I’m so spiritual, I don’t obey half the Bible…

and I kinda look down on you for trying to.

Ok, I usually don’t say it this way, nor do my friends.  Usually, it’s something along the lines of..

“keep the big things the big things”

or worse…

“The gospel is the most important thing!” (most people mean justification/ repentance and faith when they say this)

-True, but if it was the only thing- Scripture (and Jesus, if you’re into the whole “What Jesus said is more important than the rest of Scripture” baloney)    would never discuss anything else.  But it does, in fact-

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16

Scripture is full of application for every situation from politics, parenting, refugee relief, concealed carry, abortion, stewardship (how you handle God’s money), and war…No, if the gospel

Jesus talked more about money than He did heaven or hell…combined.  Let your normal pastor try that, and fairly soon somebody would feel ‘called elsewhere’ or ‘burdened to redirect the sermon content…or the pastors employment’  or spiritualize some other way to ignore the Bible.

The Gospel is not getting saved

There, I said it.  If you bristled at that, chances are your not as spiritual as you thought.

Jesus’ gospel content was the “gospel of the kingdom”.

At the very least that means there is-

Good News (gospel)

of

the

King’s (king-)

Domain (dom)

So if the King’s domain ended when one personally repented and believed (justification) then you should just go straight to heaven (glorification).. and have no need to remain on this earth to be part of expanding the Kingdom- inwardly or socially (sanctification).

The Gospel is become a citizen of Heaven, then maturing as such until the Kingdom is fully expanded.

But it doesn’t end there…

Believers are called to be salt and light, a city on a hill.  To reflect the nature of Christ’s rule.  And while “God is Love”, God is also terrifying,

It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Heb 10:31

He is also righteous and wrathful

“God is a righteous judge and a God who shows His wrath every day. ” Ps. 7:11

And for you or I to act as if “Jesus loves you so much, He wants to be with you forever” is the fullness of the Gospel, is what was called Heresy a long time ago.

You and I have been sin terrorists against God and His righteousness, and His Judgment requires you to suffer His wrath (Bad News), but the Good News (gospel) is that The King offers forgiveness, and eternal life to those who renounce their allegiance to sin, and swear their lives to the Jesus. He then empowers them to live as citizens…all of that is motivated by His love.

That’s a far cry from “Jesus loves you so much, He wants to be with you forever. Do you love Him do you want to be His friend, if you do then don’t be afraid to take him by the hand”…Check Yes or No?

So what Now?

So when Kim Davis, whose life was changed AFTER  her sins of Divorce, refuses to issue licenses with HER NAME ON THEM endorsing an action that is contrary to her belief and conviction, and refused to issue ANY at all to heterosexual couples to not discriminate

-seeking to honor all- the SC ruling (nondiscrimination) , Kentucky State law (forbidding homosexual marriage), and her conscious

Please don’t act as if she were as spiritual as you she only let the light of her conviction shine in a private setting.

When people protest Planned Parenthood and share the honest truth in videos or posters about what abortion “is”, seeking to dissuade women from killing their children, or not using their tax dollars to subsidize the killing of children-

Please don’t act as if they are “offensive” and should seek a better way to stop the killing of humans.

When believers are concerned about economics globally and nationally-

Please don’t act as if they should focus more on heaven…maybe they are trying to be like Jesus??

There was a time that believers thought that rational thought, and discussion were actually a good thing.

Iron sharpening Iron is a concept of rough confrontation between two hard surfaces…and it is described as a good thing!

Or that disagreement in areas that Christians have liberty is actually permissible!

Unfortunately, we have become dismissive of our brothers and sisters— Which is great for Facebook…but not so much for Citizens of the Kingdom.

Yes, the Gospel is the primary thing, but if you act as if it’s the only thing you’ve missed the Kingdom by a mile.

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Legally Drinking Gay Wine

imageMany people were shocked and outraged as it was announced that Kim Davis was jailed yesterday. Moreover, it was not a sentence; as a law needs to be broken, a crime committed; to receive a “sentence”. Kim is held, until she chooses to comply with a directive to issue marriage licenses to all seeking couples.

Since the Supreme court ruling, which stated, that individual states bans on gay marriage was unconstitutional, there has been much uproar. The ruling did not outline compliance guidelines, nor legalize “gay marriage”-it simply stated that licensing straight marriage while prohibiting gay marriage violates a penumbra (shadow) of the due process clause, and 14th amendment.

As such, a simple resolution would be for the states to get out of the marriage licensing/taxing business all together. However, until states are able to pass legislation towards compliance, or abolishment; individuals who are in licensing are in a legally awkward situation. The state of Kentucky still has laws against same sex marriage, The Supreme Court has ruled said laws unconstitutional, and the state legislature has not had opportunity to draft new legislation. Perhaps more shocking to this writer than the actual arrest, was the response by many Christians and leaders advocating compliance or resignation by Kim Davis.

More disconcerting is the apparent lack of concern for religious liberty in accords with conscious. In this country, the first amendment outlines-

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That is to say that it is not just the right to “worship” but the right to express religion sentiment…even obnoxiously, as the court ruled in favor of the Westboro Bapt. Church (Snyder v. Phelps), speach, assembly, and sentiment in a public place.

Christians while called to be peaceable (seek justice, love mercy walk humbly with your God), are also given freedom to act in accords with conscious. In Daniel 1, during the Babylonian captivity, Daniel made a conscious decision not to eat the Kings food or wine. Of note is that while Daniel was granted governmental permission to abstain. This is contributed to God’s favor, SUBSEQUENT to Daniels conscientious objector resolution (Dan 1:8).

Not only should Christians defend the Constitution as citizens of a Republic, but in the event of eventual dissolution of the right to express religion….Should still stand in accords to consciousness.

Personally, as the federal government has shown itself to be lawless and show complete inconsistency to the rule of written law(Sancutuary Cities, Marijuana in Co/WA, fast and Furious gun smuggling, PP selling babies,Benghazi, IRS targeting of conservatives… just to name a few )

I have resolved not to take queues on morality based on legal actions/ inactions of the Federal Government. To be clear, in regards to religious conviction the state never affirms what is acceptable personal behavior.

Just because it is legal does not make it right.

Therefore, just because it is legally decreed does not mean it should be obeyed.

Behavior which completely violates anthers right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness can surely be debated in the Davis situation.

But undoubtedly there is room for debate.

Christians have always been people of conviction. Every colonial state charter discusses the conviction of religious freedom. Throughout Scripture, believers are admonished to stand in accord to conviction regardless of legal statute.

Daniel 1- Daniel Refuses to personally eat Babylonian food/wine

Exodus 1- Hebrew midwives refuse to take part in ancient eugenics

Daniel 3- Hananiah, Mishael, Shadrach refuse to go through the motions of political worship.

Acts 5- Bringing civil upheaval, Peter and the apostles refused to stop laying blame regarding the death of Jesus on authorities.

Other than the Hebrew women, couldn’t they just have complied or quit?

Couldn’t they have toned down the rhetoric, or found a “third way”?

Not according to consciousness.  Do you consider you more mature than Kim Davis spiritually (since yall are close and all) great don’t look down on her consciousness (Rom 14:1)

Rom 14:22

The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.

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Born in the Briar Patch

This morning, as I type before many are awake, there are a few who never slept.  Those I’m thinking of were the ones who went through another South Mississippi tornado-and cleaned up all night.  This time hitting USM (THE University of Southern Mississippi.), the city of my birth.

Image

This won’t get alot of national news, I mean you might get a a 10 second blip….but hey, It’s not like it was New Orleans or Mobile, it’s just that landmass between the two. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EZXX8_5n80)

Since leaving Mississippi over a decade ago, I have been regularly asked “why would anyone want to live there; because of like…hurricanes and stuff?”

Because clearly, if one were to move to one of those great states, like New York, they would have to deal with crime, high costs of living, and overbearing government regulations that cause migration OUT…but not hurricanes…..or blizzards…..right?

No, I’d take Mississippi over New York in a heartbeat, and here’s why-

Mississippians are born in the briar patch, we expect storms and know how to handle them.  We build what we can to weather some bad stuff,  then hold on because bad stuff comes.  Then rebuild and resupply.

In the midst of a hurricane, a hurricane party is not unheard of…because you might as well laugh- cause crying won’t help.  When you see some urban dwellers weeping and gnashing teeth when they get a natural disaster…it’s normal, but people are shocked when they see a interview like my dad, post tornado, talking about blessings.   http://www2.whlt.com/news/2012/dec/10/storms-tornadoes-damage-pine-belt-ar-5144573/ 

Real Christianity is that way; when your saved from storms, then given strength to endure one after another, after another after another, not only are you able to cope with emergent situations better than those who live as if life is meadows and rainbows, but you are prepared, when others are not.

Few realize that Mississippi was his harder than New Orleans in Katrina, and few will notice that Mississippi pulls herself through this storm….again.

It has been said that the true church is an anvil which has worn many hammers, and that is true.  Endurance is the hallmark of greatness.  From my faith to  my home state, I’m grateful I was born in the briar patch.

I pray you will endure the storms you face today…and tomorrow.

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For my friend with the ipad

reflections of Matt Stevens

Rainer identifies 10 reasons churches don’t reach the unchurched…Over the next few weeks I’ll contend that this also relates to their death.

 

ASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — I am often amused when I hear myself identified as an expert in any area. If I am a perceived expert, it is because I have had the wonderful opportunity to listen to thousands of people over the past few decades. They are the experts; I am little more than an interested reporter.

Though much of this information could be regarded as dismal, my ultimate assessment is not that pessimistic. I believe in the God of miracles. If my conclusions focused on human ability and goodness, I would have little hope. But my conclusions presume the God of creation is on His throne.

For now, in this list of 10 reasons we have not reached the unchurched, let us focus on what is…

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Why Everything you think you know about Islam might be wrong…

In the wake of the embassy attacks, phrases like “terrorists”, “Muslims”, “Followers of Islam” are once again being used to clump all Arabs and Muslims together, which kicks us off-

1. All Arabs are not Muslims, and all Muslims are not Arabs.

The easiest point in this is Jerusalem-You might have heard of The Christian Quarter, Those are Arab Christians, Palestinians to be precise-And many of them wonder why American Christians support their removal from Israel/Palestine, when they confess Jesus as Lord, and Israeli Jews do not.

Indonesia has the highest population of Muslims, followed by Pakistan, then India-Chew on that, of the three largest Muslim nations, only one is Arab.

2. Good Orthodox Muslims follow the Quran, But the Majority of Muslims are not Good Orthodox Muslims.

Most Muslims are animistic in belief, can’t recite a surah,  much less read a word of Arabic.  I’ll make no bones about it–Osama Bin Laden was as close to Muhammed as he could be, he followed the Quran to the best of his ability, let he who has ears hear.  However, most the Muslim population are not quite that dedicated to the Quran and many are simply nominal.Image

Think of it kinda like the your country Christian 2nd cousin.  He looks at porn, sleeps around, gets drunk, doesn’t go to church faithfully, and when he does-he doesn’t pay attention…But if you ask him, He’d declare proudly-He’s a “Christian”

He’s not so different from many “Muslim” men.  Maybe you’ve heard about Muslim homosexuality   or Eqyptian Temporary Marriages to children, or perhaps you forgot about the opium poppy fields of Afghanistan, Or did you forget where belly dancing came from? And yes, Muslims drink.

3. Muslims don’t hate America

Ok-take a time out, scream at me a few minutes, then read on….

 

Turkey has a democracy, Egypt used to, and Lebanon is a democratic Republic-so they must not hate freedom.  We’ve already discussed the various vices of some regions, so they must not hate “fun”.

To make a blanket statement that “Muslims hate America” because of the actions of what amounts to be a small percentage of the Muslim World, would be similar to stating “Baptists hate America” because of the Westboro foks.

Thousands of Muslims immigrate to the U.S. each year, and they don’t come to blow up anything, or deflower your young daughters…they love freedom, and they finally got away from that regime-Thank God.

Look,Image I know it’s easier to demonize then villianize an entire group of people…It’s alot easier to sleep over their pain or death if they mean nothing because they are soulless monsters.  But their not soulless.

In fact, God was pretty awesome to include some non-Jew Arab types in the lineage of Jesus (Issa in Arabic).  It is also quite telling that He sent a star to Arabs from “the East”…grab a map and take a seat, because God loved Arabs so much that He revealed Himself to them, before any white folk.

And if you’re still an Arab Muslim hating “Christian” please don’t read Isiah 60 and do homework on who Midian, Ephah, Sheba and Kedar are…I’d hate for you to know which nations the Messiah exults to see come to Him.

What the Muslim world needs more than justice, is the Gospel.  And if you are a Christian, would you have lliked to recieve God’s justice, before the Gospel saved you?

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Great thoughts from a local pastor!! Proud to serve a small church.

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10 reasons we have not reached the unchurched

Rainer identifies 10 reasons churches don’t reach the unchurched…Over the next few weeks I’ll contend that this also relates to their death.

 

ASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — I am often amused when I hear myself identified as an expert in any area. If I am a perceived expert, it is because I have had the wonderful opportunity to listen to thousands of people over the past few decades. They are the experts; I am little more than an interested reporter.

Though much of this information could be regarded as dismal, my ultimate assessment is not that pessimistic. I believe in the God of miracles. If my conclusions focused on human ability and goodness, I would have little hope. But my conclusions presume the God of creation is on His throne.

For now, in this list of 10 reasons we have not reached the unchurched, let us focus on what is wrong. Let us look with stark honesty and candor at the ineffectiveness of many American believers when it comes to sharing their faith. And in coming weeks, let us look at reversing the trend through God’s power.

1. Spiritual lethargy. One of the main reasons many Christians do not share their faith is simply explained by the word disobedience. Spiritual lethargy takes place when we fail to obey Him. The problem for many Christians is that they are not growing spiritually, and lack of spiritual growth inevitably leads to a diminished desire to share Christ with others.

2. Growing inclusivism. One of the faster-growing belief systems today is pluralism (all religions lead to God). A variation of pluralism called inclusivism is a dangerous doctrine that is gaining momentum in many American seminaries, Christian colleges and churches. This view affirms that Jesus is the only way of salvation, but he can be found in other “good” religions. There is a subtle but growing belief among many Christians that somehow “good” followers will make it to heaven outside of a true Christian conversion. Our message will fall on deaf ears if this belief persists and grows.

3. Growing disbelief in hell. At one time, this was a view held almost exclusively by unbelievers. However, recent books by those claiming to be evangelicals have brought this discussion front and center. Those who truly have a desire to reach the unchurched have a burden to see people in the eternity of heaven, but they also desire to see them escape the wrath of an eternal hell. Denying the existence of hell undermines the urgency of placing one’s faith in Christ.

4. Busyness. Perhaps one of Satan’s most effective strategies is to get us so busy that we fail to do that which is such a high biblical priority. We can be deluded into complacency about the lostness of humanity around us. The unchurched are waiting for you to tell them about Jesus. They need to be on your to-do list. What priority do you give to reaching the lost?

5. Fear of rejection. In research on this subject, I found that only one in four unchurched persons will be resistant to faith discussions. But nearly four out of 10 of the unchurched will be receptive to your concern for their eternity, and more than one out three will simply be neutral to your attempts. Simply stated, fear of rejection is unfounded. The few people with an antagonistic attitude are not rejecting you personally; their anger is merely a reflection of something in their past. Fear of rejection is an often-used excuse by Christians for their failure to witness. And it is just that: an excuse.

6. A desire to be tolerant. The message of the Gospel, in some senses, is intolerant. The one true God insists there can be no other gods. He is a jealous God and leaves no room for other gods. In the post-modern culture of 21st century America, Christians should know the criticisms of intolerance will come. The great concern is that many Christians are unwilling to take a narrow view because they do not want to be labeled as intolerant. But Jesus never wavered in His insistence that He is the only way to the one and only true God.

7. Losing the habit of witnessing. Some Christians have been very active in sharing their faith with the lost and the unchurched. But, for a myriad of reasons, they get out of the habit, and it no longer becomes a priority. Witnessing, like prayer and Bible study, is a discipline. It is a habit to learn, to retain, and, if lost, to regain.

8. Lack of accountability. Programmatic evangelism in local churches is sometimes denigrated because it is seen as a “canned” approach to witnessing. But one of the strengths of many of these programs is that some inherent system of accountability is built into the program itself. Accountability is likely to engender more witnessing attempts to the unchurched. Attempting more evangelistic encounters creates a habit of witnessing that then increases our zeal for evangelism.

9. Failure to invite. When is the last time you invited an unchurched person to church? When is the last time you offered to take a person to church, or, at the very least, meet him or her at church? It’s a simple gesture, yet so few Christians do it.

10. We go to churches that do not reach the unchurched. We only reach one person for Christ each year for every 85 church members in the United States. That is a frightening and terrible ratio. One of the key reasons we do not reach the unchurched is that many Christians in America are members of churches that do not reach the unchurched.

I’ve covered 10 of the most common reasons Christians fail to obey the Great Commission. This list is not exhaustive, though. In God’s power, however, we can reverse this trend and reach the unchurched in America.
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Thom S. Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. This column first appeared on his website, www.ThomRainer.com. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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