The world is a sinful place. Christians, more than ever, are starting to realize that in light of recent news about mass shootings, the propagation of sinful acts such as homosexuality and the cultural acceptance of such, the ever changing mindset toward the taking of innocent lives and even the apparent disgust toward all that is Holy. But even though our world in 2013 is sinful, it has always been since the fall of man from the Garden (Gen. 3). And in the time of David the children of God, our brethren in a sense, were going through much the same things minus the social media and technology of today. That being said, God has given us some pointers, if you will, on dealing with these sorts of evil deeds and how to keep ourselves pure in the darkness of the world (cf. James 1:27).
Do Not Fret - Psalm 37:1-2
Sometimes the hardest thing a Christian has to do is leave a person to their own and cease to try to convert them or see the ungodly prospering alongside, or above, himself, knowing that he is doing the will of the Father and his neighbor is doing the will of himself. "Fretting" in many of our minds brings us to the thought of a mother sitting by the window as her child is off on his first drive alone after getting his license or a person sitting down to balance the checking account and realizing that his outgo is more than is income, but that isn't what is conveyed in this passage. The Hebrew word, according to Strong's, means "to glow or grow warm; figuratively to blaze up, of anger, zeal or jealousy." The encouragement given by the once King of Judah is to not become angry when we see the ungodly! That's difficult when we are told to put away sinful acts with "malice" (Ephesians 4:31). It all comes back to the saying, "Love the sinner and hate the sin." It's extremely challenging for the faithful Christian to look out at this world while suffering and struggling through life and see the wicked going about their business seemingly happy and not having a clue what is in store for them! That's the reason Christ stressed reaching those people with the Gospel (Mark 16:15-16).
Delight - Psalm 37:4
This is the best part in the entire passage, I think. David is speaking to people that are simply getting disgusted with sin to the point of physical anger and he simply says, "Delight yourself also in the Lord." What a statement! In a sense he is saying, "Stop looking out and look up! Don't you realize that you are the richest, healthiest, most well off person in the universe? You're a child of God!" True happiness is hard to come by in today's world just as it was when David sat down to pen the thirty seventh psalm. That is one of the reasons why Christ had to come to earth, to give mankind a glimmer of hope and the true happiness that only comes from being a child of God (John 10:10). Instead of the worry, anger and distrust that we gather from our surroundings, we have happiness knowing that God is right there watching and caring for us in every way we need.
Commit - Psalm 37:5-6
But, that delight and trust only comes through committing your life to serving the one true God of the universe. Commitment, a word despised today in light of the post-modern society in which we live, isn't simply making the mental or verbal acknowledgment of allegiance but is rather, as the Hebrew word suggests, "rolling the burden of life upon the Lord (Treasury of David, Spurgeon)." It is realizing that you can't carry the weight of this life alone and if you try you will be squished under the immense burden. It gives the idea of letting God handle certain things, giving your life to Him to control and carry. That is a daunting task at times because no person really wants to have to rely solely on someone else for their existence, but that is what God wants. We want to do it our way and be able to handle everything but we can't and when we realize that fact God is standing right beside us begging us to let Him help. If one were to look through history, especially the divine history given to us in the Old Testament (cf. Romans 15:4), he would see God always helping His creation even when we really didn't want help, like when we killed the Christ even though He was here to help.
Rest - Psalm 37:7
When we give our lives to God in obedience to His word and trust in His love and mercy, and only when we do these things, we will have rest. We won't have to worry about the physical needs (cf. Matthew 6:33) because He will provide. We won't have to get angry when we see sinners living lives of apparent luxury because we will realize their joy is temporary and superficial. We won't even have to worry if we are faithfully living a godly life because God is there telling us just how to do it (2 Peter 1:3). That is true rest!
Cease from Anger - Psalm 37:8
And, finally, when we have that peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) we will cease to be angry at the outside world because we won't be worried about what they are doing but will be meditating on what God is doing! After all, anger "only causes harm (Psalm 3
Welcome to the all new series here on the PFP's blog called "Tract Review" where we will take a tract and, well, review it!
"What Should I Teach My Child About Baptism" is a brand new tract from House to House, Heart to Heart written by none other than Allen Webster, the author of all of H2H's tracts. It is yet another great resource for Christians and non-Christians alike in that it is aimed toward Christians but subtly teaches the truth about baptism to those that are not members of the New Testament church without wavering.
The Author of the Tract
Allen Webster is near and dear to my heart. He was "my first preacher" when I was baptized in 2009 at the Jacksonville Church of Christ in Jacksonville, AL. Allen is, as was mentioned, the author of all the tracts published by Jacksonville's evangelistic work called House to House, Heart to Heart. He has been preaching the Gospel since 1984 and has been with the Jacksonville congregation since 1995. Allen has authored a number of wonderful books (including, All the Devils Apples Have Worms, Seven Things A Loving God Hates and Why Not Be A Prodigal?) along with the tract series which is numbering in the hundreds at this point. He is the co-founder of Polishing the Pulpit, a gathering of thousands of Christians each year in Sevierville, TN and is the editor of the House to House, Heart to Heart magazine which has a readership larger than many well known newspapers and publications in America, reaching into sixteen million homes each year. Needless to say, Allen is a valiant soldier for Christ!
The Attributes of the Tract
There is a reason why this tract stuck out in my mind when I opened the box yesterday from House to House containing the new tracts and the extra copies of the magazine that we send out as a congregation. I am in the works to become an adoptive parent! That being said, there are more reasons why I would recommend this tract to any person, regardless of whether or not they are parents.
The Concept - As a future parent I can not fully understand the difficulty in teaching a child the ways of God without being "over his head" but I know the importance of doing so. These tips will undoubtedly help a parent get his child to understand baptism using things that he is familiar with. In a world where children are being taught the relativistic principles of humanism and denominationalism more brethren need to take heed to this tract and teach the next generation, the church of tomorrow, the undeniable truths of Christ.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NKJV)
Recently, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and came across a status by a friend of mine that read, "Get your shine on (Matthew 5:16)." Since I'm always looking for a good, catchy, phrase to post on our congregation's Facebook page, I stole it! It is obviously a play on the new, very immoral song speaking of drinking the type of alcohol known as "Moonshine" but it nonetheless gets the message across very nicely in our current culture!
It's about time that we "get our shine on" in America. For the past few decades the churches of Christ have experienced something that is tremendously heartbreaking - a decline in our reaching the world with the saving Gospel of Christ. I can only imagine that the feelings of the faithful today are much the same as when the church began to sink into the apostasy from which the church would have to be restored in the early 1800's. Put yourself in the shoes of the Christian meeting in Derbe, for instance, in the late 2nd Century. You are starting to hear and see things happening in the church that ought not be so. Brethren are starting to compromise on the organization of the church of Christ, congregations are becoming at odds because of varying views of the Deity of Christ and all the while, evangelism is suffering! The congregation you attend has ceased reaching out to its community because every second spent together is used in trying to keep the congregation together in a world of spiritual turbulence. Now look at today, it's the same thing! And it's all happening because of one reason, we are ceasing to "get our shine on" and are starting to turn inward simply lighting the area under the basket, to use the analogy used by Jesus (Matthew 5:15), instead of lighting the entire house. The reason for this shift?
We have forgotten the importance of souls!
Getting Your Shine On Is All About BALANCE.
Doctrine is of the utmost importance to the faithfulness of a congregation (1 Timothy 4:13, Revelation 2:14-15, Revelation 2:20-24) but, as is the case with everything to be called Holy, there is a balance that must be met. The simple phrase "doctrine" is becoming a curse word in todays society! People do not wish to be told that there is but one way to Christ and are outspoken about their hatred to those that do so. And so we have sank into our pews, as it were, and simply tried to keep ourselves pure (cf. James 1:27) all while failing to realize that keeping ourselves pure and following the commands of Christ is directly connected to letting people see the Truth and teaching them to follow it (Matthew 28:19-20).
How can we do both, though? How can we combat the change agents in the church and at the same time teach the world? - The same way they did it way back in the time when the church was a new institution. By following the example and commands of Christ and preaching those same things to the world at large.
Getting Your Shine On Is All About BENEVOLENCE.
Often times, the word "benevolence" conjures up thoughts of checks being written or boxes of food being delivered but what the word means is totally different. Dictionary.com says that it is a "desire to do good to others." Our reputation as New Testament Christians is, in fact, a form of benevolence because it is very obvious that what they see in us they will attribute to Christianity. When people see us teaching the Truth, helping someone in physical need or even sitting and listening when a person just needs to talk (all forms of benevolence) they will see that the focus of the church of Christ is on souls, whether it be the souls' needs of this life or their needs for the life to come after the Judgment.
Getting Your Shine On Is All About BENEFICIARIES.
Let's be totally honest with each other. Even though some of us, myself included, do not currently have children we can see how letting our Christian lights shine will affect "the church of tomorrow," the children not yet old enough to understand and obey the Gospel. How can we honestly say we are doing God's will if we neglect to teach those young minds, through example, the Truth? They may be able to quote the books of the Bible, the Judges of Israel, the names of the Apostles and the fruits of the Spirit but what they are really learning is that someone cared enough for them to teach them those things and, whether we want to believe it or not they will be looking at the person doing the teaching as to whether or not they are "practicing what they preach" and if they don't, why should we not expect them to follow in our own footsteps?
If we really, truly want to safeguard the church from falling into times like it was during the Dark Ages we are going to have to get to work. We're going to have to have balance, we are going to have to be benevolent in all forms and we are going to have to teach our beneficiaries (the ones that will "inherit," for lack of a better term, the church) the Truth in word and deed. Then, and only then, will we be able to say we were the one's that "got our shine on."
There are many who say, "Who will show us any good?" - Psalm 4:6a (NKJV)
In response to that question, the psalmist makes a wonderful statement that I think would help every Christian to realize and even pray today. He didn't say, "There is no good" and he didn't say "You have to be the good that people see." What he said was,
Lord, life up the light of your countenance upon us. - Psalm 4:6b (NKJV)
I think that is profound. David realized that the only way a person can see good is by looking to God. Why? Because everything good is from Him (James 1:17) and therefore we are going to have to realize that He alone is going to be able to give us hope! That's some serious security there, that regardless of all the bad in the world He's here for us to see.
But, while "seeing" God, understanding that the phrase is used in a figurative sense (John 1:18), produces hope and security it isn't all we have. He's also our source of gladness for a multiplicity of reasons
Just like when we get together at Christmas or some other family gathering and we eat until we hurt produces gladness, God does the same but even more so (Psalm 4:7b). If you know me you know that I love food and I love having people to our house to eat but even if the table were full of wonderful delights there would still be something missing without God.
The security of God, with all of its gladness and hope is the best thing that anything has to offer! To the point that, instead of having to watch over our shoulders day and night we can "lie down in peace and sleep" (Psalm 4:8) because we know that God is there, He is ours and we are His.