Friday, August 18, 2017

QUEASINESS

I Was Just Thinking About – QUEASINESS.

I usually start off my day by reading the devotional, “Get More Strength For The Journey.” Today’s entry (August 18, 2017) asks: “Got Any Neighbors?” The first two paragraphs state: “Jesus’ life and ministry dramatically demonstrated that the word prejudice is not in His vocabulary. In fact, He hates prejudice in any form. He detests racism, classism, and religious snobbery. Why? Because it defies who He is and what He came to do. No one escaped the embrace of His love and concern. And He calls us to love as He did—without limits. But prejudice blocks our ability to love as he did and denies us the privilege of being like Him in our world. When the Pharisee hoped to embarrass Jesus by asking Him to name the greatest commandment, Jesus answered that we should love God with the totality of our being. And although it was more than the scheming lawyer had asked for, Jesus added the second most important command: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39). Not ‘second’ meaning less important, but sequentially. In other words, the authenticity of our love for God is measured by our attitudes and acts of love for others.”

One of the possibilities for the definition of Queasiness is: “uneasy, uncomfortable, as feelings, the conscience.” That should have been the least reaction or response of the Pharisees in Matthew 22. In a similar moment, Luke 10:25-29, we read: “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. Teacher, he asked, what must I do to inherit eternal life? What is written in the Law? Jesus replied. How do you read it? He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself. You have answered correctly, Jesus replied. Do this and you will live. But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus: And Who Is My Neighbor?"

In a world marked by its uncertainties – threats of war; terrorist activity; demonstrations and rioting in the streets; civil strife among citizens of the ‘E Pluribus Unum’ (out of many, one) culture – the whole concept of – “And Who Is My Neighbor?” - emerges time and time again. The whole idea of ‘queasiness’ (being uneasy, uncomfortable, as feelings, the conscience) is absent. It is a time when cultural and historical Landmarks are being destroyed in the Middle East by ISIS, and Monuments that reflect the Historical past of this nation are being toppled, defaced and removed. For some caught up in the emotional wave of the day, it is to demonstrate, but for others, the intention is to overthrow the government and its leadership. Jesus warned of hard and difficult times for His people (Matthew 24:9-14). Our focus is to remain upon Him (Hebrews 12:2) and to persevere in making His non-compromised Gospel known to all people. The Lord will grant you both His strength and presence to guide you through this arduous task and journey.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

VANISHING VALUES

I Was Just Thinking About – VANISHING VALUES.

In each generation, writers address church growth factors and how a group can be more successful as they grow their church. Some also point out that the Church as a whole is dying. They speak of the “Nones” and “Dones” people groups to illustrate their point. It becomes too easy to shrug off these thoughts and statistics. A person can Google Search for data about reasons why the health of some churches is declining. One website is Pastoral Care, Inc. where some reasons are given – “Statistics in Ministry” - 70% of pastors constantly fight depression; 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend; 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living; 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years; The profession of “Pastor” is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above “car salesman”; 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close; Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year; Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year; Many denominations report an empty pulpit crisis. They cannot find ministers willing to fill positions; #1 reason pastors leave the ministry — Church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor and are not willing to follow or change.

The radicalization within the culture is affecting the thinking and behavior of people both in the culture as well as in the Church. All types of groups are publicly voicing opinions and participating in protests about cultural issues and government activity. At times, it appears that chaos is victorious. David expressed his concerns in Psalm 11:1-3, “I trust in the Lord for protection. So why do you say to me: Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety! The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right. (When) The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?”

David responds to his own question, Psalm 11:4-7, “But the Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence…The righteous Lord loves justice. The virtuous will see his face.” This is the hope of all whose faith and confidence is in the Lord alone. Will the culture and radicalization win the day? No! The Lord is always victorious and enables us to walk and live in His triumph. He will build His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

FORGETTING - DEMENTIA

I Was Just Thinking About – FORGETTING - DEMENTIA.

Its a given that we’re all forgetful at times, regardless of our age and mental health. However, as we age, our risk of dementia increases, and by the age of 85 almost 35-percent of those in your age group will be afflicted with this degenerative disorder that causes gradually and worsening memory loss and mental skills. Some of the common symptoms of Dementia are: (1) Memory Loss. It is an inability to recall short term memory (or recent events). A study from Rutgers University estimates that roughly 50-percent of all Americans over 85-years of age suffer with Alzheimer’s Disease and that more than half of all dementia cases are misdiagnosed. (2) Behavioral Changes. Personality changes that may include the opposite manners or personality traits or just being inappropriate in public can signify the onset of Dementia. (3) Cognitive Decline. This could be as simple as an inability to reason or a more drastic decline in cognitive functions -  thinking, learning, reading and retaining information, problem solving, language and speech.

Within the Body of Christ, the Biblical Church, how should we cope with those who may be in some stage of Dementia? Does the Church know how to relate to one who struggles with Dementia or who is closing in on Alzheimer’s? A couple of guidelines that can be considered, learned and implemented are: (1) ACCEPTANCE: Romans 15:7, “Accept one another just as Christ accepted you.” (2) SHOW KINDNESS and Understanding: Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another.” (3) ENCOURAGEMENT: Hebrews 10:25, “Encouraging one another.” (4) PRAYER James 5:13, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them Pray!” Since so many are sketchy about Mental Health and those who are affected in some way with mental health issues, a tendency is to marginalize that struggling soul. That often means non-acceptance or avoidance. If a person has forgotten who you are, just smile and say – “I am Jane” or “I am Joe”, etc. Special effort should be made to include the person. It will require an increased measure of patience and encouragement.

A secular example of this care and assistance was seen in the life of Glen Campbell who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011. In 2014, a very compelling documentary about his journey and effort to cope, "I’ll Be Me”, was released. Part of the film shows him on a farewell concert tour as his condition worsened. One thing that stands out in the documentary is the acceptance and kind understanding of his family, staff, musicians and audiences.

Should the Biblical Church be able to show even greater patience, under-standing, kindness, acceptance and appreciation for one of its own? I hope it/we can and will emulate a similar compassion.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me!

Monday, August 14, 2017

THE UNWANTED

I Was Just Thinking About – THE UNWANTED

Today, Our Daily Bread concludes and summarizes with these words: “James, a New Testament writer, challenged Christ-followers saying: Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans…in their troubles” (James 1:27 NLT). Today, like those first-century orphans, children of every social strata, ethnicity, and family environment are at risk due to neglect, human trafficking, abuse, drugs, and more. How can we honor the Father who loves us by showing His care for these little ones Jesus welcomes?” Other questions come to mind: (1) Who will run the risk and pay the price to reach out to care for the unwanted and abused? (2) Is Prayer and Financial Contribution the response James and Jesus were speaking of and suggesting? (3) How would you define tangible ways to make a difference with the unwanted, abused and neglected?

What is the observation, assessment and requirement of Jesus Christ in reaching out to the unwanted and unnoticed? Matthew 25:34-40 states that which is most important to Him in this regard: “Then the King will say to those on his right (the sheep): Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For (a) I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; (b) I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; (c) I was a stranger and you invited me in; (d) I needed clothes and you clothed me; (e) I was sick and you looked after me; (f) I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him: Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? 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.”

How have you responded to the heart and words of Jesus Christ? When will you respond and show His care for/to the unwanted? How will Jesus respond to those who ignore His Words and refuse to act as He wants one to do? Matthew 25:44-46 (NLT) answers: “Then they (the goats) will reply: Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you? And he will answer: I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me. And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”  How will you respond to “one of the least of these”? Can you – will you commit yourself to make a difference in the lives of “one of the least of these”?

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.
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Saturday, August 12, 2017

WARMONGERING

I Was Just Thinking About – WARMONGERING.

The world’s focus is on North Korea – it’s threats and ambitions. We observe it as a nuclear war possibility in the present. Perspective and focus could just as easily include this event in terms of headline – June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953 – The Liberation War. Who were the key nations in what the American President (Harry S. Truman) claimed was a “Police Action”? It is briefly summarized: “The United Nations, with the United States as the principal force (88% of the military force), came to the aid of South Korea. China came to the aid of North Korea, and the Soviet Union gave some assistance.” Sounds like current news except for the fact that the above was occurring almost 70 years ago.

As Jesus Christ was concluding His earthly ministry, His Disciples asked Him about their future. In Matthew 24:3-13, “Tell us, the disciples said, when will all this happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age? (Jesus responded): Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and killed, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. At that time, many will fall away and will betray and hate one another, and many false prophets will arise and mislead many. Because of increased wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.”

The words of Jesus amid saber-rattling leading into real warfare are: “See to it that you are not alarmed.” The Biblical Christian needs to be careful with both their words and actions. Rather than a Fortress Mentality, War-Mongering and Fear-Mongering, what does Jesus Christ expect His followers to both be and do? Matthew 24:14-22 indicates - Action 1: “The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Action 2: “Let those in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop come down to retrieve anything from his house. And let no one in the field return for his cloak…At that time there will be great tribulation, unmatched from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be seen again. If those days had not been cut short, nobody would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened.” Jesus is speaking of the climax of all things.

The real issues for the Biblical Christian are: (a) Do you believe God is able to protect and deliver you today? (b) Do you believe He is superior to all things and all-powerful to combat whatever evil may come your way today? (c) Do you believe Ephesians 3:20 is viable for you today?

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Friday, August 11, 2017

PERSONAL SIGNIFICANCE

I Was Just Thinking About – PERSONAL SIGNIFICANCE.

Living out one’s life can become very competitive. Having goals is one thing – desiring to be the most recognized, superior to others and well-connected is another. Joseph Stowell wrote: “Modern counseling and psychology focus a lot of attention on obsessive behaviors—whether it’s an obsession with food, tobacco, alcohol, pornography, drugs, or even work. But perhaps one of the most overlooked addictions is our obsession with personal significance. Think about the amount of time and energy you spend in maintaining, advancing, expanding, and protecting your sense of significance - making yourself look good, staying on top of the heap, protecting your ego, and living to be more successful than the next guy…We need to face up to the reality that the search for significance is a treacherous pursuit personally. Count the costs. Significance is often gained at the expense of our character as we are willing to lie and cut ethical corners to be viewed well by others.”

Envy and jealousy are real issues. Failure to appreciate another person who has greater skill sets is another factor. Thinking of another individual as being lesser than greater is too often chronic. For the professing or Biblical Christian, they sometimes omit, overlook, ignore or purposely forget Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Two of the negatives that stand out are “selfish ambition” and “empty pride”; whereas “humility” is either feigned or not even considered.

A discipline of life that must be pursued is set forth in I Peter 5:4-6 (NLT), “All of you, serve each other in humility, because God opposes the proud but favors the humble. So, humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” In Proverbs 3:34, we are reminded, “The Lordis gracious to the humble.”

A story is told of a Pastor/Preacher who believed he had done exceptionally well as he delivered a Worship Homily. On his way home, he turned to his wife and asked: “How many great preachers are there in the world today?” She wisely responded: “One less than you’re thinking about right now!” Facebook can be an interesting place to observe some writing, opining, and thinking of Pastor/Preacher men. It seems as though some have to be always right and refuse to accept the input of others graciously. We need to remind ourselves frequently of the words in Micah 6:8 (NLT), “This is what the Lord requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS

I Was Just Thinking About – SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS.

The Holy Scriptures clearly state those things that are repugnant to the Holy and Eternal God. They are listed in various ways such as (Galatians 5:19-21), “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, and rage; rivalries, divisions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Elsewhere (Colossians 3:5-9), a similar list states: “Put to death, therefore, the components of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. When you lived among them, you also used to walk in these ways. But now you must put aside all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices”

One of the major sins that is committed by many professing Christians is the sin of comparison. It allows them to think and believe they are not as bad as those described in the above verses. They think of themselves as one who embraces some good works that outweigh the negatives that others practice. This type of thinking allows one to miss the indicting words spoken in Daniel 5:22,27: “But you, Belshazzar…have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this…You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.” It is too easy to avoid and evade the words of Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” And, the words of Isaiah 64:6 (NLT), “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.” It is easy to pretend we have surpassed this assessment.

A devotional I read daily asks a series of convicting questions: “Would the worst of sinners feel loved by you, or would they sense that you are more likely to condemn and ostracize them? Has your goodness become a habit, or does it thrive as a response of love and gratitude for all that Jesus has done for you? Do you feel like you have been forgiven much? Why, or why not? Are you genuinely touched when you sing the words, “He saved a wretch like me,” or does it refer to someone else?”

Is righteousness a possibility for anyone at all? Yes! How can it be realized? In Jesus Christ alone! Is it achievable for someone like me? Yes! II Corinthians 5:15,21: “Jesus Christ died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again… God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.
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