Truth and the Christian

Here is a list of things that I have observed about Christians and their reactions to Truth.

1. They do not become offended.
Matthew 11:6; “And blessed is [he], whosoever shall not be offended in me.”

2. They have great peace.
Psalm 119:165; “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

3. They will listen and finds repentance.
Matthew 18:17; “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

4. Disobedience can’t hide behind our false hypocritical self-protective arguments.
2 Corinthians 10:5; “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”

5. Truth (good confession) enables the saint to fight all the way to life, having a good witnesses to all those around them.
1 Timothy 6:12; “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

6. Truth does not judge hypocritically.
Matthew 6:1-7; “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

7. Those who cherish the truth don’t stumble, because they don’t disobey the Word.
1 Peter 2:8; “And “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.”

8. Truth and love are not opposites. Love, the motivation for all we do, say, and are. Who we say we are must be grounded in truth, and lived out in love.
1 Corinthians 13; “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;”

Be Real

If you’re like me, you’ll remember our school days where we learn that the cool kids table is occupied by those who have a nearly perfect life. They don’t seem to be vulnerable, always gets the breaks, teachers love them…these are the cool kids. But what we don’t see from the outside is that their image of perfection and invincibility is a mirage.

When we seek to be cool, hip or whatever (archaic) word used to describe this attempt to create an image which is not truthful. So many times we are trying to set ourselves up as having their lives all put together. When we project coolness, our audience may be impressed, but what about our audience of One, Jesus? Are we inclined or even lust to have people desiring to be like you, instead of being like Jesus?

Real Verses Cool

There is a better quest than to be cool, the in-crowd, the “perfect”. The appeal of Jesus was not that he would be measured by the qualities we use to measure our image of “coolness.” By no measurement would Jesus have been considered cool. Do you ever wonder why the powerful (the in-crowd) of his day were repelled and revolted against him, with the outcast drawn to him?

Jesus wasn’t cool; he was real. He was the same in every crowd. Jesus treated everyone fairly. The life he projected was the life he lived. There was no indication of hypocrisy or division. He was real.

Realness should be our passionate pursuit; to portray ourselves truthfully in our mannerism, our online persona, in our day-to-day relational life. In this way, people will see that we don’t have it all together. We should never project a mirage of dauntlessness, perfection, but continually show the true picture of our own struggle to live out a life of faith as fallen people in a fallen world.

Realness doesn’t mean we publicize private things. Being too transparent is possible…being too real! Transparency requires etiquette, and discernment, not as some do in the name of realness, have turned their lives into a reality show. Of course, these are not those that portray themselves as perfect, without blemish. But those who think that by demonstrating their crudity somehow will give themselves a kudos with others.

In genuine realness others will see us, understand our humanness and see God’s work in the midst of our own brokenness…this should be the desire of every one of us who, regardless of it being intentional or unintentionally.

The Most Important Thing Today’s Christians Are Missing

There are plenty of habits, we as Christians need to be practicing, such as prayer, Bible reading, and study, corporate worship, singing, sharing the gospel, and helping and loving others. These spiritual disciplines and their purpose is for spiritual growth are to be done out of loving obedience.

The question is; what is the one single habit that’s the most important?

It is this one grounding habit that will make the difference for every believer, the weekly habit that is utterly essential to any healthy, life-giving, joy-producing Christian walk: corporate worship!

It is all too often neglected, or taken very lightly, in our day of cultural separation and in our tendency to being noncommittal. In fact, I do not think it is too strong to call corporate worship the single most important habit of the Christian life.

The reason to make corporate worship a habit is not to check the box on perfect attendance, and not because corporate worship alone is enough to fully power the Christian life, and not because mere attendance in worship will save your soul.

But as the single most important habit for Christians, corporate worship is where we find encouragement in all the other spiritual habits vital to the Christian life. Believers are meant to be together, to learn together, worship together, to pray for each other, and encourage each other.

We need to harness the power of habit to rescue our souls from empty excuses that keep us from spiritual riches and increasing joy. Negligence and chronic minimizing of the importance of corporate worship reveal something unhealthy and scary in our souls. Let’s resist it with a ferocious tenacity as we would anything else that would endanger our souls.”

Hebrews 10:24-25 reads; “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

By clearly defining a bad habit that we must not develop — “neglecting to meet together” — Hebrews makes it clear what good habit we should cultivate, and feed: meeting together.

Today’s temptation to underestimate the importance of the weekly assembly is as old as the church itself. The great irony in this is the habit of meeting together with Christ’s people to worship him is utterly crucial for the Christian life but in today’s church, it is often the most neglected.

Ask yourself this one question: Is the biblical practice of this “assembly of the saints,” the practice that I neglect? If the answer is yes, then correct it, plain and simple.

True for You but Not for Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith

True for You but Not for Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith

Excerpted from Paul Copan’s book

Many Americans today don’t believe in absolute truth.  Instead, they simply accept the relativistic philosophy that’s so popular in our culture.  Christians who reach out to them too often struggle to respond successfully to their objections about the faith.  But some thoughtful comments can help clear up people’s confusion and pique their interest in seeking Christ themselves.

Here are some statements people commonly make when objecting to Christianity, and how you can respond:

“That’s true for you, but not for me.”  It doesn’t make sense to say that no belief is true for everyone, because by making that statement you’re claiming that your own viewpoint (relativism) is universally true – and thereby contradicting yourself.  And simply living life depends on belief in truth of some kind; everyone must implicitly trust that certain things exist in order to survive.

“So many people disagree – relativism must be true.”  Just because it’s sometimes difficult to discern the truth doesn’t mean that truth doesn’t exist or can’t be discerned.  The fact that people disagree doesn’t say anything about an issue’s truth or falsehood.  Often, people don’t have full knowledge about the reality that exists.

“What right do you have to convert others to your views?”  If you’re trying to persuade me not to share my viewpoint, you’re trying to convert me to share your own view that people shouldn’t evangelize.  Faith may be personal, but that doesn’t mean it’s private.  Everyone naturally wants to share what they’re passionate about with others.

“You can choose whichever religion you want.”  If you build your own religion simply by personal preferences rather than according to truth you seek, you’re dangerously out of touch with reality.  It may seem safe to create God in your own image, but it actually will end up destroying your soul.

“Who are you to impose your morality on others?”  When you denounce imposing morality on others, you’re taking a moral position yourself (saying it’s wrong to impose moral values).  You don’t use moral standards only when they suit your agenda.  All people intuitively recognize certain moral basics.

“We can be good without God.”  Goodness must have its source in a good God.  If God doesn’t exist and people are the product of valueless processes, why would valuable people with moral rights exist?  Practical reason alone can’t give people morals, help them act ethically, or give rise to human dignity.

“All religions are basically the same.”  World religions actually differ in major, profound ways.  Some aspects of various religions may help pave the way to the Gospel’s truths, but only Jesus fulfills the ultimate hopes and aspirations in all religions, philosophies, and cultures.

“If you’d grown up in Thailand, you’d be a Buddhist.”  God graciously reveals Himself to people throughout the world.  God knows people’s hearts, wherever they live, and reaches out to those who seek Him.  While people do grow up in diverse cultures – some of which make it easier to hear the Gospel message than others – God does break through and it’s not arrogant for people to reject beliefs that ultimately prove to be unworkable for them in favor of Christianity.

“Mahatma Gandhi was a saint if ever there was one.”  There is more to true religion than moral decency.  Even atheists can be morally good, since everyone has been created in God’s image.  The ultimate problem is people’s alienation from God, and that can only be solved through saving relationships with Jesus.

“You can’t trust the Gospels – they’re unreliable.”  The Gospels – and the entire New Testament – are actually more reliable than other ancient documents, which don’t have as many manuscript copies existing or as much historical evidence supporting their claims.  Furthermore, there’s no good reason to doubt the Gospels, yet they’re criticized much more severely than other ancient documents – probably because they portray an unsafe, untamable God who reaches out from the pages to make personal demands on readers.

“Jesus is just like any other great religious leader.”  Jesus stands out from the pack of other religious leaders because He claimed to be divine.  He can’t simply be a great teacher; His claims about Himself leave only two options: Either He really was who He said He was – God’s Son – or else He was a flagrant idolater.

“People claim JFK and Elvis are alive, too!”  Only the story of Jesus’ resurrection is supported by real historical evidence – an abundance of it.  Consider the context, purpose, and evidence for stories that claim to parallel Jesus’ resurrection and you’ll quickly see that they don’t hold up to scrutiny.

“It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you’re sincere.”  People can sincerely believe something and yet still be wrong because the object of their sincerity is flawed.  The essential question to ask is, “How reliable is the object of your trust?”.  Also, you can’t rely on sincerity for divine acceptance, because salvation is based on God’s grace rather than on what people do to try to reach Him.

“If Jesus is the only way to God, what about those who have never heard of Him?” God’s good, trustworthy character assures us that He will do what’s right for every person He has created and deeply loves.  Also, God makes Himself known in many ways to people, prompting them to seek Him, and He has promised to reveal Himself to those who seek Him with their whole hearts.  God won’t condemn people simply because they haven’t heard the Gospel.  God will judge people who have not been evangelized based on their responses to natural revelation (such as creation, conscience, reason, and experience), which His Spirit can use to bring them to salvation.  Also, God often uses the world’s natural revelation about Himself to prepare people to respond to the Gospel once they do hear its message.

How to Answer the Skeptics in Your Life

Have you ever found yourself at a loss as to what your reply should be to a “doubter” of your faith?
Here is how to answer most of what you’ll run across.

A List of Self-refuting Statements

• You can’t know anything for sure.
Are you sure of that?

• You can’t know anything.
Do you know that?

• No one can know anything about God.
Do you know that about God? To assert that God is unknowable, is to say a lot about God.

Some will rest their case against God using logic, Mathematics/Science.

• All I believe in are the laws of logic.
Is that statement one of the laws of logic? (NO)

• We can only discover truth by testing and experimentation.
Are you able to test that assertion? (NO)

• Apart from mathematics, we can know nothing for sure.
Is this part of a mathematical equation? No. Then what you’re saying, is the very basis to reject what you say.

• All knowledge comes from observation.
Have you observed ALL knowledge? The assertion does not make possible its own ground of proof.

• All English sentences consist of four words.
This sentence comments on all English sentences, including itself. It fails to meet its own demands, hence it is false.

• The only genuine knowledge is obtained by sciences.
Is that proposition verified by sciences? No. Then it self-destructs. It saws off the limb it rests on.

• We can know nothing about reality.
Do you know that about reality?

• Nothing can be known.
Do you know that? Some skeptics argue that “nothing can be known.” Can that STATEMENT itself be known?
If so it refutes itself, if not, one may not even know that which the statement asserts.
Skillful skeptics often attempt to make an exception for the statement itself revealing the inconsistency of the statement itself.
….

From the book; “Relativism, Subjectivism, and Self-refuting Statements Defeated.”

Attitude Adjustments

With this title you’re probably ready to or not to read or perhaps just gloss over this article. Why, your attitude most likely stinks; or you’re trying to figure out why someone else’s attitude is the way it is.

Many of us are employees or employers and all at one time or the other have possessed bad or poor attitudes, and we’d like to be enabled to change, one way or the other, attitudes.

So…let’s take a deeper look.

2 Corinthians 22:21-27; “I’m ashamed to say that we’ve been too “weak” to do that! But whatever they dare to boast about—I’m talking like a fool again—I dare to boast about it, too. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.”

If anyone has a “right” to have negative attitudes the Apostle Paul does!

Now let’s move this conversation to our lives, culture, using Paul’s life to compare our situations to Paul’s situations.

This makes us, if we are one of those who constantly complain about small annoyances look really bad. I know the mirror of God’s Word sometimes is very uncomfortable. That will explain why we are so hesitant many times to engulf ourselves in the Word.

If it’s possible to fix those little inconveniences, then fix them. But if the little things like the temperature of the air can’t be adjusted to your liking or if you can’t have an office with a window, it’s time for you to put a smile on your face and do a good job for your employer with a happy attitude. He didn’t hire you to grumble and complain. He hired you to be a blessing!

The fact is, sometimes we don’t get to have everything just the way we’d like to have it. Yet even in those moments, you and I should serve with all our might. If we are being paid to do a good job and to be cooperative with our employer and fellow employees, then we need to do what we are being paid to do! The day we give up that servant’s attitude to become a source of constant complaining is the day we cease to be a blessing and become instead a hindrance that is no longer needed on the team.

You can do your job with joy, no matter what circumstances surround you! You can be victorious in any environment, even in working conditions that aren’t exactly what you wish they could be. Besides, if you can’t handle tiny inconveniences such as the ones we talked about earlier, how in the world do you ever think you’ll be able to stand against the devil and the strategies he will try to use to assault you when you step out in faith?

As the apostle Paul continues telling us about his experiences in Second Corinthians 11, he lets us know that he has faced all kinds of inconveniences in order to obey the will of God. I’m sure he didn’t enjoy those inconveniences, but he didn’t allow them to affect his attitude or to keep him from fulfilling the task God had given him to do.

Let’s look at a few of the inconveniences Paul endured as he marched forward to obey God.

In Hunger and Thirst

In Second Corinthians 11:27, he tells us that he endured “hunger” and “thirst.” The word “hunger” is the Greek word limos. The word “thirst” is the Greek word dipsos. These words refer to being hungry from a lack of food or thirsty from a lack of drink.

Paul is recalling times of inconvenience when food simply may not have been available to him and his fellow travelers. This lack of food and drink didn’t affect Paul’s desire to go onward to the next town. Hunger and thirst was only an inconvenience – certainly not enough to hinder him from pressing on ahead.

Complaining won’t change the situation, Paul and his people had to learn to work and function in times of hunger. How different it is today. If you don’t have a lunch provided for workers you will only get a few to participate. There is a saying among leaders in the church and that is; “You can always get volunteers if you feed them.” “Feed them and they will come.”

OK, enough of the soap box.

Sometimes that is the way it is with life. We don’t always get what we want or live in the style we prefer. But if we’re not getting exactly what we want and we can’t do anything to change the situation, we have a choice: 1) We can constantly complain and make it worse on ourselves and everyone else; or 2) we can make a mental adjustment and decide that we’re tough enough to handle the situation until things change. The second choice is the one God wants us to make, for this is the one that demonstrates the attitude of Jesus Christ in our lives!

So if you’ve been grumbling or complaining about a situation that just can’t be fixed to your liking, it’s time for you to quit grumbling and to start rejoicing. Put praise in your mouth, and choose to be positive. As you do, you will find the strength to endure any hardship you are facing with joy!

 

Ordinariness and God’s faithfulness

Ordinary church life, prayer, Bible reading, preaching, teaching, singing, the Lord’s table, baptism and fellowship;  activities that don’t normally lend themselves to off-the-chart experiences. But theses are the necessary ingredients that when are consistent exercised they compound and shape your life as a believer. Over time, one can look back with some surprise and say, “God has been so gracious, he has changed my life” as a result of both the ordinariness and of God’s faithfulness.