Friday, March 07, 2008

More Than Bread 3/7/08

Joel 2:12-13
12 "Even now," declares the LORD,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning."
13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.

I have been pondering this idea more and more lately. The thing that God desires most from us isn't the proper words or even the proper actions; it is the proper attitude of our heart that He desires most. You can see it over and over again throughout Scripture. God doesn't want you to just do the right things; He wants you to be right. An outward show with no inward truth will fool a lot of people, but it can never fool God.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Rehab of Martin Luther

Pope Benedict XVI is a hard one to figure out. I saw a news story today that he has come out and said that Martin Luther was only trying to cleanse the church. Is he really the first Pope to figure this out? I am not a Lutheran, but I have a lot of respect for Martin Luther and what he did. It takes a lot of courage to stand in the face of that much pressure and hold fast to your convictions. Many of us may never know what it means to be challenged in such a manner. Surely his demeanor and his unwillingness to flinch in the face of that pressure should have been enough to give the Catholic church pause before now. There was no doubt that he was sincere and the perspective of time has surely shown that his gripes about indulgences and other issues were legitimate. It was just last July that the Pope said that non-Catholic Christians are "defective". I love my Catholic brothers and sisters, but I cannot in good faith be a part of the Catholic church because some of the teachings are still unScriptural in my assessment. I have had many good discussions with friends who are Catholic and I have taken many a hard look in the Bible myself at the teachings that bother me the most, but I have been unable to reconsile them. In fact, one of those issues has taken another point today. If Pope Bendict XVI is right about Luther now, then Pope Leo X was wrong to excommunicate him then. I know that they wish to limit the scope of Papal infallibility in order to prevent problems, but shouldn't a Pope be in "infallible mode" if you will when he excommunicates someone from the church?

More Than Bread 3/6/08

Deuteronomy 4:1-2
1 Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.

When I read this passage at first I find myself asking, who in the world would add to God's laws? Aren't they comprehensive enough? But if you think about it, the temptation to add to God's commands has existed since the beginning. Remember what Eve did in the garden when the serpent asked her about the fruit? She took the command of God that they couldn't eat from the tree and added that they couldn't even touch it. It is amazing to think that even the simplest commandment of God could get twisted by a simple addition. The Pharisees in Jesus' day had made a career of adding things to what God requires. I think the important lesson for us is to stick to what God says and not get sidetracked by all the things man is tempted to add.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

More Than Bread 3/5/08

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

This passage is one that has been foundational to God's relationship with His people for a long time. We know that Jesus referred back to this when he said that to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourself were the foundation of the law itself. Some Hebrews actually take this very literally and wear symbols on their hands and foreheads. I think it is very important for us to keep the truth of God's Word before us at every moment. Is it on your mirror? What about your steering wheel? Do you think it would be wise to put the commandments of God in front of us more? I think we could all see a difference in our lives if we focus more on His Word.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

From the Pastor's Desk Column for 3/3

I have the privilege this month of supplying the pastor's column for the local paper (Cavalier County Republican) for this month. I will post them here after they are published in the paper if any are interested in reading them. Here is the first column.

Recently, there was a scary scene in the hockey world. A young player named Richard Zednik was cut in the throat by another player's skate in what would surely be seen as a freak incident. The skate cut into his carotid artery and put his life in serious danger. I saw on television that he stated he began to wonder if he would see his four year old daughter ever again. Life is a gift that we often take for granted. It is staggering statistic. 10 out of 10 humans die. We all know that this is true, but we rarely take the time to contemplate our own death. The Bible tells us that there is a day appointed for each of us when we die and then we will face the judgment of God. Have you considered how you would fare in this judgment?
Let's take a look at one of God's well known standards. Have you kept the Ten Commandments? Have you ever told a lie? I don't know of anyone that hasn't. What about theft, have you ever stolen anything, regardless of its value? It is a rare person indeed who has never stolen something. Have you ever used God's name as a curse word? It's called blasphemy and in today's society it seems to be the norm rather than the exception. We have only looked at three of the ten and already most of us are batting 0 for 3. This is the reason that Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” When you stand in God's courtroom on your appointed day, will you be innocent or guilty? The Bible is clear that we are all guilty before God, because none of us could live up to His standard. The Bible is also clear about the consequence of a guilty verdict. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is good news here. There is One standing in the courtroom at God's judgment who is willing to take your place. Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins and for yours as well. He offers to stand in our place, if we will let Him. If we acknowledge our guilt before God and repent of doing things our own way, God can forgive us because of Christ's sacrifice. Read the Bible to know God's way of living and do what it says. A new commandment takes its place in your life. 1 John 3:23-24 says, “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”
No one knows the hour or the day we will be called from this life to face the judgment of God. But there is no excuse for any of us to go unprepared to face Him on that day. If you have questions or comments, I would be glad to talk to you more.

More Than Bread 3/4/08

Joshua 1:6-9
6 "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Did you notice how many times Joshua was told by God to be strong and courageous? It comes as part of a promise that God would be with Joshua wherever he went. We have a similar promise from Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:20b-"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." So I say to you, be strong and courageous. The Lord of Hosts is at our side.