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December 11, 2018, 3:00 PM

Theology of the Three Little Pigs


 

I came across the story of the “Gingerbread Man”! I became familiar with this story when I was a little boy but, quite frankly,forgot about it! This time, however, I was struck by how this childhood story provided theological instruction.

In this story, there are three little pigs who decide to each build a house. One builds a house of straw, one a house made of sticks, and the other a house of bricks. Soon thereafter, a wolf comes to each house asking to be let in. If not, he threatens to “huff and to puff and to blow the houses in”! Each pig, of course, refuses! However, the first two houses, the one made of straw and the one made of sticks, could not withstand the fierce breath of the wolf. Consequently, their houses are blown in! The third house—the one made of brick—is sufficiently strong that it is able to remain firm, despite the ferocious wind stirred by the breath of the wolf.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian church, admonished Christians to “take heed how he builds” (1 Corinthians 3:10). The reason is that each Christian’s works will become clear concerning the quality of the material being used. “It will be tested by fire”, Paul writes (1 Corinthians 1:13). The materials that we will used will “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw” (1 Corinthians 1:12). In this category of materials, clearly some of able to withstand fire (gold, silver, precious stones) much more than others (wood, hay, straw). This truth, in this case, applies to our rewards but not our salvation. Yet, the message is very clear.

Jesus’ own teaching concerning the obedience of His disciples to His commands. Jesus likens the one who hears His commands (or teachings) and obeys them to a “wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). Contrastingly, he likens the one who is disobedient to a “foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matthew 7:26). Moreover, Jesus says, “the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it feel. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:27). Although this is metaphorical language, it is clear that we ought to be careful how we build!

Our lives should be built according to Christ’s teachings; it should be built that it can withstand the intense scrutiny of divine evaluation and judgment. All that we do should always be FOR Christ!

Ron Roper wrote:

You may build great cathedrals large or small, you can build skyscrapers grand and tall, you may conquer all the failures of the past, but only what you do for Christ will last.

Though you song and prayers are heard and praised by men, they’ve no meaning unless you’ve been born again. Sinner, heed these words, don’t let this harvest past, for only what you do for Christ will last.

Remember only what you do for Christ will last. Remember only what you do for Christ will last! Only what you do for Him will be counted in the end! Only what you do for Christ will last! We must all be careful how we build!

 

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October 16, 2017, 12:35 PM

Your Motivations and Your Prayer Life


What is your reason for serving in the church?  What is the real driving motivation? These were the questions that were prompted after reading Jesus’ teaching found in Matthew 6.  Jesus admonished His disciples to not give, pray or fast to be seen of people (Matt. 6:1, 5, 16).  The reality is that some who profess Christ may be engaging in self-seeking or self-serving motivations for their involvement in ministry!  That in itself is their reward, Jesus said (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16).   No doubt we know that ALL that we do and the reason we do it should be for the glory of God!  Jesus instructs us to not engage in any activities or acts of worship with a desire to “be seen of men”, thought of as super-spiritual, or for some self-serving agenda!

Recently, the Holy Spirit has been dealing with me concerning prayer!  At the time of this writing, I am reflecting on the issue of praying bold prayers!  Think about it: although nothing is impossible with God, we often do not approach prayer with any sense of boldness or, as Steven Furtick puts it, with audacity!  First we must be sure that God has given us a vision or the sense of direction. Then, even if that vision is beyond our ability to bring about, we should still pray with faith in the God who can do the impossible. Moreover, we should begin to act on that vision! 

As the Holy Spirit has been challenging me concerning prayer, I, in turn, challenge you to also deepen your prayer life! Pray bold prayers!  Believe God to do the impossible! Jesus said, “That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, ‘be thou removed, and cast into the sea: and shall not doubt in his heart . . . those things which he says shall come to past’” (Mark 11:23).   Pray fervently also.  It is the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person that avails much” (James 5:16).  We should “prayer without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Dry, routine prayers that fail to touch heaven or the heart of God usually have no great power! Prayer should be frequent, full of faith, focused, and fervent!

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He said that they should pray for God's Kingdom to come and for His will to be done".  Whenever we pray in accordance with the Will of God, we are assured that God will hear us and our prayers will be answered (1 John 5:14-15). We can, therefore, make faith-filled requests of God! This brings blessed comfort! Moreover, God is glorified! This should be the ultimate aim of our prayers: "For Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory" (Matt. 6:13).

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March 31, 2017, 12:00 AM

Marriage and Families


The area of Marriage and Families is vitally important for Christians. Whether we are married, hope to be married, have been married, or hoping to positively influence our children and  grandchildren to have God-honoring marriages, we need to understand and live out the teachings of God’s Word concerning this area. 

For the Christian the Word of God (the Bible) is our guide in ALL matters concerning faith and practice. In this crucial area of Marriage and Family, God, in His Infinite Wisdom and Grace, has not left us without direction.  From courtship, marriage, parenting and life throughout all of its changing scenes, God provides direction!  We should not, therefore, take our cues from the “world” but from the Word! 

Not only should our activities of courtship, marriage and family be guided by the Word of God but also our motivations in these areas.  The questions that should be asked are, “What are your real reasons for marriage?”  “What is the driving force behind your desires?” “Are they God-honoring or Holy Spirit-directed?” Allowing the Holy Spirit, through the Word, to reveal the “thoughts and intents” of our hearts is essential! Sometimes, because the motivations are flawed, the resulting relationships have no chance for God-honoring success! 

Many times the models and motivations that we have received from our families, friends, or the media are flawed. Therefore, when we use them are our guide, we are destined for failure.  Moreover, if we attempt to go around God’s way, we set ourselves up for ultimate failure!  God’s way is ALWAYS the best way!  Sometimes, we want to arrive at a godly destination but we take ungodly paths! This should not be!  Indeed, it cannot be, because we “reap what we sow”!  The Bible says, “If we sow to the flesh, [you] will reap corruption (Galatians 6:8). As we look at what the Word of God teaches, it is my prayer that it would begin to set aflame the hearts of those who read it or hear it, so that our Marriages and our Families would be pleasing to God! 

 

 

 

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December 7, 2016, 12:00 AM

Holiday Are to Be Holy Days!


The word “holiday” is really a blend of two words, “Holy Days”!   There are many days on our calendar that are fraught with Christian ideas, concepts, images, and motivations.  Among them are Easter (Resurrection Sunday), Christmas, and Thanksgiving!  The time of Easter is to be filled with the observance of arguably the greatest event in the history of creation—the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!  This event confirms that Jesus was who He claimed to be—“Immanuel—God with us!  He was, is, and forever shall be God in the flesh!  Similarly, Christmas is the recognition of His birth.  It is for us an indicator of His physical entry into our human experience.  He was always there with the Father. Then, He condescended to us; immaculately conceived, born of a Virgin, lived a sinless life, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and buried!  He lived as a man, although He was (is) God!  Although the Christian seeks to live in a state of perpetual Thanksgiving, during the Thanksgiving holiday, we set aside a special time of giving thanks to God for His gracious acts toward us! 

Yet, unfortunately, these days are not always celebrated as holy and sacred days!  Many times people, even some professing Christians, engage in activities or approach these times as anything else other than that which is holy! For example during Christmas, there is sometimes more of a focus on the giving gifts to each other rather than a focus on the gifts that we should present to Christ!  After all, it’s His birthday celebration.  Like the wise men who traveled from afar, we should bring gifts that reflect who is His and what He did or accomplish on our behalf.  The gold, frankincense, and myrrh represented Him as King, Sacrifice, and Priest!  Many times, we allow the world’s system and its godless priorities to invade and distort the holy emphasis that should be present! Also during Easter, many people focus on displaying new outfits, Easter eggs, and bunny rabbits!  Their minds, time, energy, and finances are consumed by these irrelevant activities.  Again, God and the Holy, the Sacred is marginalized and worldly pursuits and priorities take precedent.  Even the time of Thanksgiving does not escape this dilution.  Although the gathering of family to experience a delectable meal is not necessarily a bad thing, the problem is that often at these gatherings there is more of a focus on eating than giving thanks!  Some impatient family members may even be tempted to admonish a person to give a quick prayer so “we can eat” and miss the fact that God was again being marginalized.  Not even the exciting anticipation of a football game should be allowed to cause us to merely attach a thin veneer of spirituality on the event or to behave as if God the Giver of every good and perfect gift is an impediment to our families and/or the enjoyment of food!  After all, it is the Almighty, Gracious, Merciful, and Kind God who gave us our families, food, health, life, and strength.

What are we to do then?  We should set our minds and hearts to recover and maintain holidays as “holy days”!  When we gather to celebrate or observe these times, we should take decisive action to put God in the center! There should be a planned, focused, intentional time(s) during that “holy day” to focus on God and to encourage with whom we are sharing to do the same!  HOLIDAYS ARE TO BE “HOLY DAYS”!

 

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June 6, 2016, 12:00 AM

Removing Idols from Our Hearts


 

God often gets out attention through adversity!  Through these experiences one can learn much about his own heart, faith, and, most importantly, God!  What I have learned over and over again is that he is Faithful and true to His promises!  

Adversity can reveal idols that we may have in our hearts! (Idols are anything, person, or desire that has taken God’s place in our hearts).  More often than not, these idols are unconscious even to us but clearly known to the All-Knowing God! Since He is a “jealous God” who knows no rival and demands and deserves our allegiance, He will point out and challenge these “other gods” in our hearts! 

The process of removing the idols from our hearts can be painful, because very often we have depended on these idols for our sense of well-being.  So, when it appears that we may lose them or have to put them in a different place in our hearts, we can become anxious or fearful!  We then must learn to trust God to provide what we had been relying on idols to provide!  Trusting and obeying God is absolutely necessary!

Sometimes, if we are not careful, as the process begins we may find ourselves tempted to take some actions to keep the idols rather than trusting in God.  Often, God will say to us “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).  “Be still”---let your hands hang down; keep your hands out of it; stop wringing your hands; stop throwing your hands up in exasperation”!  “Be Still and know that I AM GOD”! 

Trusting and obeying leads eventually to the discovery that God is faithful, loving, kind, all-wise, all-loving, and powerful!  This is not simply intellectual assent or knowledge; we come to know this in our hearts, as God proves once again that He is God and that He is with us and for us! Thanks be to God who gives us the victory!

 

 

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