Sunday, November 18, 2018

FINDING FAULTS


I Was Just Thinking About – FINDING FAULTS.

The Covenant College View – Autumn 2018 – has as its cover “Fault Lines.” The supporting article states: “In 2007, the Colombian artist Doris Salcedo made a literal crack in an art museum floor. But this was not a little crack. It was a meandering, 548-foot-long crack that began as a hairline fracture and then grew to about a foot at its widest point. And it wasn’t in just any museum. This was the Tate Modern, home of Britain’s national collection of modern and contemporary art…The reaction was mixed. Thousands of people came to see it. Many, yes, cracked jokes. Others, like the woman who was on her phone and looking for friends, tripped. The New York Times reported one tourist stating, “Art is dangerous sometimes.” And indeed, Salcedo’s crack was dangerous in at least two ways. (1) It was a threat to people who weren’t paying attention, and (2) it was a threat to people who preferred to not think about ruptures in their own lives and systems.”

There is an obvious spiritual application when it comes to Fault Lines and Finding Fault within the body of believers. It comes about when people have different aspirations, goals and vision. When a contrary position is espoused or being implemented, then finding fault becomes an increasing reality. One of the classic passages occurs in the life and journey of Moses. After he becomes God’s chosen leader for the Exodus and leading the people to The Promised Land, his brother and sister become fault-finders. Numbers 12:1-2 records: “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said: Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” They did not approve of Moses’ choice of a wife and voiced their fault-finding  to the Lord. The Lord responded by bringing judgment – leprosy – on Miriam for seven days.

In Numbers 13, Moses has sent out 12 spies into the designated Promised Land. Ten return with a good report about the land but say they should not seek to enter it at this time because of the obstacles and challenges. Two of the spies – Joshua and Caleb – brought back a similar report about the land – but – were confident they were well-able to overcome the obstacles and challenges as God helped them to do it.

Moses opts to give heed to the two positive spies and determines they will move toward the Promised Land. The people would rather not and register their protest and complaint – Numbers 14:1-4 – and state their fault-finding in no uncertain terms: “All the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night.  And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them: Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt? And they said to one another: Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” The Lord is ready to strike them with pestilence and disinherit them (verses 11-12) because they were murmuring and complaining  against God’s will and plan for their good.

Within the body of believers, there is often fault finding that is a product of frustration, different mindsets and authoritarian instincts. It coincides with the hackneyed expression of every one wants to be Chief and no one is willing to be an Indian. Despite the fact that Jesus condemns fault-finding - Matthew 7:1-3 – “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” This is reiterated in James 4:11-12, “Do not speak evil against one another. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

How is it with YOU? Are you on the same page with YOUR brothers and sisters in Christ? Are YOU in accord with God’s will, plan and vision for His people and His Church?

Prayerfully – consider these things with me!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

THE UNBELIEVABLE


I Was Just Thinking About – THE UNBELIEVABLE.

Unbelievable is defined simply as “unlikely to be true.” It reminded me of a recently read devotional that began with a reference to the influence and impact of children’s stories on their creative beliefs and  imaginations. The reference pertained to an egg – Humpty Dumpty – who is sitting on a wall. A parallel thought is that if one sees a Turtle on a fence post you conclude that someone put it there. The same would hold true for the egg on a wall. The devotion went on to raise obvious points about after the egg fell off of the wall by asking: Did someone assist its fall? How could all of the king’s horses be enabled to take a broken egg and reassemble it so it could assume its place back on the wall. The conclusion was/is: It’s Unbelievable.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus had to deal with the reality of actual unbelief. Mark 6:1-6 (NKJV) records, “And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Is this not the carpenter…Jesus said to them: A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house. Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And HE MARVELED BECAUSE OF THEIR UNBELIEF

Throughout His ministry, there were those who would reject Him and His claims. They would discredit Jesus whenever they could. Even those who were closest to Him and who had been discipled by Him would have doubts. Jesus constantly asked them why they had so little faith and/or why they had no faith. Even after His resurrection, there was a dramatic moment of UNBELIEF when Thomas expressed himself (John 20:25), “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” His doubt and unbelief is confronted when Jesus appears to him (John 20:27-28) and says: “Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. Thomas said to him: My Lord and my God!”

In a news release on November 12, 2018 in The Blaze, a headline states: “Atheist minister in Christian denomination gets to keep her job leading congregation.” The United Church of Canada spokes-person indicated the official position: “…that he’s happy about the resolution and referenced the church’s core values of faith in God and inclusiveness…The dance between these core values, how they interact with and inform each other, is one that we continue to explore as followers of Jesus and children of the creator…As a Christian church, we continue to expect that ministers in the United Church of Canada will offer their leadership in accordance with our shared and agreed upon statements of faith.” The Chairman of the church’s board stated: “…that he’s also pleased and that Gretta Vosper represents what the church is all about. The church’s non-exclusive language provides a church experience that draws participants across a wide spectrum of belief and unbelief…”

There are many Scriptures that address the failure to believe. Psalm 78:22 refers to the response of the children of Israel in the wilderness: “They did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance.” Hebrews 3:7-19 issues a warning against unbelief. Verses 12-15 is the direct warning: “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called: Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end…” The Gospel was simply stated to the Philippian Jailor, Acts 16:31 – “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. This is the BELIEVABLE message of Jesus Christ and His Cross.

Prayerfully – believe – and consider these things with me.

Monday, November 12, 2018

GREATNESS


I Was Just Thinking About – GREATNESS.

We’re familiar with the story about a Pastor who left the church service believing he had preached an exceptional sermon. As they rode home, he asked his wife: “How many great preachers are there in the world today?” Her kindly, yet pointed response was: “One less than you’re thinking right now.” There is a cautionary word that one should take to heart and practice – Proverbs 25:6 (NIV), “Do not exalt yourself in the king's presence, and do not claim a place among his great men.” The NLT states this verse: “Don't demand an audience with the king or push for a place among the great.”

Some people crave recognition and being in the presence of notables within the culture. Jesus, while training His disciples, shared this instruction with them in Matthew 23:1-12, “Then Jesus said…to his disciples: The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat…they preach, but do not practice…they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi…The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Colossians 3:23 gives a clear and precise perspective for the genuine Christian: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” It is clear that the singular commitment, purpose and goal, especially for the servant of the Lord, is that God’s Glory is to be first and foremost in your motivation and serving. It is a verse one should memorize, remember and implement every day.

What makes a man great among his peers is actually in the eye of the beholder. Some of us have been privileged to be in the presence and company of “great men” – men who never sought personal acclaim, recognition or reward. They humbly served and sacrificed to do the work the Lord had gifted them to do. They did not need or desire the rewards and recognition of men because they were committed to the higher cause of serving at the pleasure of and for the glory of the Lord. One day, they will gain His reward when they hear Him say: “Well done, faithful servants.”

One of these servants of the Lord came to a church where I was pastor. I apologized that we would not be able to give him the honorarium he deserved. His statement from almost fifty years ago resonates with me today. He said, “If I was in this for the money and recognition, I would have chosen a different profession.” He then added this perspective: “When we see ourselves from a spatial vantage point, we on the planet earth are just a speck – one seven billionth of the world’s population.” In an article on the website of God and Truth, March 2009, the following was stated: “Longings and striving for power, status, fame and recognition is a common feature of everyday life. It is regarded as normal by the world. People of the world give much attention to attaining power, status, fame and recognition. This problem is seen in all strata of society and in many different areas of life…Sadly, this problem also exists among Christians and those engaged in the Lord’s work. This, in fact, is a major problem. It is a significant hindrance to personal growth and development and to personal walk and fellowship with God. It also causes considerable problems and hindrances to the advancement of God’s kingdom. This is an area the evil one is actively promoting and exploiting.”

What is your personal view of acclaim, recognition, reward and a position of greatness? Do you want to be first among equals? Do you ever defer a personal recognition for one who is seldom recognized? Some go through life and ministry and seldom, if ever, receive any type of recognition. Is that right? Is it fair? Does it please the Lord and bring glory to Him when/as this occurs?

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.