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)

The Truth about the “house church movement”

Recently the Caneyville church of Christ arranged for brother Connie Adams to preach a series of messages dealing with the “house church movement”. (Which, btw is different than a church meeting in someone’s home).

ConnieConnie W. Adams was born in Hopewell, VA, on September 22, 1930, and preached his first sermon at Pike Road, NC, in 1945. He continued filling preaching appointments through high school years and during four years as a student at Florida College (’48-’53). Connie and his wife Bobby Katherine have eight children between them: he has two sons, Wilson (who preaches in Nashville, TN) and Martin (Air Traffic Controller) and she has six children, three sons and three daughters. Connie’s local work has been done in Lake City, Palmetto, and Orlando, FL; Atlanta, GA; Bergen, Norway; Newbern, TN; Akron, OH; Louisville, KY. Also, he has preached in Canada, England, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and the Philippines. He has done fulltime meeting work since 1975.

 

We’ve Come a Long Way, by John R. Gibson

About two years ago the Athens News Courier contained a quarter page advertisement inviting all to a “Free Community Cookout.” The ad went on to say, “Join us as we say, ‘Happy Birthday America’ on Saturday, June 30th. We will begin serving hamburgers, hotdogs, chips and drinks at 6:00 pm and will serve until we run out. There will also be sno-cones, cotton candy, face painting and games. You will have the best view in town of the City of Athens’ fireworks display.”  [The ad is quoted word for word, but capitalization and punctuation have been changed to a normal paragraph style. JRG]

Don’t get me wrong about this. I’m a patriotic American who likes hamburgers, chips, and fireworks, so if this had been sponsored by the Lions Club or some other civic organization I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. However, this Free Community Cookout was sponsored by a local church and that raises a lot of questions in my mind.

  • Is there anything in the New Testament that would suggest church sponsorship of such events is the will of God? Matt. 7:21
  • Are there any examples of New Testament churches, under the guidance of the apostles (1 Cor. 4:17), hosting community events with free leg of lamb, pita bread, chariot races, and such?
  • Can a church rightfully claim to abide in the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9) and engage in practices never found in the New Testament?
  • When did the Lord tell us to change our approach from simply preaching the gospel as his power to save (Romans 1:16) to attempting to draw people with entertainment and food for their stomachs? See 1 Thes. 1:8 where it was said of the church in Thessalonica that “from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth.”
  • Should our conduct be any different than that of Paul when he refused to give either the Jews or the Gentiles what they wanted, but insisted on giving them what they needed, viz. the message of the cross? 1 Cor. 1:21-23

We’ve come a long way from the New Testament pattern when it was the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers who were equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12, 13). Now, most churches feel they need a director of basketball operations, a grill master, a face painter, and a host of other things never even hinted at in the New Testament. Yes, many churches, including those calling themselves “of Christ,” have come a long way, but the question remains—who gave the instructions to move?

We’ve come a long way from the New Testament pattern when it was the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers who were equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:1213). Now, most churches feel they need a director of basketball operations, a grill master, a face painter, and a host of other things never even hinted at in the New Testament. Yes, many churches, including those calling themselves “of Christ,” have come a long way, but the question remains—who gave the instructions to move?

“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 9

“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.” Matt. 7:21

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’” Matt. 28:18

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Rev. 22:1819

Unless noted, all quotations from the New King James Version, copyright 1994 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Baptism: A Death, Burial, and Resurrection, by Doy Moyer

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“Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well- pleased.’” (Matt 3:13-17)

In one sense, the baptism of Jesus fits what is sometimes called the “principle of embarrassment” (which actually increases the credibility of the text). Why would Jesus come to John to be baptized? Why would Jesus need baptism at all? John’s baptism was “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). If Jesus didn’t need repentance and forgiveness, then why would He be coming to John for baptism? John recognized this difficulty, reacting with surprise and attempting to prevent it. Jesus told Him to permit it “at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” There is something about His baptism that is connected to the fulfillment or completion of righteousness.

There are likely several reasons why Jesus came to be baptized by John. This was, indeed, a special time of fulfillment. The Messiah has come! This action serves as the inauguration of His public ministry, identifying Him explicitly as the Son of God. This would also identify Jesus with those who were awaiting the kingdom. Recall that John’s preaching entailed the message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2). In preaching the kingdom, he was pointing to the Messiah, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). It was this action, coupled with the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus, telling John that Jesus was the expected One (John 1:29-34). By doing this, Jesus identified Himself with John’s mission and validated the work John was doing. It also serves as an example to all who would follow Jesus. This is just the beginning.

With all the possible reasons that could be given for the purpose of Jesus’ baptism, the one we wish to focus on is how His baptism foreshadowed His own work. Paul later makes the point that baptism is a death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:3-7, a passage we’ll come back to). Through baptism, Jesus foreshadows His purpose for coming into the world as the Son of God: to die and rise again.

That the resurrection is ultimately in view is confirmed by what the Father said: “This is My beloved Son.” This statement comes from Psalm 2:7. Psalm 2 is messianic and focuses on the kingship of the Anointed One. “He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’” This very passage was taken by Paul to refer, not to the birth of Jesus as the Son, but to His resurrection:

“And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are MY Son; today I have begotten You.’ As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’” (Acts 13:32-34)

The second part of what the Father said (“in whom I am well-pleased”) comes from Isaiah 42:1, another messianic passage that speaks to the fact that He was endowed with the Spirit, bringing justice to the nations (cf. Matt 12:15-21). In Jesus’ baptism, He shows that His work as the Servant would culminate in His own death, burial, and resurrection.

Our Baptism

Baptism, then, is both symbolic and a very real action. In other words, it is not just getting wet. In this case, our own baptism is itself a way of following after the footsteps of Jesus as He went to the cross and rose again from the dead. Baptism, for the believer, is also a death, burial, and resurrection:

“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Rom 6:3-5)

“Death” is a word used in several ways. We are dead in transgressions and sins (Eph 2:1). Yet, when we respond to God’s will in baptism, we die again, only this time we die to our sins (instead of being dead in our sins). Paul began Romans 6 by making this very point: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it” (vv 1-2). The old self is then said to be crucified with Christ so that we would no longer be slaves of sin, “for he who has died is freed from sin” (vv 6-7). Paul continues, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again” (vv. 8-9).

This is the point Paul makes about baptism: it is our own death, burial, and resurrection, following the same pattern of Jesus both in His baptism and in His physical death and resurrection. It is an identification with everything that Christ is and stands for, primarily as He died for sin and rose again. Our being baptized says that, by the grace of God, we have died to our sins and we are raised up to walk a new life with Him.

Baptism is, likewise, making a commitment to the new life resulting from death, burial, and resurrection. If we really have died to sin, how shall we keep living in it?

“Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Rom 6:11-13)

Elsewhere, Paul makes a similar point: “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Col 3:1-4)

By being baptized into Christ, we are making a vow to serve Him. We are dead to sin and alive in Him. We have buried the old man who was dead in sin and we have been raised up to be new creatures in Christ. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). Baptism is our pledge that, by God’s strength, we will no longer be controlled by sin. We are a new creation.

Once again, we should be able to see the great significance of baptism. It is, through God’s grace, our inaugural act that identifies us with us the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It also identifies us with that same kingdom preached by both John and Jesus. Further, baptism is done with repentance and for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), and anyone who wishes to follow to Jesus will gladly do it (Acts 2:41). Many ask, “is baptism necessary?” The answer should be obvious if we substitute the word “baptism” with how Paul discusses it in Romans 6: “Is it necessary to die to sin, be buried with Christ, and be raised to walk a new life?” But even more, wouldn’t the one who desires to follow the Lord eagerly do what He says? Let us, then, be committed to the crucified and raised life.

Doy Moyer

For more on baptism, see also Baptism: Washing with Water

 

Via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/1/post/2014/04/baptism-a-death-burial-and-resurrection.html

Racism and Christ, By: Doy Moyer

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He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth…” (Acts 17:26).

Racism is not just a political issue, and it cannot be fixed through political means or force. It is the symptom of a much greater problem, and this is not a problem that will ever be legislated or forced away by violence. First, and even most significantly, racism is a moral and spiritual issue. It is, at its heart, a failure to understand and appreciate that all humans are made in God’s image (Gen 1:26-27). “Human” is not a skin color or ethnicity. Being human does not depend on being a particular ethnic background. The greatest human quality is that of mirroring God’s image, and this is shared by all humans, however imperfectly.

As sin entered the scene of human history, God put a plan into effect that would allow humans to be saved from their sins and the corruption of the world. To do this, He called out a particular person, Abraham, and through him a particular nation, which came to be called Israel. Through this nation He would bring about His promises. His purpose in doing this was so that “all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen 12:3). The reason He maintained a distinction between His chosen people and all others (gentiles) was to keep them holy as His people (see Josh 23:4-13). The danger was not in other ethnicities per se (as is seen in the fact both Rahab and Ruth were Gentiles who became part of Christ’s lineage); the danger was that paganism had become standard among the nations and He wanted them to stay away from the influences that would lead them down that path of worshipping other gods.

God’s plan all along encompassed the idea that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would bring together all nations into one. This is not to say that all nations would become one big worldly kingdom. Rather, all nations would unite together in Christ as one “chosen race” and “holy nation” who would proclaim God’s excellencies (1 Pet 2:9). In this holy nation, there are no distinctions to be made when it comes to the outward matters of skin color. In Christ, there is no “white church” or “black church.” Such distinctions are unknown to the Gospel. Should Christians, then, continue to perpetuate them? Shall we willingly participate in the worldly stereotypes that only divide?

Perhaps the earliest, most significant challenges for the church came in the form of the relationship between Jews and Gentiles (cf. Acts 15). Let’s just say they typically didn’t care for each other very much. There was initial reluctance on the part of the Jewish Christians to preach to the Gentiles, as is seen in Peter’s response to the Lord’s desire for him to go Cornelius, a Gentile soldier (Acts 10). It took a vision and a command for Peter to get it, and once he did, there was no turning back. “God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean” (vs. 28). It may have been a bit shocking, then, for some fellow Jews to hear Peter declare:

“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34-35).

God’s will is that all come to repentance, that all will come to the knowledge of the truth (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Pet 3:9; 1 Tim 2:4). Racism is a denial that Christ died for all. It is a denial of God’s desire for all to know the truth. It is a denial of the unity desired by the Lord. It is a denial of the gospel. It is sin.

Again, Peter said, “He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:42-43). Everyone. No one is out in this endeavor.

Political agendas will be what they are. God’s people need to transcend the clamor and evil trappings of the world in order to be what God intends. To be effective in reaching out to the world, we cannot pull back our hands because those of another person are a different shade. All hands are made by the same God, who desires all to be in His fellowship. Dare we deny this most important desire of God?

In truth, there is only one race. It is the human race. And there is only one holy nation, comprised of all of God’s people, who transcend the boundaries and borders of worldly kingdoms and earthly cultures. May God help us all to see all humans for who they really are—made in His image, fallen, and in need of His grace and mercy.

Doy Moyer

via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/1/post/2014/01/racism-and-christ.html

 

A Stable Foundation

stbhic5a1I recently caught just a bit of “the Herd with Colin Cowherd”. Colin had a radio show in Portland when I was preaching with the church at Wilsonville, Or. When he moved on to the larger stage of ESPN, his time slot changed, and it was no longer convenient to listen in to the broadcast. Colin always has a wide range of subject matter that he incorporates into his thoughts that have centered around professional sports. (though he had a more non-sporting material with his local show).

Colin was extrapolating how recent studies like this one “Homeownership boosts children’s educational achievement” (and others done at USC and UC San Diego) correlate stability to success from academics, to teen pregnancy, poverty, etc. Colin argued that stability was the primary key to success for modern NFL franchises noting the coaching shuffle for the bottom of the brackets and perennial winners had a stable coaching staff.

It is not really that big of stretch to link this simple concept:

24  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25  “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.
26  “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
27  “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Mt 7:24–27). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

So my suggestion is to build stability in your life, heart, and home. It clearly begets success

Phillip W. Martin

 

A Teenager’s New Year’s Resolution, by Bill H. Reeves

While preaching in El Salvador I found the following New Year’s resolution attached to the door of Mercedes Hernandez, daughter of Joaquin Hernandez who preaches in Central America. The paper was written by his daughter for her benefit alone, a few minutes after greeting the New Year. She went to her room, wrote her thoughts on the paper and fixed it to the door. She did not know anyone else would see it. I was impressed by it and asked her to let me have a copy of it to share with others. Her example may inspire the rest of us to greater zeal in the Lord’s kingdom.

January 1, 1988. 12:15 a.m. This year I desire, if the Lord wills:

1. To study in order to learn.

2. To persist in useful things.

3. To forget things which are not pleasant.

4. To smile more and be more pleasant among those about me.

5. To be punctual and constant.

6. To be better toward Said and Yasser (her two little brothers, BHR).

7. To do all things whole-heartedly and with love toward the Lord.

What I have written I propose in my heart, asking the Lord that I might fulfill it.

I desire, oh Lord, that you permit me to accomplish it in accordance with your divine will, and when I feel weakness in me I ask you to accompany me.

But above all I supplicate thee to be with me and accompany me always, Lord of heaven and earth.

Permit me to read the Holy Bible and to pray every day.

Pray: many times daily.

Read: one or more hours daily.

Blessed be thou Lord Jesus. Be with my brothers. In your great love. Amen.

Guardian of Truth XXXII: 6, p. 171
March 17, 1988

via: http://www.truthmagazine.com/archives/volume32/GOT032082.html