Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dealing with Pain

“Forgive and forget” is an oft used phrase for conflict. It is obvious that forgiveness is a necessity for us all (Matt. 6:14-15; 18:35). I have preached about forgiveness on occasion. During these times I was sure I understood what the Bible intended and was certain about proper attitudes and conduct from a Biblical standpoint.

But there is a variable that sometimes has been unaccounted for. It is the hurt that is experienced from the offense. Until you have experienced a deep hurt caused by someone else, it is very hard to help people know how to deal with it. This pain is not something that just goes away in a moment. Even after a wrong forgiven, this pain can linger inexplicably no matter how hard one tries to remove it.

How long does it take for medicine to work? When you have a headache or some other ailment, you want relief as fast as you can get it. If there really were a drug out there that would provide instantaneous relief, the inventor could name the price. But all solutions take time. Some may alleviate the pain for now, but it can come back again at a later date.

Before we get too discouraged, we might consider the fact that our Savior dealt with pain. He endured hardship, rejection, accusations, physical harm, and misconceptions about His purpose. But over the process of time His pain has been eased. His pain has been eased by His victorious resurrection and ascension. His pain has been eased by obedient followers who also allowed themselves to experience similar sufferings for His name’s sake. His pain has been eased by the revelation of the truth over time. His pain has been eased because of His heart of genuine forgiveness and mercy, understanding the nature of the people He created.

I wish I could tell those reading this article there will be no difficult times ahead. I wish I could tell them there would be no sickness, pain or heartache, no death, no rejection or hurt feelings, no recurrent pain long after an incident has taken place. But pain allows us to grow and depend on God. Pain allows us to be more careful with our activity. Pain allows us to learn valuable lessons about life. Pain allows us to have fellowship with the Man of sorrows, who Himself was acquainted with grief (Is. 53:3).

If there were no pain, what glory would there be in our final victory? If there were no pain, what consolation would exist in a heavenly abode? If there were no pain, what hope would we have of things that are better? God knows what he is doing. Trust Him. He understands every heart ache. He will ease your pain.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” ~ (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Your Own Affections

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian brethren a third time, he dealt with some attitudes that needed adjusting. There had been some in Corinth that challenged Paul's authority as an apostle. They challenged his sincerity and ability as well.

In this letter we know as Second Corinthians, Paul directly stated how these claims were false. Other times, he used sarcasm to enumerate the ridiculous nature of these claims. I recently came across one particular verse that struck a chord with me. "You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections" (2 Cor. 6:12).

What a humbling thought! For the Christians in Corinth he was probably referring primarily to their continuing struggle within to leave the pagan society in which they were raised. For a further discussion, read Paul's follow up statements about their need for separation from these worldly influences (2 Cor. 6:14-18).

Let's get back to verse twelve. I think I know what Paul is talking about. We live in a world that is giving more and more credence to man's opinions and affections. The idea that truth can be known (Jn. 8:32), that there is one system of faith (Eph. 4:4-6), and that there is a proper way of understanding the universal message of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:20-21) is being challenged on every side.

Those who promote changes in theology, which lead to changes in the church, claim that the view currently held is stifling, traditional, close-minded, and unloving. Paul has a word for those who make such challenges. The restrictions have not come from God or the truth He has transmitted to faithful men. The restrictions come from individual affections. These restrictions have sadly limited the ability for those in error to see what God wants them to see.

We need to put our own affections aside and seek God's face. This is the only way we can please Him, and it is the only way unity will ever be achieved. God's word is the truth which makes us free.

"But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does." ~ James 1:25

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Friend David

For all of those who read the blog, thanks for your patience as I have been out of town. We'll get started again with an archive article of mine. I hope you enjoy it.

I met my friend David in 1980 at the Buena Park church of Christ. David Dominguez and I shared almost everything in common. We were the same age, liked the same things, and we were raised in Christian homes. Many times we would spend Sunday afternoons after services together at my house or his. We would watch the L.A. Raiders. We also liked to watch old episodes of The Three Stooges. We played together, got into trouble together, and spent most of our time at the church building together. It was a great blessing to have a close friend like David during my early years.

I met my friend David while preaching for the New Providence church of Christ. David Shearer was first introduced to me through a letter I received in the mail. Our congregation was looking to do mission work somewhere in the states. Marshalltown, Iowa gave us our fist opportunity. After many conversations on the phone, David and I became good friends. We still talk nearly every Monday. I have been to Iowa, and he has been to my home in Kentucky and now my home in Tennessee. He is a fellow worker in the kingdom I can rely on and whom I respect. It is a blessing to have a close friend who understands the ups and downs that go with preaching.

I met my friend David at the Chaparrall’s steak house in Lawrenceburg, TN. David Pinckley and his wife Frances had come to meet the “candidate preacher” and his family. Now I see David almost every day. If I need to talk to somebody I can always count on David. He supports me and encourages my family. He is as giving as any man I have ever known. He loves the church and he loves people. He is hard working and dedicated. He is fun to be around, and laughter fills his office. He is like a father to me. It is a blessing to have David in my life.

I met my friend David in the Pulaski St. church building. David Burdine is younger than I am, but every time I see him and spend time with him he teaches me another lesson I desperately need to learn. He is a kind and compassionate person. He does more for the elderly than any 28 year-old I know. Worship and Bible study are exciting experiences for David. His willingness to sacrifice himself for the cause of Christ is limitless. He is always building up and never tearing down. As a younger Christian he is a reminder to every mature Christian about what they ought to be and just how great it is to be God’s child. It is a blessing to have a guileless Christian example like David.

“…But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” – (Prov. 18:24).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Leaving on Trip

This is not a normal article, just an anouncement and prayer request. I am leaving this afternoon for Iowa, and will be gone for about a week. Please pray that I might have a safe trip. Pray for my family who I am leaving behind. Please also pray for the brethren there and the lost we are trying to reach. I will try to keep things going on this page as much as possible.
God bless.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Was Satan Ever a Heavenly Angel?

"Was Satan ever a heavenly angel?" ~ David Brumley

Great question. Many people have never properly identified Satan. So let's allow the Bible to tell us exactly who he is. Actually, the Bible clearly states that Satan was, indeed an angel. (Rev. 9:11) - "And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon." This word in Hebrew and Greek means "destroyer."He is also referred to as, "the prince of the world" (Jn. 12:31), the "god of the this world" (2 Cor. 4:4), and a "liar and murderer from the beginning" (Jn. 8:44).

Satan was puffed up with pride (1 Tim. 3:6), and was cast out of heaven (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6, Rev. 12:7-9). In the passage in Revelation 12, one would note that the war was between Michael (an angel) and his angels, and the dragon (Satan, the Devil), and his angels. It makes sense that if Michael was the head angel of a group of angels that fought with another who was the head of another group of angels, that the second leader would also be an angel. Satan was not a part of the Godhead. It is hard to understand who he could possible be, if not an angel. A balance of all the texts regarding him bears this out. No verse says exactly, "Satan was an angel." But it is understood by looking at all of the passages regarding him that he was.

2 Pet. 2:4 and Jude 6 in discussing angels include all of the angels that have been taken out of heaven who will be lost eternally in hell. Their reservation is not a current binding, but an eternal destination already reserved. Jesus said that "the prince of this world is judged" (Jn. 16:11). He is referring to the Devil here. Since we know that Satan is currently working on the earth (1 Pet. 5:8), we understand that what Christ meant was that his future is already fixed. The reservation for chains of darkness is a future reality that cannot be changed. Both Satan and the rest of the angels who left their original abode with God have this destiny awaiting them.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

"Getting on my Nerds"

Two nights ago my son Luke slept in our bed. I slept on the couch. It was move or don't sleep at all. Trust me. His reason for the need for comfort was a book his first grade teacher read at school that day. It was about a boy who had a nightmare in his closet. The nightmare would get out of the closet in the middle of the night and get in the boy's bed. My son is now terrified. He is looking for that nightmare everywhere he goes. I will have to thank her sometime for that one.

I am telling you that it has been a chore dealing with it. But I must realize he is only six. I was also afraid of the dark when I was younger. I would imagine things that weren't there. Luke has asked me on occasion to move objects or clothes that are in the dark so they will not look like certain things he has imagined. We have to do certain things to help our kids sometimes even if it seems ridiculous.

But with the extra effort, there is also the fun side. Last night Luke said I was doing something that was really "getting on his nerds." I told him I was sorry for getting on his nerds and that I would try not to get on his nerds.

I wonder how long it will take before he figures that phrase out. Probably about as long as there is a nightmare in his closet.

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. ~ Psalm 127:3

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Without Love

I recently received a private email from a woman in the church. She lives out of state. I have never met her before. I came into contact with her through the email message. She had found the facebook group I had started entitled, "The Truth about the church of Christ."

She has been struggling with the church, because her expereince with the church has seemed dominated by ritualism, legalism, and apathy. It has been a long time since she has seen in her brethren the kind of love that Christ commanded (Jn. 13:34-35).

What does this usually lead to in an individual? Although they have been taught the truth, they often leave the church. Why? Because they cease to believe that the church is really what it claims to be. While I know that we are living in a world that is straying farther and farther from religious truth, embracing only the spiritual blessings and favors and casting off commandments and identities, I am afraid that we are hurting the cause of Christ when we defend the truth with the wrong attitude.

When Paul wrote about the seven ones (Eph. 4:4-6), he continued with the importance of coming to maturity. The meat in this sandwich is "one body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God and Father..." But the two peices of bread is, "endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace" (4:3), and "Speaking the truth in love..." (4:15).

We, as a people, need to work as hard as we can to show the kind of love Christ has shown for us. With every commandment, let their be care. With every law, let their be love. With every expectation, let there be encouragment. With every responsibility, let there be respect.

If we cease to have these things, we will indeed cease to be the kingdom Christ died to establish. And people will make a note of it.

May God help us to love one another.

"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." ~ John 13:35

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Speaking Out

Do we ever take risks in order to publicly say what we believe? I have a hard time sometimes knowing when not to say something. My first inclination is to speak out. I feel that most people are just the opposite. Most people don't want to say anything that might be taken the wrong way.

One example is with something today. I recently joined Facebook, an interactive online network. My goal is to connect with as many people as I can and touch their lives in a positive way. I also expect to receive the same. This site has many good things, but also it has its drawbacks. I came across a group page today that was for the purpose of connecting friends from Lawrenceburg and Murfreesboro. What I found was it was mostly college kids that like to drink and party.

On the invite message, the creator of the group took Christ's name in vain and added an expletive. I emailed him and asked him not to take my Lord's name in vain. I did this in the nicest way I knew how. I tried to respect him as much as possible, though he had shown no respect for his Creator. He may label me a Bible thumper, a fundamentalist, or a judge. This was not my goal. My goal was to defend the name of Jesus and have a Christ-like attitude in doing it.

Some people would say I shouldn't have written him. Others would say it wasn't worth my time. Still, others would do the same. I felt like it was the right thing to do. I feel this way because I love my Lord. I also feel this way because I love His creation.

Sometimes you just have to say something. I am afraid our moral character in American culture has been corrupted because we are too worried about political correctness, and not worried enough about righteousness.

Christians, please speak with me.

These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:13

Monday, October 1, 2007

To Die For

If I were to ask you the question, "Is there anything worth dying for?", how would you respond? Most people would say that they would die for their family, their faith and their freedom. I doubt, however, that in every case we would willingly give our lives.

Sometimes people use the idea casually - "That cake is to die for!" Of course they don't really mean it...at least I hope not. The emphasis is on just how much something is desired, loved, or appreciated. Now I have heard about people driving hundreds of miles for certain foods, but that's another story.

Perhaps you read the headline last week about 30 more people who were killed by a suicide bomber in the Middle East. Sadly, we have often read a similar headline over the last few years. I don't know if anyone has done a study, but it would be interesting to know how many suicide bombings have taken place since 9-11. I wonder how many people have died.

I am not going to mince words. The Muslim religion is not of God. I know there are radicals in the group. But think about what these people are willing to die for! They are willing to die so that others will also die and be lost (in their mind) for eternity.

Christ died because He felt like we were worth dying for. He died, that we might live. For those who are confused about Christianity and Islam, that is the difference.

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10.