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The effects of constant turmoil can be burnout. I’ve experienced plenty in my life and in reality, I have “quit” the ministry many many times. The truth is though, I have never told anyone!  This podcast purposes to talk a little about the issue of ministry fatigue, its causes, its purposes and most of all, its remedy.

Scripture speaks of the power of Christ. The power of the cross, the authority of Jesus, the power of the gospel etc. all speaks to the power of Christ. While you may consider the power of Christ the manifestation of miracles, supernatural knowledge or signs, the reality is that the apostles make the claim that the power of Christ most glorious is the transformed heart of the believer toward truth and love for the brethren. Teaching through John’s writings gives us a constant reminder of this fact. That there are many who “live” in a manner they feel is worthy of Jesus Christ in their own eyes, but when they refuse fellowship with others, they, in turn, are displaying “unregenerate” powerlessness. 

Paul speaks to the Corinthian church about the power of Christ. He says that he will know if Christ is in them if they heed the authority of his writing and instruction. Mainly, that they forsake themselves and “COMPLETE” all the restoration between them. This means that they will be intimate, together, free, and in fellowship. 

2 Corinthians 13:11–14 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Several hours, if not days can be expended on this holistic reality. But for now, let’s say this. One of the primary expressions of regeneration is that we are sealed by the same Spirit. God the Holy Spirit in us brings our unity and because of this, there is NOTHING that can separate us from the Lord and from each other. When factions come between the church and cause people to scatter, it is always wicked. Sometimes it is due to ignorance but most of the time these things happen because of an active and living flesh. IF we have the same Spirit within us there is nothing that would cause divorce amongst the brethren.

In the end, this teaching is extrapolated continually throughout the New Testament through the instruction and commandments for every Christian to be subject to the Word, the Elders of the church, the Assembly (that is the church, only when it gathers) and exercising the gifts God has given them for the benefit of the assembly. We can feel justified in doing “home” studies and “online” sermons, but in reality, that type of existence as a believer is a continual rebellion against the teaching of God. So, in the sense of the text, true regeneration produces a complete unity that nothing will stop and to say otherwise is to refuse to love the brethren, thus, according to John, the Love of God is not in us. 

We may see that all the works of the law, all the dressing of worldly “righteousness” and all the prayers, pleadings, purity and the like are not the measure of the Power of Christ in us. But it is the evidence of TRUTH by the LOVE we have for each other. Love well beloved by the grace that is YOURS in Jesus Christ!  Amen.  While this is not exhaustive, it is truth. Are you listening?

The second commandment is something that many people have questions about often. I wrote an article last year in relation to the question, “Can a Christian Violate the Second Commandment with Pictures of Jesus?” Here is a podcast on that answer.

00Over the last year, I have been inundated with numerous calls per day from unknown numbers, local number, toll-free numbers and even numbers I know only to find a telemarketer on the other end trying to either sell me something or trick me into thinking I had to hear their pitch. The list of ‘blocked’ numbers has grown to over 150 and quite honestly, I have become quite frustrated with the constant intrusion. Due to the fact that I receive a ton of calls every day that are legitimate when you add the garbage calls, it makes a phone a hated tool and sometimes it causes me to miss good conversations.  For 2018, it has been a different story.

I have started answering every call that comes to my phone when appropriate without fail. And in an effort to do all things without complaining and have joy while doing everything for the glory of God, I have found that answering every call as an opportunity to share the gospel is the best way to handle what otherwise is a means to frustration and sin. 

While these conversations are always on the table, the two “sides” are both biblically rebuked. First, the person who suggests that he is right before God due to his works is fighting for the place of his own security in his own might. Much like the Devil who argues that he is worthy to “share” the light of the glory of God due to his beauty. He forgot that he was created to reflect the light of his creator, not his own.  Second, the person who argues that good works are not even on the radar of “faith alone” and “grace alone” wants to maintain the record of fleshly so-called joys and ignore the premise of the reality of the good news: rebirth and new heart and mind.  The love we have for Christ employs our obedience toward Him, not for our justification, but as a result.

Bonar gives great insight on this matter below. You can get a printed copy of this from Chapel Library.

Good Works and the Justified

Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt”—Romans 4:4.

Does [Paul] by this speech make light of good works? Does he encourage an unholy walk? Does he use a rash word, which had better been left unspoken? No, truly, he is laying the foundation of good works. He is removing the great obstacle to a holy life, viz.,[26] the bondage of an unforgiven state. He is speaking, by the power of the Holy Ghost, the words of truth and soberness. The difference between working and believing is that which God would have us to learn, lest we confound these two things and so destroy them both. The order and relation of these two things are here very explicitly laid down, so as to anticipate the error of many who mix up working and believing together, or who make believing the result of working, instead of working the result of believing. We carefully distinguish, yet we as carefully connect the two. We do not put asunder what God has joined together; yet we would not reverse the divine order, nor disturb the divine relation, nor place that last which God has set first.

It was not to depreciate or discourage good works that the Apostle spoke of not working, but believing; or of a man being “justified by faith without the deeds of the law”; or of God imputing “righteousness without works” (Rom 3:28; 4:6). It was to distinguish things that differ. It was to show the true use of faith in connecting us for justification with what another has done. It was to stay us from doing anything in order to be justified. In this view, then, faith is truly a ceasing from work and not a working. It is not the doing of anything in order to be justified, but the simple reception of the justifying work of Him Who finished transgression and made an end of sin (Dan 9:24). For the one justifying work was completed eighteen hundred years ago, and any attempt on our part to repeat or imitate this is vain. The one cross suffices.

Nor was it to undervalue good works that our Lord gave, what many may deem such a singular answer to the question of the Jews, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?…This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (Joh 6:28, 29). They wanted to work their way into the favor of God. The Lord tells them that they may have that favor without waiting or working by accepting at once His testimony to His only-begotten Son. Until then, they were not in a condition for working. They were as trees without a root, as stars whose motions, however regular, would be useless, if they themselves were unlighted.

To say to a groping, troubled spirit, “You must first believe before you can work,” is no more to encourage ungodliness or laxity of walk, than to say to an imprisoned soldier, “You must first get out of your dungeon before you can fight”; or to a swimmer, “You must throw off that millstone before you can attempt to swim”; or to a racer, “You must get quit of these fetters before you can run the race.” Yet these expressions of the Apostle have often been shrunk from, dreaded as dangerous, quoted with a guarding clause, or rather cited as seldom as possible, under the secret feeling that unless greatly diluted or properly qualified, they had better not be cited at all. But why are these bold utterances there, if they are perilous, if they are not meant to be as fearlessly proclaimed now as they were fearlessly written eighteen centuries ago? What did the Holy Spirit mean by promulgation[27] of such “unguarded” statements, as some seem disposed to reckon them? It was not for nothing that they were so boldly spoken. Timid words would not have served the purpose. The glorious Gospel needed statements such as these to disentangle the great question of acceptance, to relieve troubled consciences and purge them from dead works, yet at the same time to give to works their proper place…

In another’s righteousness we stand, and by another’s righteousness are we justified. All accusations against us, founded upon our unrighteousness, we answer by pointing to the perfection of the righteousness that covers us from head to foot…

Protected by this perfection, we have no fear of wrath, either now or hereafter. It is a buckler to us; and we cry, “Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed” (Psa 84:9), as if to say, “Look not on me, but on my Substitute. Deal not with me for sin, but with my Sin-bearer. Challenge not me for my guilt, but challenge Him; He will answer for me.” Thus, we are safe beneath the shield of His righteousness. No arrow, either from the enemy or from conscience, can reach us there.

Covered by this perfection, we are at peace. The enemy cannot invade us; or if he try to do so, we can triumphantly repel him. It is a refuge from the storm, a covert from the tempest, a river of water in a dry place, the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. The work of righteousness is peace; and in the Lord we have righteousness and strength.

Beautified with this perfection, which is the perfection of God, we find favor in His sight. His eye rests on the comeliness[28] that He has put upon us; and as He did at viewing the first creation, so now, in looking at us as clothed with this divine excellency, He pronounces it “very good.” He sees no iniquity in Jacob and no transgression in Israel (Num 23:21). “The iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found” (Jer 50:20). This righteousness suffices to cover, to comfort, and to beautify.

But there is more than this: we are justified that we may be holy. The possession of this legal righteousness is the beginning of a holy life. We do not live a holy life in order to be justified; but we are justified that we may live a holy life. That which man calls holiness may be found in almost any circumstances of dread, or darkness, or bondage, or self-righteous toil and suffering; but that which God calls holiness can only be developed under conditions of liberty and light, and pardon and peace with God. Forgiveness is the mainspring of holiness. Love, as a motive, is far stronger than law, far more influential than fear of wrath or peril of hell. Terror may make a man crouch like a slave and obey a hard master, lest a worse thing come upon him; but only a sense of forgiving love can bring either heart or conscience into that state in which obedience is either pleasant to the soul or acceptable to God.

False ideas of holiness are common, not only among those who profess false religions, but among those who profess the true. For holiness is a thing of which man by nature has no more idea than a blind man has of the beauty of a flower or the light of the sun. All false religions have had their “holy men,” whose holiness often consisted merely in the amount of pain they could inflict upon their bodies, or of food which they could abstain from, or of hard labor which they could undergo. But with God, a saint or holy man is a very different being. It is in filial,[29] full-hearted love to God that much of true holiness consists. And this cannot even begin to be until the sinner has found forgiveness and tasted liberty and has confidence towards God. The spirit of holiness is incompatible with the spirit of bondage. There must be the spirit of liberty, the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba, Father” (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). When the fountain of holiness begins to well up in the human heart and to fill the whole being with its transforming, purifying power, “We have known and believed the love that God hath to us” (1Jo 4:16) is the first note of the holy song that commenced on earth and [is] perpetuated through eternity.

We are bought with a price that we may be new creatures in Christ Jesus. We are forgiven that we may be like Him, Who forgives us. We are set at liberty and brought out of prison that we may be holy. The free, boundless love of God, pouring itself into us, expands and elevates our whole being; and we serve Him, not in order to win His favor, but because we have already won it in simply believing His record concerning His Son. If the root is holy, so are the branches. We have become connected with the holy root and by the necessity of this connection are made holy too.

Forgiveness relaxes no law nor interferes with the highest justice. Human pardons may often do so: God’s pardons never. Forgiveness doubles all our bonds to a holy life, only they are no longer bonds of iron, but of gold. It takes off the heavy yoke in order to give us the light and easy. Love is stronger than law. Whatever connects our obedience with love must be far more influential than what connects us with law.

The love of God to us and our love to God work together for producing holiness in us. Terror accomplishes no real obedience. Suspense brings forth no fruit unto holiness. Only the certainty of love, forgiving love, can do this. It is this certainty that melts the heart, dissolves our chains, disburdens our shoulders so that we stand erect, and makes us to run in the way of the divine commandments.

Condemnation is that which binds sin and us together. Forgiveness looses this fearful tie and separates us from sin. The power of condemnation which the Law possesses is that which makes it so strong and terrible. Cancel this power, and the liberated spirit rises into the region of love and in that region finds both will and strength for the keeping of the Law, a law which is at once old and new: old as to substance—“Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart” (Deu 6:5)—new as to mode and motive—“for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:2); that is, the law of the life-giving Spirit, which we have in Christ Jesus, has severed the condemning connection of that Law which leads only to sin and death. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh (i.e., unable to carry out its commandments in our old nature), God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom 8:3, 4).

The removal of condemnation is the dissolution of legal bondage and of that awful pressure upon the conscience that at once enslaved and irritated; disenabling as well as disinclining us from all obedience; making holiness both distasteful and dreadful, to be submitted to only through fear of future woe…But the message, “God is love,” is like the sun bursting through the clouds of a long tempest. The good news, “Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins” (Act 13:38), is like the opening of the prisoner’s dungeon gate. Bondage departs, and liberty comes. Suspicion is gone, and the heart is won. Perfect love has cast out fear (1Jo 4:18). We hasten to the embrace of Him Who loved us; we hate that which has estranged us; we put away all that caused the distance between us and Him; we long to be like one so perfect and to partake of His holiness. To be “partakers of the divine nature” (2Pe 1:4), once so distasteful, is henceforth most grateful and pleasant; and nothing seems now so desirable as to escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust.

We undergo many false changes, which look like holiness, but which are not really so…Time changes us, yet does not make us holy. The decays of age change us, but do not break the power of evil. One lust expels another; frailty succeeds to frailty; error drives out error; one vanity pails, another comes freshly in its room; one evil habit is exchanged for a second, but our [flesh] remains the same. The cross has not touched us with its regenerating power; the Holy Spirit has not purified the inner sources of our being and life.

Fashion changes us; the example of friends changes us; society changes us; excitement changes us; business changes us; affection changes us; sorrow changes us; dread of coming evil changes us; yet the heart is just what it was. Of the numerous changes in our character or deportment, how many are deceitful, how few are real and deep! Only that which can go down into the very depths of our spiritual being can produce any change that is worthy of the name.

The one spell[30] that can really transform us is THE CROSS. The one potent watchword is, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (Joh 12:32)…“For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (Joh 17:19). Christ presents Himself as the Holy One, Consecrated One, to God that His people may partake of His sanctification and be like Himself—saints, consecrated ones, men set apart for God by the sprinkling of the blood. Through the truth, they are sanctified by the power of the Holy Ghost. “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb 10:14); so that the perfection of His saints, both as to the conscience and as to personal holiness, is connected with the one offering and springs out of the one work finished upon Calvary. “By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10). Here again the sanctification is connected with the offering of the body of Christ. Whatever place “the power of His resurrection” may hold in our spiritual history, it is the cross that is the source of all that varied fullness by which we are justified and purified. The secret of a believer’s holy walk is his continual recurrence to the blood of the Surety and his daily intercourse with a crucified and risen Lord

Want of sensitiveness to the difference between truth and error is one of the evil features of modern Protestantism. Sounding words, well-executed pictures, [and] pretentious logic carry away multitudes. The distinction between Gospel and no Gospel is very decided and very momentous; yet many will come away from a sermon in which the free Gospel has been overlaid, not sensible of the want,[31] and praising the preacher. The conversions of recent years have not the depth of other days. Consciences are half-awakened and half-pacified; the wound is slightly laid open and slightly healed. Hence, the want of spiritual discernment as to truth and error. The conscience is not sensitive, else it would at once refuse and resent any statement, however well argued or painted, which encroached in the slightest degree upon the free Gospel of God’s love in Christ; which interposed any obstacle between the sinner and the cross; or which merely declaimed about the cross, without telling us especially how it saves and how it purifies.

From The Everlasting Righteousness, available as a paperback from Chapel Library.

Horatius Bonar (1808-1889): Scottish Presbyterian minister and prolific author of tracts, books, and hymns. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland.

My life is half over by all estimation and while on side it’s a half full glass the other hand reveals a very depressing reality: I have wasted much of it.  I have wasted my life on meaningless endeavors, invested in idols that have never paid a return, breaded the meal of the flesh too many times to count only to be burned and held nothing in the end.  I have so many things, seasons, moments and dreams that will never be as it relates to my marriage, my children and God’s people – and in retrospect, I am satisfied.  Why? Because while I wish I had labored differently, I do have today.

This day is a gift from God and it is honorable not to waste it but to redeem the time.

Redeeming the time is not to catch up on past waste, but to manage what is mine this moment and be a Christ-filled steward of it. Here are a few thoughts from my journal as of late:

  1. With actual minutes and seconds: knowing that I have just moments in each day I resolve that it belongs to the Lord who created it for His glory. Remaining mindful of this, filled with time in the word and prayer, I pray He will honor my time and help me use it wisely.  Remember, God can do more with nothing than I can do with everything, so I need no MORE TIME, I just need HIM!
  2. Thoughts are my worst enemy. So I must put to death thoughts that carry me away from my Lord.
  3. Fleshly pursuits are not just greed, idolatry and sin, but also measuring my “needs” incorrectly and spending time on worthless s0-called enjoyable things that result in no fruitfulness.  This can include idleness, misaligned study, youtube, facebook, text messages, tv shows, music, books, etc. We must pay attention to these things.
  4. Invest in the GOAL, not the rest stops. This means that I should not spend time redeeming memories and lessons of life with my kids, but knowing that my role and most vital part of their lives is feeding them truth, showing them Christ, and walking with them into adulthood as a Christ’s siblings together. We often spend countless hours fretting on the “steps” and “memories” thinking they matter, but they don’t.  The End Does!
  5. Praying more for the Lord’s help, use, and purpose in all things gives me the perspective I need. So, if I am talking with someone about life, then I pray the Lord would help me hear them and HIM so that I may respond seasoned with saltiness, not worthlessness.
  6. Investing in what is clearly eternal. Time, friends, events, travel etc. Is it worth it? What matters for all eternity? Invest in those things; they bring the greatest joy and the highest reward.  For me, I write, think, pray, sing, listen to the Lord’s word, invest in other’s lives and pray the Lord would put me in the lives of others while not WORRYING about anything.  (Of course, I cannot do this… so the Lord must do it in me!)
  7. STOP TIME MANAGEMENT – At all costs!  Many years ago my time management actually had to be scheduled.  NOW, I live by boundaries and goals that NEVER change, ever. Period. I put the phone down at certain times, period. I won’t look at emails until it is time. Period. I refuse to alter some things, and I refuse to be a slave to the time management, leadership development cult machine.  It is not good, but boundaries are. When we live with boundaries we are more apt and able to invest in the lives of others, especially in crisis.  See my thoughts on Pastoral Ministry boundaries here.
  8. I often pray and say in my heart continually something like this, and it is my prayer this day….

Oh, how this day must be gleaned for opportunity that will shine the brightest light on the glory of God in all things! May this moment be expanded toward eternity by sharing, speaking and savoring the supernatural radiance of the magnificence of the Lord’s Light through the Son Jesus Christ in all conversations, all thoughts, all meditations, all time, all labor and all matters. While we cannot make up for time that we’ve lost, relationships that we’ve mismanaged, opportunities that have fleeted, the time is now to exult in Christ Jesus. After all, there is nothing greater and nothing more powerful to pull two people together with an intimacy that surpasses the logic of the greatest mind.

So for you:  Run to the Lord Jesus, cry for His power upon you, be filled with all His fullness, pray for others’ joy and peace and labor unto that end until the Lord returns or until the breath in our lungs has passed. Either way, it is a joyous and meaningful tarry.  Maranatha!

DV,

Pastor James

I often peel through forums looking for vintage chess sets. I love to play, am teaching my kids to play and next school year will start a chess club with our local Christian Educator’s Association. Recently looking for a specific period style I have noticed several auctions online that state: “Vintage/Antique Authentic French Regency, Mid 18th Century: Authentic.” And while each title is different the gist is the same, they want the buyer to see the auction, consider it real and pay them money for the merchandise. If you don’t know what you’re looking for you could pay $50 for a chess set worth $5 and in some cases for high-end collectors (of which I am not) you could pay $40K for a chess set worth $5. If you don’t know what you’re looking at, it is easy to be duped.

One such auction caught my eye today and after several minutes of examining the seller, messaging back and two and seeing several pictures, I asked for a specific picture of the bottoms and sides of several pieces and the box. To my surprise the pictures came over and what in bright gold foil did I see? “Made in Taiwan” clearly marked the bottom of two kings and the box. While I am not opposed to Chinese manufactured merchandise, at this juncture I was discussing an authentic antique item that looked very much real until the mark of the maker was noticable. After making reference a few times with the seller, it came to light that he actually bought the set thinking it was authentic in order to make a profit. Sadly, he was burned, and while he had a very nice set to play with, it was not worth his buying price nor his asking.

So, this set me on a small internal rant of how people take advantage of so many so often for profit. Then it hit me, in some way many people who are “among” the church do the same thing. They look, talk, dress, act, schedule and appear to be born of God but in reality the stamp of their origin is hidden. They are not God’s but rather they belong to the world, the flesh, the culture, the enemy. Eventually, just like in the case of the chess set, the truth of the origin is made clear. So often people continue to hang around God’s people so that they can feel better, get more personal affection, be provided for and put on the appearance of Godliness but in the end they deny the power of God because they walk away from the faith that was never theirs to begin with. As they depart we can see that they were not made by God to be righteous in the image of His son, but are indeed still in the world.

Where this could go in application is continual and never-ending. So, I’ll leave it right here for all of us to ponder.  A good place to consider is John 3, John 6, Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10 along with 1 John etc. etc. etc.  The fruit of God’s faithful salvation is able to be seen but it is not salvation as many of the worldly and lost can put on the garments of acting and often times believe that they are the genuine article. God preserves His people until the end; are you standing fast in the confession of the hope in Christ Jesus? I pray so.

For His Glory,

Pastor James

Never has a child been more inept for life than the moment they graduate high school.

As a father of five, I am going to have many times to get the parenting thing right. Sadly, I never will and am OK with this reality, after all, I am pressing into a journey to “produce” children of a certain “type” and the truth is that the world (as it is) is not interested in my thoughts on how children are ready for life.  My oldest daughter is the first in succession, so I will point the remainder of my thoughts toward her and this season of her life:

Cady,

While there is a million points of wisdom that one could give, I choose to focus on those things which hold gravity and are eternal rather than anything else.

  1. Understand that you have not finished anything, but are beginning everything. While your academic endeavors and goals are completed, their completion hasn’t done anything to merit accolade, it is the fulfillment of that which is required. As Jesus taught, [9] Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? [10] So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:9-10 ESV)
  2. Your education, academy, home study and all the points within are not better than any other form of education. The point is to learn to learn, which you have done; but also to remember you have much more to learn and if Christ is not the center of your wisdom in ALL THINGS, you have failed.
  3. While honors and scholarships are certainly yours, these things are wasted in the chasm of eternity when all that we are given is not used for the purpose of giving Glory to Christ.
  4. There is NO separation of your future plans from your future glory. The point of your existence is that you are to be KNOWN by your faith in Christ, nothing else matters. I have said since you were born that I would rather you be homeless living in a box honoring Christ, than to be wealthy and worldly in a mansion without Him.
  5. See that the reality of academic success is wide, not narrow. When I entered the Ph.D. program while in California I felt a sense of honor and pride. I was glad and hopeful that I would learn, add to the conversation of theology and effect change in the lives of others. I was sadly mistaken. There are millions of us in the same field, the same focus and the same academic ability and I was just a small ant in the mound of my mission.
  6. The world is NOT yours to take and make. The world is God’s and he has handed a majority of her over to reprobation, for wide is the path that leads to destruction, but narrow is the gate of righteousness. Be a light in the world, not a faded part of it.
  7. Never blend in with the culture. The culture of every nation is pagan, no matter what “ethics” it may portray. Resist the enemy of God, the temptation of your flesh and love the Lord with all your heart.
  8. Be willing to endure suffering and worldly failure for the cause of Christ. God has NEVER promised his church success in the world but rather eternal life as they “joyfully accepted the plundering of their property”, “rejoiced in fiery trials”, “always being put to death”… The world will offer you what it will, just as the devil offered the world to Jesus. Don’t take the bait.
  9. In that line of thinking, remember the rich young ruler who had the world at his fingertips, the wisdom of the scriptures, the ethics of holiness, the ministry of truth and the wealth of nations.  In the end, this young ruler thought he was righteous because of all he had done. This rich young ruler is the picture of success for many, but in reality, he could not believe that Christ alone is where his hope lay and he trusted “success” in the eyes of God by his works.  Jesus rebuked him and exposed that this young man loved the world and could not love Christ. Never forget that Jesus says that those well-meaning people who press their children into worldliness are wasting their lives and ignoring the promises of God–Gaining the world, but losing their souls.  [I edited this portion due to vague and assumptive thoughts relating to the topic that favored some theological heresies after publishing.]
  10. Don’t fall prey to materialism.  1 John 2:15-17 teaches that one cannot love God and the world. They are incompatible.  We cannot amass wealth on one hand while enjoying the wealth of glory on the other. It is easy to feel as though security comes through substance, but we know that is a lie of Satan. Security is in the one we do not now see, but we love with a joy that is inexpressible.
  11. Run and fight the good fight, the good race, the right dream.  The American Dream is a fool’s errand. While fallaciously I write without argument, this is my remembrance of those things that are already securely planted in your soul. God has never established such garbage for his people and has promised the opposite, “All who desire to live a Godly life will be persecuted.”
  12. Rest in the sufficiency of Christ.  Whether you go to college, get a career, give your life for missions, began a family, start a business, write, teach, dream or fly, never forget that God has you and all that you are is well established in His power and might. Nothing else is needed. Rest in Christ when you have to quit a job because the company is unethical. Rest in Christ when your friends leave your side because Christ’s word is preeminent over politics, family and culture. Rest in Christ when everything you are is hated and you lose it all. Rest in Him when you keep it all and it appears no pain is in sight; it is then you must fight the temptation to not be content in Christ.  Remember Paul’s teaching in Philippians 4.
  13. Live for the glory of God. Now and forever and don’t ever let anyone put you down for that. Even if I fall prey to the stupidity of men’s wisdom, listen not to those words but remember the words of the Lord as I have taught and prayerfully lived before you.
  14. Learn that you will always be a learner. No one is a master of anything and no master of anything is without a master. You will need to glean all you can and grow in Christ as you sort out the chaff of life from truth. Hold fast to the word of life because when the day of the Lord draws near, your knowledge of modulus and Cicero will be useless. That is one of the points of learning, that we see the futility of it all in the face of Christ.
  15. Laugh. Live with joy and know that happiness comes from Christ alone. Period. Nothing more… Take yourself as you are, learn to enjoy laughing at your weaknesses and trials as though you know the reality of the future; because you do. Smile and let the world see the beauty of your soul and the resolve of your heart.

I am proud to have you as my child, my daughter, my friend and my sister in the Lord. I am thankful to the Lord of Heaven for all He has made you to be and how he has given you strength above your age and wisdom above your years. Keep those things that reveal His power, hone those things that are in need of change but in all things, know that your parents are glad you are who you are and most of all I am proud in the Lord that He has saved you and that you do have a love for His truth. Keep that, let the rest go as it will, and you will be truly successful in all things.

Your Dad.

p.s. I may add to this as the Lord strikes me… prepare. 🙂

Scriptural Authority

Scripture certainly has many references about the reality of false teachers and those who harm the church with lies and errors but lately it has become fashionable to be the defender of error leaving many Christians proclaiming “the not truth” rather than the truth. While error is certainly something that should always be discerned and corrected, there are clear biblical guidelines on what this looks like. Primarily, there is a GRAVE difference between the “evil” false teachers of Paul’s day and the ignorant, confused, or “still learning” Christians among the church. Scripture reveals that the false teachers are actually false converts who pervert the Gospel and blaspheme God while causing undue harm to the body of Christ and to the name of God. MOST others fall into the category where I have lived most of my life: incorrect understanding of doctrine.

The cause of this ignorance and error is vast but for the most part as a culture Christians no longer study the bible but rather read articles, watch videos, make assertions, and become ditto heads. I can say this because it was the majority of my early ministry days and by the Lord’s grace, He has spared me the grave and gross stupidity I once had because He opened my eyes to the authority of Scripture and has caused me to be careful as one who will give an account for EVERY word I speak on His behalf. It should be noted that of ALL the instruction given the church in the New Testament, most of the damage done, most of the rebuke, most of the correction given deals with the false “living” of professing Christians who neglect the power of the gospel of Grace by their continued sin and it is this that causes some of the greatest harm to the church. The damaging affairs are compounded when Christians begin to embark on a crusade of self-righteous expression and forsake the commands of Christ to make disciples by teaching them all Jesus has taught instead of the antithesis.  (Caveat: I am not saying that there is no room for calling out heresy, false teacher and the like, but it cannot be the mantra of one’s ministry and be biblical)

Back to the point that Christians among the church are brothers and sisters who have been purchased by Christ and all belong to the other in responsibility and affection. So, as family we are to be invested in the needs of others and often times those needs are to grow in our understanding of Grace, Doctrine and Scripture. So, as we live together for God’s glory when we see error we are to be patient, correct gently, give answers with respect as teachers and friends who care and not as task masters who “know better” and Lord over others with our superiority. After all, if it were not for God the Holy Spirit giving us wisdom we would be – and have been – just like them.

Sadly, much more damage is done to truth by those who act wickedly and have no real evidence of love for others. Patience is always called a virtue but in reality it is a revelation of the fruit of God in one’s life, so in matters like this it gives us the opportunity by God to invest in each other and show others the truth as we have seen it through the scripture. We are to have a unity of faith in Christ and have a unified understanding of all things related but because everyone is not immediately gifted with divine knowledge and wisdom we have to bear with each other as we all grow as others have to bear with us. Scripture teaches that we who are spiritual are to correct others in sin, lead others in service, out do others in love, overwhelm others in faith and generosity and express a concern that is explicitly supernatural in nature.

So, the next time I hear you all blabbing about something incorrectly I won’t cut out your tongues but rather take up the charge to walk as your brother with you and begin to guide you to the truth. In turn, please don’t cut mine out either… I just got it reattached… and sadly, they were wrong. 🙂 However, when I or others come bold against the truth… well, we have to rebuke it sharply and remove it from among us if repentance isn’t found and the truth isn’t sound. Seems like I have said these things before…

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:1-11)

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James