Month: October 2016

Family is a Reflection of God’s Goodness

unnamedYet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8:6). 

I am blessed to have a beautiful wife and two healthy children. They are more than I deserve. What a treasure it is to have a family who looks up to you and prays for you on a daily basis. It’s a privilege to be called their Dad.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an interview for a job at the hospital. Right before the interview I felt nervous. Then I got a text message from my wife, saying: “We are praying for you.” After that message, I felt calm and confident. What a blessing it is to know you have a family at home rooting for you to succeed!

My family is a reflection of God’s goodness. He is our heavenly Father. He is our comforter, redeemer, healer, advocate, Savior, fill in the blank (Ps. 18:1-2,Jn. 3:16, 14:26; 1 Tim. 1:15).

God loves us more than we can comprehend. He wants to have a relationship with you. Have you ever thought about trusting Him to be your Lord and Savior? Do you doubt God’s goodness?

If so, here are some verses to remind you of His great love. 

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—

1 John 4:9-11 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, there are many people in this world who grew up in a broken home. They don’t know what it’s like to be cared for. I pray that they would come to know you, their Heavenly Father, as a God of peace and grace. A Father who loves unconditionally. A Father who is compassionate and patient with his children because thats who you are. Open their eyes to this truth. I pray all this in Jesus name. Amen.

Only God’s Endurance Lasts Forever

For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you (1 Pet. 1:24-25).” 

When I was in high school, my swim coach would assign the hardest practice the day before new years. We would swim for two hours without rest. The goal, of course, was to increase our endurance and strength training for the new year. During the moment, it was painful. However, that one practice alone gave me enough endurance to last throughout the season.

Endurance is the key to swimming. You can have all the strength in the world, but without endurance, you won’t last more than 50 yards in the pool. Our coach knew this. That’s why his main focus was to build our endurance so we would be ready on the day of competition.

As you know, endurance can’t last forever. Even the greatest athletes need to take a break. We are fragile creatures. Our energy is lost quickly. Without sleep, we can’t even survive.

Genesis 3:19 tells us, “For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” That’s how fragile we are. The Psalmist writes that man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow (Ps. 144:4). Finally, James tells us our life is like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (4:14).

Isn’t this depressing? At first glance, yes. Deep within our hearts, I believe no one wants to die. We want to endure forever.

But the good news is that God promises us eternal life. He is the word of the Lord who endures forever. When Jesus was on earth, he told people: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

All of us will experience physical death because of our sins. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. When Jesus said the one who believes in him will live even though they die, he meant believers will be resurrected after death and live forever.

God is the source of life. He is the Creator who has the power to give life to all who trust in Him. He is infinite and endures forever. As Scripture teaches above, this truth was preached to the world.

The Bible is the good news that God saves sinners. He rescues them from death and gives eternal life. In Acts 2:38, Peter was asked, “What must we do to be saved?” He responded: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

If you haven’t trusted in Jesus Christ, I would encourage you to do that today. Repent of your sins and be baptized. Call on his name to save you. You don’t have the endurance to make it through life without him. Lean on him. He will give you strength. For He endures forever!

As a Christian, I can’t Vote for Clinton or Trump.

 

As a Christian, I can’t support Trump’s misogynistic worldview, Clinton’s age-based discrimination of the unborn, or Johnson’s extreme view of limited government, which is borderline anarchy. Thus, I have decided to vote for a write-in candidate for President, Evan McMullin. He is a conservative leader with conservative values. You can find out more about him here. 

When I told my Facebook friends I wasn’t going to vote for Donald Trump, this is what one individual told me: “You will be handing the future of the Supreme Court, our boarders and, sanctity of life over to Hillary Clinton…..simple as that.”

Here is how I responded: I will not be handing over the sanctity of life, our borders, and the future of the Supreme Court over to Hillary Clinton. The Republican party bears that responsibility.

I am deeply concerned with the sanctity of life, but the way to win this battle is not solely through the political process. If conservatives are deeply concerned, then the way to combat it in Kokomo is to follow your local pro-life board. They are always looking for help. Call them up and ask to take a lead.

Second, build relationships with broken sinners who see the value of parenting a precious child. Visit them before they walk into an abortion clinic. If they already performed an abortion and regret it, buy them lunch and pray for healing.

Third, create a website and blog about the problems relating to abortion and how to bring awareness. Speakfortheunborn.com is a great example of a blog you can mimic in your local area. Crowdfunding is a great resource to use in order to generate funds to expand.

Fourth, continue to support local agencies like the Pregnancy Resource Center. I know your church has done a great job supporting this great agency, but maybe there is an opportunity to do even more. You can always write a letter to the Editor and share your heart on these issues.

As Christians, we are called not only to show up, vote, and stand for our convictions, but also pour our lives into hurting people who desperately need the grace of God. That includes everyone! In the end, each one of us will give an account for how we responded in this election. I won’t tell you who to vote for and I think there are good arguments on both sides. But as for me, this is what I have chosen.

Another friend of mine told me that not endorsing Donald Trump is like a neighborhood pal that wanted to play baseball with the rest of us but his team lost badly, he became upset and went home even though we said we were playing.

Here is how I responded to this argument. Good thoughts. I agree with you that loyalty is important. However, what if you found out the rest of your baseball team was bullying other kids in the neighborhood without your awareness. Even though you made a pact in the beginning to play until the end, would it be right for you to stay loyal to these friends? The only way to remain loyal is to ask your friends to apologize and change their behavior. But after the second presidential debate, I believe Trump made it clear he hasn’t changed. I hope he does, but at this point, the trajectory only looks worse for him. Surely I will pray for him, but he should have been removed from the team to protect the Republican party’s reputation. The Republican party will never be the same again.

I understand the emotional difficulty it has become to choose the right president for this year’s election. I still believe it’s vital you vote for somebody, but remember. As Christians, Jesus is our President. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. While we serve this great nation America, it’s not our permanent home. Therefore, let’s be good citizens of the United States as we continue praising Jesus as the King of our hearts. God bless you all.

The Fear of the Lord Produces Wisdom

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy one is understanding (Prov. 9:10).”

In the Bible, the word “fear” has many connotations. For instance, fear can mean respect in the way an employee views his or her boss (Josh. 24:14). It can refer to a scary or dreadful situation (Deut. 5:25). Lastly, fear can be associated with a deep sense of reverence or awe (Isa. 6:5). Fearing the Lord is a mixture of all three.

Jesus explicitly said in Matthew 10:28: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Of course, the one who has authority over our eternal fate is God.

When I got in trouble as a kid, my Mom would send me to my room until Dad got home. My room was right above the garage so when I heard it open, I waited in anticipation for my Dad to call me downstairs.

“Chad, get down here now!” he would yell. I would slowly walk downstairs into the kitchen. “Sit down,” he retorted. When I would sit down, he would always say to me with his index finger tapping the table, “Look at my eyes. Did you disobey Mom? Were you being disrespectful to her?”

“Yes,” I nervously responded. He answered back, “You need to change your attitude and apologize to her right now.” I ended with, “Yes sir.” And that was the end of our discussion.

That moment of fear made me change my attitude and led me to ask Mom for forgiveness. Immediately afterwards, our relationship was restored. Thus, discipline from my Dad was a good thing because the goal was reconciliation. It also gave me wisdom to resolve this situation in a positive way.

This analogy is true with our Heavenly Father. When we disobey Him, he gets upset. Sin is really distorting God’s creation. For instance, when we lie, we distort God’s law of truth. When we lust, our minds pervert it’s original intent for marriage. Since God is holy and good, He must hate what is unholy and evil.

While God hates sin, He desires all people to repent and believe in the gospel. Scripture says God is not slow in keeping his promise. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).

Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of action. Instead of lying, we tell the truth. Instead of falling for the temptation of greed, we act generously towards our neighbors. Healthy fear, knowing that God will judge us for practicing evil, motivates us to do what is “good, true, and noble” (Philip. 4:8).

God’s whole goal is to transform us into His image so He would be magnified on the Earth. Will you let him do that? Then fear God and you will begin to grow in wisdom and holiness that brings honor and glory to Jesus. Have a blessed day!

Dear Church, Carry One Another’s Burdens!

 

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).” 

The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to the Church in Galatia. He knows church life can get messy. Church is not a place for the righteous, but a hospital for sick people. It’s a community for broken sinners who desperately need the forgiveness and grace of God. Therefore, as Christians, we must carry one another’s burdens just like doctors must heal their patients. Of course, the primary physician is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Moreover, the Bible says when we carry one another’s burdens, we will fulfill the law of Christ. Really? How can we fulfill the law of Christ? Remember what Jesus said: The law is summed up by these two commands: love God and love neighbor (Mark. 12:30-31). Therefore, when we love one another deeply through the power of the Holy Spirit, our lives reflect the very one who fulfilled the law for us. So we ourselves can’t fulfill the law, but the Holy Spirit within us can (Eph. 2:7-9).

The Apostle Paul makes it clear it’s only Christ who perfectly obeyed the law.”Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified (Gal. 2:16).”

At first glance, it seems like a contradiction. Paul is saying we can fulfill the law by carrying one another’s burdens, but then he says by the works of the law no one will be justified. So what is he saying? I think Paul means that when we carry one another’s burdens, we reflect the “image of God.” As Jesus said in Matthew 25:40:”The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40).” So when we carry one another’s burdens, we are bearing the image of the one who fulfilled the law by carrying all of our sins on the cross. Praise the Lord!

Here are a few ideas you can do to carry your neighbor’s burdens.

  1. When they share your burden with you, don’t say: “I will pray for you brother.” Instead, say, “Let me pray for you right now!”
  2. Write them a letter, encouraging them to continue fighting through their trials. Remind them that all things work together for their good according to Scripture.
  3. Think of a way you can serve them. If they are elderly, go and rake leaves. If there are busy Moms in your congregation, start up a bible study at the church and offer free childcare.
  4. Meet weekly with a brother or sister over a cup of coffee. Read a book together for accountability purposes and end in prayer.

There are many way a church can carry one another’s burdens. If you have any additional ideas, please feel free to comment below. Have a blessed day!

Trials Shape us to become Great for God

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).”

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a trial as, “a test, usually over a limited period of time, to discover how effective or suitable something or someone is.”

Scripture has many verses concerning trials. The Apostle James tells Christians to rejoice when they go through various trials (Jam. 1:2-3). Jesus reminds his disciples to stand firm during their hardships (Lk. 21:19). Hebrews 6:12 implores the saints not to be sluggish, but imitate a patient attitude through suffering (Heb. 6:12).

I don’t think any of us enjoy trials. In fact, I ask myself the question many times, “Why Lord are you allowing these situations to happen?” The natural man enjoys peace, stability, happiness, and a smooth transition from one life scenario to another. When it becomes disrupted, anxiety sets in.

Recently I resigned from a financially stable ministry position in my hometown. We left a place with many good friends and moved 1,160 miles to a new city with a different culture. It’s been a difficult transition for us. But I am reminded of Abraham when God told him, “Leave your country and your people and go to the land I will show you (Gen. 12:1).” While it’s hard to leave a location you are familiar with, God has a purpose for it. Instead of trusting in a stable job, God is teaching me to find security in Him.

“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by (Ps. 57:1).”

Are you in a season of trial? What is God teaching you? In the midst of it all, remember that God is shaping you to become great. He is working all things out for your good (Rom. 8:28). Lean on this truth and never give up because God’s heart won’t stop coming after you! The song below exemplifies this beautiful truth.

 

 

Does Mark 16:16 Teach Baptism is an Essential Condition for Salvation?

opened-bibleAnd Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16). -New American Standard Bible 

The Scripture plainly states, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Easy enough? Case Solved? Nope. Theologians like to complicate the perspicuity or clarity of Scripture by telling common folk this was not the author’s intent. They may explain this passage away with theological jargon, reject Mark 16 as canonical, or tell you the original language Greek denies it.

Since theologians assume you aren’t likely to open up a Greek-English Lexicon to prove them wrong, the conversation usually ends there. In fact, whoever told you baptism is not necessary for salvation was probably told the same thing by a pastor, mentor, or professor he or she trusted.

For these reasons, it’s crucial to mimic the Bereans by examining what you are told in light of God’s word (Acts 17:11). In this essay, I want to lay out arguments from both sides so you can discern truth from error.

Theologians who argue against baptism as a necessary component for salvation usually start out by saying,”While Scripture seems to indicate belief and baptism are necessary for salvation, this is not what Mark meant.” Their reasoning lies in the difference between the first clause and the second clause of the sentence.

E. Calvin Beisner, professor at Knox Theological Seminary, made this statement: “While the first clause says that all who both believe and are baptized will be saved, it does not say that all who neither believe nor are baptized will not be saved. In other words, the clause does not exclude any group, while it does tell of a group of people who will be saved, namely, those who both believe and are baptized. But the second clause negates one group: those who do not believe will not be saved. There is no negation of the group of those who believe but are not baptized. Thus, while the verse as a whole does teach that belief is essential to salvation, it does not teach that baptism is.”

To summarize, professor Beisner is arguing that baptism is not an essential condition since it’s omitted from the latter part of this passage. But think about it for a moment. If one doesn’t believe, do you think they will get baptized? For example, if I say, “He who turns on his TV and tunes in to channel 5 will see the program; he who refuses to turn on his TV will miss the program.” If the person doesn’t turn on the TV, do I need to also tell him not to tune into channel 5? No, because not turning on the TV will prevent the person from going to the channel in the first place. Therefore, arguing the omission of baptism in the second clause proves it’s not necessary is a weak argument.

The second most common argument against baptism is to suggest Mark 16:9-20 did not appear in the best of the manuscripts of the New Testament. Because it appears in late manuscripts, it should not be used as proof of doctrine. While it is true that Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus do not have this passage, Codex Alexandrius and Bezae do, and both are early manuscripts from about AD 350. Also, I side with Metzger’s third view: the Gospel accidentally lost its last leaf before it was multiplied by transcription.

The third argument against baptism as being part of the gospel is the fear its adding works to the gospel, which would violate justification by faith alone in Christ alone. First, baptism is not a work of man, but a work of God (Col. 2:11-13). Jesus applies his atoning blood to us personally and raises us from spiritual death (Rom. 6:3). There is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. Second, it’s not a command, but rather a promise. When we call upon the name of the Lord during baptism, He is the one saving us (Acts 22:16) and rescuing us from the flood of judgment (1 Pet. 3:21), not ourselves. Third, Mark 16 reveals that baptism and faith are synonymous since both are linked together so closely in this context.

In conclusion, I would encourage you to research the subject of baptism. There are many views out there, but Scripture must be the authority. Other passages to consider are Acts 2:38-42, Acts 22:16, Rom. 6:4-6, Gal. 3:27, Col. 2:11-13, and 1 Pet. 3:21. Read each passage in its context and I would encourage you to read the Greek. The original language actually strengthens the argument for baptism being necessary for salvation. I believe once people view baptism as a visualization of faith rather than an act of obedience, they will begin to see it more clearly. Please feel free to disagree in the comments below. Have a blessed day!