannot grow in unprepared soil. The antidote to private lust is a constantly growing knowledge of the will of God accompanied by an active life of service in which the fruits of righteousness may be seen by others.