Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Fritz | 30 May 2014 – Faith or Fear?

Being analytical, I tend to look at things at their extremes. If things still make sense at the end points usually everything is O.K. in the middle. When I look at “faith” it is difficult to put it into discrete terms. Several have tried to explain these difficult words like faith and love by coming up with cute postulates like: Love is the feeling you feel when you feel a feeling like you’ve never felt before. That could describe a number of things, but not love.

I’ve heard faith described as this: Going to the edge of all darkness and taking one more step. The implication is that faith is blind. You have to trust even though you cannot see.

The challenge with this type of simplistic approach to explaining such important topics is they misrepresent the truth that is fundamental to understanding our Creator. The Bible tells us that God is love. If you insert the definition given above it falls apart rather quickly: God is a feeling you feel when you feel a feeling that you’ve never felt before. Ridiculous.

Then we look at faith. Again, the Bible tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for …” If you hope for something, you can see it, describe it, anticipate it, etc. How can something hoped for be in utter darkness? No, faith is knowing. If you have faith it is because you have the assurance through God’s word that it will come to pass.

Now, let us look at our topic for the day. What is the opposite of faith? Most would say unbelief. However, unbelief is the opposite of belief. Belief and faith are not the same thing. Therefore, unbelief is not the opposite of faith. Some would say doubt is the opposite of faith. Certainty is the opposite of doubt, not faith. Certainty is something like 2 + 2 = 4. That does not require faith.

I believe the opposite of faith is fear. Fear is believing something bad is going to happen. It is not possible to have fear and faith about the same issue. They cannot coexist. One displaces the other. The way you remove fear is to develop faith in that area.

I know. That also sounds simplistic. It is that simple, but far from simplistic. Here is an example. Job lived in fear. Read the story. He was afraid for his children, for his possessions, for his very life. It was not until after he heard and believed the truth about God that his situation was turned around.

If you find yourself in fear in a particular area of your life, relationships, health, finances, etc., open the Bible and begin reading related verses that speak the God’s truth about your circumstances. Believe His perspective. Faith will rise as you allow this truth to overtake the fear.

Take time this weekend to think on these things. Faith is the substance … that displaced fear.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thor’s Day Thunderings | 29 May 2014 – More On The Hidden God

Hebrews 11:3 (KJV)
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Have you ever wondered what was inside of the wall in your house? You see paint, bit it is covering sheetrock, and sheetrock is covering wooden studs. So technically walls are “made of things that do not appear.”

Take it a step further. Wood is made up of molecules, molecules are made up of atoms, atoms are made up of hadrons (protons, neurons), and hadrons and electrons are made up of quarks. So, what are quarks made of? Eventually science may discover another layer or two of the building blocks of our earth. However, just like the quark, they will never “see” it. Our world is made of things that do not appear. It’s called the Word of God.

Science is still not certain whether a quark is matter or sound. Interesting! What if the quark is simply the resonating vibrations of God’s voice from the creation? That explains them in a way science cannot. On either extreme, the expanse of the universe or the tiny quark, our God is still beyond finding out. Isn’t is great to think that He chooses to take time for you and me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wednesday Wit | 28 May 2014 - Bulletin Bloopers

You've all seen them. Here are some of my favorite. Feel free to add more in the comments.

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
The sermon this morning:  'Jesus Walks on the Water.'  The sermon tonight:  'Searching for Jesus.'
Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale.  It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house.  Bring your husbands.
Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community.  Smile at someone who is hard to love.  Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about you.
Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir.  They need all the help they can get.
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church.  So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall.  Music will follow.
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?'  Come early and listen to our choir practice.
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled.  Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind.  They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church.  Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM.  All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. Is done.
The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM.  Please use the back door.
The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM.  The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church.  Please use large double door at the side entrance.
The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday:

"I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours".

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tuesday Thrombosis | 27 May 2014 – False Humility

One of the telling traits of a disciple of Christ is humility. It is also misunderstood, and consequently used a tool of control by the religious mindset. You hear this misconception played out in sermons, Christian music, and now social media. Comments like, “I just want a little cabin in the corner of heaven”, or, “I’m just the dirt under the toenail on the foot of Jesus.”

Some with even less “pride” than these would say, “I just want to be a doorkeeper in the Kingdom.” They do not even consider themselves worthy to be “in” heaven, so they just want to stand outside the door.

When Jesus came preaching The Kingdom he turned the known world on its ear. They had never encountered someone bold enough to claim to be The Son of God. To the religious minds of the day this was heresy; blasphemous talk; pride. The religious minds wanted to “control” Jesus, and the image with which he was being viewed by the masses.

John the Baptist made a bold declaration when others asked of him the reason he was yelling in the middle of the wilderness. He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Make straight his paths.” And again he said, “There is one coming after me that I am not even worthy to unstrap his sandals.” See, true humility is acknowledging God’s purpose for your life and walking in it.

Dave Ramsey has become a ubiquitous voice of financial council in the United States. His radio program is listened to by millions every day as he encourages them to get out of debt. I agree with his cause. I can always identify a fan of his by how they answer the question, “How are you?” Dave’s catch phrase for this question is “Better than I deserve.” There is nothing wrong with this comment unless you are a Christian. Let me explain.

First of all, I am not trying to say Dave is, or is not, a Christian. He confesses Christ on his program. He can speak for himself on this matter. The phrase “Better than I deserve” is the focus here.

For the Christian, this comment negates the grace of God available to you. In grace we do not “deserve” anything, yet we get everything! If your focus is still on what you have earned (deserve) then you are not living from a posture of grace. When a Christian utters the Ramsey mantra they are demonstrating false humility. Our American ears have gotten so numbed by this type of false humility that we cannot even see ourselves ever living as the kings and priests that our Father has called us to be.

It is only when we are willing to rise from the position of false humility, stand firmly on the declarations of the Word of God, and declare boldly with all of our being: “I am a son/daughter of the Most High God. Because of Christ, I now rule and reign IN THIS LIFE through Jesus Christ. Heaven’s resources are available to accomplish the plans God has for me.” THAT is humility.

Deserve? No. Bought and paid for you by the blood of Jesus? Yes.

Let this be your prayer:

Father, help me to see who I am in you. Your destiny for me is to become like your Son, Jesus. Help me root out false humility in every aspect of my life. Help me see through your eyes. In Jesus’ name.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Mooring | 26 May 2014 - Discipleship Is No Sweat … Literally!

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Such questions have been asked for centuries. I have one that is more important: Which came first, faith or works?

We see in scripture some things that, if not properly understood, can cause a problem for the believer. Paul states in several passages of scripture that salvation is not by works, but by faith alone. James then declares that faith without works is dead. Works or no works? Faith and …, or faith only?

For me this does not create a problem at all. I believe the two statements are complementary. Paul was addressing entrance into the The Kingdom: Salvation. You cannot work your way into heaven. Keeping the “law” was futile as a means to salvation. No amount of good deeds will earn relationship with God. That is a place reserved for sons and daughters; those He has adopted and made joint-heirs with Jesus. That is accomplished by our identification with the death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and seating of Christ Jesus. This “identification” is usually referred to as being saved.

James, on the other hand, was addressing people confessing to having been identified with Christ. He stated in James 2:14, “… though a man say he has faith …” James understood something about the transformation that occurs in a person’s life when they become a follower of Jesus and pursue becoming a disciple of His. It will affect your behavior. Your treatment of others will change. He calls the acts of a Christian “works.”

Paul said the same thing only using different terms. Paul said that “fruit” would be produced in the life of a disciple of Jesus.

That brings us to today’s Monday Moorings topic: Discipleship is no sweat … literally!

Let’s take a brief look at life under the law. God gave a list of dos and don’ts so that mankind could come to understand sin, and that sin separates us from true relationship with Father God. However, even when giving the rules for operating the temple worship He instructed the priests to only wear linen next to their skin – no wool – so they would not sweat while ministering unto God. Even under the law, worship was to be done with little human effort. Instead the focus was to be on the spiritual exercise of satisfying the penalty of sin by offering sacrifices: men responding to a loving Father, seeking restoration of relationship with His creation.

The New Testament in very simple terms is Jesus paying the ultimate sacrifice to buy once-for-all the restoration of relationship between humankind and their Creator. When Jesus gives the invitation, “follow me”, He does not add a list of laws that we have to follow in order to maintain relationship with Him. It is simply, without sweat or strain, a process of becoming His disciple. Love is not “a work”, it’s a fruit. Joy, peace, gentleness, self-control, etc., do not require strain. As a matter of fact, the more you try harder, the less you become like Jesus.

So on this Monday see if you can find a way to ease off the accelerator of works, pull off to a rest area, and change clothes. Trade your wool out for some linen. Let the Holy Spirit show you how to “let Jesus” be expressed through your life instead of straining to “push Jesus” on to others. You and they will be happy you did.