Please take a moment and fill out the very quick questionnaire below. We are going to be using it for a future series of blog articles and other resources so it will not only help us out here at the PFP but it will help others in the future. You might even see room for improvement in your own lives.
A few years ago, I asked my girlfriend if she would be willing to put up with me for the rest of this life. Amazingly, she said yes. And then the planning started. We, and by "we" I mean she, had to pick out the colors, flowers, dress, bridal party, location, time, day, decorations and many other things that I'm sure I didn't even know were there.
On that day, Rebeka took something from me. See, until that day it was just me, a preaching student in Memphis with little to no responsibilities outside of memorizing my verses and getting my papers turned in on time. But, when we decided to unite in marriage and that day finally came, she took that away. Even more than my freedom, she took my name. I was no longer a single guy who's name was all mine, now it's hers too.
There was a lot of planning that went in to that day but all of the arrangements were nothing compared to another day. The day I'm talking about took thousands of years to plan, multiple miraculous events to intercede in the world's plans, a cross, a bunch of ungodly Jews and Romans bent on having their way and even more. The day that Jesus took His place on the middle cross of Calvary was both the worst and the best day ever.
His bride took everything from Him for that day. More than just freedom to go out to eat with the guys whenever He wanted, she took His life for that day to happen! And after He had passed from this earthly life, had His body buried in a borrowed tomb, waited three days and come back to show mankind that He is the Christ and Satan that he has no power over Him, she took His name.
The bride is the church of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:22-23), the name is Christian (Acts 11:26) and the blessing of that name is much more than a tax write off or a new chance for a driver's license picture. No, the blessings of being that bride for which the God of the Universe died are innumerable (Ephesians 3:8). They're spiritual (Ephesians 1:3). They're everything to the bride.
My wife brings me great joy in having my name and, in a sense, representing me to the world. When people see her and realize that she has taken it upon herself to be joined to me for the rest of this life there's nothing better. I just hope that as members of the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23), the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-23), we give Him even more honor, joy and glory because our names are nothing compared to His (Philippians 2:9).
Christians, remember you took the name of Christ the day you became part of the bride of Christ. Don't ever purposefully do anything to taint that name and if something is done foolishly, fix it immediately because it took a lot more than an over priced set of flowers and tea candles for you to be able to have that name!
"[L]ooking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat (2 Peter 3:12)." - What an amazing thought! The fact that the Lord of Glory will descend from heaven (Acts 1:11) in order to receive His children back to Him (John 14:3) to take them to their eternal rest (2 Thessalonians 1:7) is awe-inspiring to say the least.
However, there is a word in that passage of inspired Scripture that seems to be overlooked on a daily basis. It's the word "hastening". Now, to some that word gives the idea of causing to speed up, but we understand there is no Biblical precedent on how a Christian can do anything to speed up or slow down the coming of Christ. No, the word means an earnest desire, a hope.
Do we honestly, sincerely and reverently hope that Christ will return sooner rather than later? There is a song which some sing called, "Jesus is Coming Soon" in which the singers say that Jesus is, in fact, coming soon. The problem with the song does not arise from that idea, per say, but that the second verse is very premillennial and cannot be sung in accordance with God's will (check out this article for more insight).
That being said, do we earnestly desire and expect Jesus to return to gather us for the Judgement?
I'm afraid that if we don't, we are in danger of being caught off guard and ill-prepared for that Day!
So, what does this mean to us in 2014 as Christians living in a much different world than that of Peter and John yet still having the same Christianity and standard of such as they? It means we have to have that same hope!
I once heard a brother end his prayer with something to the effect of, "Please, Lord, bring the Judgment soon so that we can be with you!" When he said that, I have to admit that I was somewhat uneasy praying that but upon further meditation I'm convinced that is exactly how we ought to be thinking today.
Let's face it, our world is a sinful place filled with ungodliness and Satan is well-loved. It is a place in which Christ and His church is the source of derision and even hate. It's a place where the individual can find salvation and encouragement through the Word of God and yet many would have that Word thrown into the nearest dumpster at a moment's notice. I don't know about you, but I hope Jesus comes soon! If not just to get out of this world and live in a place where righteousness reigns.
So, if you have the understanding that Christ will return to bring Judgment on the world and take the faithful to heaven eternal, tell someone about it because at the same time you are to be hoping that it happens very quickly and you just might not have time to tell other people.
"Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"
There've been excellent materials coming from the internet for Christians to utilize in their faith and walk with God. Here are 5 of my favorites from the recent past.
Q&A: Should Christians Celebrate Lent?
Lent is the 40-day Catholic religious season of preparation before “Easter Sunday” (though many other denominations within Christendom also participate). The Lenten season begins on “Ash Wednesday,” with many solemnly marking... read more
3 Tips to Improve the Singing in Your Congregation
Last weekend, around a thousand Christians gathered together in Oklahoma City to worship, fellowship, and study God’s word. The singing was out of this world! But I have been to some assemblies where the singing was less than God-honoring... read more
These Snakes Can Find Their Way Back
Even those not inherently squeamish about snakes are uneasy about a phenomenon occurring in Florida. Former pet owners of Burmese Pythons probably started releasing them in south Florida back in the late 1990s. On February 4, personnel found an 18-foot specimen in the Everglades... read more
You Are the Problem
Christianity is broken. At least that’s what the majority says. When it comes down to it, you and I would probably have a hard time disagreeing with that statement. 86% of the nearly 15,000 people who responded to a one question isidewith.com poll say Jesus would disapprove of modern... read more
What I Gave Up The Day I Got Married
I was married at the young age of 19. Yup, I know... besides possibly setting a new record... I am also "crazy." But, don't worry, you don't need to tell me that, I already know. In fact, I've heard it all: "Didn't you just get out of high school?" "It was just yesterday that you were in diapers!! You're just a baby!" ... read more
I'm a huge fan of the United States of America. I don't always agree with what the powers that be do, say or believe in but for the most part I'm cognizant of the fact that my country is one of the best in which a person can live and thrive. I hope that always continues to be the case, while I know that it probably won't given the history of our world and its governments.
My family was once very powerful in Ireland and England (I also love genealogies by the way). Nicholas Snow was one of the few people able to say that they were on the voyage across the pond with the Mayflower in establishing these United States as a territory of England.
It's amazing to think of the history that is the foundation of this place! Some have families who have recently come to America while others have been here for centuries. Some came of their own free will and some came as a product of slavery and mistreatment on the part of their fellow man. Some came from Europe where the culture is somewhat like ours, others from distant lands which are very different from the culture that is extant here in the United States.
I absolutely love it! However, being an American, I fail to see the point in hyphenated patriotism.
I know, some of us are proud of our roots and family history, I am too. But living in a world of political correctness, we’ve become jaded. No longer are we Americans but Irish-Americans, African-Americans, Iranian-Americans and so on!
Why? I’m not going to get into the political repercussions of a ideology such as this, but I believe it is because we have failed to give ourselves fully to our country.
Woodrow Wilson once said,
“Some Americans need hyphens in their names because only part of them has come over.”
Now, what does that say about hyphenated-Christianity? The exact same thing.
The reason why some hold to Baptist-Christianity, Catholic-Christianity, Methodist-Christianity or any other hyphenated form of Christianity is because they have failed to give themselves completely to the Lord.
Instead of living for Christ and being a sacrifice for Him (Romans 12:1-2), they have created a hybrid form of Jesus and man-made thoughts, opinions and doctrines. Instead of giving their lives for faithfulness to the Lord (Revelation 2:10), they have given their lives over to following some sort of modern day usurper of the deity of Christ.
It’s all about self and none about salvation. They’ve failed to see God and have substituted His will of unity in Christ (John 17:21, Ephesians 4:4-6, 1 Corinthians 1:10ff) for a man-made concept of unity in which all of these different hyphenated-Christianities are pleasing to God, then they in fact are not.
So, how do we stop this? It’s rather easy. All it would take to destroy the epidemic hyphenated-Christianity is to give ourselves completely to Christ and simply follow His word. - No more catechisms, no more manuals or declarations of faith. Just the Bible and Jesus’ authority (cf. Matthew 28:18).
While that is harder than it looks, it’s possible. After all, the first century Christians were able to do so and if they can do it, so can we.
I've struggled with this in the past and I know many brethren do as well. At what point does a child of God have the ability to say that another human being has either failed to reach or has fallen from the salvation in Christ because of his religious beliefs or actions?
Many believe that any person having some inkling of a belief in Jesus and some rendition of the faith in Him is to be called a Christian and is to be inside the scope of fellowship of fellow Christians, but is this correct?
We've all heard the normal tests of fellowship - worship, church organization, authority in the Scriptures alone, etc. but are these the only things one must believe and obey in order to be unified in the Spirit?
However, being a person who is always yearning to test all things (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:21) we must ask the question, WHY? - I believe the reason is very simple, because the other things are not visible!
Take conviction, for instance. There is an aspect in which conviction in Christ (personal belief/faith) is able to be seen outwardly like when Paul wrote that the faith of the Colossian brethren was able to be seen in that he knew that they were "faithful" (Colossians 1:2) and that they had learned of their faith (Colossians 1:4). But, in a very real sense of the word, my faith and conviction is deep within my heart which no man can know save me (1 Corinthians 2:11).
My love for the lost and for my brethren is the same. While my teaching the lost shows my love for them and my fellowship with the brethren shows the entire world that I am a follower of Jesus (John 13:35), no one can definitively know whether or not these things are done out of true love or a pretentious love which is bent on getting society's accolades except me.
So, why do we use things like whether or not a person worships in spirit and in truth (cf. John 4:24) forsaking man-made traditions and worship practices like mechanical-instrumental music or flawed roles in worship as a test of fellowship? I can assure you, it isn't because we just want to feel superior to him (although a minority might have this in mind and it is really impossible to tell definitively). No, the reason is because we can openly see that.
That doesn't mean, however, that a person seeking to be a part of the restored church of Jesus Christ can simply stop at the outward signs of faith and be done in his restoration process! Just as it is important to restore the authority of Jesus and the knowledge that the Bible and it alone give the words for eternal life (John 12:48, John 6:68), it is likewise important to have the inner man restored in order to be in fellowship with Christ and walk in His light (1 John 1:7-9) whereby the fellowship between mankind can be defined as "Christian" as well.
If you'd like to study more about how one knows that he is part of the church found within the New Testament and the inward things that must be restored as well as the outward things, please check out a brand new podcast from our brethren and dear friends over at The Light Network called "The Church on Trial".
What is your favorite book of the Bible? While it is probably one of the hardest things for me to chose, I would have to say that the books to the Thessalonian congregations have to be among the top on my list. That is one reason why I was SO EXCITED to know that my favorite commentary writer of our time was writing a book on some of my favorite passages of divine Scripture.
You can never surpass the guidance and edification which comes from the God-given passages but a deep understanding and continued study of those Scriptures using helpful guides such as Living & Longing for the Lord will only add to that faith. And, while you might not agree with Michael on every aspect of the book, you won't find a more concise wording and ample evidence than what is found in this book.
If you haven't figured it out yet, Living & Longing for the Lord by Michael Whitworth is a must read as you set to study God's Book. If you want a long, drawn-out, somewhat daunting study ending in your ability to write a doctoral dissertation on the Pauline epistles to the Thessalonica Church of Christ, look elsewhere. But, if you're looking for a study which will leave you with a deeper understanding and equipped to help yourself and others in the Faith by using 1 & 2 Thessalonians, go over to Start2Finish Books and pick up your copy right now!
It's so tough! Living in a world which celebrates sin, promotes anti-god lifestyles and genuinely makes it look so enjoyable and yet being children of God which means we do not partake in those things because of one reason, we were commanded to abstain from ungodliness (Titus 2:12) is the most difficult aspect of the Christian life. Loving God, worshiping Him, telling others about Him, all of those things are relatively easy and yet keeping our lusts at bay is not.
It's also daunting! You see, the fact that we in fact are to withstain from sin then brings about the thought, "Why?"
Many people answer with a misguided, and yet correct, answer of, "Because God commanded it and we are to follow His commands (John 14:15)." And, while that is correct, I believe there is another answer to the question that provides more insight into the Christian life and a better understanding of the fulfilled life in Christ (cf. John 10:10). That answer, "Because He knows best."
We don't like to believe that, but it's true. The philosopher B.J. Gupta once said, "Any activity that adversely affects society is immoral."
In writing to children, Paul made mention to the fact that obeying parents will extend the lives of the obedient (Ephesians 6:1-3). Why? It isn't because God is going to miraculously extend that child's life. How many great, obedient, children have perished even though they obeyed their parents? No, the reason is because a sinful lifestyle will, on average, shorten one's life and parents, being older and more experienced, already know that. Murder, drug use, theft, homosexuality, etc. All of these things can end a person's life before their time.
THAT IS WHY HE COMMANDED THESE THINGS! Not because He wanted to burden us with a law which controls our entire lives simply because He likes this way of life. It's because He knows best.
He knew that actions which adversely affect the society at large are immoral and so He gave us commands, throughout history, which would keep us from doing so.
I like to think of myself as a "manly man". I love hunting, hiking, action movies, I have facial hair and love to lift weights but there's something you might now know about me... I have a security blanket. That's right, make fun if you like but I have a blanket that I have had since early childhood that I call, "Blue" (guess what color it is). This week, I'm sure sick-as-a-dog would have been the clinical diagnosis of my physical status, if I were girly enough to need a doctor that is. Because of my infirmity, ole' Blue was extracted from his special place in the hall closet as I sat on the couch wishing I could be at the office or doing something other than lying on the couch watching the backlog of DVR'd shows which my wife doesn't watch and are left for my viewing pleasure. But instead, I was here, right where I still am, on the couch (although I'm feeling somewhat better) with Blue right beside me.
The point is, sickness isn't fun. No, seriously, the point is that the old is comforting, isn't it? I'm almost positive that I'm not the only married man with a career that has a security blanket left over from the days of childhood (at least I hope I'm not...).
The same can be said about our spiritual past. When we become Christians, we bring with us the baggage of false worship, sinful lifestyles, pain, distrust (because of our being lead astray in religious matters) and many other things which sometimes hinder our growth in Christ. And, while we like to think that we have matured in our faith past the point of being tempted to go back, we're kidding ourselves if we think it is completely out of the question!
No one is exempt from the sicknesses of this world whether it be the sickness of the body or the ailment of the spirit. Without realizing, we can be swept away from the Truth into a lost condition.
But, it feels good, doesn't it? Let's not lie to ourselves. Those past beliefs, the past actions, the things that formed me into the person I am today, are tempting. They are like the old blue blanket that, although it has no stuffing left in it and provides absolutely no security from the cold world, somehow seem like they will make everything better. But they won't!
Actually, all they do is crucify Christ afresh for our own superficial gain (Hebrews 6:6).
Thankfully, however, the Hebrews writer believed that the ancient Christians faced with going back to their Jewish beliefs would be strong enough, taking into consideration the will, grace and power of God, to kick the fever of temptation and withstand going to the closet to bring out ole' Blue (religiously speaking of course, I'm still going to have Blue next to me every time I get a sniffle) (Hebrews 6:9-12). And, as restoration Christians we whole heartedly, and correctly, believe that if they can do it, SO CAN WE!