The Early Bird Gets The Link

Here is your daily dose. Have a blessed day.

3 Types of Legalism

How does one keep the letter of the law but violate its spirit? 

Does Church Membership Matter?

So should believers join their local church?

9 Things You Should Know About the Communion Service on the Moon

This Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people in history to walk on the Moon. But it’s also the anniversary of the a lesser known event—the first celebration of the Lord’s Supper on the Moon.

Why Teens Must Read the Bible for Themselves

https://vimeo.com/290984929

Don’t Reduce Your Sheep to Their Usefulness

Families are meant to meet each others needs, and service in the body of Christ brings blessings. But pastors need to guard against the temptation to evaluate their members according to worldly standards of usefulness. People can sense when they are being valued more for their gifts than their souls.

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The Early Bird Gets The Link

How Can We Be Sure if Christianity is the True Description of God?

5 Reasons to Disentangle Sexuality and Race

But as strongly as the Bible cuts in favor of mixed-race marriage, it cuts against same-sex marriage for believers. Part of me wishes this wasn’t true. I’ve been romantically attracted to women since childhood. Were I not a Christian, I expect I’d be married to a woman today. But whichever way I hold my Bible, its message on marriage remains the same. And as I’ve dug more into the Scriptures, I’ve come to understand the purpose of marriage more deeply, and how the love-across-difference of marriage pictures Jesus’s love for us.

3 reflections after my first year as a Christian

I once heard someone compare the way we treat new Christians with the process of having a baby. You wouldn’t carry a baby for nine months, endure labour, take your bundle of joy home and then leave them to fend for themselves with the throwaway advice, “food’s in the fridge, TV’s through there, diapers in the bathroom…”. Similarly, we shouldn’t just tell new Christians that following Jesus is about reading God’s word, speaking to him in prayer and enjoying fellowship with his people and expect them to thrive. And yet, that’s often precisely what we do.

Marriage Isn’t the End Goal, Why Do We Treat It Like One?

To put it simply, a marriage will implode on itself if it’s using its own ease and happiness as a measure of success. If the relationship is committed to being transformed and loving as a choice, however, conflict gains new purpose. Disagreements are no longer grounds for dismissing the relationship, but opportunities for the connection to deepen as both parties pursue a purpose bigger than themselves. Contracts fall apart when people change their minds, but a covenant remains because it’s a commitment to something greater than oneself.

Confessions of an Arrogant Heart

I first titled this article “Confessions of an Arrogant Soul,” but I changed it for two reasons: First, an “arrogant heart” is a biblical phrase I’ve seen throughout Scripture (Psalm 101:5; Isaiah 10:12). Second, I wanted to use the word heart because in my struggle with arrogance I’ve had to confront the fallenness of my own desires.  

For there was a part of me that loved my arrogance. It established deep roots in my heart. And in my pursuit of this sin, I did the following:

The Early Bird Gets The Link

I drove through the remnants of Berry on the way to Homes of Grace in Mississippi, on a mission trip with my son and the youth from Watson Chapel Baptist Church, pray for us.

A Deeper Look at Immigration & Potential Targets of the ICE Raids

Using this national debate as a backdrop, it seems helpful to ask some basic questions: Are certain religious groups going to be hurt disproportionately by these immigration policies? What do immigrants who come to the United States look like? What are their racial backgrounds? What are their religious traditions?

How to Teach Your Kids to Study the Bible

But while encouraging our children to read the Bible and teaching them how to do it well are necessary tasks, they are not sufficient for spiritual development. We also need to teach them how to study Scripture so that they “may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17).

Well Let’s Just See…

2019 has been a distressing year in the West. New York State passed legislation sanctioning pregnancy termination at any point in gestation. A Northern Ireland court, just last week, handed out a custodial sentence for the brutal claw-hammering-to-death of a chihuahua cross pup. Correctly such cruelty was punished by the judge. Yet very few even blink at more barbarous crushing of skulls of a viable human fetus by the forceps of a qualified obstetrician. Tears of water should stream like rivers from our eyes – man’s inhumanity to man has trampled divine law. This is but one example of the destruction of foundations of any civilized, godly, society.

Ten questions for pro-choice people

This debate is always vitriolic, and as a result, often deeply unintelligent. Most people (on bothsides) are content with sharing facile memes and purile soundbites. I want to avoid that tone, if I can. It’s not the strong language I have a problem with (vital issues call for forceful language), but the ignorant ways that opinions are often voiced, and the consequent refusal to engage in rational discussion.

How to Prioritize Your Spouse in Ministry

https://vimeo.com/330591924

The Early Bird Gets The Link

Here is your daily round up

Learning Money Management from Jesus

Jesus leaves his disciples with a series of questions to ponder about money and possessions, questions with which we can measure our progress in understanding and obedience. These are for private prayer and reflection rather than for public discussion.

How to Enjoy Your Inheritance Today

What is so good about this inheritance? Why is it so wonderful that it can bring us joy on the journey towards it, though “you have been grieved by various trials”?

They Laid Love on the Altar: My Mother’s Letters to Jim Elliot

I immediately recalled a similar conversation with my mother, known by everyone else as Elisabeth Elliot, whom I was apologizing to for not having read every one of her books. She said, “They all say the same thing, Val, so it’s not necessary for you to read them all. Besides, you don’t have time!”

Defending Religious Liberty in a Secular Age

During an era in which many or most Americans view historic and biblical Christianity (especially its teachings on gender and sexuality) as implausible, unimaginable, and even reprehensible, it will be surprising if religious liberty does not increasingly come under attack.

3 Errors That Undermine the Imago Dei When Ministering to the Disabled

We can ask a similar question with regards to the way we approach disability ministry. Our internal quality control may not catch these three errors that ultimately undermine the truth of the imago Dei in the life of a disabled individual.

 

If… Then…

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Photo by Tuce on Unsplash

If you are a parent you know the if/then scenario, the child comes in and says if I clean up my room then I will be able to play Xbox. Maybe it is the other way around, the parent says if you read these books then you will get $50. Let the negotiations begin!

If you are a parent, you no doubt have come across these if/then scenarios, some are ridiculous, some worth considering, but it is inevitable. The human condition wants something in return for something accomplished or desires the motivation to accomplish something.

You know what’s interesting, this is nothing new. As I was reading in Genesis I came  across the time when Isaac & Rebekah sent Jacob away to find a wife from their homeland. They also sent him away because Esau wanted to kill him for stealing his blessing. On his journey  Jacob dreamed about the stairway to heaven, the angels were ascending and descending and the Lord spoke to Jacob saying,

And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:13–17 ESV)

The Lord gives the patriarchal promise, the promise given to Abraham and Isaac, he now gives to Jacob. God tells them He is with him always, He will protect Jacob and will bring him back to the land of promise.

When Jacob wakes up and he is astounded by the dream and the words the Lord has spoken to him, so awe struck  by the presence of God he names the place Bethel, which means the house of God. The God of heaven invaded the life of Jacob and breathed life, purpose, calling into him.

So what does Jacob do? What would you do?

I have never experienced anything like Jacob, but I have had several holy moments in my life, moments when God has spoken to me through his Word, through a sermon, a conversation, a moment so holy it plants purpose and calling, it begins to transform and define you.

Have you had a moment like this?

What’s interesting in the life of Jacob is he realizes he is in the presence of God, he memorializes the place and even changes the name of it. Yet at the same time Jacob’s response amazes me. Instead falling before the Lord in submission and full surrender, Jacob enters negotiation mode, Jacob gives God an if/then,

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.” (Genesis 28:20–22 ESV)

Did you catch it?

Jacob tells God if you are with me, feed me, clothe me and bring me back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. What is interesting is God just told Jacob he was going to do all this and in Jacob’s mind he says if and when you do this then you will be my Lord and God.

To be honest, I feel like Jacob more times than not. God if you give me a better job then…, God if I just received a raise then…, God if you take away my problems then…, what is your if/then to God?

God has made the same promises to us as believers that he has made to Jacob,

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37–39 ESV)

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6 ESV)

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5 ESV)

God has promised us that nothing can separate us from His love, he promises he will complete the good work he has started in us, he promises to never leave us and forsake us. God speaks these promises to us, through His Word, like he has spoken them to Jacob and many times our response is an if/then to God. If you do this, then you will be my God.

I thank God we serve a patient and merciful God, who doesn’t do a Thanos snap when we respond to His greatness with an if/then. He patiently brings us to a place of surrender and places in us a desire to desire Him above all. God help us move beyond the if/then scenarios to a place of wholehearted submission to your purposes and plans, no matter where they take us.

Until Next Time

Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

The Early Bird Gets The Link

Here is your daily round up.

Leave and Cleave Like a Strawberry

I looked at the hostas with their many shapes of leaves in varied shades of green. I looked at the ferns towering above them, still lush and healthy before they inevitably fade under the coming heat of the summer sun. I looked at the bright red and yellow begonias, brilliant splashes of color contrasting beautifully with the dark soil beneath. Then my eyes fixed on the irises which opened for the first time today to display their magnificent purple flowers. And I thought, “I someday want my children to leave and cleave like a strawberry.” I’d better explain.

You’re a Theologian. Become a Good One.

In one sense, all it takes to be a theologian is to have an opinion about God. That’s it. The moment you think or say anything about him or her or it or whatever “God” is to you, you’re doing theology.

The real question, therefore, is not whether you are a theologian. It’s whether you are a good one.

3 Daily Wages of Sin in Your Life

What’s remarkable about the Bible, and maybe you know this from first-hand experience, is that every time I approach it with a willingness and eagerness to learn, God’s Word teaches me something new.

Claiming Victory Will Help You in the Fight

While we may recognize that, as Christians, we are in a constant war within ourselves, wrestling with the desires of our sinful flesh, we must also remember that we live with this assurance of victory.

That assurance changes our outlook in the midst of the battle for two reasons.

Where We Find Significance

All of this confirms something that the Bible already makes clear: we all want to be a part of something bigger than our own lives. We are searching for significance, and we find it by rooting our lives within a bigger story. As one writer put it, “I can only answer the question, ‘How should I live?’ when I’ve answered the prior question, ‘Of what story do I find myself a part?’”

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The Early Bird Gets The Link

Hope you had a blessed weekend!

Does Prayer Change God’s Mind?

Does prayer make any difference? Does it really change anything? Someone once asked me that question, only in a slightly different manner: “Does prayer change God’s mind?” My answer brought storms of protest. I said simply, “No.” Now, if the person had asked me, “Does prayer change things?” I would have answered, “Of course!”

Five Bad Reasons to Go to Church

When a church splits over the color of the ceiling, one must wonder: Why do we even go to church at all? To worship God? To be entertained? To have all of our preferences met?

3 Ways Your Faith Should Shape Your Work

If a person went to church every Sunday from the age of 25 to age 65, they would spend around 3,000 hours gathered with the body of Christ. If the same person worked full-time during that span, they would put in around 80,000 work hours. My point? It is the workplace, not the sanctuary, where most Christians live out their faith. If God’s reign shapes all of life, then it must shape one’s view of work.

What I Miss Most (and Least) About Being a Pastor

Jared C. hits the nail on the head.

Why Smaller Churches Are Making a Comeback

Two-thirds of churches have an attendance under 125. The smaller church is the norm, not the exception. And though the news has not been that promising for smaller churches in recent years, I do see some very promising signs for the years ahead. Why do I make such an apparently contrarian statement? Here are five reasons: