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Step By Step

But at last he came to a part where it was more level and the valley opened out. And there, on the other side of the river, quite close to him, in the middle of a little plain between two hills, he saw what must be the White Witch’s House.  -C. S. Lewis The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe

Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.  -2 Samuel 11:2

For at the window of my house I looked out through my lattice, And I saw among the naive, And discerned among the youths A young man lacking sense, Passing through the street near her corner; And he takes the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, In the middle of the night and in the darkness.  -Proverbs 7:6-9

And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. -Luke 15:13

Sometimes the journey can seem like progress, going up as it were, for a while. It’s just steps. Sometimes they are few and sometimes many, but they can be steps… not up, but away.

Edmund’s steps were uphill, climbing to the castle. Urged on by appetite, he was enchanted by the taste of turkish delight and the promise of his own importance. Only the witch new how to appeal to the evil within him.

David’s steps were few and easy, as he was enticed by the desires of his eyes and the lust of his own sexual desire. Sometimes it only takes a few steps, or one wrong turn, to invite disaster.

The steps of “the young” man were “lacking sense”, they were careless and carefree, and he wandered into a snare. It might have been different had his steps been purposeful. If you don’t know where you are going, you are sure to get there.

The prodigal’s steps were rebellious and manyBlinded by his own desire for independence from his father, he took a road that led to the pigsty. Independence is immaturity, maturity is interdependence.

The Christian adventure is always that -an adventure! We walk by faith, nevertheless it should always be a careful walk. There are many signs that say “come this way” each appealing to some weakness of the flesh. They promise adventure, comfort, or riches, but they may be steps away rather than steps up.

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. -Ephesians 5:15-17 

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2016 in Meditation, Real Life

 

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Who is the radical after all?

I read a commentary recently regarding ISIS, the recent attacks in Paris, and San Bernardino, CA. The author drew a moral equivalent between what he referred to as radical Muslims and radical Christians, referencing the KKK and abortion clinic bombers as radical Christians along side the likes of the jihadists. Though he condemned acts of violence from both parties, I think he, like many, misunderstand and misapply the terms they use in respect to religion.

There are many labels being thrown around these days, creating much confusion about who is, and who is not, a radical as well as who is, and who is not, a moderate when it comes to the practice of these particular religious ideologies, and the confusion is not helpful as we try to combat the hate and violence that we are seeing with frightening frequency and intensity.

What does the term radical mean? Well, it can mean quite a variety of things depending upon the subject matter and the presupposition of the user of the term. One could say, for instance, that Jesus was a radical in terms of bringing a teaching that seemed contrary to the socio-religious climate of His day, yet I imagine that we would never categorize His commands to “love God” or “love your neighbor”1 as radical thoughts. Radical can mean extreme, fanatical, even militant, in a negative sense, or thorough, rigorous, and complete, in a positive sense.

While many scholars have sought to understand Muslim practice by deciphering the Qur’an, I think an examination of the actions of Mohammed and the origins of Islam, might be a better place to begin, just as an examination of Jesus’ life and early church practice helps to understand authentic christianity. In the study of these, we will find what is, and is not, truly radical in the positive sense of the word.

While it is true that Mohammed was a peaceful man in his early (Meccan period) years, preaching a peaceful message of tolerance, even advocating for orphans and widows, that cannot be said of his latter years. After moving to Medina in 622, the peaceful “prophet” became a warmongering murderer, inciting violence wherever he and his (now political) followers went.2 When we examine the historical record, we find that his most ardent followers, have in turn, created terror throughout the civilized world.3 These are not then radical in the negative sense of the word, but authentic Muslims -so radical, in the best sense of the word.

By contrast, when one examines the teachings and practice of Jesus and the first century Apostles, you find the highest teaching on love,4 morality,5 and sacrifice 6 that the world has ever know. The message of the gospel of Jesus is certainly an aggressive one, but it is one where love and reason are the methods of recruitment, rather than Mohammedan tactic of terror and coercion. You simply will not find, in the historical record, anything but the message of love, inspired by Jesus’ early followers. So, radical Christians, are individuals who strictly follow the examples and doctrines of Jesus and the Apostles, -they are radical lovers.

Some of the confusion is exacerbated by a misunderstanding of what it actually means to be a Christian. Many people in America self-identify as Christians, yet would not hold to many of the teachings of Jesus or the early church. For example, Jesus taught that to actually be a follower of His, one needed to be reborn spiritually,7 not simply claim His name.8  There are a great number of cultural Christians -individuals who identify as Christians, even attend church services, yet do not hold to many of the beliefs that Jesus taught. They may not be Christians at all, even though that is how they identify themselves.

The same is true with Islam. With an estimated 1.6 billion adherents,10 many of them are cultural muslims, who may practice some tenants of the faith, but live vastly different lives, and have much more secular views than the author of their tradition. These moderates are in fact, the Muslims that ISIS and it’s so-called radical counterparts have no problem killing as infidels. As one former Muslim, Brother Rachid, has testified in a statement directed at President Obama,”they consider them infidels and not Muslims.”11

Our secular society values impotent religion over what it considers fanatical religion. I believe that is a major contributing factor to what has become a confusion of terms. Many would like Christians to simply be nice people and be quiet about their faith, that is the politically correct and acceptable form of religious expression, and so they would like the same for practitioners of Islam. This is the false hope of President Obama, and many of the talking heads, but it is just that –a false hope. Neither authentic religious expression will be killed off. One will continue to kill, conquer, and subjugate, the other will, love, help, and give –until Messiah returns.

 

Footnotes:

1. Matthew 22:36-40
2. “The Historical Muhammad:
The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Ugly” / David Wood, 4truth.net
3. “Jihad vs Crusades” / Bill Warner. PhD.
4.John 13:34; John 15:9 / Jesus Christ ; 1 Corinthians 13, Romans 5:8 / Paul the Apostle ; 1 Peter 4:8 / Peter the Apostle ; 1 John 4:7-15 / John the Apostle …the author could perhaps cite an endless amount of New Testament references.
5. Matthew 5
6. John 10:17;John 15:13; Romans 12
7. John 3:1-21
8. Matthew 7:21-23
9. Matthew 10:6;
10. Pew Research Center, April 2015
11. “A Message To President Obama From A Former Muslim”@6:12 / Brother Rachid

 

 

 

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Running The Race, Forgetting Why.

People are running. Running for this, running for that, busy, busy, running. We are engaged in all variety of activities, be it sports, entertainment, self improvement, working, etc.

Our days are full, but for many, our hearts are empty. It’s like we are running a race with no goal in mind -a race with no finish line, and no trophy. These days everyone gets a trophy, just for running, without regard for who wins. Winning is out of fashion.

Christians ought to take caution with this mentality. Life is not just about living. We are engaged in a battle, and it’s a battle with purpose. Not everyone wins. Many die. We can be so consumed with the enjoyment of running and the few dividends along the way that we settle for the lesser purpose -the run.

One time (long ago) someone paid me an unusual compliment. They said: “you have good form when you run.” It’s a true story! Now, I’ve never been a tremendous athlete, but I’ve been proud of that compliment from that day to this. We can be so tricked into pride, so content with accomplishment, that the self-satisfaction of form begins to be the goal.

There is a great story hidden in the pages of the Old Testament, one that I learned and have taught many times. On the occasion of the death of David’s son Absalom, someone needed to run and tell the king, the terrible news. This man Ahimaaz insisted on running, he wanted to be the bearer of the news. As the story goes, in 2 Samuel 18, he evidently had a lot of skill in running. His “form” was good, recognizable from a distance. But when he got to the end of his race, he failed with the purpose of his effort.

The king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, and your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was.” 2 Samuel 18:29

He ran for the glory of the run. He accomplished nothing.

“Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” -Ecclesiastes 2:11

Friend, be careful that you are not running without the goal of victory.
Now, when it comes to life and death, we know that Jesus is our victory, our only hope, and we rest in that. However, salvation is not intended to produce in us a laziness. Spiritual laziness is foreign to our faith.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” -Hebrews 12:1

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” -1 Corinthians 9:24-27

At the end of our race, there will be winners and losers, and only one laurel will be awarded -to those who ran the race well, with the purpose of the Master. There will be no rewards for good intentions, or worldly accomplishments -none.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ -Matthew 25:21

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Meditation, Real Life, Teaching

 

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“he hath dainty poisons sweet to the taste”

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

I like what *Spurgeon said about this verse:
We note Satan’s goal: seeking whom he may devour. He isn’t just looking to lick or nibble on his prey; he wants to devour. “He can never be content till he sees the believer utterly devoured. He would rend him in pieces, and break his bones and utterly destroy him if he could. Do not, therefore, indulge the thought, that the main purpose of Satan is to make you miserable. He is pleased with that, but that is not his ultimate end. Sometimes he may even make you happy, for he hath dainty poisons sweet to the taste which he administers to God’s people. If he feels that our destruction can be more readily achieved by sweets than by bitters, he certainly would prefer that which would best effect his end.”

I’m reminded of Edmond’s affection for Turkish Delight in Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe.” It’s often times something that delights the senses that the devil uses to kill you. It could be a friendly smile from a coworker, a feeling of personal freedom that leads to indulgence, even a moment of “righteous” anger. Be aware! He will use “a feeling” to bait his snare.

You might ask, “why would the devil care about me?” To answer that, would require understanding not just his mission: to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10), but his character. His character is perverse. Why does a grown man harm a little child? Because of perversion. The devil wants to destroy any, and every, soul he can. It’s who he is.

One of his tricks is also to get us to believe the “little ‘ol me” syndrome. (Yes, I made that up)
If he can get you to believe that you are a nobody, then he’s won half the battle. Again, we see this play out in Lewis’ Chronicles Of Narnia so vividly.
You are created in the image of God, and when you are submitted to Him, filled with His Spirit, rather than the spirit of the age, you are a tremendous threat to his evil kingdom.
Have faith, God wants to do great things through you!

But resist him, firm in your faith… 1 Peter 5:9a

*From David Guzik’s Enduring Word / enduring word.com

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Meditation, Teaching, Uncategorized

 

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Rejection: On What Grounds?

For a brief moment, the world remembers the risen Savior. Perhaps you went to church, but it had no impact on you. Perhaps at an Easter celebration, a family member said something. You may have had a thought, a recollection, of what the Easter message really is.
Did you believe?
I came across this plea from M. Lloyd-Jones this morning. The question cannot be asked any more directly than this:

What can you reasonably say against the person of the Lord Jesus Christ? What have you got against Him? Look at that young man working as a carpenter in Palestine. Look at Him at the age of 30, beginning to preach. Follow Him along, look into His eyes, come near Him as the people did -what is your objection to Him? What is lacking in Him? What is wrong with Him? Did He come into the world to blast it and destroy it? He spent all this time healing people, talking to the outcasts, sitting down and eating and drinking with the tax collectors and sinners. Look at Him; read the record. Tell me in the name of reason, what have you got against Him? Look at this unique personality who still dominates the whole world. Even the world that rejects Him cannot get rid of Him. Look at Him-what possible objection can there be to the Lord Jesus Christ? I would like to know on the grounds of reason what that objection is.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2013 in Evangelism

 

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Signs O’ The Times

Last Sunday at C:A we talked about how Jesus rebuked the religious guys because they were not able to discern the signs of the times. I think the “signs of the times” is like reading headlines from news stories.
If you were  to collect all of the headlines of current news stories, how would that read?
Have you noticed the uptick in people eating people? Have you noticed how much we love to look at, and publish pictures of ourselves? Have you noticed how once unacceptable behavior and language is now entirely acceptable? Are you putting the picture together? Do you know how many billions of dollars have been to prove that God doesn’t exist, and that we are here completely by chance?
Are you able to discern the signs of our times?

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. -2 Peter 3:1-7

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Culture, My Opinion, Prophecy

 

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None Other To Save -Psalm 31:1-5

In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed;
In Your righteousness deliver me.

Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; Be to me a rock of strength,
A stronghold to save me.

For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.

You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength.

Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth.
Psalm 31:1-5 (NASB)

In David’s prayer, I want to call attention to one thing that might me easy to overlook, and that is his present condition.
• He seeks deliverance, implying present distress.
• He seeks rescue, implying impending danger.
• He seeks leading and guiding, implying a loss of the way forward.
• He seeks immediate rescue from a “net,” implying being “caught.”

In the end, David simply falls at the feet of the Lord and says, okay,.. I commit myself to You. Really, at the end of the day, we can do no more than this. We find ourselves in all kinds of predicaments, whether from inward sins and failures, or from external trials and difficulties. We battle, and we press on, in an effort to succeed and have some form of victory in this present condition. But after all is said and done, we must each find our place at the feet of the Savior and ask for His kind favor and deliverance.
There will be none other to save.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” –Matthew 11:28

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Psalms Studies, Teaching

 

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