Monday, January 8, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, January 8, 2018

Let Us Speak The Truth

In the January 8, 2018 issue of New York Times, Alex Stone wrote an article entitled, “Is Your Child Lying to You? That’s Good” The article specified that, in an experiment, lying children were smarter than the truth tellers.  The article further indicated, “Other research has shown that the children who lie have better “executive functioning skills” (an array of faculties that enable us to control our impulses and remain focused on a task) as well as a heightened ability to see the world through other people’s eyes, a crucial indicator of cognitive development known as “theory of mind.” 

This research sheds some light on what brings success in this worldly system. The Bible agrees that the people in the worldly system are shrewder than the people of the light (Luke 16:8).  But the Bible also says all liars have an appointment with the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8).  In another scripture the Bible said there is no profit if one shrewdly gains the whole world, but loses his own soul (Mark 8:36).  Jesus went further and said liars are like their own father, the devil, who lies as a matter of course (John 8:44).

God honors the truth tellers who will tell the truth from their heart even if it hurts them (Psalm 15:1, 2, 4).  He even says that when we speak the truth in love, we will grow up to be like Him who is the Head of the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:15).  Only the truth will make us free (John 8:32). Even though some may say that the truth is out of style and that facts do not matter, let us be like Christ and speak the truth in every situation.

Luke 16:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.

Revelation 21:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Mark 8:36
New International Version (NIV)
36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

John 8:44
New International Version (NIV)
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Psalm 15:1, 2, 4
New International Version (NIV)
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;
4 who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;

Ephesians 4:15
New International Version (NIV)
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

John 8:32
New International Version (NIV)
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Pastor's Ponderings, January 2, 2018

We Can Depend Upon God Throughout Eternity

Many of us remember the story of the Three Little Pigs who built their separate houses of different materials.  One built his from straw, the next from sticks, and the last from bricks.  When the wolf came to each house, he said the same thing, “Little pig, little pig won’t you let me come in?"  When the first two pigs refused, the wolf huffed and puffed, blew their house down and ate them.  The last whose house was built from bricks also refused to let him in, but the wolf could not blow his house down and was defeated by the smart pig.

This childhood nursery rhyme contains a powerful truth.  The Bible says that we must build our hopes, dream, and our vision on things that will last eternally (1 Timothy 6:17).  In the book of Matthew, Jesus shares the parable of the person who built his house on sand and the other who build his house on solid rock.  When the elements beat upon the house with a solid foundation, it remained while the house with the sandy foundation, collapsed (Matthew 7:24-27).

People, finances, institutions, organizations, religions, educational beliefs and doctrines will not last.  They are good in the short run, but we can only depend upon an unchanging Jesus who will never change (Hebrews 13:8).  God is love, He is merciful, holy, and righteous, and a very present help in our trouble (Psalm 46:1). 
Even heaven and earth and our oceans will eventually go away (Revelation 21:1). We must not go into 2018 trusting in things that will not last.  We have the awesome privilege of leaning on, depending on and resting on an eternal God who is faithful and true, who will never leave us and never forsake us during our good times or bad times (Hebrews 13:5).  We can depend upon Him eternally.

1 Timothy 6:17
New Living Translation (NLT)
17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.

Matthew 7:24-27
New Living Translation (NLT)
24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.
25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.
26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.
27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Hebrews 13:8
New Living Translation (NLT)
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Psalm 46:1
New Living Translation (NLT)
1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble

Revelation 21:1
New Living Translation (NLT)
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.

Hebrews 13:5
New Living Translation (NLT)
5 Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Pastor's Pondering, December 26, 2017

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

In a climatic scene of the 1991 American action gangster film, New Jack City, a sobbing Gerald "Gee Money" Wells weeps and asks his former partner in crime, Nino Brown, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  After he quickly kills him, Nino says, “Yes.”  The obvious follow up question is then why not act like it?  This question has been asked repeatedly since after the fall from the Garden of Eden, when Cain replied to God when asked about his brother Abel whom he had just killed (Genesis 4:8-9). 

As men and women of God, we have a responsibility to help maintain the standard of moral excellence and holiness among our brothers and sisters.  We ought to be able to answer the question that God asks us, “Where is your brother?” As individuals, we may fail and exhibit weaknesses, but when we are willing to expose ourselves to each other in moral accountability, we can help them help us (1 Thessalonians 5:10-11). 

The Bible says that the strong ought to follow Christ’s example and bear the weakness of others by building them up (Romans 15:1-3).  When we are willing to say to our accountability partners, “I have a problem in this area, give me a hand, support me, pray for me, but don’t simply excuse me,” it demonstrates that we will not be supporters of personal racism, sexism, homophobia, or putting down others while calling ourselves, lovers of God.

Love does not excuse others sins, but also not gleefully expose others because love covers many of our sins (1 Peter 4:8).  Sometimes we have to exhibit tough love to others and remind them that while man looks on the outward appearance, God looks on our hearts. If we all want to go together to live with Christ throughout eternity, He requires holiness (1 Peter 1:16). 

Therefore, as we go into the 2018, let us remember that we want to demonstrate, through our lives, the scripture that God is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24) by helping to keep each other from falling into sin and to be able to present ourselves faultless before God.

Therefore, yes, we are our brother’s keeper.

Genesis 4:8-9
New International Version (NIV)
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11
New International Version (NIV)
10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Romans 15:1-3
New International Version (NIV)
1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

1 Peter 4:8
New International Version (NIV)
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 1:16
New International Version (NIV)
16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.

Jude 24
King James Version (KJV)
24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Pastor's Ponderings, December 18, 2017

Do To Others Like You Want Others To Do To You

As a father of three young ladies and as a pastor, the subject of sexual assault of women is especially painful.  Rachel Simmons, Author and Co-Founder of Girls Leadership, wrote an article in the December 15, 2017, issue of Huffington Post entitled, “When Middle Schoolers Say #MeToo.”  The disturbing article said, “To be sexually harassed as a girl is to learn a lesson as old as time, one that is unlikely to be displaced by well-intentioned girl-power computer science classes and soccer drills: A girl’s most important source of value is her body and how others look at it. Known as self-objectification, the trait shows up in girls as young as 11, and is linked to depression, poor academic performance, social problems and eating disorders.”

The twisted message that our society has pushed on women is ungodly and wicked. All of us are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image (Psalm 139:14, Genesis 1:27).  Our God personally put us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) and He does not make us to be assaulted, hurt, and bullied by others.

Over the last months, we have seen great men fall from high status because of their horrible behavior towards women.  Lizzie Crocker in a December 17, 2017 article in the Daily Beast wrote, “It made many men reflect on whether they’d been complicit enablers of sexual misconduct, or offenders themselves. And it led to a collective reckoning with systemic sexism in our culture.”

Why? The Bible says to train up a child the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). It seems that while children ought to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1), it seems some parents for various reasons have not been able to effectively train children to be respectful men and women.  Naturally, we would like to emphasize to the world that our children did not learn that behavior from us. We may take credit when our children do well as adults, but not take responsibility when they do wrong.

Let us who love the Lord endeavor to pray for our male children and instruct them that their masculinity does not lie in hurting our female children. Let us pray that the females of our society do not self objectify themselves so that they do not accomplish the purposes of God in their lives and that their standard is Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith.  We must all remember that we should not harass, shame, or assault one and another because we must do unto others as we would have others do to us (Matthew 7:12).

Psalm 139:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Genesis 1:27
New International Version
27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them

Psalm 139:13
New International Version
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb

Proverbs 22:6

New International Version (NIV)
6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Ephesians 6:1
New International Version (NIV)
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

Matthew 7:12
New International Version
12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets