In Moderation?

Over the past few months, I have not been able to get on Defending Contending that much for a variety of reasons. The main reason is because I have been very busy with work, working on a professional level exam in the evening, and trying to squeeze in time for family with what little bit of time I have left. Having said that, I wanted to take a few minutes to say that I appreciate those who have been able to contribute and who have commented.

Yet, with the responsibility of sharing with others comes another responsibility that I believe is even more important. This responsibility has been sadly lacking in some of the things that have been shared and I want to clarify a few points so we can move forward. The responsibility of which I speak is that, as true believers, we are called to reflect Jesus Christ in all that we say or do. Our position can be right, but if our disposition is wrong, then we are wrong. Being belligerent, obstinate, hateful, derogatory, or even caustic does not reflect who we are in Christ.

Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who have walked the path before us. When I think of this passage, I cannot help but wonder what they would say to us if they could read our words or hear what we say to others who are true believers. As but one example, I wonder if they would wince when our words are written or designed to tear strips off of those who believe in salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ alone yet are not in total agreement with us on some point of doctrine that has nothing to do with our salvation.

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It seems that on a regular basis, we can get sideways with others for a variety of reasons and in the process we forget that part of being in Christ is that we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. This has not always been the case here at Defending Contending, and even I have had to back off and extend an apology to our readers and our commenters for not being gracious. Again, my position may well have been right, but my disposition only inspired others to dive for shelter instead of looking to Jesus Christ.

Too often it seems that we forget the passage in 1 Corinthians 3 where Paul reminded the believers of Corinth that we are not called to be followers of Paul, or Apollos, or Luther, or Calvin, or MacArthur, or Sproul, or Paul Washer, or fill-in-the-blank. When we put our eyes on mere men who are fallible and by no means 100% correct in every single area of their life, we will be disappointed. Not only will we be disappointed, but the world will have reason to wonder as to who really paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. They may well wonder why we spend more time trying to defend points of doctrine over acting, speaking, and listening in ways that are truly glorifying and Christ-honoring.

Recently, we have had posts that were meant to be words of encouragement only for the gloves to come off and comments began to spin out of control. The post was never intended to be anything more than apples of gold in pitchers of silver. The short post got hijacked and it became a stomping ground for people from different ends of the spectrum to parade how they felt. Several posts recently have been such that I cringe when I look back and read them and the comments. I wonder what in the world we are really doing or what we are attempting to do.

Finger-pointing does nothing profitable. Thus I felt this post was necessary to hopefully clear the air. First, let me reiterate that I am unashamedly, first and foremost, a Christ-follower. Second, I hold to the Bible as the inerrant and infallible word of God that is good for ALL that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Third, I do not have any desire to follow a mere man. Yes, I, myself, have posted comments or quote or even sermons from men like MacArthur, Washer, or Dr. Steve Lawson, but they are men just like me. Others quote Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Sproul, or whoever as though they are to be esteemed to the level of the apostle Paul.

Anybody that cares to take the time to read through more of this blog will know where I have stood for the more than 8 years I have written here at Defending Contending. I have no intention of backing down from defending truth or contending for the faith. Many of you already know that I do not use the term Calvinist to describe myself. Most would be hard pressed to tell you exactly where Mark Escalera stands, but I am willing to share if I am asked. I have no issues standing against false teaching or false teachers. What I do have an issue with is the attitudes that are portrayed at times that are not Christ-like.

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I have almost shared enough for now, but I want to share just a couple more things. Not every reader, nor every person who comments, nor even every person who has been asked to contribute stands on the same ground theologically. While I disagree on various points with each contributor, I still have the final say on the blog and who I invite to write here.

I would kindly ask that each reader remember that ultimately, I am the one that is responsible for Defending Contending and that this is not, nor will it be, a forum for just anybody to come here and defend and contend for what everyone else believes. If a person comes here and desires to share, there are still rules that are not going to change.

If you come to DefCon just for the purpose of trying to change all of our minds on a particular area, then please feel free to start your own blog. We do not mind questions, nor do we mind disagreements. But, writing inflammatory comments or demanding to be heard on one side or another of a particular issue will not be tolerated. If you have a comment that is held in moderation, I do not need 1, 2, 5, or 10 more comments letting me know that your comment is in moderation. I have a busy life and it may not be answered for an hour, a day, or even 2 days.

As for those who write blog posts here at DefCon, I respect each one and each one has added to the mix various points that I appreciate. This is true whether it is George Alvarado’s points on evangelism or apologetics, Manfred’s book reviews or posts on various doctrinal issues, J.L. Pattison’s posts on various topics, or even Sony Elise’s words of encouragement. Each of these individuals are my friends, some closer than others, and I will defend each one of them even if I do not always agree with them with everything they post or will post.

In conclusion, my entire point of the post is to bring us back to the reality that we will all disagree until the Lord takes us home. Then we will quickly come to the understanding that we were not right on everything. However, that will quickly fade as we realize how glorious it is to be worshiping with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. To find ourselves standing, kneeling, dancing, waving our hands, stomping our feet with glee, or running the hills of glory will be all worth it in the end when we see Jesus Christ, who ALONE is the author and finisher of our faith. I expect, in the meantime, that we each strive diligently to be gracious to each other so that others will see the reflection of the Master Carpenter.

Our Eternal Sabbath is Alive!

It was a long three days, but some time between sundown on the old Sabbath and sunrise, the Lord Jesus Christ rose victorious over death, hell, and the grave! He is now our Eternal Sabbath for all who place their faith in Him alone. Maranatha!

Preparing for Jesus’ Coming

I wonder what it was like to live before Jesus was born. The prophets had foretold His birth and encouraged people to be ready, but I wonder how many took the prophecy seriously. Maybe it seemed like one of those tales they had heard their whole lives so, even if it would become true some day, it most likely wouldn’t be in their lifetime.

 

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I expect that people then were very much like they are today. The difference is that, today, we know He came. He lived, He died, He rose. But He also promised to come again! Are we watching, making sure that we are ready for His return? Or we are going through life with a vague recollection that He said He would return, but it probably won’t be for a long time yet?

Although that may be true, we need to live as if He were coming today. So many missed His first coming. I do not want to be among those who are not ready for Jesus’ second coming.

As you celebrate this week, think about how much we truly have to celebrate. God so loved you that He gave His Son, and one day, we will get to see Him face to face. Lord, hasten that day!

Peace That Passes All Understanding

As we grow older, life does not get any easier. Not only do we find ourselves concerned about the regular cares of the world, but now we have children and grandchildren that must be taken into account. In the midst of a world that is rocked with scandal, pain, wars, and turmoil, it is so easy to find ourselves distracted and overwhelmed by the world. It seems that our little lives can also be torn apart with strife in our families. These times simply show that we are fallen creatures of clay who have been saved by grace.

Our desires should not be for this world but to realize we are just passing through. Soon enough will come a day where like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, we will dip our feet in the waters of death as we prepare to go to the other side where we will be forever with our Lord and those saints who have gone before. What a glorious day that will be.

Although the pain in our hearts is very real, there are many who have suffered much more than most of us will ever experience. Such a person was Horatio Spafford, who wrote the words to a well-loved hymn called, “It is Well With My Soul.” This man suffered greatly with the loss of four children at once through the sinking of a ship that was enroute across the Atlantic Ocean. This beautiful hymn was written by Spafford as he journeyed to meet his wife in Europe on the next ship. Crossing over the spot where the ship entombing his daughters was, Spafford, with the strength of the Lord, wrote with full assurance in the God of his salvation that “It was well with his soul.”

No matter what struggles or pain you and I may endure today, there will always be a peace that passes all understanding. Only those who rejoice in Jesus Christ and know Him as personal Savior can reiterate with Paul that there is nothing in life or death that can separate us from the love of God.

Family and friends may forsake us and foes may assail us, but His love will endure forever. I am thankful that today I can ask with the Psalmist in 116:15, “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the LORD.”

For those who remain friends, you are a blessing and an encouragement. May you be encouraged with the words of these two hymns today.

 

Victory Is Ahead

Most of those who know me will be surprised to know that I have dealt with periods of depression the last five years or so like I’ve never felt before. It is a struggle to get out of bed some days and yet I have a work to do which requires me to keep fighting.

The Christian life is not always easy. I’ve seen people who “try Jesus” walk away, never to return. The writer of Hebrews explains why when he says, “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt” (Hebrews 6:4-6).

Brothers and Sisters, if you name the name of Christ, quitting is not an option. Many quit every day. Hopelessness takes over until some end up taking their own lives. Where is the victory that comes to those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior?

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I think many try Jesus like they try on clothes. If He doesn’t fit their lifestyle, He gets put on the shelf until a crisis occurs. Then He gets blamed for not caring when He doesn’t answer. God does care, but He is not obligated to answer the prayers of those who just want to use Him. James 5:16 says, “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man (or woman) avails much.” Are you righteous, or is there a hidden sin that you’re hoping God will overlook and answer your prayer anyway? Maybe that sin is simply living for self but wanting God on the side. You cannot serve two masters.

I’ve derailed slightly, as I want this to be encouraging to those who are discouraged but, before you can be encouraged, you need to examine your heart as to whether or not you are truly in the faith. Is there any area of your life that you have not surrendered to God? If not, then I want to encourage you to keep pressing on and don’t give up. Your answer will come. If life were too easy, we would not need God. Our depression, discouragement, etc. reminds us of what life is like without Him: hopeless. Don’t give in to those feelings. Praise Him when you don’t feel like it. Intercede for others. Get your mind off of yourself and your problems. Learn to be content wherever God has you. Don’t envy others. God’s plan for you is good and not evil, and He will complete His good work in you if you are diligent to fight the good fight. Be encouraged today, dear friends. There is victory ahead!

All Christians are Christians?

This may seem like a strange title, but after my comments on an article that I read this week on FoxNews, I think you will see the dilemma I am in.

However, before I continue with my comments on the article, I want to say that there are many who will take umbrage and be offended at what I will say here today. You see, we have become a nation of wishy-washy, whatever-floats-your-boat, don’t-offend-anybody, and don’t-judge-me church goers. Sadly, the transition was so gradual that most people never even noticed the shift.

There was a time that you would walk through an airport and knew exactly who the followers of Sun Myung Moon (also known as Moonies or members of the Unification Church) were and what they were trying to peddle. For those who have not looked recently, they are still around (normally older couples though) but they no longer wear their hair long in a braid. They do not have a shaved head, nor do they wear saffron-colored robes. Today, they are very much a modern organization that is still looking to attract followers to its mantra of global peace, defense of religious organizations, and extravagant marriage ceremonies around the world.

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