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Culture Wars

February 19th, 2018

Cues from a wrong source are misleading.

“You ought to live holy and Godly lives, as you look forward

to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:12 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Culture Wars.”

There are things about the current, secular culture that disturb me. I am disturbed that we too often take our cues from unworthy and inappropriate sources, with neither discernment nor discrimination. Much of the surrounding culture has a far greater influence on the Church and its people than could ever be justified – whether speaking of morals, materialism, or immodesty as expressed in fashion, media, music, profanity, incivility, or self-centeredness. We seem to take our cues from those wrong sources without discernment that we are doing so. Apparently, we are afraid to look different as we mimic the surrounding styles of how we dress, how we talk, and to a greater degree, how we live.

The Bible provides clarity. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV. When I was a young teen, the Church seemed to take a reactionary stance to the culture that appeared imbalanced and in clear opposition. Conversely today, we are too concerned about fitting in with the culture and too comfortable when we do.

Then, Christians seemed to consciously try to look, act, and talk differently. It might be wiser to just confidently and comfortably choose to be who we are always called to be, “Salt and Light,” in a deteriorating and darkening world. In retrospect, However, I believe my grandparents’ and parents’ generations chose a safer margin for error with less consequences than may result from our indecisive course today.

The Bible’s counsel is wise, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father, but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 NIV. Be advised and wise and live successfully and effectively now and eternally safe forever.

Today, we seem to feel the need to apologize that our standards and expectations are other than the surrounding cultural norms. Because we are unclear about how to be Godly people in an ungodly age, a generation of young “teens and twenties” are confused, and thereby easily succumb to the bombardment of media, movies, music, fashion, and celebrities’ lifestyles to determine how they should dress, talk, think, and live.

The nature of the culture is not what disturbs me most. That is neither surprising nor redeemable except on an individual basis, never collectively. I am concerned about the secular culture’s influence and our naive approach to the lure of their example. Why mimic the opinions and lifestyle of celebrities because they have wealth or fame, lavishly granted from those whom they merely amuse and entertain? Except for few exceptions, they are in graphic contrast and conflict with what the follower of Jesus is meant to be, never examples to be esteemed and followed.

The Apostle Peter asked and answered a reasonable, but probing, question to the young churches and new Christians. “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and Godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:11-12 NIV. You must ask and answer that question for yourself, “What kind of person ought I to be?” Life is best lived with a singular focus. As a follower of Jesus, I would suggest Paul’s words to you, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV.

Choose carefully the people you admire and emulate, or you will find yourself in a gradual decline and indiscernible process of becoming like them. There is a clear and right choice to make. “Christ, is your example. Follow in His steps: He never sinned, never told a lie, never answered back when insulted; when He suffered He did not threaten to get even; He left his case in the hands of God Who always judges fairly.” 1 Peter 2:21-24 TLB. Yours and my goal should be to allow the Word of God and invite the Holy Spirit to make us a little more like Jesus every day.

Today, I pray for you to be a Godly example of a chaste and consecrated life of faith.

Christian Communications 2018

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Tears and Hope

November 2nd, 2016

Tears and hope are complementary, not contradictory.

Through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures we have hope.” Romans 15:4 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Tears and Hope.”

Have you ever had nothing to hold onto except hope in a distressing situation? For too many that seems to be the rule rather than the exception. When hope rests solidly on the Word of God and your faith in that, hope is sure and steadfast.

Last week was challenging. I last wrote to you about a steadfast hope that we have in Christ. Little did I know that the same morning I would receive a call that our grandson Parker, just twenty-one years old, had died in an automobile accident. The news was devastating. Yet the words about “Steadfast Hope” were tried and proven true. God has been faithful and His Word is ever sure. The Blessed Hope of which Paul wrote is nearer and dearer than ever before. Our family is grateful for the loving words of encouragement and faithful prayers of so many friends, the ministry of our church, our faith in Christ and His Word, and the grace and faithfulness of God has sustained us these past days. Rather than writing last week, I set aside time to be with our family as we grieved together and began the healing process.

Our family has grieved individually and collectively because of this tragedy. Pain has been our companion and part of our conversations these recent days. And I believe that God has grieved with us over the death of Parker – our grandson, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, and friend. We are a family of faith. We do not grieve apart from hope; we do not hope apart from Christ. As Paul wrote confidently, “I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NLT. We sorrow, but with the sure hope of the believers’ resurrection. Read Titus 2:12-13 KJV.

Having said that, I cannot imagine the inconsolable grief of those Paul describes as, “at that time you were without Christ . . having no hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:12 NKJV. Without Christ. Without hope. Without God. In the world. The world is a tragic place without God in it. By the grace of, God we enjoy a Godly heritage of five generations with expectation of that extending until Jesus’ return. In this recent ordeal, our faith has been tested, but has proven steadfast. As our son said, “Our trust has been tested but our trust in God remains sure.”

As we stood beside our grandson’s body in the ER and trauma center, weeping and trying not to do so, the grief and sorrow felt unbearable, the tears uncontrollable. Saying a final good bye to a grandson is something I never expected to do, yet my pain does not compare with the pain of my son and his wife saying a tearful farewell to their young son. In those moments, I believe the Holy Spirit comforted my heart with this thought, “Tears are often the voice of prayers spoken from the heart.” I certainly have discovered that tears are the language of the heart. Tears communicate a depth of emotions that words often do not. Tears release pain in ways language cannot. Tears and hope are complementary, not contradictory. Read 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to experience “the peace of God that passes understanding.”

A personal note: I would appreciate your prayers as we minister in four services this Saturday evening and Sunday morning at Cathedral of Faith, 2315 Canoas Garden Ave, San Jose, California, with Pastor Ken Foreman. The teaching will also be Live Streaming on their Online Campus, Sunday, 10 AM, West Coast time. Go to: http://cathedraloffaith.org/live?parentnavigationid=25879, Online Campus. Due to travel and ministry responsibilities, I may not be publishing EDL until my return home . . Blessings!

Christian Communications 2016

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Words Matter

September 16th, 2016

What you store in your heart is revealed in your words.

edl-psa-19-14-words“May the words of my mouth . . be pleasing in your sight, O Lord.” Psalm 19:14 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are that “words matter.”

More than you might realize, words matter. They can matter a lot more than you might think, to the one that speaks them as well as the ones that hear them. Words are easily spoken, readily heard, and sometimes quickly forgotten, but not always. And it seems the words we tend to remember are often the words that would be better if forgotten. The good things a person hears seem too quickly lost amid the daily distractions of life while less wholesome words can lodge in one’s memory indefinitely. Choose wisely the words you speak.

Words matter because words have unimagined power. All that was created, was spoken into existence by the Word of God. The New Testament further explains, “By faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God.” Hebrews 11: 3 NKJV. Words are a valuable gift when used kindly and wisely. Your words have the power to heal or hurt; use them to heal. With words, you can encourage or discourage; be encouraging. I remember my Mom saying, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything.”

Ponder carefully your words before you speak; consider your own feelings if you heard them said about you instead of spoken by you. The Bible offers wise counsel, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6 NIV. Salt has two important properties: to preserve and enhance. Your words should do the same.

Now let me change my attention to the important matter of self-talk. Words that you tell yourself also matter as much if not more than how you speak to others. As always, the Bible provides instruction; “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation . . May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord.” Psalm 5:1 NKJV and Psalm 19:14 NIV. There is an inviolable connection between your public conversation and your private meditation. At a time when popular opinion was unfavorable and threatening, “David encouraged himself in the Lord.” 1 Samuel 30:6 KJV.

Don’t rehearse your past or your problems; that’s just further discouraging. Remind yourself about God and His power and promises; that’s encouraging. Do you ever wonder what David said to himself that encouraged him? Did he recall the day on the battlefield when Goliath fell at his hand? Did he remind himself of the past faithfulness of God? Or the promises of God? Or the power of God? Or the history of God across his lifetime? Whatever he said and thought, he was encouraged in the Lord.

I recently heard an interesting statement. “Don’t listen to yourself. Talk to yourself.” Let your self-talk be uplifting and inspiring. Never talk to yourself in a lesser way than you would speak to others. Don’t indulge negative thoughts about yourself or your circumstance. Be as wise in what you tell yourself as you should be careful in what you say to others. The meditation of your heart and mind should be purposeful, healing, and uplifting. “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:18-20 NKJV. What you store in your heart is revealed in your words.

Today, I pray for you to be gracious in your words to and about others.

Christian Communications 2016

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Complete and Equipped

April 22nd, 2016

“The Word of God . . is at work in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV.

In a world where few things work as promised, God’s Word works.

My thoughts and comments today are about being, “complete and equipped.”

It is sad when people have something irreplaceable yet regard it as less than its value. Often, things familiar and readily available are taken for granted. In light of those comments, consider the most precious, valuable gift God has entrusted to you – His holy, eternal Word. The Bible is God’s Word, inspired to the hearts of faithful men, and is eternal. It is a unique collection of wisdom and enduring prose, yet so much more.

Paul instructed young Timothy, “The Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:15-17 NKJV. When God’s Word fills your heart and thoughts each day you are described as, “complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Psalmist describes such Godly people, “In all they do, they prosper.” Read Psalm 1:1-3 NLT.

People discount and ignore God’s Word, while others have made great sacrifices to provide and preserve it. Some try to discredit and destroy regard for the Word of God, while others have sacrificed their lives to protect and defend it. Jesus was clear. The Word of God is essential not optional. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Luke 4:4 NKJV. God’s Word is uniquely essential to every area of your life and the quality with which you live it.

The Word speaks to the heart and spirit. Listen and obey. Prize its wisdom and truth. The Bible contains wisdom for all situations – health and hope for the struggling, Godly wisdom for your success and satisfaction, a path to life in its fullness, the truest revelation of God, and eternal salvation for the soul. “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God . . the Word of the Lord will live forever.” 1 Peter 1:23-25 NIV/NCV. See Luke 21:33 NIV.

I suggest a few questions you would be wise to ask and consider, “Do I love and follow God’s Word? Does God’s Word live in my heart? Does it direct my conduct and choices? Does it determine my values?” To live successfully, you must live according to truth. Love and prize your Bible; take time each day for its truth, and be always able to say, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You, O God.” Psalm 119:11 NIV.

For their love and faithfulness to God’s Word, the Apostle Paul commended Christ-followers at Thessaloniki “When you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV.  In a world where few things work as promised, God’s Word works, and it will work in your life, now and forever.

Today, I pray for you to commit to trust and obey God’s Word, at all times in all things.

Antique Bibles

Christian Communications 2016

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Biblical Faith

July 22nd, 2015

“Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11:6 NIV.

Biblical faith is central and requisite to the Christian life.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Biblical faith.”

Life is difficult without a healthy measure of faith. Faith is natural unless compromised by opinions and circumstances. Disappointing experiences, damaged trust, and resultant doubts are usually the product of insincere promises or insufficient abilities to fulfill promises made. Yet your Christian life is completely dependent on faith. Paul reminded the Corinthian believers, “We walk by faith not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7.

Your life in Christ begins with the gift of faith, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. Your spiritual life grows by faith’s increase, “. . if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the Gospel which you heard.” Colossians 1:22. Faith sustains you during and at the end of your journey, as faith did for “those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Hebrews 6:11-12.

And how is this journey of faith successfully accomplished? It’s simple really. “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith . .” Hebrews 12:2. Faith is neither something you create of yourself nor can you sustain apart from Jesus, alive in your heart. “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 NKJV. “Faith is not a mere sterile, intellectual belief, but it is that which confirms the heart, clarifies the mind, and controls the affections.” (Barnes’ Notes).

(1) Biblical faith is central and requisite to every aspect of the Christian life. Citing the example of Enoch, “as one who pleased God,” the Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:5-6 NIV. Faith is essential, not optional. Biblical faith is described best in Hebrews 11:1.

(2) Biblical faith is: “the substance of things hoped for.” English lacks the breadth and richness of the original Greek text, in which the New Testament was primarily written. As used in this verse, “Substance” is closest to our word, “foundation, that which stands underneath to provide support.” Biblical hope is not at all wishful thinking; it is a spiritual reality established upon the solid rock of God’s Word. Read Matthew 7:24-27. The “things hoped for” are as certain as the singular character, absolute authority, and unchanging reliability of God. If God said it, I believe it. And that settles it. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing [comes] by the Word of God.” Read Romans 10:17.

(3) Biblical faith is: “the evidence of things not seen.” As used in this verse, “Evidence” is “the irrefutable proof and unchangeable conviction.” The “things not [yet] seen” are envisioned in one’s heart and accompanied by unshakable conviction of their certainty. Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV. Abraham is a great example of this principle. Read Romans 4:19-21 NIV. You don’t choose what you believe; you choose who you believe and that determines what you believe. Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” See Matthew 11:22-24. I believe God.

Jesus used the example of a tiny mustard seed to encourage faith and demonstrate its power, “the smallest seed, when planted it grows and becomes the largest of plants . . if you have faith as small as a mustard seed . . nothing will be impossible for you.” Read Mark 4:31 and Matthew 17:20 NIV.

Today, I pray for you that your faith grows strong and rests fully upon God and His Word.

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