Discipline…

discipline

What a distasteful subject is the topic of church discipline, does anyone like correction?

Well that depends…

It depends upon the condition of your heart.

Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. – Proverbs 19:20

Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool. – Proverbs 17:10

A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, nor will he go to the wise. – Proverbs 15:12

How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. – Proverbs 16:16

He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed. – Proverbs 13:20

What else must I do to convince you that God’s word is what we must use to gain wisdom? What else matters, and as the verse states above this is better than gold and should be chosen over silver.

God has not left us to stumble around in the dark without counsel. He has spoken on the matter of church discipline and has given the church direction. The scriptures are not silent on this subject, but the bigger questions are these…are we willing to listen, are we willing to heed the counsel?

Jesus clearly and perfectly lays out the formula. The church is to follow the example and sin must be dealt with in the church, or the church becomes polluted.

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” – Matthew 18:15-17

This is pretty clear isn’t it?

What is the purpose of this; can we see what Jesus desires in this instruction? He desires restoration. The goal is to bring the one in sin to a place of understanding their sin; a place of brokenness over their sin, so they can be restored to their brother.

This is being lived out in the life of the church that I attend. My wife, my eldest daughter and I are members and we dearly love the people in our church. It’s heart breaking to see sin in the lives of people. It’s even more heartbreaking to know that unless that sin is forsaken and turned from it will destroy. That’s what Satan does! He came to destroy people and he does it in the most sinister and deceitful ways possible.

Others in my church love this man and below is a letter that was written as the church is telling this man of his sin. It is our hope and our desire that this will restore the man to a right relationship with God.

It is our desire that if he is a brother, he will confess his sin and forsake his sin, if he is not a brother that he will repent and believe in Jesus Christ as his only hope for salvation. I post this that he will be ashamed of his sin and that others might read it, be ashamed of their sin, and come to repentance.

This problem is rampant in the “church world”. It’s not a victimless crime. It’s heinous and it’s ugly.

And if they are bound in

fetters,

Held in the cords of affliction,

Then He tells them their work

and their transgressions—

That they have acted defiantly.

He also opens their ear to

instruction,

And commands that they turn

from iniquity.

If they obey and serve Him,

They shall spend their days in

prosperity,

And their years in pleasures.

But if they do not obey,

They shall perish by the sword,

And they shall die without

knowledge. – Job 36:8-12

 

Kevin

 

I know a Man…

 

That he might be broken and ashamed:

On nights when he is angry with his wife, she goes to sleep in their bedroom. Meanwhile he sits in his living room, just a few feet from his bride-only a wall apart-browsing depictions of harlots, picking the ones that please him the most, displaying them on his screen and having sex with them using his self. It feels good to him, helps him to relax, so he does it again or another time. He knows it is sinful, but he isn’t broken by it so he doesn’t repent. It’s not really adultery he says. He won’t tell his wife. He knows it’s wrong but he doesn’t feel saddened over it, so he does it again. His only son sleeps soundly upstairs, unharmed so the man thinks. Yet he does not know God may require the life of the child for sin such as this. He took David’s child for this, yet the man fears God not.

He comes into the sanctuary of God’s people on Sunday’s. He will not open his mouth to sing praises to God. But repent- I think not- he just doesn’t feel like it. He won’t look at the preacher, for he despises that man, sure he led him to Christ, but he’s wronged him since then. I want to ask this man, would you pick up a knife and slit the throat of your son for this preacher who wronged you? Would you slay your son for that man who you think despises and rejects you? Have you forgotten o man that God sees your adultery? That this God sees your lack of praise, lack of love for the saints, sees your lack of time in the word, and yet still shows you His love?

God sends His people to plead with the man, turn, turn from your sin, lest the Lord reject you. This God sees your sin- takes His only son- and slays Him. He drains Jesus’ blood on the wastelands, opens His side and rejects Him; Pours out His wrath and His righteous indignation, upon the perfect lamb, the great I am, don’t you remember? Wasn’t it for your sin? Will you continue to reject Him? Christ died for sins, will you continue to live in them?

Some people confront him on his sin when his conscience overbears him to report it. Repent of it- no- but agree that it’s sinful- yes. I’m just being honest says the man, I can’t turn cause you told me, or I don’t want to deny feelings. Little does he know his flesh is destroying him.  He sees his wife and child, and loves them he thinks, but show them Christ in Him-maybe he will get to that next week.

This man is hardened-stiff necked, his sin spreads and spreads. He lives it, breathes it, chews it, and loves it. Love the saints? No time for that. Preach the Gospel? Who needs it. Serve the body? They don’t deserve it. But I deserve my sin says the man, after all, who are they to tell me it’s sinful? The proverbs warn him. Destruction and calamity await him- will he turn yet from his sin? I think not. He just doesn’t feel it…

You are that man… Repent and turn to Christ and you will be forgiven.

 

 

 

Are You a Jonah?

jonah

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittal, saying, “Arise, go to Ninevah, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. – Jonah 1:1-2a

Jonah is not a book of the Bible that I spend a lot of time thinking about. We have a really cool puzzle that my daughter Lydia just loves putting together. It’s an oversized puzzle, so even I can do it, and it shows a cartoon character Jonah being spit out of the great fish’s mouth onto the sand. It’s a really great image. But I must confess I’ve not given a lot of thought to Jonah until recently.

This past Lord’s Day, during our prayer time, I was asked to pray corporately, praying from Jonah. As I read chapter 2 in preparation I was struck by how much like Jonah I am. How often I run from the presence of the Lord, or at least I think I run from His presence. Of course, where can we really go that He is not there right?

But it appears Jonah really thought he could just go the opposite way and that was going to be alright with God. Jonah thought that God’s arm wasn’t long enough to reach him. Doesn’t it appear that way? Was this the same God that did all those miracles? Is this the same God that by His spoken word created everything? What a foolish thing for Jonah to do…

Because I know I would never do that…I’m pretty sure you would never do that either…Say I sarcastically…

How many times have you blown opportunities to tell someone the good news?

Ouch…

Matthew 10:32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

Homologéō – to say the same thing as another; to agree with, assent. Many will say they “confess” Christ, but in their actions deny Him. It’s quite different to actually agree with Him than to open our mouths and say Jesus is Lord. The bottom line is do we live like it?

We must consider the words of our Lord, when He said “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not done all these things in Your name…” And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you: depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ – Matthew 7:21-23

This past weekend for the first time I went into the open air and preached the gospel. Like Jonah I was attempting to run from God and avoid the inevitable disagreement with Him that desired my own earthly comforts, pride, selfishness and personal desires. I mean, honestly, who wants to go out and take the abuse that you are sure is coming your way? Isn’t that why there are “professionals” that teach in churches, pastors that get paid for this? Shouldn’t they be the ones going out and doing this sort of thing, if this sort of thing should even be done today, which many will say?

Then I once again remember the words of Jesus and my pathetic heart melts…

Matthew 16:25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

I desire to save my life…

Last Saturday, by the grace of God I began a journey to lose my life and it was humbling and even humiliating beyond words. Yet it was exhilarating and thrilling to stand up in front of a God-hating crowd and proclaim His name. To tell them He IS Lord, and they must submit to Him, or perish in their sins.

Do I think, or expect that everyone reading this will go to a public arena and preach? No, I don’t think that is wise for everyone. You should go under the protection and blessing of your church, but we should all be proclaiming His name in whatever opportunities He presents to you. It might be the grocery store, or the coffee shop, maybe sitting next to someone on a plane. Whatever, wherever, whenever you are presented with an opportunity to proclaim His name, be obedient to the call and lose your life.

Who knows what will happen.

Jonah 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Never forget that Salvation is of the LORD, but as for us, we must proclaim the good news and trust that God will grow His church. Amen!

Kevin

It’s all about me!

loveme

I’m a selfish man by nature… I really can’t help, I was born that way.

I was thinking about this recently and discussing how easy it is to live that way with a brother of mine. It comes quite naturally in most situations, but one of the times I notice it most is when I return from business trips.

I’m in an unusual sort of business. Believe it or not someone pays me to provide times for the participants in a running race. This business requires me to be away from home on numerous occasions and sometimes during the peak running season I can be gone for up to a week at some of our very large events.

It’s in these times that I’m particularly prone to myself. It’s almost like a surreal world that I reside when I’m at these events. The bottom line is that I have a certain amount of work that needs to be accomplished and I need to ensure it gets done. I wake up when I need to wake up, do the things that I need to do, feed myself when I’m hungry (in most cases) and don’t have to wait around for a wife and children.

It’s probably similar to a military man on deployment. He’s hanging with the guys and then they head out on their missions. When I come home it’s sometimes difficult to re-adjust. I have to attempt to snap out of “Kevin only” mode and start considering the ones God has placed in my life to nurture. It’s really much more difficult than you think and on more than one occasion (or maybe all of them), my wife has to gently remind me that she desires adult conversation when I return home. And, “oh right, I almost forgot God requires me to lead my family.”

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s word is sharper than any two-edged sword, and it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, and this is very sharp indeed for me.

Husbands love your wives…  Ephesians 5:25

Husbands your wife is a weaker vessel… 1 Peter 3:7

Father’s train your children… Ephesians 6:4

It goes on and on for me and I’ve often found myself knowing that I need to put things off to stay ahead of the impending email that will soon invade my inbox. I’m pulled in a lot of directions, because Jen wants me to lead and I just got done leading and I’m a bit worn out.

It would certainly be a lot easier to just hide somewhere, but I can’t wait to get home and I can’t wait to see Jen and the girls, so the war rages inside.   I have responsibilities and I must provide for my family, but I must also lead them and nourish them and train them.

So the battle continues and it will for a lifetime, because one day the kids will be out of the house and then my role will change, but God still doesn’t let me off the hook. Lord willing I’ll still be a husband, and Lord willing I’ll still be a father, and Lord willing I will be a grandfather and have the opportunity to live out a multi-generational vision for my grandchildren.

What a battle…what a life…what an opportunity to deny myself, take up my cross and serve and honor the Lord.   He never promised a life of ease and comfort, actually just the opposite. If the Christian life you live is a little too easy, maybe it’s not true Christianity and maybe a war needs to rage within you?

It’s pretty easy to live life on cruise control. Jesus said those who desire to keep their life will lose it and those who desire to lose their life will find it. I desire to lose my life, but that doesn’t make it easy.

 

Kevin

Money

Money-620x338

On a recent trip to Seattle I walked into a coffee shop and they had a tip jar with a clever version of a very familiar bible verse. It was slightly altered to meet their intended goals.

It said “Money is the root of all evil. Cleanse yourself here”, I’m not sure they ever read the verse in Paul’s second letter to Timothy where he instructs him to rightly divide the scripture, but that’s a topic for another day.

Money of course itself is not evil, how can it be, it’s an inanimate object. The “love” of money is the object of the verse as Paul is teaching his son, in the faith, Timothy how to pastor a church. Our relationship to money is the point of which Paul is addressing.

rootevil

What you think about “your” money reveals the condition of your heart, and is critical to your relationship with God, because it’s really not your money it’s God’s and He has entrusted you to steward it faithfully.

Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack; Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Mark 10:21-22

The rich young ruler did all the religious things… He followed all the rules, but when push came to shove it was about his money. Jesus exposes his sinful, idolatrous, greedy, covetous heart and shows him that he is unworthy to follow Him.

Is your money a stumbling block to your relationship with God?

Don’t just pass over this question; your very life may hang in the balance. I can’t possibly know the condition of your heart, but Jesus does, just has He did with the rich young ruler. We all like money, and we all need money but how much is enough and for what reason do you need it?

Acts 2:44-45 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

Am I telling you to sell all your stuff and give it to the elders of your church for distribution? No, but are you willing? What is your heart in the matter, do you bristle at the thought of this verse?

Jesus spoke much about money and material possessions and if we have somehow missed the significance then it’s time to reexamine our relationship with mammon (our stuff) because it’s at the heart of the matter you desire to serve.

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:25

What does your life consist of? Does it merely revolve around finances, or do you set your mind on the things of God? Do you really trust Him with your life?

…For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:32-33

I urge you to examine your relationship to your money and how that relates to your relationship with God. This is a topic that must be discussed and exposed.   It must be exposed not because I say so, but because the Lord said so. Are you storing up for yourself treasures on earth, or treasures in heaven?

By God’s grace we can grow in this very challenging area of life, that it may bring Him glory.

Kevin

What is truth?

Jesus-Pilate

This is a question that was asked by Pilot of Jesus over 2000 years ago and I would guess it’s a question still asked today. Although most don’t go around asking the literal question, because so many are completely blinded to truth. They will say they speak the truth, and would be offended if they were called a liar, but isn’t it “true” that we are all liars? (Romans 3:13)

Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” – John 18:38

Certainly we’ve all exaggerated the truth, or “stretched the truth”.

We all have told flat out lies in order to protect ourselves from something, so it’s undoubtedly true that all have lied and we are all in need of the truth, but I go back to the question, what is truth? Is it a noun or a verb? Is it something we can grasp and hold onto or just something we do or don’t do?

John 17:17-18 Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

In very plain language Jesus tells us the answer. The word of God IS truth!

This is unbelievable for most people, but Scripture reveals this to us throughout its pages and therefore, we must not take this for a true truth, or one of those things we just know and forget about. Like the truth that you woke up breathing this morning. Did you forget what a miracle that was? Or when you turned on the light switch, light just appeared? How often do we just forget the simple fact that God’s word is true?

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul…

The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple…

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart…

The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes…

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever…

The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold…

Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb…

Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward. Psalm 19:7-11

Before our souls were converted by the truth of God’s word, everything we held dear, every thought we had, every desire of our heart was wrong. That is a bold statement right? How can I say that?

Before salvation our hearts were wicked and unable to please God, so no matter how “good” your intentions, or no matter how noble your desires, they are unable to make you right for salvation. Your good intentions are still at best self-seeking and we are blind to the deceitfulness of our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9).

We can’t even begin to get our minds around this because we like ourselves. We are deceived by sin.

Psalm 19:12-14 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

Only through the truth of God’s word can one be made right with God and bring wisdom to salvation. It’s the truth of the matter. As a wicked and dying world scoff and deny this truth, we beloved, have the opportunity to tell them what IS “truth”. We can share the good news, there is an empty tomb in Jerusalem, that death could not conquer God, nor thwart His plan. That’s the truth.

 

Kevin