Stand Firm!

“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.” (Ephesians 6:13 NLT).

Very recently, a pastor of a church in Florida cancelled doing a funeral and the comments made inspired this commentary. It would appear that the masses making very negative statements about the pastor and Christianity are born out of a lack of knowledge about how God expects all to live. When the family of the deceased (a gay man) requested the funeral to be held at the church, they apparently forgot to inform the pastor of the man’s lifestyle and when the pastor discovered it in the media, he made a decision to stand on the principles of God’s Word and now most feel justified in attacking him and his beliefs. Some of the comments appear to have been made from little to no knowledge of the circumstances when one commenter posted, “I bet he (the pastor) didn’t have a problem taking his money every week.” My question is, “Was the deceased a member of the church or was it just “his family” who were members?

What does it mean to be a member of a church? Well, for some that answer would vary and for some—who attend regularly—they just go to be going. Most churches—whether part of a larger institution or they are independent—have by-law and a constitution by which the church is run. Granted, there are many churches who make exceptions in various situations, but that by no means should nullify the original intent of those by-laws whatever they are. And most certainly, having by-laws in place should not be a recent to make a spectacle of a pastor.
I don’t know about most of the Christian community, but I am really tired of the church being made out to be a monster simply because most of us have principles—based on the bible and tend to live our lives accordingly. For those who don’t have a clue—live your life any way you want, but when you die—go the funeral home and leave the churches out of the equation that negates life in Christ Jesus.

Not too long ago, a similar incident surfaced and had people embroiled in judgment against Marvin Winans. That scenario—the church’s refusal to dedicate a child who had been born out of wedlock brought out the worst in non-believers and even had me questioning what some of the so-called believers had to say. Very simply put—the media failed to say whether the woman in question was a member of the church (they simply stated she attended), and then failed to ask the woman why she refused the “private dedication service” that was offered. Of course, the general public seldom gets “accurate information from all parties involved,” we only get what the media wants to publish. I don’t which is worse—sensationalism hounds or those who are “so upset” with the pastors.

 

Part Two posted tomorrow!

Holiness (excerpt)

How does one define holiness?  According to Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary, “personal holiness is a work of gradual development.  It is carried on under many hindrances, hence the frequent admonitions to watchfulness, prayer, and perseverance” (I Corinthians 1:30; II Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:23, 24).  Simply put, true holiness is being as much like God as we can.  We can exhibit love for all, compassion for all, and maintain a right relationship with God so that He may guide us in all that we do.  If we refuse to obey His Word, we cannot be in a right relationship with Him.  We must also remember that we are not gods and we do not have the right to tell Him what He can or cannot do either with others or through others. 

Holiness is not defined by man’s inept attempt to keep people bound to legalism.  “If a woman is truly holy, her clothing will completely cover her extremities; her hair will be covered, and she will be void of make-up and jewelry.”  There are no specifics as to how to define how a man is holy as far as how their dress goes.   So says legalism.

What is legalism?  Legalism is the way of the Pharisees and Sadduccees.  These are the rules by which people determine (not by the Word of God) who is holy and who is not.  Legalism is another word for bondage.  Bondage hinders and prohibits the Holy Spirit from directing and guiding an individual and keeps people controlled by other people based upon their traditions.  Jesus gives us warning about such people when talking about the Pharisees.  “Thus you are nullifying and making void and of no effect [the authority of] the Word of God through your tradition, which you [in turn] hand on.  And many things of this kind you are doing” (Mark 7:13 Amplified).  In this particular passage Jesus is referring to how the

Pharisees attempt to control men as it relates to the care of their parents.  It also holds true for much of the church world’s attempts to establish rules.

How many rules does a church have?

There are rules for dressing in order to come into the sanctuary.

There are rules for committing a portion of one’s income to support the church.

There are rules for what one can do outside the church building.

There are rules for which one can hold associations or affiliations.

There are rules for when to come to church.

There are rules for who can teach or preach.

There are rules for where one can sit in the church.

There are many rules for the women.

There are some rules for the men.

There are rules for the young people.

There are rules for the rules.

Does all of this sound familiar?  If one looks closely at all the rules, the majority of the rules are directed towards women.  [Remember when the Pharisees brought the woman who was “caught in the very act” to Jesus?  What happened to the man?  The “law” states that both should be stoned to death.]  This discovery should not be a surprise since the majority of churches are established by men for men.  Women simply become an after-thought in the consideration of everything that goes on around them.  This is a fascinating phenomenon since most churches could not continue to function if it were not for the women involved.

 

This is an excerpt from Holiness, Not A Look, But a Lifestyle! available on amazon.com

He Will Do It!

“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19 NIV)

I’m beginning to think that the reason many people do not believe God or in His existence is because they tend to think of Him in “human” terms.  They try to bring God down to man’s level of thinking, giving Him some of man’s attributes, and then thinking God will respond to situations like man will. They do not understand that God is Spirit and therefore not subject to the limitations of man–physically, emotionally, or mentally. Hallelujah!  I’m so glad He is not like us!  We are so fickle-minded, we change what we do and think in a heartbeat.  We lie to one another, seldom keep promises; especially to children and then we wonder why our lives are such a mess.

God won’t lie to us because truth and integrity are part of His attributes.  He won’t change His mind because He has no need to do so.  He can see far beyond what we can even think and He has already determined how things should be and the consequences of our actions. What He does, is for our good.  Every good parent wants only the best for their children and they plan for their children’s future. God is my “Daddy” and I know that His plans for me are designed to prosper me and not to harm me that I have a future with hope and a promise fulfilled (Jeremiah 29:11 paraphrased).  What He says, He means–He will not change His mind about what He speaks.  What He promises, He will make sure it happens.  When we receive His promises is entirely up to us--when we obey!

God is love!  Love has no desire to harm or disappoint or discourage.  Love comforts, chastises, encourages, motivates, inspires, and holds onto us even when we don’t deserve it.  That’s love!

Hold onto His promises, obey His Word, and watch how He works.  Whatever He has promised, He will bring it pass.  He will do it!  Hallelujah!

 

More Precious

“She is more precious than rubies…” (Proverbs 3:15); “I will make a man more precious than gold…”(Isaiah 13:12).

Be encouraged, all is not lost.  Even though the world seems to be tumbling far from God, He has not forgotten those of us, who believe.  Notice how God compares wisdom to a female and says “she” is more precious than rubies (v.13).  He says in that verse, “blessed are those who find wisdom and gain understanding” (NIV).  Are we seeking wisdom?  Do we have an understanding?

For all those who understand the purpose of the bible and have a steadfast faith in God, we are walking in wisdom (most of the time).  We understand that it is He who formed the worlds and not man. We understand that man could not reconcile himself back to God without Jesus.  We understand that only the foolish think there is no God and that man has achieved all he has, without God.  We are more precious to God than precious jewels and minerals.

We could also understand that the man, made more precious than gold is Jesus!  How precious is The Lamb, that precious blood that flowed on Calvary that you and I might be saved at the end to receive our rightful place in heaven. Our precious is His love towards that He was willing to die for us.

Because He is, He can say, we are more precious than any thing ever created–when we walk in the faith, given to everyone who desires to receive.

Know who you are and how He sees you–more precious–and walk in His favor with your head held high–with wisdom and understanding of who He is.