We live in volatile times. Justifiable demonstrations about justifiable concerns are overshadowed and even hijacked by those who simply seek anarchy and overthrow. We are descending into a tribal approach to our issues. If you do not agree with my perspective and my group, then you are considered a bigoted outsider who deserves to be shunned and put down. As sad as this is, it is nothing new. Back in Jesus' day, similar issues existed and even served as standards for living! Fortunately for us, Jesus spoke a simple story about the Good Samaritan that shook this unholy standard to its very core. His story was a response to the simple question, who is my neighbor? It seems vitally appropriate that we relisten and relearn the lessons Jesus’ simple story taught.
Religious faith is widely accepted as contrary to reason. It is assumed to be built upon mystical and even fantastical thinking. It is thought that religious faith, when put to a test of reasoned criticism, would fail miserably. This conclusion may be true regarding many different religious systems in our world. We can’t speak for any faith except Christianity and Judaism as taught in the Bible. Regarding biblical faith, it is our firm stance that it will not only stand up to a reason test but is entirely dependent upon reason to exist. These conclusions are exactly opposite from what is generally accepted as true. To support them we will begin a reasoned look at what biblical faith is, how it is meant to work and why it brings value to life.
Our society is so advanced we can access the world from the palm of our hand. It is so sophisticated we can communicate our thoughts globally in an instant. But it is so self-absorbed we can design a reality with our own ego at its center. In the ancient history of the Jewish nation, the third of the Ten Commandments said not to take God’s name in vain. We typically think of people using the name of God in a flippant, careless or disrespectful way as taking His name in vain. While this is true, it is NOT the point of the Commandment. On the contrary, all of what society has become presents a much more accurate picture of what taking God’s name in vain is all about. The fact is, it has become painfully easy to disrespect God. What should we be looking out for?
Christian praise and worship. As with many things subject to interpretation, you will find different applications of these things within the Christian community. For some, praise and worship are expressed in music. This drives their gatherings and feeds positive emotions towards God. For others, they include music and inspiration. They play a significant role in their gatherings as a focusing element for being open to God’s word. Others still have praise and worship in a smaller role. So, who is right? Does it matter? Are these two parts of the same thing or are they entirely different? How do I know if I am paying enough attention to praising God? Am I living a life that expresses an attitude of worship?
Everybody needs money. Like it or not, it is one of the driving forces that contribute to a successful life. As Christians, we all know we need to be aware of how we handle our money. We also look to Jesus for the core values of our entire lives, so observing what he said about it is big. It has been said that 40 percent of Jesus’ parables had to do with money. While Jesus DID talk about it regularly, he wasn’t necessarily teaching about it more than anything else. Consider that in all of Jesus’ recorded experiences and teachings, we have NO example of Jesus ever having money or even touching it! So, why would we want to learn about it from someone who never had any? Because he is Jesus! And because he holds the keys to eternal riches. He demonstrated exactly how it should be used and how to avoid becoming its slave!
Racism does not happen by accident. It can be taught and exampled to young and unknowing hearts and minds. This is troubling. Even more troubling are the maladies of ignorance, prejudice and bigotry that must be present and flourishing to feed and sustain racist thinking and actions. As Christians, the mere thought of any of these things having a home in our hearts or minds should send shivers of distress and fear through our very souls. In Part I of our 2-part series on racism, we dissected these four elements with the eyes of knowledge and the mind of understanding. Next we seek to look at ignorance, prejudice, bigotry and racism with godly wisdom and our highest godly intentions.
George Floyd is dead. Needlessly. His life ended as a result of the uncalled-for brutality of a police officer. This killing has resonated throughout the United States, as well as the world. It has put some of society's hardest issues in front of our faces. Peaceful protests decrying racism and injustice have occurred all over the world. Angry riots, looting and yes, more killing has also erupted. The issues are ugly, serious and relevant. What are we struggling with? Is it racism? Is it bigotry? Prejudice? Ignorance? As Christians, we need to be open and honest when it comes to truth. So, what is the truth about society's struggles? What is the truth we as Christians should be standing for?
The spectacular biblical account of David reveals him as a warrior for God, as he protected God’s principles and righteousness. See the first episode of this series for more. It also reveals David as a man of mighty faults. He committed many grievous errors with sad consequences. We explored one of these in our second episode of this series. Most importantly, David was also a man who never stopped trying to do better and inspire the people he led. He truly was God’s warrior, a man after God’s own heart. Know this: true warriors for God never were and should never be limited to just men. Abigail is one of the treasured women of the Bible who was also one of God’s warriors. When faced with potential slaughter, she calmly deescalated serious tensions, saving many lives. Her love for God was unmistakable. The example of Abigail's behavior under pressure commands attention and respect. This beautiful woman is an inspiring example
David was a hero and anointed to become the king of Israel. Long before he assumed the throne, he defeated Goliath in battle, contributed to the sovereignty and protection of Israel and faithfully served under King Saul. All this happened before he was 25 years old. Though he became a fugitive when King Saul turned on him, he never betrayed the king or God. Many years later when he finally became king, he was a mighty and God-focused leader. This almost sounds like a happily ever after story, but it is not. David committed some horrible sins along the way that created havoc and cost lives. His sins are some of the most well-known in all of Scripture! With so many bad choices, how did David maintain a godly perspective? How did he continually fight for God’s purposes? What can we learn from the rollercoaster of David’s life to enhance our attempts to be warriors for God?
What do you envision when you think of a warrior? Someone engaged in conflict or struggle? A soldier, discipline, a fighter, training, bravery? King David was one of history’s great warriors. He possessed all of those warrior attributes, and yet he was also a shepherd, poet, musician and songwriter. He was tender-hearted and humble. He was faithful and loyal to God, yet guilty of serious breaches of the confidence God had placed in him. He ascended up to the heights but also descended down to the depths. He gained Divine approval in many things and also received severe Divine condemnation. He was wholly devoted to God but also indulged in the sins of the flesh. David’s story is the story of every man, illustrating what God can do with our weaknesses and failures.