Epaphroditus and Lazy Christians

Epaphroditus was a guy mentioned in the book of Philippians. He was one of Paul’s helpers in the ministry whom Paul thanked publicly.

Epaphroditus nearly died but was spared by God, much to Paul’s relief. But this is not a story about healing, it’s a story about why this man almost died.

“Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.”

Epaphroditus almost killed himself doing the ministry that other guys should have been doing.

There is a saying that 20% of the church does 80% of the work, I have yet to see anything that would change those numbers. If anything, I’d skew those numbers to the worse.

Someone does the work of the ministry, and the faithful ones give way beyond what they should have to because unfaithful ones won’t turn over in bed.

Epaphroditus apparently did it without complaint, probably didn’t view it as Paul did, and was seemingly happy to serve Christ in this way. Perhaps his faithfulness allowed others to be lazy.

I don’t know. But the question is, which will we be? An Epaphroditus who gives all he has to serve or a normal Christian who takes it easy and lets the busy guy kill himself?

Changing Men

I’ve been married for over 15 years. I am a different guy than I was 15 years ago, mostly for the good (bad being I’m fatter and softer). I would chalk up most of my change to the fact that I live with a woman.

However, I wouldn’t say that my wife changed me, but more that I changed because I had a wife. Being married caused me to confront issues in life I’d probably never confront otherwise.

I lived on my own for four years before I was married. I ate well, did laundry regularly, showered on an almost daily basis, got myself around, stayed out of debt, cooked and cleaned.

I did not require a wife to stay alive, I was doing just fine. I got married because I knew I was fine on my own but I wanted a wife and kids. I wanted to share my awesomeness with others. Oh, how I’ve fulfilled that one!

I did change because I’m married, but I can honestly say that my change has been from a spiritual source, not from my wife. My wife has driven me to the Word countless times for uh, various reasons.

If I had not gotten married I would not have faced such things to drive me to the Word, and I imagine the same is true if I had remained single. Either way, Christ sanctifies me.

My wife has also changed and she also chalks up her change to spiritual reasons, but also strongly maintains I had much to do with teaching spiritual things, but I wouldn’t say the same toward her.

Women can’t stop wanting to change their men, but the only way it happens is if the Lord changes them. Pray for them, ask them questions about the Bible not your pastor, respect them, and love them.

Judge Judy is filled every day with young women who gave young men money, trying to change the guy. The guy never changes but does take the money. Soon he’ll find another source of income and refuse to change.

Men have such major, diseased issues there is no woman on earth that can possibly rescue him from them. Men can only be changed by Christ.

Women, grasp this truth: Men will take your money, but they’ll never give you change.

Satan’s Women Who Want to Change Men

1 Peter 3:7 describes women as strengthless tools to be treated with honor and a husband should know this and treat her accordingly.

Experience demonstrates the inverse (wow, big words so early in the morning). What I mean is, I aint never seen that.

Instead what I see is a band of strong women who desire their men to change completely. Women are seemingly obsessed with making a guy different, changing them so they are more compatible.

Changing the spouse seems to be a female thing. Sure, there are men who would change their women, but we give up easier. Women don’t stop.

Young women are especially susceptible to this. They fall for jerks routinely in the hopes that they can save them, change them into upstanding males.

Marriage illustrates Christ’s relationship to the Church (Ephesians 5). That being the case, should women desire to change their men? Is changing your man similar to the Church desiring to change Christ? Is there a man on earth who desires a woman to change them?

What part of submission says, “Hey, stop doing that! Start doing this!”

Who is supposed to change a man? The Holy Spirit–remember yesterday’s post that men are part of the Bride of Christ. In Ephesians 5 the only person who sanctifies the other is the husband sanctifying the wife as Christ did the Church.

Men will change their wives one way or the other. There are far fewer men who have been changed by their wives, yet most men have given up trying to sanctify their wives and most women can’t stop trying to change their man.

Then again, I’m just an arrogant, white male, what do I know?

1 Peter 3:7 and Men

1 Peter 3:7 tells husbands to honor their wives as wives are strengthless tools. There is much cause for alarm at this sentence.

Women are offended by such language. Modern depictions of women are that they need to work, run the house, confront bad guys and knock them out with one kick to the face, be sexually arousing at all times and yet have supper on the table when desired.

Men sin their own way in relation to this language. We feel superior, we mock women, make them insecure while bolstering our own machismo. We ignore their needs because their needs are weak and unnecessary while our needs shape the world.

Women are driven to show their strength, to prove they are not weak. Men are determined to make sure women never forget their weakness. Much sickness and pain ensues.

1 Peter 3:7 has implications for men. Men who are believers, men who would actually listen to 1 Peter 3:7 in faith, must understand that according to God we who are in the Church are the Bride of Christ.

Yup, all you strong men are women.

The Church is the Bride of Christ, believing men are part of that Bride and thus, oh you strong man, you are a strengthless tool that Christ cherishes with all His love.

1 Peter 3:7, Cats and Vases

I am a life-long despiser of cats. When I was a boy we had a cat and a dog. The cat became my sisters, and the dog became mine.

Dogs are cool. Dogs can be trained to get stuff, to go for walks, catch things, lead the blind, etc. Cats sleep and don’t come when called. They do nothing and, being a man, I have no use for a cat.

Women generally like cats and men like dogs. Dog is man’s best friend. I would have little problem referring to cats as strengthless tools and they do arouse contempt in me, especially when people spend actual money on them.

Vases are things you put flowers in. Vases are pointless unless you have flowers. Flowers are dumb because they die. There is no point for a flower to be in my house because it will die, attract bugs, and bother my nose.

People, from what I’ve heard, spend money on vases and flowers. I do not, such things are strengthless tools to me.

I despise people who have houses filled with stuff you can’t touch. Things that were too expensive to use let alone touch. Why honor strengthless tools?

I never understood it and still am puzzled by it. But I am becoming more and more aware of this issue in my life and some of the issues I have with women folk in my life. There is a connection.

Whether our society acts as though 1 Peter 3:7 were true or not, men we must be aware of this inherent trait in us and seek to love our wives.

1 Peter 3:7

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. There are some words of God that require more faith than others! Do we believe all of them, or just the ones we’re comfortable with?

“Giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel” is a phrase of God’s word that causes many a person to confront whether they have faith or not.

Let’s define some terms:

Honour: to value, put a precious price on
Weaker: without strength, feeble
Vessel: an implement, equipment or apparatus

The gist is: treat as an expensive yet strengthless tool.

Modern culture views this thinking as wrong, yet the Bible says husbands are to act with this knowledge and if they don’t their prayers won’t be heard by God.

I had a snowblower once that I affectionately referred to as “The Snow Whisperer.” It had no strong desire to move snow to my constant annoyance. I did not treat this strengthless tool with honor.

No, I believe I threw it a couple of times. Men have an inherent difficulty loving tools that are too weak to be effective, which is why my new snowblower was the absolute biggest I could afford. It’s called “overkill.”

Knowing this is true, the Bible also says, “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” Don’t let their weakness make you despise and resent, but rather let it foster honor.

C. S. Lewis on Pride

There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in
the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any
people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves.

I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot
keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards.

I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse
himself of this vice.

And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others.

There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves.

And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

The vice I am talking of is Pride. . . .

. . . In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is
to ask yourself, “How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?”

The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with every one else’s
pride.

It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed
at someone else being the big noise.

Football, Jesus and Tim Tebow

I’ve never liked Tim Tebow. Mainly because he played for the Florida Gators and I have a rule in my sports rooting: never root for teams from Florida or California. It’s my own thing, not worth starting a new church over.

All I knew about Tebow is that he made Florida win all the time and he had verses written on his eye-black. I don’t like eye-black either.

Tebow was drafted by the Denver Broncos and has been sitting ever since. Now that the Broncos are 1-4 and going nowhere quickly, they’ve decided to start Tebow on Sunday.

This has caused much discussion as there are plenty of reasons why Tebow is hated, mostly because he’s a squeaky clean, professing follower of Jesus Christ. You may remember him getting busted for his pro-life commercial during last year’s Super Bowl, won by the Green Bay Packers, incidentally. Woot.

Best summation I saw about modern sport’s culture was “it’s easier to embrace a me-first NBA player who calls himself “King James” than to accept the humble NFL-er who quotes King James.”

I’ve had reservations about Tebow, most loud mouth Christian types are idiots waiting to happen and the Gospel is trampled underfoot. Tebow might be different, I hope he is.

Sunday I will be interested to see how he does and what happens with him in the NFL. I hope he does well, but more I hope he doesn’t give Christianity a black eye as the world is breathlessly hoping.

Either way, God reigns, Jesus saves and the Packers will repeat.

Denver 24
Miami 17

Green Bay 70
Minnesota 3

Love, Unity and Romans 14

Romans 14 is about faith-choices illustrated by eating meat offered to idols. It is my take that this approach can be used for many subjects, not just meat offered to idols.

Paul’s main point is to use faith to help your brother, not to flaunt liberty. Ultimately, it’s telling Christians to give each other a break on issues not specifically spelled out in Scripture. Relax.

Then there’s this beautiful phrase in verse 20, “Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food.”

Oh, if the Church could grasp that one! How often we destroy fellowship, edifying settings, friendships, churches in general, and believers in particular over inconsequential issues.

The problem is that we think inconsequential issues are sometimes consequential. Big issues for me may not be big issues for you, we disagree on what issues are in play.

But this is Paul’s whole point–many thought eating idol-offered meat was a huge issue, others didn’t, Paul says they should find a way to relax and get along.

What are these issues in the church today that are not specifically stated in Scripture? I’m sure my list isn’t yours, but here’s a start:

–homeschooling
–courtship dating
–buying insurance
–seeking medical intervention
–styles of music
–watching sports
–playing sports

Just a few issues I’ve seen ruin friendships that I thought was entirely ridiculous. Yet how quickly we make our decisions and then assume that any believer with half a brain would do what we do.

Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. Keep the unity of the Spirit. Edify each other. Love covers a multitude of sin. We love ourselves so we rarely get bothered by our foibles.

It’s about time we love others as we love ourselves.

Satan, Peter, and Denying Self

“Get thee behind me Satan,” is what Jesus said to Peter when Peter thought Jesus should skip the suffering and dying bit. After reading this verse we delve into a discussion of the silliness of Peter and saying stupid things.

However, Jesus is making a point that we should slow down and grasp, a point that has as much to do with Peter as with you and I.

Why did Jesus call Peter Satan? because Peter savoured “not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Peter was concerned with the opinion of man, just like Satan is.

Satan is no longer concerned about God’s opinion, he fell to try to attain his own power. He needs men therefore he must give men what they want so he remains in power.

This is the same thing Peter wanted apparently, so Jesus calls Peter what He sees in him. The next words that Jesus speaks are, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

If we are living with an esteem for the opinions of men, if we entertain their priorities, we are linking ourselves with Satan. We are men, therefore, we must not follow ourselves!

It is impossible to entertain Christ-like thoughts and self thoughts at the same time. It would be like Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu, and yes, I’m comparing you to Hitler. Go ahead, fire me.

Christians Should Struggle

Yesterday I said that if I lived my life to bring me glory, life would simplify. I’m not entirely sure that’s true. I even disagree with myself over what options would bring me the most glory.

Do I do what people want me to do so I get their praise? Or do I flaunt my independence and let em rot? I can see how both might give me glory.

As a saved guy with the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t decisions be easier? Black and white ones are, things that the Bible says not to do I endeavor not to do, that’s easy to make that decision.

But on issues where the Bible is silent I’m left up to my understanding of the Word, prayer, counsel and thinking with the new man.

But even if I make the right decision, if I know for sure the right thing is the right thing, I may not do it.

Lots of people try to convince me that Romans 7 is not for me. Some say it refers to unsaved people, which I disagree with because Paul says the reason he struggles is because his inner man delights in the law of God, this is not an unsaved person.

Other people tell me I’m immature, Romans 7 is for wimpy Christians, good Christians live in Romans 8. I disagree with this too because Romans 8 is about struggling and suffering. Christ came to suffer and die, He’s more perfect than us.

Romans 7 is the reality for a person with a flesh and with the Spirit, these two are contrary to each other. That won’t stop as long as you have both.

Heaven will be heaven because flesh will be gone completely. I do believe there is an increasing victory over sin in the life of a believer, the Holy Spirit has that power, but final eradication of the flesh comes with the eradication of the flesh body–Romans 8–we look forward to that adoption.

Life is hard. Decisions are confusing. Even if they aren’t, we still have to carry out the right decision. If you have no struggle odds are 1) you’re dead or 2) you’re not saved.

Yup, I meant that. There’s a reason it’s called “the fight of faith.”

Decision Making and God

I was recently provided several options for an evening. These options involved some “spiritual” ramifications, nothing major, just the issues of “what’s the right thing to do here?”

In these options I considered what was best for me, my family, for others involved, as well as what would benefit the Lord. After much thinking I came to my conclusion: I have no idea.

If life were about me giving me glory, life would simplify. I’d pretty much know what to do–whatever I felt like. But living life to give glory to God complicates things.

God does not tell me what event would bring Him the most glory, I could go either way on all options and feel it was the right thing to do, but who really knows?

Living your life for someone else’s glory, especially if that someone else is God, makes things complicated.

Decision making is easier in many cases with God, but other decisions are more difficult. The events are gone now, nothing I can do about it. I think I did what was right, whether anyone else agrees is beside the point.

I don’t know for sure if I did the right thing, what I do know is that I consulted with the Lord over it and that’s what I did. What more can I do?

Example of a Word to Argue Over

Yeah, I’m tired of arguing, but not that tired! Here’s an example of speaking the truth when someone says something erroneous. What is Jeff’s response to this error I recently saw on a church’s website?

What is a “Christian”?

Simply stated, if you understand that Jesus was God’s son who died to pay the penalty for your sins, and have told Him so, then you are saved and are called a “Christian”.

This statement bothers me in many ways, not least of which is that the period should be inside the quotation mark. Here are my more theological problems with it, spoken with truth and love, I hope:

1) This definition makes no mention of faith!

2) It makes no mention of sin, repentance, dying to self, living a new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification or anything else remotely touching on sin and its deleterious effects nor the life-altering effects of salvation.

3) It bases salvation on a one-time statement your mouth said when the Bible makes it very clear that what we say matters little and what we do is what judgment is based on.

4) Their basis for salvation does not even remotely come close to touching on any Bible verse. Show me one verse that says we’re saved by nothing but telling God something.

5) There is no mention of Christ’s resurrection, victory over death and sin.

It could be that they are giving a simple definition of what people call a Christian, it could be, if I gave them the benefit of the doubt, but even so, this definition is very misleading.

Is this worth pointing out? I think it is, because I know this church is not alone in this view of salvation and I have seen this view destroy people and blaspheme God and His Word.

It’s a subject that immediately gets me riled up. Blood rushes to my face when I read such things. I have discussed this sort of thing many times with people who actually believe it.

I have never been edified from such conversation, nor, as far as I know, has the other. Should I still point it out? I think so, but I also know enough when to stop. Usually.

One of the hardest verses to deal with on speaking truth is the annoying verse of Paul in 1 Corinthians 14, a verse that does not rear its head as oft as it should in our debates. Acting on this verse takes faith. Try it sometime.

“But if any man be ignorant,
let him be ignorant.”

Then apply this one:

“For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

Ignorance is silenced by deeds not words. Let’s remember this one!

Speaking Truth Vs. Arguing Over Words

There is a time to speak the truth, primarily, all the time. But we are also to speak the truth in love. When have you veered from speaking the truth in love to arguing over words? Here are a few pointers:

1. When your words become big and your talk becomes academic, and people need a dictionary to follow your train of thought.

2. If you feel like throwing a punch or have thrown a punch.

3. If you begin to think about all the evil things your opponent probably does or you have begun to besmirch his character.

4. If your arguments end with no one gaining any spiritual edification.

5. If you quote theologians more than Scripture.

Just a few pointers, not an exhaustive list. We should have a deep concern for spiritual integrity and to sharpen iron. We should also be aware that there is very little iron out there.

For me, it doesn’t take long to determine what my stake is in an argument. I say what I think is right. I state my case. I listen to the response. If the response is one that seems that it desires more info, I give more. If not, I don’t.

If I need more info I ask a question, and based on how my question is answered I determine whether I will ask more, or if my question is now being used as a bludgeon to smash my face, I dismiss myself.

At the same time, I’m also just tired. Probably at the center of these posts is an emotional tiredness with arguing. Some people thrive with arguing. I do not. It sucks the life out of me, the exact opposite of edification.

My experience has shown me that arguers don’t hang with me very long because I learn to avoid taking the bait, which is no fun apparently. I’m good with this.

I speak the truth as best as I know how while also taking heed to not give what is holy to dogs, while also making sure I am not a dog that others avoid throwing holy things to.

Most arguments delve into anger, when blood rushes to your head, and know for sure that the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God. I’ve learned this the hard way and I’m tired.

Six Reasons Not To Argue About Words and One Reason to Go Ahead and Argue

Arguing about words is forbidden in the New Testament. Not only is it wrong for us, it also destroys anyone who is listening. It ruins you and others. Yet Christians just can’t seem to stop arguing over words.

Our Savior desires us to avoid arguing over words, yet all I have to do is say, “foreknowledge is not predestination” and BOOM! You feel it coming don’t you?! An insatiable desire to have to say something about my use of words!

What should we do when faced with such a mouth-watering opportunity to chew into the flesh of another believer?

1) Remember that Christ doesn’t agree with everything you say either, yet He did not bite your face off, He suffered and died for you.

2) Remember that reason number one should be enough.

3) Seriously, it is.

4) There really are no other reasons.

5) Except maybe this, the Bible says not to argue about words.

6) There is no reason to add another point, to the believer that should be sufficient to make you stop.

7) Unless, of course, the person is blatantly wrong and you know for absolute sure that if you don’t say anything this person will go to hell because they define “foreknowledge” differently and if you remain silent it may be on your conscience until the day you die and then in eternity, by the foreknowledge of God, you will not be rewarded for standing up for truth because even God knows that when you die, all wisdom dies with you and you wasted your gift, you just wasted your gift, you buried your talent, how many more people could have gained from your wisdom that you alone have that neither Scripture nor the Spirit could explain as well as you, so in that case go ahead and argue.

Six Reasons Why Christians Argue About Words

Why do Christians get upset over words? Why do we have “catch phrases” and “shibboleths” that set us off so easily? Why do we find it so hard to be loving to those who use words differently than we do?

1) Theological Integrity. We have all bought into a man-made theological system. We all credit certain guys with having influenced and taught us. This is not bad inherently, but can be. When challenged with words or phrases or verses that challenge our theological structure, it’s easier to silence the voices than it is to examine our long-held beliefs.

2) Christians are Relatively Human. Humanity in general argues about words. Politics and church are the same. Try explaining a few virtues of Aaron Rodgers to a Bear fan.

3) Consistency Trumps Being Right. When arguments happen, we stake our ground, we capture our hills and even if the hill no longer has any strategic advantage, we will keep fighting  to defend our hill. We’d rather be consistent than right.

4) Fear of Rejection. If we slide off a theological hill we once defended with our life blood, we cause our family, church, seminary buds, etc to turn on us, make us feel dumb, so it’s easier to march in procession than walk away alone.

5) Insecurity. None of us has reached the depths of God’s wisdom. He is infinite, what do I know? It’s easier to tenaciously grasp a few concepts of Him I’m sure about than it is to delve into uncharted waters and drown.

6) Simple Sinfulness. God’s Word specifically tells us not to argue about words, which forces us, yes, forces us to then have to argue about words. If only He had told us to argue about words. . .

“Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.”

Christians and Words

On my more cynical days, I would define a “Christian” like this:

“A Christian is one who is waiting to have a problem with you, and when getting their long-awaited problem with you, it is probably over your use of a word that they’ve determined you can’t use the way you did.”

There are days I loathe communicating further with anyone who calls themselves a Christian. I am going to say “grace,” “works,” “repent,” “faith,” “confess,” or pretty much any other word in a way that defies regulations.

My use of such a word at such a wrong time obviously shows my complete lack of spiritual maturity, sensitivity, biblical literacy, ignorance of Church History, and I’m probably a half step from hell.

If I decide to explain myself, 95% of the time the person with the “problem” with me comes to see that we believe the same thing, they just defined my words differently from my intended definition.

Going through this so many times should teach us to give each other a break, a benefit of the doubt. On the contrary, however, it merely heightens our awareness of our favorite words and how “vital it is that everyone define them my way.”

I don’t know who is a half step from hell, what I do know is that what we say does not define who gets there.

It’s about time we all just shut up, quit picking fights with each other over definitions, and get busy doing the will of God.

And no, my use of the term “get busy” was not meant to foster any fights with puritanical sexual sensitivities.

Mundanely Giving it All for Christ

How come “giving it all for Christ” always involves people far away?

This is not an original thought, but still a wonder to me. People always want to do more for Christ, a worthy desire, but the answer given usually recommends going to the mission field, traveling to a far away place to track down suffering, the harsher the better.

I mean no disrespect to anyone who does this, it certainly is worthy of our praise, but honestly, telling a starving North Korean child about Jesus seems easier to me than telling my neighbor I’ve known for 10 years.

Maybe I’m diseased that way, but that’s the way it is for me. Living for Christ among people you know, people you have  a reputation with, people you’re friendly with, is often harder than doing so among people you’ll never see again.

Living for Christ before both is a great thing, again don’t get me wrong, but I think we’ve given Christians the idea that the only way to be used by God is to do something fantastic rather than just love your neighbor.

Furthermore, “love your neighbor” is an interesting passage in this context. Your neighbor is anyone near you, no matter where you are. There is no need to go to North Korea to love a neighbor.

A minor pet peeve of mine. It is possible to mundanely give it all for Christ in a way that gathers no notice, appreciation, praise or book deals. In fact, I believe this is what the majority of believers are called to.

Bottom line: do what you gotta do, don’t let me disparage your efforts. If you need to go to North Korea, praise the Lord; if you need to go to Wal-Mart for your neighbor, praise the Lord.

Do all things heartily whether here or anywhere. It all counts.

Being Successful and Daddy Issues

“This might sound strange, though, but I am not prepared, even if either of us was on our deathbeds, to pick up the phone to call him.”

This is a quote from Steve Jobs about his biological father who gave him up for adoption. “Jandali, who is 80, said at the time that he would have been happy to just have a cup of  coffee with the son he never knew before it was too late.”

It never happened, Steve refused to talk to him to the end. This is really no one’s business, I know plenty of adopted people who have no desire to track down their birth parents.

My observation is along the lines of successful men with daddy issues. Not having a close relationship with dad makes men either dropouts or highly successful.

I apologized to my wife recently saying, “Sorry, I’ll never be successful, I loved my dad.”

What is it about a man with no father that makes him want tons of the world’s stuff? That drives him to conquer and succeed? Can a hole left by an absent father be filled with stuff?

Furthermore, what about the love of our heavenly Father? Does it bother anyone that their heavenly Father does not speak to them, show up at Little League games or be there when you’re sick?

There is somewhat of a hole that our Heavenly Father leaves in us too, a yearning and a wanting that is not fulfilled until heaven. Is this desire for more of our Heavenly Father there to lead us to be successful in heavenly things?

Discuss.

Everything Is Stupid

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Ignoring the Wrong Words

There are words we should ignore in life, pretty much any word that proceeds out of the mouth of man. OK, not quite, but pretty close.

However, what generally happens is that we ignore every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth and we hold to words some guy told us.

This is a devastating sin. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. If we are not hearing God’s Word, we have no faith.

Yet repeatedly the Bible shows us that man listens to men more than they listen to God. They teach the traditions of man rather than the commands of God. I am of Paul, I am of Cephas, I am of Christ.

In the end, you can listen to whomever you desire, but only one person’s word abides forever, and it aint yo momma’s.

“The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?”

Go for it, listen to who you want, but remember it is God’s Word that judges us. If this were a reality in our lives, how much time would we be spending in God’s Word? In simple quantity we hear men way more than God.

The first rule of propaganda: if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes truth. We hear people so much and God so little, we think hearing people is hearing God. Would we know God’s voice? You’ll know it in the end, will it be too late?

Ignoring Words

People talk a lot.
People are sinners.
Therefore, most of what you hear is a result of sin.

It is easy to get upset at what people say, whether it’s a disagreement, an insult, a complaint, an observation, or an opinion. Pride and sin taint what we say.

Therefore, if you are to have any success with people at all, you must learn to ignore most of what you hear. Ignoring things that were plainly and obviously said against you is not easy.

It is easy to respond in kind and say a few choice words of your own, which increases the amount of sin and causes the initial sinful talker to sinfully talk again, and on and on.

Ecclesiastes tells us to ignore what people say. “Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken.” This is wisdom. His reasoning for not listening is because you know you’ve said things that weren’t right, wouldn’t it be nice if people forgot those?

Indeed. At the same time, Solomon’s wisdom tells us not to ignore instruction. Often there is a fine line between instruction and insult! In these situations it is best to ignore the insult and heed the instruction.

And yes, my wife has recently edited something I’ve written, why do you ask?

Giving is Stupid

“The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again:
but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.”

The Bible assumes righteous people will give. Giving is what God did for us through the Gospel–for God so loved the world that He gave.

Those who have made the Gospel their own by faith now show that same characteristic with their stuff. They give of themselves and of their stuff to anyone who may need it.

The problem with giving is that it’s stupid. We’re OK giving money to buy stuff because we get something back, but giving often has no tangible repayment, and quite frequently, the only payment is a proverbial slap in the face.

Charities know this. That’s why when kids do fund-raisers for school they sell you pizzas that are glorified cardboard with tomato sauce on top for $20 a piece. You get stupid packages of cards you’d never send to anyone and those oh so handy address labels.

We’d rather get junk for our money than nothing at all. I’d rather give $20 and get a $1 pizza than give $20 and get nothing. At least I got something out of the deal.

Credit card companies give away 1% of your bill to a charity and this makes you feel better because materialism is now a virtue.

But Christian giving has to do with being made poor that others are made rich. It’s what Christ did for us. Righteous people know that and respond in kind. It’s stupid, but it’s right.

Giving isn’t about 1% of money you spend, it’s about giving it all away to the one who gave it to you to begin with. Don’t want to do that? You’re probably not righteous.

Fruit Making

Spiritual fruit is not something we hear much about. We hear about spiritual gifts quite regularly. Spiritual gifts make us feel important, especially since we pick the gifts we want to do and pretend that our desire to want to do them means we are gifted to do them, which is not always the case.

Spiritual fruit, on the other hand, is not easily faked. A guy can fake showing mercy or teaching or speaking in tongues, faking love, joy and peace is much harder and not nearly as much fun.

Spiritual fruit is not manufactured quickly. I do believe there is a process of growth necessary before fruit is produced, as nature clearly demonstrates. I see no reason to assume spiritual fruit is any different–it’s the same God that ordained them both.

In order to bring forth fruit one must pay attention to simpler things initially. It goes back to the foundation. We can’t bring forth fruit if we’re not in the vine.

We must take heed to the soil we are that the Gospel seed grows in. We must make sure our roots are digging into true spiritual nutrients.

In other words, if you want fruit, make sure you’re planted first. Once you’re planted, fruit producing is somewhat automatic, as long as you are willing to be pruned (tribulation), fertilized (taking crap), etc.

To get the right ending you must have the right beginning. Isaiah says what it looks like: “take root downward and bear fruit upward.” It’s really quite simple.