Two summers ago in our community, a 34-year-old man was strangled by his pet boa constrictor. It took place in his home as he was showing off the snake to a friend. Cory Byrne died in a local hospital just hours after police officers and paramedics pried the 9-foot snake from his neck.
While all born again people agree on the Gospel....and the doctrine of the Trinity....and the doctrine of Christ's two natures....we are not in full agreement on many secondary doctrines. This isn't necessarily a problem in and of itself. Unfortunately, we sometimes take it a step further and attempt to push our "pet doctrines" upon one another.
So you are now a born again believer in Jesus….and you wonder what is coming down the pike for you in this new and exciting relationship with God.
There are few topics more emotionally charged in our society today than the hot potato of homosexuality. It is out of this intense emotion and pressure that some ministers have been persuaded to proclaim that homosexual behavior is no longer sinful. Most of the people who subscribe to this new doctrine have a close friend or relative who struggles with same-sex attraction. It is a highly personal matter for everyone in that situation.
Every Christian hits rough spots at times where a particular sin just seems to get the upper hand for awhile. It might be a grudge....or impure thoughts....or jealousy....or whatever. By God's grace, believers somehow manage to bounce back and get beyond these spiritual setbacks. It's so much better to be living "in the zone" of God's abundant love, power, and boundaries.
It has been nearly 20 years since leading Evangelical and Roman Catholic scholars in the United States signed an ecumenical document to deliver a common witness to the modern world. While everyone understands that there are still theological differences, "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" was an amazing effort in 1994 to reach out to one another in Christian love. One affirmation in that document stated: "All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters in Christ." This is most certainly true.
One huge indicator of spiritual health and maturity is when a Christian views his sin as being at least as great, if not greater, than the sins of others. The apostle Paul described his own attitude this way: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst." (1 Timothy 1:15) Paul ministered to people out of that deep sense of being a bigger sinner than anyone he was trying to reach with the Gospel.
Hypnosis and yoga are a couple of mystical practices which have basically gone mainstream in America today. Just because a spiritual practice goes mainstream, however, doesn't mean that it is safe and beneficial. Many spiritual teachings and practices are dangerous to the soul. This calls for daily discernment and constant vigilance on the part of every Christian.
A well-known television host did a story recently about a judge who is attempting to reduce the 10 Commandments down to 6 Commandments. Without going into all the details, I found the host's comments to be very insightful. He wondered what Moses would think about such a travesty.
When President Obama spoke at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication last year, he urged the nation to continue to press for the goals and hopes of the "black preacher with no official rank or title who somehow gave voice to our deepest dreams" and helped make the nation "more perfect." By announcing his support for same-sex marriage last week, President Obama is sincerely convinced that now he is helping to make the nation even more perfect.
There is plenty of talk these days about which term or terms to use when defining those who belong to Christ. I know it can be tempting to want to define "disciple" differently than you define "Christian." I was actually toying with that idea myself a number of years ago. But as Scripture details what it means to be in relationship with God through faith in Christ, I don't believe it is wise or beneficial to make this distinction and end up with two different categories of believers.
Do you ever get the feeling these days that if you tried to help someone you love escape from sin, you might be accused of judging that person? You are not alone if you feel this way.
Each one of us is a sinner. There is no getting around it. So what is the difference between a sinner who has been saved by God's grace, and a sinner who is still lost in his sins?
When God created Adam and Eve, He placed them in a garden which had boundaries. They were told to respect those boundaries and obey the truth. They chose to cross God's boundary line. The rest is history.
So you think there are advantages to living together rather than getting married. Before you close your mind any tighter on the issue, check out these five myths:
Anyone who has been richly blessed over the years by the preaching of Dr. Charles Stanley, as I have been, knows that he has a real gift to proclaim the Word of God with clarity and purpose in the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words, Dr. Stanley doesn't leave much wiggle room for his hearers. I really like that when I am listening to a message from God's Word. It reminds me that God has placed plenty of stakes in the ground regarding the truth, sin, and grace.
Charles Spurgeon expressed it well for anyone who is waiting upon God to do something. "My situation is urgent," writes Spurgeon, "and I cannot see how I will ever be delivered. Yet this is not my concern, for He who made the promise will find a way to keep it. My part is simply to obey His commands, not to direct His ways. I am His servant, not His advisor. I call upon Him and He will deliver me."
In the New Testament, no one ever served as a spiritual leader for a congregation that he wasn't also feeding. God's Word prescribes no leading where there is no feeding. Every "elder" in the New Testament was required to faithfully teach the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:24), and to serve alongside the believers in that particular congregation. The word "elder" in the New Testament is interchanged with the words "overseer," "pastor," and "bishop."
Relationships can get very messy. Perhaps you already have firsthand experience in that area. The only Person I know who has the ability to clean up the mess is Jesus Christ. In fact, He also has the power to help a man and woman stay out of a bunch of stuff that will only bring heartache into their home.
Man seems to race through life doing almost anything to avoid thinking about his own death. At some point however, the thought of death is unavoidable. Robert Ebert describes the many e-mails he now receives with word of this person or that person passing away. He explains how even the memories of those people begin to fade away over time. Ebert writes, "That is what death means.
I was intrigued by the title of a blog I came across today: "Do You Believe in Common Grace?" It was written by a faithful Christian pastor who preaches the Gospel with biblical integrity. Some Christians use the term "common grace" to describe the universal blessings which God pours out upon the whole human race. That doesn't mean that everyone who uses this term understands the full implications of this teaching.
What is your biggest area of weakness and temptation? The only way to experience victory in Jesus over that sin is to own it and rise above it by God's grace. You can do it, but you first must believe that God can free you from the chains of that thing which pull at you day after day.
The strong correlation between sexual immorality and overspending is beyond dispute. A perfect example in the Bible is the prodigal son in Luke 15. A perfect example in the world today is the United States.
It is Easter and two days ago was Good Friday. The question for the individual is this: Are those two days just yearly events on my calendar? Or have those two history changing events become life-changing events in my heart?
Let me see if I have this right. You Christians believe that the Son of God suffered and died on a cross 2000 years ago...and that somehow, this helps you get connected to your God. Yep. That's right. That is the teaching of the Bible. And yes....it is utter foolishness to the natural way of thinking about God. And by the way....He is not just our God....He is the true God, the One and only.