I want you to meet an everyday saint named Travis Bishop. He is a Christian business owner from Martinsburg, West Virginia. Brother Travis saw the devastation brought on by the floods that are ravishing his neighbors in nearby Clendenin. Travis decided to do something about it. Brother Travis has been leading a rescue operation for the past seven days, closing up his business and spearheading an effort to meet the needs of people. You can listen to an interview he did on my friend Tom Roten’s radio show here:
One of my greatest challenges as a Christian is being judgmental. At times it seems like there is a fine line between standing on the word of God and casting my personal judgments upon another. If I am going to be a dispenser of grace, I have to take into account the dual nature of a Christian. This does not mean that I excuse sin, but I should not be quick to judge a person as lost because of their behavior. As my pastor says, “Sometimes are beliefs don’t match our behavior.”
Pastor Dennis was talking of the time when David pretended to be insane in the land of Gath, the home of Goliath. Saul had been pursuing David to kill him out of jealousy and David fearfully fled to enemy territory instead of relying on God to protect him. This is why in his later years David could write:
In the past week it has become abundantly clear that the American church is in a state of panic. We are panicking about the outcome of an election that is still over four months away. We are making predictions as though we have eyes into the future. The sad part of all this is these predictions of doom and gloom are the same ones I’ve heard in the last eight years. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Oswald Chamber once wrote that fear is calculating without God. For some reason, Christians cannot imagine God intervening into the affairs of man, including our elections. It is sad that of all the Founding Fathers who were Christians, it took a non-believer in Benjamin Franklin to remind them of a sovereign God:
I was recently reminded of the importance of discipling other Christians to help them grow in their walk with Christ. As a Bible teacher, a great privilege and responsibility has been given to me of which I should never think less. We often think of the Great Commission as mainly witnessing to the lost. That is important, but that does not encompass all of Jesus’ charge:
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
In his first letter at the end of his life, the Apostle Peter left instructions to Christians on how to serve for God’s glory. One area that Peter instructs us was on hospitality. In fact, the Bible puts great value on Christians being hospitable to each other. Why? It is because Jesus said that the world would know Him by Christians’ love for one another. Peter reminds us of that admonition:
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:8-9)
This past Sunday, our Youth Pastor Andrew Bosak said that refusing to forgive is a disgrace to the cross. That immediately struck a chord in my spirit because I personally know what bitterness can do to a person’s soul. My angst towards my father for more than twenty years almost ruined me emotionally. When I finally recommitted my life to Christ, surrendering all control to Him, the first thing the Holy Spirit instructed me to do was to forgive my father.
I was overwhelmed by the thought. I thought getting back to Christ and living a sold out life to Him would be incremental. It has been, but Jesus knows my heart and He knew that the biggest stumbling block in my life was my bitterness towards my father. I had to forgive him if I wanted to grow in my walk with Christ. Andrew reminded me of the verse that God showed me to help me along:
The Christian life has been described as a journey or a marathon. The Bible describes it as a race, but it is a long one not unlike a marathon. However, it is a journey in which we should not only strive to finish, but also to enjoy and mature. At the end of my life, I want to be able to utter the same words as the Apostle Paul:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was a little chant we were taught to say as kids when someone said something mean to us. However, it was only half true. Words can hurt us and we are capable of saying some of the meanest things when we are upset or even impatient with someone.
Some of the meanest words I’ve seen recently has been from those commenting on presidential candidates, including from presidential candidates themselves. Somehow in our society we’ve come to point where we think insults, off-color humor, and snarkiness are the only means of persuasion. King Solomon knew better:
Bitterness is emotional cancer and will eventually destroy the life of the embittered one and those around him or her. There can be a number of reasons for someone to feel bitterness towards someone or something, but in the end none of those reasons really matter. What really matters, is that if you hold bitterness in your heart, you will suffer more than anyone else.
I’ve seen a lot of bitterness come out of this presidential election cycle. Satan must be delighting in all he sees. No matter where you stand politically, if you have been involved in this year’s election, you’ve no doubt been attacked or worse yet been on the attack.
Yesterday I was meditating on a bible lesson I had taught the previous night about failure. I sensed a great spirit of hurt in my group, some of it visible on faces.
It occurred to me that some in the room had been hurt while in love. Failing at love can cause you to never want to love again. The hurt can be so devastating that you imagine never recovering. A part of you does not want to recover because it means giving up. That’s only half-true; you may be moving on from a love lost forever, but you’ve not given up on love.
Men are using ladies’ bathrooms. Government is so corrupt that we willingly support morally corrupt candidates. Society is so debased that it opposes any biblical standards. Christians compromise their beliefs because it is the road less traveled. Is there any hope remaining for this nation? The answer is, of course, yes.
However, for that hope to be realized Americans in general, and Christians specifically, are going to have to understand the root of America’s problems. America is not facing a political or economic problem. If that were the case our country’s issues would have been resolved long ago. America’s national malady is that we are spiritually sick. We no longer, outside and inside the church, allow the Bible to be our moral compass.
The true value of a gift is not in its price tag; it is in the cost to the giver. If your child saves part of his or her allowance to buy you a special birthday gift, would you not treasure that more than a gift given out of abundance?
We too often place value in things that on the surface may seem expensive or rare, yet they are superficial when we closely examine them. Even in the gift described above, the value is not in the gift itself but in the sacrifice of your child. Jesus explains it this way:
As Christians, we are not saved by good works; we are saved by grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor towards us through the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross. He paid for our sins, and when we accept that payment we receive redemption. To redeem something, such as a coupon, it must be acted upon. So we’re not save by Christ’s sacrifice until we see our need for it and then accept it.
However, once we become Christians, our works are very important to God. They are evidence of being a child of God. I’ve written before that a stingy Christian is an oxymoron. We should be the most caring and giving people in society, and for the most part we are. It pleases our Heavenly Father when we do good works:
Outside of Islam, the greatest threat to America is our national debt. The amount of money our government spends on trivial and unconstitutional entitlements is the product of a deep-seated malady. Americans have a stuff problem, otherwise known as materialism.
Of course, material goods on their own are not bad. Goods and services produced and provided for are needed for a society to flourish. It is the engine to a free economy. So I am not talking about the private sector when looking at our nation’s woes. I am talking about when government tries to pick winners and losers in a free market economy.
Regardless the candidate for president, no man or woman can save America. No man or woman can make America great again. No man or woman alone is trustworthy enough to not have to be under constitutional checks and balances. No man or woman has all the answers to the needs of our nation. That is the description of a king or queen. We threw off the tyranny of king during the American Revolution.
What many voters, regardless the candidate, are seeking from whom they support is some form of kingship or soft tyranny. Our government was designed to not allow one person to have that type of power. Somehow we believe if it is our guy or gal then they will not be corrupted by the power and stay on the straight and narrow. As James Madison once said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
A stingy Christian is an oxymoron; or at least it should be. If Christians merely obeyed God’s command to tithe, it would radically change the world. Statistics I found online in a Relevant Magazine article show that only ten to twenty-five percent of a normal congregation is made up of tithers. Furthermore, only 1 out of 20 Americans tithe, with 80 percent of them giving only 2 percent. Finally, Christians tithe 2.5 percent in these abundant times, whereas during the Great Depression they gave 3.3 percent.
In his article, Mr. Holmes goes onto to described the impact the church would have if we were to tithed as commanded. He further states that giving is not a money issue; it is a heart issue. When I finally began to tithe as I knew that Lord wanted of me, it changed my heart. However, it didn’t change it about money; it changed my heart about materialism.
You’ve no doubt heard that all religions lead to heaven and worship the same god. If this is true, then Christianity is a lie. Christianity is the only religion where salvation comes through grace alone, by faith in Christ. All other religions require some sort of works to receive salvation. This means Christianity is the opposite of all other religions. Two opposing belief systems can be wrong, or one can be right. However, both cannot be right.
Believers around the world celebrated Christianity’s holiest day yesterday. Most call it Easter; others prefer to call it Resurrection Sunday. Regardless its name, a Risen Savior is the center of the celebration. Many denominations are now rejecting a crucified and risen Christ. This too is a false Christianity. The Bible declares as much:
So now the Republican Presidential Primary race has gotten personal, where a political action group opposing Donald Trump posted a tasteless tweet about Mr. Trump’s wife. Mr. Trump responded in kind by threatening Ted Cruz’s wife and then posted a classless tweet about Heidi Cruz. This is why Ronald Reagan once said, “Politics is supposed to be be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”
The nastiness of our national dialogue has descended into the sewer, in no small part because of social media. People who would never think twice about saying something to a person’s face, eagerly posts vicious and vitriolic words. I understand that our politics has always been dirty, but now we’re like pigs in a sty. We no longer notice the mud.
Author and Pastor John Ortberg tells the story of when he first began his preaching ministry, no less than five minutes into his sermon, he would pass out cold. He would just faint right in the middle of his message. He jokingly says this is not a good attribute for an aspiring preacher. Thankfully he’s overcome this tendency, although the feelings do arise at times.
While physically fainting can be an intimidating condition to deal with, spiritual fainting is an even greater obstacle to overcome. Whenever tribulation comes, we can either fight through it or faint because of it. It all depends on our spiritual strength:
One thing that has become painfully clear in this election cycle is that those who describe themselves as evangelical may have those type of values, but they are not living them out. We can say we believe something, but if that belief does not translate into behavior, then we are only fooling ourselves. Our children and colleagues can clearly see the difference.
How does one not live out that which he or she says they value? They do so by not having a biblical worldview. A biblical worldview is only attained through devoted study of Scripture. Scripture is to be read, taught, and meditated upon so that it has the chance to take root in our hearts and thereby into our consciences. That is why the Apostle Paul reminded Timothy thusly: