A Sure Thing

a sure thing

Back in my younger days, BC (before Christ) I had my hand at the stock market a time or two with pretty mixed results.  Well, let’s be painfully transparent here, it wasn’t good.  I’ve learned some hard lessons.

I can’t honestly ever remember hearing the words, “I’ve got a sure thing for you to invest in…”  but if I had I probably would have given it a try.  Thankfully I’ve abandoned those bad ideas and invest in a slow and steady way.

Remeber the quote that “nothing in this world is certain except for death and taxes”?

There is one sure thing I was reminded of today.  Christ lives.  He is a sure thing.  He is THE sure thing, and more importantly, we have evidence of that surety.  Look at the amazing claim made here and see if you find the evidence as compelling as I do.

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.  Luke 1:1–4

When we want to know about things what do we do?  We dig in, we research it, we seek it out by talking with people, search the internet.  This is what Luke has done, well except search the web.

He did his due-dilligence in the matter because this was important.  The claims made by and about Jesus are hard to believe, but if you had a chance to sit and talk with those that saw them would it be compelling to you?  Luke says you can have “certainty” about these things.

Think about that.  Prophecies from the Old Testament came true before them.  Jesus predicted His death and resurrection. Jesus was resurrected and seen by over 500 eye witnesses.  The testimonies of changed lives.  These are just a quick few mentions.  There are countless reasons to believe and have certainty.

So I’ll ask you…  do you?  Do you believe?  Nothing is stopping you, it’s not the evidence.  It’s your unwillingness to surrender; to give in and believe Christ.  This is what faith is all about.  It’s not blind faith, it’s educated faith and it’s a life changing faith.

Believe the good news today.  It’s a sure thing.

 

Kevin

Hypocrite!

a kid catcher

What exactly is a hypocrite?  I’ve been accused of it before, and I’m sure you have as well.  If you are a Christian you will undoubtedly be accused of being a hypocrite throughout your life.

Let’s first define the term from three different sources.

1. Merriam Webster.com: a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion.

2. Webster 1828: One who feigns to be what he is not; one who has the form of godliness without the power, or who assumes an appearance of piety and virtue, when he is destitute of true religion.

3. New Testament Greek: hypokrisis: acting under a feigned part, i.e. (figuratively) deceit (“hypocrisy”): — condemnation, dissimulation, hypocrisy.

In a sense, these all, (mostly) say the same thing.  The Greek goes on to use the imagery of a stage actor.  Someone pretending to be something he is not.

So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:28

Jesus was condemning the Scribes and Pharisees, the religious elite of the day.  You remember, whitewashed tombs, full of dead men’s bones.  There is little doubt there is a LOT of religious hypocrisy.  Notice they are full of lawlessness.  Here is the defining point.  Looking religious but living in rebellion to God’s word, this is true hypocrisy.

Just because someone calls you a hypocrite doesn’t mean you are one.

The religious hypocrite should be dealt with, just as Jesus did, but not all religion is automatically hypocritical.

True Christianity is an affair of the heart.  It’s an internal desire to please Christ as I stated in yesterday’s post.  We may be hypocritical at times as all mankind is prone to do but won’t reside there.  It won’t be our manner of life.  We desire true piety.

There is another type of hypocrite.

I’m talking about the irreligious, God hater, that thinks to throw the term around and identifying every type of religious person into the class he has determined relieves his conscience of any guilt.  This person, whoever he might be, puts any desire for piety into one camp.  And by doing so, becomes the hypocrite himself.

Do you see that?

After all, who is not hypocritical at times?  Certainly not that guy right?  It’s a dangerous position because in this manner of self-righteousness this guy has exalted himself to the standard of righteousness.

“If everyone just lived the way I do, then everything would be okay…”

“That idiot is the problem with the world…”

“Thin the herd…”

Haven’t we all been there?  I know I have.  Be careful.  Our thoughts, our words, our actions carry responsibility.  Our own words will condemn us.  Yes, judge with righteous judgment but don’t be too quick about it.

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.  Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—  if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:1-5

 

Kevin

Finishing Well

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If you don’t start well you usually can’t finish well. In most cases.

I’m sure you are wondering what this picture is about. I’d love to tell you about a friend of mine in the event business that did an amazing job, somewhat sarcastically, about how to properly coil an extension cord on a reel. It was brilliant.

If you don’t wind these right from the git-go, it doesn’t go well when you actually want to use it and that that’s the point of the whole matter. Do it right from the start, don’t be lazy, do a good job.

The Christian faith is sorta, kinda like that but not really. As a Christian, I make a lot of mistakes. We actually call this sin. I sin. If my faith was dependent upon me there would be massive failures and I really wouldn’t finish well because I never started well.

But following Christ is not about how good you are, it’s about how good He is. Faith is putting trust in Christ, not in our abilities. Now that doesn’t mean you get to do whatever you want, but it means that when you walk by faith and you trust Christ you desire to please Christ.

So while my sins are great and plentiful, they are less than they once were. As I walk the path of holiness, striving and desiring to be like the Lord, He gives me small victories along the way. Sometimes He lets me feel the evil that still resides in my heart. It’s never a dull moment.

If you are feeling weighed down by guilt or shame, give it all to Christ. He is eager to take it for you. And then finish well.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

Kevin

Carnie Worker

a carnie

By most measures what I do for a living is paramount to being a professional carnival worker.  I don’t mean to sound demeaning in any way to “Carnies” as they are known.  I’m a Carnie…  I might be a little more sophisticated or a little more technical but I do exactly what Carnies do.

I go somewhere different each week, setup, participate in the Carnival, tear it down and move onto the next town.  That’s really it in a nutshell.

I’m a professional running race timer, we go to running events across the country, setup equipment and tear it down at the end of the day.  I’ve made a living doing it for 13 plus years or so.  I don’t think too highly of myself in my area of expertise, but I’ve done pretty well at it.  I’ve timed some “big time” events in my day.  Back in the earlier days some of my Carnie life loving buddies nicknamed me WGT.  World’s Greatest Timer…  Yes, it’s pretty funny and I still laugh about it.

In no way, shape or form am I the world’s greatest anything and most especially not the world’s greatest timer, but I’ve done well in the profession.  I’m mostly unknown in the industry but that’s fine by me.  As long as my race directors know and remember me that’s all that matters to maintaining our business.

I’m sitting in an airport right now heading out to Anytown, USA for another event.  The reason I’ve been decent can be summed in one word.  Consistency.  I’ve remained consistent in what I do for all these years and that does get you a reputation of sorts.

This is directly applicable to the man of God.  He must be steadfast and sturdy in times of trouble.  He must have a reputation as a consistent man.  He is consistent in his home, in the way he lives, with his children, with his wife, with his ministry and all things he does in life.  If he waivers and crumbles under pressure he blows it.  This is not to say he won’t blow it at times.  We all will.  We all do.

However, he must have a reputation and be thought well of by those that are on the outside.  This is consistent with leadership for elders and should be sought after by all men that proclaim to be godly men.  It’s straight up easy to understand, but straight up difficult to live out.  You can’t do it in your own power.  Just like I’m not WGT outside other influences in my life.  The guys that slug it out with me day in and day out.  I need their help.

Man of God, you need the power of the Holy Spirit and so do I.  Everyday, every second of every day.  Otherwise, our lives will be inconsistent.  Then we need to explore our relationship with God and the Spirit of God in how we live.  Is it a matter of just being inconsistent?  Is it a “besetting” sin?  Or is an unregenerate soul?  I don’t know, but it’s worth digging into.  Right?

Men, you and I must strive for consistency.  We must be set apart as godly men.  Even if they don’t appreciate your message, they can’t condemn your life.  But if your life is a mess, they will surely condemn your Christ.

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.  Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  1 Timothy 6:11-12

 

Kevin

Be Prepared

aa zeal

The world’s best-known evangelism verse is familiar to most Christian’s but I wanted to address what I think is an example of overzealousness. Sometimes.

Let’s look at the verse and see what it says and what it doesn’t say.

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15

We’ve heard this before, many of us have it memorized because if you run in evangelistic circles you must always be ready.  We should always, and forever be proclaiming Christ in every possible circumstance, passing tracts and leaving an aroma of Christ wherever we go and in everything we do, correct?

No.

I don’t believe that is what this text teaches us.  And in this, I believe at times it can actually bring shame to Christ’s name instead of glory.  Of course, I want to be careful here.

This is dangerous ground because I’m not saying we should “never” or “rarely” speak of Christ, we should “never” or “rarely” pass out tracts or “never” or “rarely” do evangelism work.  I’d say more fall into this camp.  But there is a sub-culture, and in fact, I’m part of that sub-culture that is so boldly geared toward evangelism that if they are not engaged in it, 24/7 they carry a burden of guilt.  This is where legalistic tendencies come into play.

They’ll quote Spurgeon, they’ll quote Calvin or Washer and justify boorishness in how they handle themselves.  Again, not always, but sometimes.  Discernment can be lacking.

I want to clarify, I’m not a Hyper-Calvinist.  I believe God uses the means of evangelism and it’s a God-given means to save sinners.  Yes, and amen, but there is also a tact to take at times.  A manner of decent behavior given a situation.  All of it flows from a trust in God to save His people, but a balance between our arrogance thinking it has to be “us” that are the means that saved someone.

While I believe and agree that an unregenerate person cannot be pushed further from God, I believe that our mannerisms can offend beyond what they were currently offended.  Yes, I’ve been accused of it.  And yes, I’ve probably done it countless times and such is a reason for this post.  Because as Peter said, it should be done with gentleness and respect.

This is really an amazing quote by John Calvin and in far less words and far more eloquently gives my thoughts:

…for we then really honor God, when neither fear nor shame hinders us from making a profession of our faith. But Peter does not expressly bid us to assert and proclaim what has been given us by the Lord everywhere, and always and among all indiscriminately, for the Lord gives his people the spirit of discretion, so that they may know when and how far and to whom it is expedient to speak. He bids them only to be ready to give an answer, lest by their sloth and the cowardly fear of the flesh they should expose the doctrine of Christ, by being silent, to the derision of the ungodly. The meaning then is, that we ought to be prompt in avowing our faith, so as to set it forth whenever necessary, lest the unbelieving through our silence should condemn the religion we follow.

Always being prepared doesn’t say we must always speak and herein lies the guilt and the sometimes over aggressive nature of those inclined toward evangelism.  By all means be ready, but if at times you go to a restaurant and don’t pass out a tract to everyone there or don’t preach the gospel at every family gathering it will be okay.  Sometimes you must simply behave like a Christian.  The way you live your life says a lot about you.  I will address the hypocrisy of life in a future post, but for now let’s exercise good discernment and still “always be prepared”.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  1 Corinthians 3:6-7

 

Kevin