Thursday, November 3, 2011

Is America Going to Hell?

Is America going to hell? I think it is. I've read that 85% of adult Americans claim to be a Christian; if this is so, why is there over a million unborn babies murdered each year? Why is pornography a billion dollar industry? Why are our prisons overflowing? Why do we elect, and continue to re-elect, corrupt, drunken, whoring, lying politicians? Why don't we have pray in school? Why is church attendance dropping faster than my house's market value?

I believe God has turned His back on this county; not on the true Christians who live here, but the country itself. God did this because we, as a nation, turned our back on Him first. This is not a Christian nation! It was once; but it has embraced evil, yes evil, and enjoys it to much to turn back to God.

We are a lot like Israel before Christ came. They were chosen by God to be a special people; to be a guide for others to follow. But they continually forgot God and followed the ways of pagan nations. No matter how often they were shown the light, they refused to follow it for long.

America is like this. We were a chosen people, to be a beacon of light to a fallen world. And we were for a while! Great advancement is all fields of science, medicine, theology, etc. were made by Americans. Then we, just as Israel did, decided that we could do it better. God? we don't need no stinking god! We have evolution as our god! We have naturalism as our god! We have ourselves as our god. Look how great we have become...

Those of us who still believe in and worship the true God can hope and pray for revival; it's happened before, maybe it'll happen again.

Holy Father, reach down your mighty hand, take a hold of us and place us on the righteous path. There are those of us here who want you to be the Leader of this nation. With You all is right; without You, we have a nation like what we have now - lost and wandering in the darkness; thinking it knows what is best when it's actually blindly running headfirst into the abyss. Only You can save us from ourselves. Please place holy men in national leadership positions, and give them Your Spirit to guide them as You see fit. Above all, thank You for Your Son, Jesus. May all the glory and blessing be His.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Good Saying

I’m reading a book that has many quotes from the many pillars of the Christian faith, one of them being John Wesley who was the founder of the Methodist denomination, which also gave birth to the Wesleyan denomination as well. Wesley was a great man of faith who could deliver a sermon or write an essay as well as anyone who has ever lived. It is such a shame that the Methodist church he founded has fallen so far away from the true faith.

But what I want to ponder is a saying that Wesley is famous for, one that I feel is pretty much ignored by denominations that think that they are smarter than he was. This saying is, “Enjoin nothing that the Bible does not clearly enjoin. Forbid nothing that it does not clearly forbid.” In other words, when it comes to spiritual and moral matters, obey the Bible; don’t add to, nor take away from, what it says.

So many people, Christian or not, add to the Bible things that it does not say. For example, the Baptists (I was raised in a Southern Baptist church) say dancing is a sin, drinking alcohol is a sin and going to movies is a sin. None of those actions are forbidden in the Bible! Yet the Southern Baptists think that they are holier than God by adding those restrictions to their followers.

The Bible clearly shows that Jesus drank wine, yes real wine, David and others danced, and movies; well there were no movies then so we aren’t forbidden to see them. I will say that a Christian should not go to movies that show nudity, sexual situations and cussing, but there are plenty of rated-G movies for the family.

So here are several examples of what the church adds to the Bible, but what does it take away? Plenty! The Bible clearly says that women are not allowed to teach or preach, yet almost every denomination allows this. The Bible says that men are not to have long hair or women are not to have short hair, it even calls this a shame; but we all probably see this all the time. The Bible also says that we are to dress modestly, yet I see just as many cleavages and short skirts in church as out. I could go on but we all know what a lot of churches allow that would cause heart attacks to the early church fathers.

Non-Christians have followed suit, I see how people I speak with, and the media, mention things that Christians are doing that he Bible does not condemn as if it does. When asked to show me where the Bible says “that”, they of course can’t. But they do learn these things from the church.

We Christians need to learn that the Bible is our guide; we cannot be pharisaical and demand more of the followers of Christ than Jesus Himself demands. We cannot put undue burdens on Christians, Jesus condemns this.

John Wesley had it right and we should listen to him: “Enjoin nothing that the Bible does not clearly enjoin. Forbid nothing that it does not clearly forbid.”

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why do People Hate God?

This is just "off the cuff" writing, not much thought put into it, so take it as it is. I was sitting here at my computer and the question in the title just popped into my head. Why do people hate God? Why do they feel the need to push their evil agenda on everyone else? How can they be so ignorant to think that everything just "happened"? BANG!! You're here. They willingly choose to believe that there is no god yet readily believe that nothing exploded and became everything we know. How sad is that?

I work every day around people who intentionally bad-mouth Christians and conservatives. One or two co-workers, when they found out I was a Christian (and not afraid to voice my opinion in opposition with the liberal, sinful ways of our country and the world), seemed to make it a point for me to overhear them bashing Christianity and conservative people. I never pushed my ideas into a conversations with them. Yet, they loudly proclaimed their worldly thoughts in a loud manner.

Why do people seem to take perverse joy in trampling underfoot the godly, well-meaning thoughts and actions of others? Why is the concept of God so rejected?

Of course we know the answer. Jesus Himself told us in the gospel of John, chapter 15, verses 18-19: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."

Satan is the god of this world, and he hates Christ; so of course, Christians (God's children) are hated as well. Look at this:

John 8:42-47:
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

1 John 3:10: This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

The world hates Christ! And by extension, the world hates Christians. It is only going to get worst for us Christians. God is hated, mocked, laughed at, and pushed aside. How can we expect any difference?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Holy Communion

Communion is an important aspect of the Christian’s relationship with both Christ and each other. It involves remembering who Christ is, what He has accomplished and what He is doing and will do in the future. It also is a way for us Christians to celebrate Jesus’s sacrifice for us in the corporate setting of the visible church. Plus, most importantly, it was commanded by Jesus for us to observe this ritual until He returns.

Due to my extensive travel, I’ve experienced quite a variety of communion styles. As an adult, I’ve lived in 3 different countries and 17 different cities in 8 different states here in the U.S. I have attended well over a dozen churches on a regular basis and many more churches one or more times while seeking a church after one of my many moves.

I’ve seen communion served every Sunday, the first Sunday of the month, the last Sunday of the month, once every 3 months and once every six months. I’ve seen cracker crumbs, bread crumbs and wafers as the “bread”, but I’ve always seen a thimble of grape juice as the “wine”. (Although when I was on a short-term missions trip to Belize, the little rain-forest church we visited ran out of grape juice so 7-Up was used -- I sure hope that I’m not going to hell for that sacrilege!)

Something else I’ve seen churches do differently is deciding just who can partake in the communion service. I’ve heard pastor’s tell everyone that only members of that church can partake, I heard others say that only Christians is welcome to eat and drink and I’ve seen pastors include everyone present.

So, with all these different who’s, how’s, and when’s that are out there, let’s see what the scripture says about communion.

The Who

Who should or can partake in Holy Communion? To me, this is a simple question to answer – believers. Those who know the Lord Jesus Christ and what He did for us are the ones to partake in Holy Communion.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.

I also believe that this can include the young children of believers who are old enough to know of Christ but too young to have reasoned out their belief. I realize that this is not spelled out in scripture, so it is my opinion only.

The How

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell of the first communion; Matthew tells it like this in chapter 26:

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Here is where I’ve heard several disagreements: some say we must use real wine because that’s what Jesus did (and I believe that He did), some say grape juice is alright even if Jesus was drinking wine. Some say we should use a loaf of bread, others say any bread, i.e. crackers, are okay to use.

We can’t be too concerned with what the actual substance is that we are using to remember Christ during this ritual. Jesus said “Take this cup…” yet I’ve never heard a preacher discuss what a “cup” is! If we are following Jesus’ word to the letter, how is using a thimble to drink from anywhere close to drinking from a cup?

Please, Jesus was having a meal when He commanded us to do this, so why are we sitting in a pew and not at a table with a full spread of food before us? I actually brought this up to the pastor of a church I attended once because the church members had a pot luck on the last Sunday of every month and we celebrated communion on the first Sunday of every month. I asked the pastor why we don’t combine the two to be even more like the actual event in the Bible; but he just said no, that things were good the way they were (I’m paraphrasing).

One thing we should always remember though is that when we are to have communion, we do so with respect of others, to wait until we all are ready. 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 spells out how to partake of communion; some feel that this passage refers to unconfessed, personal sin, but I do not. We all commit so many sins of both commission and omission in ignorance that we just can’t confess every sin by name; we’d never be able to take communion!

Paul says in verse 18, “I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you…”; and in verse 29, “For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves”; the context here is of a divisive church, not a healthy, loving church. It isn’t personal sin that should keep us from communion, but church-body sin. Do not take communion if your local church body is at odds within itself.

The When

Lastly, when should we celebrate communion together? 1 Corinthians 11:26 says, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” I see no specific time-table to follow in this matter. If you want to do it every Sunday or twice a years, do what you feel the Lord asking you to do.

I personally would like to do it every Sunday, right before the pastor speaks. This would help to get everyone in the right frame of mind to learn and grow in the Word.


In closing, let me quote Jesus in John 6:46-51:

“No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Jesus is the reason for communion, not wine or grape juice, not bread or crackers. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life, and I hope you know Him as such.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Church Membership

My Brother-in-Law, Tim B, posted a comment to my article entitled, Could the Apostasy be Upon Us?, where he mentioned church membership. That comment prompted me to make a few comments about the way we Christians handle the church membership these days.

Although I have been a member of several churches throughout my adult life, I began to question this practice a few years ago and decided to study the scripture about it. Can you guess what I discovered? Membership in the visible church is nowhere to be found in the Bible! It is NOT required of us to be a card-carrying, on-the-roll member of any “church” here on earth.

I now attend a church in which I teach a weekly Bible study, but I am not a member. The pastor has told me, though, that I, and my family, may have to “join” the church in the future. My question is, “Why”? I am a member of the invisible church, meaning that I have accepted Jesus as my Savior and attempt to follow Him daily. So where am I commanded to join a local congregation in order to serve Christ?

Yes, I know we are to gather together as a body of believers, to fellowship with other believers, but nowhere does the scripture say that we are to “become members” of a congregation of an earthly church.

I’ve often thought that if I were to become the leader of a group of believers, be it a “church” or a “group” or whatever – that I’d not require “membership” in this group. It’d be a group of believers in Christ, where non-believers who are seeking answers about Christianity are also welcomed.

The church is special, it’s a foundation of Christianity, but let’s not turn it into something the Pharisees would be proud of! Let’s keep it biblical. Let’s honor God with our meetings by not imposing man-made rules which hinder godly growth in Christ.

Concerning the pastor of the church I now attend; I get the impression that he thinks the same way I do (this is a board-run church which the pastor and I both agree is not biblical (although I do not want to speak for him)). I do know that he fully wants to serve God, not man; of this I have no doubt. He is trying hard to lead this small congregation to service and obedience to the Word (and I do see some positive responses).

But to have a “sign-on-the-line” membership church is not biblical. I know that I will have to “sign” again someday so that I can serve God; but I won’t like it. When will the Church of Christ seek only to please Him and not man? When will we, as a Christian body, say “I will follow you, Lord”, and not throw in my rules on top of His?