We Are Family

Last night, I was thinking about my family. I have five younger siblings. As I’ve watched them grow into adulthood, it’s been interesting how different we all are. We have different music interests, movie likes, convictions, etc. And yet we also share memories, stories, private jokes. I think deep down we also have a commitment to not allow things to become so mountainous that it negatively affects our relationship. Sure, we might strongly disagree with each other but most of our disagreements are not worth losing the friendship we have.

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This is how the Body of Christ should be as well. If we really understood that “we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5), maybe we would cherish each other more. If you were in an accident and lost your hand, you would no doubt try to find it and take it to the doctor to see if he could sew it back on. Yet, when a Brother or Sister cuts himself or herself off from the Body, we hardly notice. We may even think “good riddance.” I wonder if we would see more people come to know the Lord if they saw genuine love and care from God’s people.

This coming year, let’s ask God to give us greater hearts of love. Ask Him to give you His heart for those around you. I believe you would begin to look at people differently than you ever have before. God doesn’t look on a person’s outward appearance. He looks at the heart. We must learn to do that as well. As we draw near to Him, I believe He will help us to do so.

Thoughts on Suicide

*** Note from Mark – knowing how much this has affected Sony, this is not an invitation to debate on this one, nor will derogatory comments be permitted. It is simply meant to be an encouragement to people to reach out if they are struggling with the thought of suicide. We are not all going to agree on every aspect of doctrine, but these words are helpful. ***

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Last week, I found out that an acquaintance committed suicide. This was not a close friend but it affected me as I’ve pondered why people take such extreme measures when, more often than not, the trials of life are only temporary afflictions.

This is only the second time I can remember someone I know dying by his own hand. In the other case, the motive seemed to be selfishness: getting back at someone else.

In many cases, the motive is extreme hopelessness, and this makes me sad. Where there is life, there is always hope. It is only after death that nothing can be changed. At that point, not only your past, but your present and future are determined forever.

I wonder, though, if sometimes people commit suicide due to guilt. Could people honestly have done something “so bad” that they don’t think even God would forgive them, so they take the “easy way out” instead of humbling themselves in repentance and trusting God’s saving grace?

This last thought concerns me even more than the others. There is no sin that God won’t forgive IF a person is willing to repent and turn from that sin. The problem is that many don’t want to do that and so they live with the guilt of the life they are living until tragedy claims that life.

psalm55v22

I understand discouragement, and I have been down to the point of wanting to die. But I remind myself that there is a reason that I am still alive, and it has nothing to do with me. The God who placed me on this earth still has a plan for my life and, until that plan is finished, I must be faithful. There is no “easy out” for a Christian. We are called to take up our cross daily and follow Him.

The thoughts going through my mind right now are many. First of all, my heart goes out to those who think the only way out of their problem is to end their life. But I also wonder how many people I know are struggling more deeply than I would ever imagine. We live in a world of “happy” faces, where people don’t want to be burdened with others. Therefore, there are a lot of lonely people in this world. As Christians, we should never be so busy or unconcerned that we don’t take time to listen to someone who is struggling. If someone is willing to open up and talk to you, it may be because they are hoping you will show them the Hope they need.

If you are one who is down and suicide has even crossed your mind, please find someone to talk to. I realize that you can’t trust just anybody but ask God to show you someone who would be willing to pray with you and check on you periodically to make sure you are okay. Although there will always be trials in this life, they truly are temporary, and God can give you the strength to walk through them if you allow Him to.

Don’t become another statistic. Be a victor! And help others to be victorious as well.

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Tattoos of Faith?

And you thought the last one was bad? Laodicea would be a strong, vibrant, Christ-honoring body of believers today compared to what we are seeing taking place throughout so-called evangelicalism.

While this short post is not about whether it is sinful for a Christian to get a tattoo, there is certainly some consideration that must be given to when and why this is done. Take for example the link below that shows a church social club that decided to incorporate the stunt of getting a tattoo into the Sunday morning series of sermons entertainment modules.

http://www.kmbc.com/news/Church-offers-tattoos-during-Sunday-services/20035454

tattoo

The standout quotes by the professional tattoo artist who set up shop right on the platform, and the pastor, shows the results of what happens when you divorce the truth of the gospel from your messages.

MANY PEOPLE WANT TO USE A FORM A FORM OF FAITH THEY CAN ONLY USE SUNDAY..AND NOT USE MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY. WHERE AS YOU GET INKED BY GOD ITS PERMANENT IT AIN’T COMING OFF…[TATTOOS ARE] FAITH IN THE FORM OF AN UNWASHABLE DEDICATION AND COMMITMENT TO JESUS.

What’s coming.

“Maybe at the present the authorities smile on the church of God; but within a while it may frown, and the storm of persecution arise. There was a time when the churches had ‘rest throughout all Judea’ (Acts 9:31). It was a blessed time. But how long did it last? Alas! not long.”

– William Gurnall
1617 – 1679

Who (or What) Are You Serving?

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. … But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

Years ago, Bob Dylan sang, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody. It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” Everyone on earth is either serving God, flesh, or the devil. My question today is: Who (or what) are you serving?

My brother quotes Larry Burkett as saying one can tell what a person’s priorities are by looking at his Daytimer and his checkbook. We usually find time and money for the things that are important to us. Sadly, God is not often the one who gets the majority of those things. Maybe we’re too tired to read our Bible or too busy to take a few minutes to worship Him. Brothers and Sisters, if that is the case, you are way too busy. Jesus was not too busy to come to earth and suffer horrendous things for you. Can’t you give Him even a little of your time?! Even that would be a start.

time-for-God

I would like to think that this post would be unnecessary for those of you who read this blog but I am not naive enough to believe that. If this does not apply to you, praise the Lord! Pray with me that God will strengthen His Church and continue to draw others to Himself. However, if God uses this article to convict you of something that you’ve become lax in lately, don’t hesitate to respond. Begin today to get on track to a closer walk with God than you’ve ever had before.

Our pastor reminded us today that it takes 30 days to form a habit. If you are not used to praying 5 minutes a day, I don’t expect you to take an hour tomorrow, but I would encourage you to start somewhere. If your typical prayer time is 5 minutes, stretch it into 10. If 10 minutes, try 15. Once you develop that daily discipline, it will eventually get to that place that you won’t want to leave His presence, and the good news is that you don’t have to! He will continue to walk beside you, and you will discover a joy and peace that has mostly alluded you before now.

If your life is busy to where you are running ragged and are too tired to have daily quiet time, pray about things you can eliminate from your life. Or maybe a simple change of schedule is all that is required. There is a way. In Jeremiah, God told His people, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek for Me with ALL your heart” (29:13). He will not ask you to do something that He will not equip you to do.

Time is too short to serve the flesh or the devil. Although there may be some immediate gratification, the end leads in spiritual death. That is not something I want, and I doubt you want that either. So I ask again: Who are you serving? I hope you can adamantly say the Almighty God who created Heaven and earth and sent His Son to die for you. If not, I hope you will change Masters today.

Christians Don’t Lie … Or Do They?

Christians don’t tell lies; they just go to church and sing them.
~A. W. Tozer

This quote came to mind a couple weeks ago as the congregation sang, “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” As I looked around, I wondered how many were thinking about the words that were coming out of their mouths: “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word.” My own thoughts were full of how sweet that truly is and yet how much I need to grow in the area of trust.

For many who have grown up in church, it is easy to sing songs because we have memorized them and yet the words elude us. How many times have you sung “Here I raise my Ebenezer” and had no idea what an “Ebenezer” is. (A name for a goblet perhaps?) I know there are exceptions to the rule, but I see way too many people singing lifelessly, and I expect that it is because the words are lifeless to them.

Our songs should be sung from the heart. Our worship must be honest. If you cannot sing honestly, don’t be afraid to stop and ponder the words or pray that God will help you to grow in an area.

There may be times you should sing in faith, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,” but if you have not surrendered and are not willing to surrender all to Jesus, don’t sing, “I Surrender All.” God inhabits the praise of His people but, if that “praise” is done simply for show or merely out of rote, He will not bless it.

I do not want to discourage you from singing but I do want to inspire you to sing with your whole heart. Know what you are singing and let Him know that you mean it. You are not singing those words because you have to; you are singing because you want to, and you intend to live them. It’s possible that this simple act could be what it takes for revival to begin in our churches.