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Heaven in the Home Series – Where Do We Begin?


Christ In The Home seriesA question asked by many people in this 21st century is a complex and deeply felt one: is it possible to have a Christ centered home in today’s world of trouble and sin?

If you are a Christian, you are concerned about this problem. Recent studies have listed many issues with which parents must cope today:

— finances (the cost of bearing, clothing, feeding, entertaining and educating children is the greatest in our history)
— working mothers (a majority of American mothers hold jobs out-side the home, many out of necessity)

– drugs, divorce, alcohol, crime, runaways, and abuse.

More than 1.5 million couples were divorced last year. Drugs and alcohol are on the rise among youngsters. The second leading cause of death between ages 14-24 is now suicide, and one child in eight can expect to appear in juvenile court before he turns 18.

It might be of comfort to realize that the world has always been a difficult place in which Christians must live. It has always been opposed to God’s values and God’s will.

Satan longs for the soul of any age person who will reject good, right, and truth and turn to his way of thinking. Christians must daily remind themselves of the clear, simple words of Jesus, from Matthew 7:13-14: “”Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

We might also be encouraged to remember a story recorded in 2 Chronicles 20, which shows a situation similar to the one we face today. Jehoshaphat had some men before him reporting the approach of a vast army, one the size of which his army could not defeat.

He inquired of the Lord his future and God’s answer is recorded for us in 2 Chronicles 20:15-17: “He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'””

That message is an eternal one! It remains for Christians today who feel the odds against them in this sin-filled world.   

Man’s domestic problems begin when he departs from God’s counsel regarding the home. And this study is vital because our understanding of Christ’s relationship to the church is dependent upon his conception of the home. God is interested in our homes because our spiritual understanding is at stake.

Home Means Different Things To Different People

There are many reasons why people look upon the home in different lights. In the first place, we have all had different backgrounds. Our home training has been varied, the emphases have been placed in many different spots as we have been reared through the years of childhood and adolescence.

It is no wonder that the word “home” means something different to one than to another:

  • we may look upon the home as a place for protection where our simple needs are met
  • it might be a place where we have been taught respect and obedience, where character and service have been taught
  • young married couples view the home as the ideal situation, anticipating their life with optimism and ambition
  • older people define home in terms of memories, and because of their mature minds, they certainly describe it with reality…it takes on a sense of reward and meaning

A truly Christian home is a place where sinners live; but it is also a place where the members of that home admit the fact and understand the problem, know what to do about it, and as a result grow by grace.

It is important that this environment be in place so all members of the family will have a loving, graceful, safe, and warm place in which to grow. It’s vital that we treat each other in the same way Jesus treated His 12 apostles.

As they stumbled and fell and made mistakes, he was patient with them because of one simple point: He knew they were not yet what they would become. We need to “be patient, God’s not finished with me yet!”

Strong Church Families– Case Examples (from actual minister from a large Southern congregation):

ITEM: A sixteen year old boy with this startling confession: “I can’t stand my parents. I hate my dad, I wish he was dead. “

ITEM: A seventeen year old youth With this pleading request: “Can I please talk with you. My parents won’t listen. My dad is an elder. He has time for everyone else, but he doesn’t have time for me. He thinks I don’t have anything worthwhile to say.”

ITEM: A nineteen year old coed on a Christian college campus asks for help. Her problem? For the past six years her father has been involved with her sexually. Her father is supposedly a leader in the Lord’s church.

ITEM: An adolescent, between the ages of 9 and 14, a resident in a children’s home in California, writes a night time prayer for sinners, wherein she prays: “I admit I am very sinful. I had a hard time with the family. Now I have no family. I was starved when I was little.”

ITEM: A college junior relays a sad message: “My parents have just informed me that I can never come home again. I am no longer their daughter. They never want to see me again.”

ITEM: On the afternoon prior to the concluding service of a gospel meeting that evening, a seventeen year old girl that has been attending the meeting, calls with this message and plea: “My mother has just kicked me out of the house. I have no place to go. I wish I were dead. In fact, about a year ago I tried to kill myself. I have been under psychiatric care. Can you help me?”

ITEM: An early morning emergency phone call, an urgent Saturday morning visit to the office and a desperate plea for help from a hurting and frustrated mother is a nearby congregation. Her problem? The night before she had discovered that her husband had been going to their daughter’s bed before coming to hers.

Each of these case examples have a least three major things in common.

  1. They are true . . . they actually happened.
  2. They each suggest some serious problems in the area of parent/child relationships in some homes.
  3. Are you ready for #3 . . . They each involve a supposedly Christian home or environment

They are not the strong families of which strong congregations are built. I am not plowing new ground when I tell you that today many homes and families, in the church and outside the church, are in serious trouble.

  1. No doubt, you know some.
  2. No doubt you have shed tears over some.
  3. No doubt, you will again.

Tragic things are happening in and to homes and families today.

  1. 53% of all marriages end in divorce.
  2. One-half of all children now live with one parent.
  3. 700,000 young people drop out of school annually.
  4. 5,000 to 6,000 young people commit suicide annually.
  5. 40% of all teenage girls become pregnant one or more times before reaching the age of 20.
  6. 52% or youth fatalities are alcohol related.
  7. Child abuse and abandonment are on the rise. In the past several years, there has been a 300% increase in placement of children outside the home.
  8. Homosexual marriages (men marrying men, women marrying women) then wanting to adopt and rear children in such an unscriptural and unwholesome environment.
  9. Abuses (sexual, physical, parental, etc.) running rampant through our society.

Let’s look in detail for a moment at three significant items that make all the difference in the world; (as they are discussed, think of the atmosphere or environment which these will create in the home):

  1. Christians admit their sins.

Because they know the Bible says that no Christian is ever perfect in this life, they are free to admit their sins.

1 John 1:8-10: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

What does it mean to you to know that your boss, parents, etc., can admit when they make a mistake and acknowledge sin? What response do you give to this kind of person? What kind of response is given to the person who thinks they are perfect, who acts like they never do wrong?

Christians are able to acknowledge the fact and, in time, learn to anticipate and prepare for sin. Christians, of all persons, should never rely upon rationalizations, excuses or blame-shifting to try to euphemize their sins.

Because they can admit their sins, there can also be a certain amount of openness, honesty, and relaxation about the relationships that Christians sustain to one another, especially at home. Christians can pour their time and energies into the endeavor to replace sinful patterns with Biblical patterns of life.

Rather than wasting time minimizing or denying the fact of sin, Christians can concentrate on dealing with sin.

  1. Christians know what to do about their sins.

Because they have the Bible as the standard of faith and practice, Christians not only know why problems occur in the home, but they know what to do about them!

Is any sin too big for God? Can any sin be overcome in a loving, forgiving environment? We need to realize that each person in the Bible who stands before us a “great men and women of faith” are average people with sin in their life, which God helped remove.

  1. Christians progress out of their sins.

Where there is spiritual life, there also will be spiritual growth. No Christian may remain the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

A fundamental presupposition of the Christian faith is that there will be growth out of sin into righteousness. Where there is Bible study, prayer and the fellowship of the saints, the Spirit of God will be at work to produce His fruit.

The Christian home, then, is a place where sinful persons face the problems of a sinful world. Yet, they face them together with God and His resources, which are all centered in Christ. Sinners live in the Christian home, but the sinless Savior lives there too! “That is what makes the difference!

What purposes shall we try to achieve in our homes?
The first purpose is the personal development of each family member. This is not to say that one should view his home selfishly and think only in terms of what he can get out of it himself. Each family member experiences personal growth and receives a sense of genuine fulfillment by giving of himself in order to build a happy home.

The second purpose involves the accomplishment of certain social functions of the home. The primary social function is to provide a special companionship for each member of the family. To feel alone and unloved is one of the emptiest feelings on earth. But we must also prepare each member to be part of the larger group of society.

But the third purpose reaches into eternity: we must work toward achieving the spiritual development of the family members. We must never forget that marriage and the home is primarily a spiritual relationship.

We should daily be reminded of the question asked by Jesus in one of his most penetrating sermons, recorded for us in Matthew 16:26-27: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”

What qualities of character do we need to possess and demonstrate in our homes in order to fulfill these purposes?

Generally speaking, the development of Christian character is the single most important factor in achieving a successful home. The two marriage partners must desire success in their home, and genuine love is absolutely necessary! Each member of the family must take their differences into account and strive to communicate their feelings to each other.

This also relates to the church family

Paul Tournier once said there are two things one cannot do alone – be married and be a Christian.

The essence of being a Christian is not an extended set of correct doctrinal beliefs or even well-formed personal character. To be a Christian is to be connected to Christ in such a unique and special way that all other relationships are defined by that union. The perfect triune fellowship of God as Father, Son, and Spirit from eternity past has been opened to me by the blood of Jesus at Calvary. But I cannot experience their fellowship in isolation from all others who have been called into it.

Having others around is not a nuisance but a necessity for families. These interactions shape us. We sing and read, stand and bow, laugh and cry. And, yes, we certainly eat and drink together. But we do all these things as a network of friends. A gathering of family members. A church whose identity is not contained in itself but is found in the God who has formed it.

We are the community of the children of God! We carry his spiritual DNA. We bear his name. We have a great inheritance. Awareness of these things makes a difference in how we see ourselves and function in this world.

Perhaps if more of us saw ourselves as children of God rather than members of the church, we would claim a nobler inheritance. If we understood church as persons in relationship rather than names on the roll, we would function differently as the church. If we saw sin as the breaking of relationships rather than the breaking of rules, we would both live better and deal with one another more gracefully.

If we really love God the Father, we will create churches that are communities of love, accountability, and nurture where gradual spiritual transformation takes place over time. We will live gently with one another. Listen to one another’s stories. Teach and learn from one another.

A PRAYER FOR THE CHILDREN

     We pray for the children who …… sneak popsicles before supper… erase holes in their math workbooks and can never find their shoes.

    We pray for the children who …… don’t know how to run down the street in a new pair of sneakers… are born in places where we wouldn’t be caught dead… and, have never been to the circus.

    We pray for the children who …… bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions… hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.

    We pray for the children who …… never get dessert or have a “safe” blanket to drag behind them… watch their parents watch them die… can’t find bread to steal… don’t have any rooms to clean up… don’t have pictures on anybody’s dresser and… whose monsters are real.

    We pray for the children who …… spend all their allowance before Tuesday… throw tantrums in the store and pick at their food… like ghost stories and shove dirty clothes under the bed… never rinse out the tub and get visits from the tooth fairy, and… whose tears we sometimes laugh at and smiles can make us cry.

    We pray for the children who …… whose nightmares come in the daytime… will eat anything and have never seen a dentist… aren’t spoiled by anybody, and… go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep.

     We pray for the children who …… want to be carried and for those who must, and… we never give up on and for those who don’t get a second chance.

    We pray for the children who …… we smother with love and affection and… will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2020 in Article

 

What’s Your Number? The Vietnam War Selective Service Lottery


(Selective Service Archive)
During the Vietnam War, young men gathered in college dorms and friends’ homes to listen to live TV and radio broadcasts of the U.S. Selective Service System drawing lottery numbers to determine who would and would not be drafted. This serves as a short, yet painful reminded of that stressful time. (The 2010 issue of Vietnam magazine revisits those days in the article, “Live from Washington, It’s Lottery Night 1969!!”) Approximately 850,000 men were affected by the 1969 draft lottery. For the lottery, 366 blue plastic capsules, each containing one date of the calendar year, were dumped in a large glass container. The capsules were then drawn out and opened, one by one, and assigned sequentially rising numbers. Congressman Alexander Pirnie (R-NY) drew the first capsule, which contained the date September 14. Thus, all men born on that date, from 1944 through 1950, received the first priority for call to duty. The remaining capsules were drawn by youth delegates who had been selected for that purpose from around the country. The last date drawn was June 8, which was assigned draft number 366. This initial Vietnam draft lottery drawing was on December 1, 1969. The first birth date drawn that night, assigned the lowest number, “001,” was September 14. As I sat with about 20 people in the living room of the Middle Tennessee Christian Center in Murfreesboro, I remember that at least three of us had numbers well below 100…mine was 38, which meant that when my college deferment ended I would be guaranteed to report for service. Some of those that day graduated at the end of the spring semester (1970) and joined the service, to keep it to only two years. Some served as medics. I began service in the fall of 1972 as a conscientious objector at a non-profit organization. The war was very unpopular and beginning to end, so the draft board was much more willing to allow some to serve in this way. “Conscientious objector” status was granted to those who could demonstrate “sincerity of belief in religious teachings combined with a profound moral aversion to war and killing.” Find your birthday in the chart below to see what order you would have been called to service. 
 
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Posted by on September 14, 2018 in Article

 

What Preaching is All About?


By Wes McAdams

Preaching is the proclamation and explanation of God’s word. Both the Old and New Testaments are full of men who stood before God’s people and explained, “This is what God says, this is what it means, and this is how it applies to us today.”

The church needs to hear the proclamation and explanation of God’s word. We need to hear what it says, what it means, and how it applies to our lives today. When God’s word is proclaimed and explained:

  • it brings glory to God.
  • it unites God’s people of the present with His people of the past.
  • it makes us into a knowledgeable and disciplined community, by encouraging us to stretch our attention spans and develop an ability to hear the word of the Lord.

How We Turn Preaching Into a Competitive Performance

With singing, we often misplace our focus. We focus on the tune and the tempo, when the focus should be on the words of praise. With preaching, we focus on the preacher’s style and delivery, when the focus should be on accurately proclaiming and explaining the word of God.

But think about it, when we sit in the pew and make the sermon about the preacher’s performance – rather than our own walk with Jesus – it takes the pressure off us and puts it on the preacher.

When we have the luxury of sitting and measuring the length and style of the sermon, comparing it with other sermons we’ve heard, our job in the pew is easy. It’s much more difficult for us to accept our God-given responsibility to look beyond the flaws, shortcomings, and human limitations of the preacher in order to discern and apply God’s holy word to our lives.

Pride, Ego, and Self-Esteem

It’s easy to see the harm we do to those we criticize. It’s easy to see how it hurts a preacher’s feelings when we criticize his style; but we might actually be doing more harm to those on whom we constantly brag. When we constantly brag on a preacher’s style and performance, we might very well be stroking his ego.

 How To Encourage a Preacher

So how can we show appreciation to our preachers, without being stumbling blocks? Here are a few of my favorite kinds of encouragement:

  • “That message really made me think. I’m going to have to go home and study some more.”
  • “I’m convicted. I’m going to make some big changes in my life.”
  • “God’s word is so powerful.”
  • “Thank you for telling us the truth.”

 

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2018 in Article

 

Christianity or Islam?


cropped-bible_study-1-960x480.jpgBy Brent Hickey

This week we want to broaden our study by comparing Christianity and Islam.  When I lived in Nashville, I was able to carry on a series of Bible studies and Bible discussions with a thirty year old Muslim who was the son of an Imam from Nigeria, and, later, the Director of Education at the Nashville mosque named Yasser Arafat (no relation).  An Imam is the prayer leader at a Muslim mosque and recognized Islamic spiritual leader.

I met with my new Muslim acquaintance several times and learned that although Muslims claim to believe the Bible, when they say “Bible” they refer only to the Old Testament and the Gospels. They believe Paul is the ringleader of what they consider the “errors (and corruptions) of Christianity.” Muslims claim that the problem with our Bible is that the Jews corrupted the Old Testament to shore up their beliefs, and that Christians likewise manipulated the New Testament text to promote Christianity. When I pressed him that surely all of God’s word would be preserved and available, he disagreed saying that the Qur’an has all man needed.

My friend Muhammad later said that Allah did preserve the Old Testament and the Gospels, but that it is very difficult to obtain a copy of this “genuine” Bible. Muhammad spoke with great admiration of what he called “the people of the book” who purportedly possess and live by the original message. I expressed great interest in meeting some of these mysterious individuals, but learned they are difficult to track down. There was never a good answer given for the abundance of accurate copies of the Qur’an and the scarcity of “accurate” copies of the Bible.

Muslims say there are true Christians who have the true text, but that it is very hard to find them anymore. I now realize they were likely referring to the Ebionites that were related to Muhammad. The Ebionites (“poor ones”) likely claimed to be Christians while attempting to reestablish Jewish law. They regarded Jesus as the Messiah, but not the Son of God. We want to take a closer look at Islam and draw some comparisons between Christianity and Islam. First, we have a song…

Whereas Jesus teaches the twelve (who became apostles) to call God, “Our Father,” (Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2) Muslims say that such talk is blasphemy. While the New Testament teaches that we can know God and become close to God (James 4:8: “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”), Islam teaches that God is unknowable and unapproachable. In contrast, the apostle Paul tells the crowd on Mars’ Hill (Acts 17:23), “the one whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you…” Paul goes so far as to write that God will execute judgment on those who do not know God (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

Muslims most despise Christianity because Muslims worship one God (Allah) and maintain Christians worship three gods. Where do they get that? Well, Muslims equate Roman Catholicism with Christianity and are taught that we worship the “trinity of God, Jesus and Mary.” This misunderstanding is apparently rooted in the Roman Catholic’s teaching that Mary is the mother of God, Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. Of course, the Scriptures do not teach that, but teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are God. The Bible says in John 1:1, 14: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” Nevertheless, Muslims claim that calling Jesus the Son of God insulted the holy nature of God. To Muslims, Deity is incompatible with the weakness and filthiness of human flesh.

Where the gospels present Jesus’ teaching that God will send another Comforter (John 16:7),

Muslims say this is actually a prophecy of Muhammad coming instead of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing to support this connection in any New Testament manuscript.

Another important difference between Islam and Christianity is the Qur’an teaching that Abraham offered up Ishmael—not Isaac—on the altar. Muslims commemorate this on Eid al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice) by sacrificing a sheep, camel, or goat. They give one third of the meat to friends and donate one third to the poor. The sacrifice symbolizes a willingness to give up things to follow Allah’s commands. Muslims visit friends and family and exchange gifts during this holy day. They observed Eid-al-Adha on September 23 and 24 this year (2015). These sacrifices are not offered to forgive sins.

While Jesus said, “the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32) and Paul writes in Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage,” the Qur’an teaches that a Muslim can never rise above slaves.

At the age of six, boys in devout Muslim families begin to go with their father to pray at the mosque five times a day beginning at 3:30 a.m. These prayers include scripted words and physical movements. This activity certainly sounds like that of a slave. Consider the following regulations:

First of all, anyone who has become impure (by using the bathroom, touching a woman or an animal, et cetera) must cleanse himself before prayers. Before he washes he says, “I put my face to the true creator and I begin my washing.”

• He washes his right hand and then left hand three times.

• He rinses his mouth with water – rubbing his teeth with his right finger three times.

• He cleanses his nose with water three times.

• He washes his face from the hairline, around the ear and under the chin three times.

• He washes his arms from the wrist to the elbow, right hand first, three times.

• He washes his hair by dipping his hand in water and smoothing it over his hair three times.

• He washes his ears with a wet finger in a specific direction and with a particular motion.

• He washes his feet up to his ankles; right foot first, three times.

Because this is how Muhammad prayed, so must all Muslims.   Muslims must be grateful to Muhammad that they only have to pray five times a day.   Initially, they claim, Allah demanded fifty prayers a day until Muhammad negotiated with him until he got it down to five.   When Muslims pray, they line up in straight rows facing Mecca and the prayer leader cups his hands behind his ears and proclaims, “Allah is great.” Everyone repeats these words.   Then, in unison, they cross their hands over their stomachs, right hand on top and recite the first chapter of the Qur’an in Arabic.   Then everyone is given a few seconds to quote additional verses of their choosing.   Next, the leader cups his hands behind his ears and calls out again, “Allah is great.”   The assembly echoes his words. Again in unison, they bow at the waist with hands on their knees and respond, “I praise my great Lord. This completes the first half of the first unit of prayer called a raka’ah. At 4 a.m. Muslims must pray two raka’ah’s; at noon, they must pray four raka’ah’s; at 3 p.m., four raka’ah’s; three raka’ah’s at 5 p.m. and four raka’ah’s at 8:30 p.m.

Muhammad taught that prayers at the mosque were twenty-seven times better than private prayers.

Of course, Jesus taught differently. He taught in Matthew 6:5-7, “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Jesus taught His disciples to pray as children to a loving Father, whereas Muhammad taught men to pray as slaves to avoid Allah’s wrath. What a vast difference!

Christianity and Islam can be contrasted in many areas, but, as you may have anticipated from our message last week, the most startling difference between Christianity and Islam is their attitude toward women. One, obviously, emanates from God—the other from man.

• Muhammad claimed to visit hell and found that there were more women there than men.

• Muhammad said, “If there is evil omen in anything, it is in the house, the woman and the horse.”

• Muhammad said, “Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman.” Aisha, the nine year old Muhammad married, later complained, “You have made us dogs.”

• Muhammad said, “Women are ungrateful to their husbands…(and) deficient in intelligence and religion…the witness of two women is equal to that of one man.”

• Islam teaches women could be taken as spoils of war.

• Muhammad had twelve wives and twenty-three slave women. The Qur’an allows a man to have up to four wives, if he can support them financially.

• The Qur’an teaches that husbands could beat their wives lightly to get them in line.

• A divorce was final, if a man simply said three times, “I divorce you,” but a woman could not initiate a divorce at all.

Meanwhile, in the gospels we learn Mary and Martha were two of Jesus closest friends. A number of women, in fact, traveled with him from place to place according to Luke 8:1-3. These women, we find in Matthew 27:55-56, were loyal to Jesus, following him all the way to the cross.

Women were witnesses after his resurrection and reported it to the twelve. Jesus praised a number of women for their great faith (Matthew15:28), generosity (Luke 21) and love (Luke 7:36-50). In John 4 and John 8, Jesus offered hope and forgiveness to women who had lost their way. Jesus taught in Matthew 19 that a man could only divorce his wife in the case of unfaithfulness. The Holy Spirit writes in Galatians 3:28, “There…is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The New Testament shows genuine respect for women.

The Qur’an’s most creative departure from the truth concerns the crucifixion. They contend that

Judas Iscariot led the authorities to Gethsemane to seize Jesus, but that God took Jesus up to heaven. Meanwhile as the authorities searched for Jesus, Judas disappeared behind a tree. Then God miraculously gave Judas the appearance of Jesus, so when Judas reappeared, Jesus’ would-be captors, seized Judas, thinking they had Jesus. So, Muslims explain, the crucifixion and the cruelties surrounding it were actually the meting out of a well-deserved punishment on Judas. Of course, a major flaw in this story is that it was Judas himself who went to the garden to positively identify Jesus. The Muslim explanation misses this point altogether.

Perhaps the greatest disparity between Christianity and Islam exists in the place of love in the teaching of the Bible and the Qur’an. When I asked my friend Mohammad what his favorite scripture on love in the Qur’an, he wanted instead to talk about the mercy of God. Christianity extols both the love and the mercy of God. It was surprising to learn that the Qur’an provides ninety-nine names for God, but the one conspicuously absent is the one considered most significant in the New Testament. John writes in 1 John 4:8, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” In 1 John alone (a book of only three or four pages), the word “love” is found thirty-five times and over two hundred twenty times in the New Testament. Meanwhile, the entire Qur’an only speaks of God’s love for man twenty times. The spirit of these teachings is distinct from what you find in the New Testament.

Five times the Qur’an teaches God loves those who do good. Two times the Qur’an says God loves the pure. Seven times the Qur’an says God loves the righteous or just. One verse each in the Qur’an expresses God’s love for Moses, those who trust Him, those who are patient, those who love him and follow the prophet, those who will love him and, of course, those who fight in battle for Him.

So, how should Christians interact with Muslims? Burning copies of the Qur’an will not bring the desired effect. Consider some of the following suggestions:

Become familiar with the basics of Islam (as we have begun to do today) to demonstrate openness to investigating the merits of Islam. The devotion of Muslims to their faith is impressive as can be seen with their steadfast adherence to multiple daily prayers, their devotion to religious fasting, their abstaining from alcohol, their commitment to charitable giving, their zeal that leads them to die for their faith and their dedication to what they consider is the word of God. Thousands of Muslims are admitted to the most prestigious Muslim university, Al-Azhar University in Egypt every year. More impressive is that to be admitted one must be able to recite the entire Qur’an from memory.

It is also beneficial to recognize common ground between Christianity and Islam. Islam is opposed to polytheism, believes in a final judgment, and believes in many of the prophets recorded in the Bible. They look to Abraham as a great father of the faithful. Although they deny Jesus is the Son of God, they do believe in Jesus as a sinless Messiah and great miracle worker.

When discussing religion with a Muslim, be sure to practice the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12.

The most effective way to win them over or at least gain a listener is to disarm them with respect and kindness. The Holy Spirit puts it this way in 1 Peter 3:15, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” This last phrase, “with meekness and fear” has also been translated “with gentleness and respect.” (NIV) Ask questions respectfully to learn where they are coming from and to clear up possible misunderstandings of their beliefs.

Demonstrate a willingness to listen. Christians are taught in James 1:19 to be “slow to speak” and “swift to hear.” The importance of this truth is further highlighted in 2 Timothy 2:24-26. Interestingly, even though Jesus was one hundred percent right and the Samaritan woman at the well was in error and comparatively ignorant, Jesus allowed her (John 4) to speak the same amount of words that he spoke. By allowing another to talk, we earn the right to be heard also.

Ask what the greatest blessing they receive from being a Muslim and then tell them about the blessing of forgiveness of sins and the confidence of salvation. The Bible teaches in 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…” This confidence and assurance is one of the great blessings of Christianity that Islam fails to deliver. Muslims never know if they will go to heaven until judgment.

Ask if the Qur’an teaches love. Then ask them to share their three favorite passages on love from the Qur’an. Next, share three scriptures on love that are meaningful to you. This will intrigue them, and create the greatest likelihood of stimulating openness in the future.

Confirm their belief in the Bible. When they tell you the Jews corrupted the Old Testament and Christians corrupted the New Testament to promote their teachings, ask them to read aloud prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament. I prefer Isaiah 53 because there are so many consecutive prophecies that point clearly to Jesus. Then, ask if they know who Isaiah is speaking about. If they do not see or admit that they are prophecies about Jesus, explain it to them. Remind them that this is the Jewish Bible. Then ask, “If Jews were going to corrupt Old Testament, wouldn’t they have removed such lengthy, lucid prophecies about Jesus?” Most likely they will have never seen these and will be struck by them.

Then, ask if the Old Testament has any prophecies of Muhammad as detailed and striking as the ones you shared about Jesus from David and Isaiah.   They cannot help but see how full the Bible is of prophecies about Jesus and how none can be found of Muhammad.

Finally, avoid anger and frustration if you cannot answer one of their arguments. Write it down and research it further. 

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2016 in Article

 

Satan’s Beatitudes


the_devil_s_workshopThey said if the devil were to write his beatitudes they would probably go something like this:
Blessed are they who are too tired and busy to go to worship on Sunday and Wednesday nights, for they are my best workers.

Blessed are they who are bored with the minister’s mannerism and mistakes, for they get
nothing out of his sermon.

Blessed is the church member who expects to be invited to his own church, for he is part of
the problem instead of the solution.

Blessed are they who gossip, for they cause strife and divisions that please me.

Blessed are they who are easily offended, for they soon get angry and quit.

Blessed are they who do not give their tithes and offerings to carry on God’s work, for they
are my best workers.

Blessed are they who profess to love God, but hates his brother, for he shall be with me forever.

Blessed are the trouble-makers, for they shall be called the children of Satan.

Blessed are the complainers, for I am all ears to them.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2016 in Article

 

Heaven in the Home Series – Where Do We Begin?


Christ In The Home seriesA question asked by many people in this 21st century is a complex and deeply felt one: is it possible to have a Christ centered home in today’s world of trouble and sin?

If you are a Christian, you are concerned about this problem. Recent studies have listed many issues with which parents must cope today:

— finances (the cost of bearing, clothing, feeding, entertaining and educating children is the greatest in our history)
— working mothers (a majority of American mothers hold jobs out-side the home, many out of necessity)

– drugs, divorce, alcohol, crime, runaways, and abuse.

More than 1.5 million couples were divorced last year. Drugs and alcohol are on the rise among youngsters. The second leading cause of death between ages 14-24 is now suicide, and one child in eight can expect to appear in juvenile court before he turns 18.

It might be of comfort to realize that the world has always been a difficult place in which Christians must live. It has always been opposed to God’s values and God’s will.

Satan longs for the soul of any age person who will reject good, right, and truth and turn to his way of thinking. Christians must daily remind themselves of the clear, simple words of Jesus, from Matthew 7:13-14: “”Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

We might also be encouraged to remember a story recorded in 2 Chronicles 20, which shows a situation similar to the one we face today. Jehoshaphat had some men before him reporting the approach of a vast army, one the size of which his army could not defeat.

He inquired of the Lord his future and God’s answer is recorded for us in 2 Chronicles 20:15-17: “He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'””

That message is an eternal one! It remains for Christians today who feel the odds against them in this sin-filled world.   

Man’s domestic problems begin when he departs from God’s counsel regarding the home. And this study is vital because our understanding of Christ’s relationship to the church is dependent upon his conception of the home. God is interested in our homes because our spiritual understanding is at stake.

Home Means Different Things To Different People

There are many reasons why people look upon the home in different lights. In the first place, we have all had different backgrounds. Our home training has been varied, the emphases have been placed in many different spots as we have been reared through the years of childhood and adolescence.

It is no wonder that the word “home” means something different to one than to another:

  • we may look upon the home as a place for protection where our simple needs are met
  • it might be a place where we have been taught respect and obedience, where character and service have been taught
  • young married couples view the home as the ideal situation, anticipating their life with optimism and ambition
  • older people define home in terms of memories, and because of their mature minds, they certainly describe it with reality…it takes on a sense of reward and meaning

A truly Christian home is a place where sinners live; but it is also a place where the members of that home admit the fact and understand the problem, know what to do about it, and as a result grow by grace.

It is important that this environment be in place so all members of the family will have a loving, graceful, safe, and warm place in which to grow. It’s vital that we treat each other in the same way Jesus treated His 12 apostles.

As they stumbled and fell and made mistakes, he was patient with them because of one simple point: He knew they were not yet what they would become. We need to “be patient, God’s not finished with me yet!”

Strong Church Families– Case Examples (from actual minister from a large Southern congregation):

ITEM: A sixteen year old boy with this startling confession: “I can’t stand my parents. I hate my dad, I wish he was dead. “

ITEM: A seventeen year old youth With this pleading request: “Can I please talk with you. My parents won’t listen. My dad is an elder. He has time for everyone else, but he doesn’t have time for me. He thinks I don’t have anything worthwhile to say.”

ITEM: A nineteen year old coed on a Christian college campus asks for help. Her problem? For the past six years her father has been involved with her sexually. Her father is supposedly a leader in the Lord’s church.

ITEM: An adolescent, between the ages of 9 and 14, a resident in a children’s home in California, writes a night time prayer for sinners, wherein she prays: “I admit I am very sinful. I had a hard time with the family. Now I have no family. I was starved when I was little.”

ITEM: A college junior relays a sad message: “My parents have just informed me that I can never come home again. I am no longer their daughter. They never want to see me again.”

ITEM: On the afternoon prior to the concluding service of a gospel meeting that evening, a seventeen year old girl that has been attending the meeting, calls with this message and plea: “My mother has just kicked me out of the house. I have no place to go. I wish I were dead. In fact, about a year ago I tried to kill myself. I have been under psychiatric care. Can you help me?”

ITEM: An early morning emergency phone call, an urgent Saturday morning visit to the office and a desperate plea for help from a hurting and frustrated mother is a nearby congregation. Her problem? The night before she had discovered that her husband had been going to their daughter’s bed before coming to hers.

Each of these case examples have a least three major things in common.

  1. They are true . . . they actually happened.
  2. They each suggest some serious problems in the area of parent/child relationships in some homes.
  3. Are you ready for #3 . . . They each involve a supposedly Christian home or environment

They are not the strong families of which strong congregations are built. I am not plowing new ground when I tell you that today many homes and families, in the church and outside the church, are in serious trouble.

  1. No doubt, you know some.
  2. No doubt you have shed tears over some.
  3. No doubt, you will again.

Tragic things are happening in and to homes and families today.

  1. 53% of all marriages end in divorce.
  2. One-half of all children now live with one parent.
  3. 700,000 young people drop out of school annually.
  4. 5,000 to 6,000 young people commit suicide annually.
  5. 40% of all teenage girls become pregnant one or more times before reaching the age of 20.
  6. 52% or youth fatalities are alcohol related.
  7. Child abuse and abandonment are on the rise. In the past several years, there has been a 300% increase in placement of children outside the home.
  8. Homosexual marriages (men marrying men, women marrying women) then wanting to adopt and rear children in such an unscriptural and unwholesome environment.
  9. Abuses (sexual, physical, parental, etc.) running rampant through our society.

Let’s look in detail for a moment at three significant items that make all the difference in the world; (as they are discussed, think of the atmosphere or environment which these will create in the home):

  1. Christians admit their sins.

Because they know the Bible says that no Christian is ever perfect in this life, they are free to admit their sins.

1 John 1:8-10: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

What does it mean to you to know that your boss, parents, etc., can admit when they make a mistake and acknowledge sin? What response do you give to this kind of person? What kind of response is given to the person who thinks they are perfect, who acts like they never do wrong?

Christians are able to acknowledge the fact and, in time, learn to anticipate and prepare for sin. Christians, of all persons, should never rely upon rationalizations, excuses or blame-shifting to try to euphemize their sins.

Because they can admit their sins, there can also be a certain amount of openness, honesty, and relaxation about the relationships that Christians sustain to one another, especially at home. Christians can pour their time and energies into the endeavor to replace sinful patterns with Biblical patterns of life.

Rather than wasting time minimizing or denying the fact of sin, Christians can concentrate on dealing with sin.

  1. Christians know what to do about their sins.

Because they have the Bible as the standard of faith and practice, Christians not only know why problems occur in the home, but they know what to do about them!

Is any sin too big for God? Can any sin be overcome in a loving, forgiving environment? We need to realize that each person in the Bible who stands before us a “great men and women of faith” are average people with sin in their life, which God helped remove.

  1. Christians progress out of their sins.

Where there is spiritual life, there also will be spiritual growth. No Christian may remain the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

A fundamental presupposition of the Christian faith is that there will be growth out of sin into righteousness. Where there is Bible study, prayer and the fellowship of the saints, the Spirit of God will be at work to produce His fruit.

The Christian home, then, is a place where sinful persons face the problems of a sinful world. Yet, they face them together with God and His resources, which are all centered in Christ. Sinners live in the Christian home, but the sinless Savior lives there too! “That is what makes the difference!

What purposes shall we try to achieve in our homes?
The first purpose is the personal development of each family member. This is not to say that one should view his home selfishly and think only in terms of what he can get out of it himself. Each family member experiences personal growth and receives a sense of genuine fulfillment by giving of himself in order to build a happy home.

The second purpose involves the accomplishment of certain social functions of the home. The primary social function is to provide a special companionship for each member of the family. To feel alone and unloved is one of the emptiest feelings on earth. But we must also prepare each member to be part of the larger group of society.

But the third purpose reaches into eternity: we must work toward achieving the spiritual development of the family members. We must never forget that marriage and the home is primarily a spiritual relationship.

We should daily be reminded of the question asked by Jesus in one of his most penetrating sermons, recorded for us in Matthew 16:26-27: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”

What qualities of character do we need to possess and demonstrate in our homes in order to fulfill these purposes?

Generally speaking, the development of Christian character is the single most important factor in achieving a successful home. The two marriage partners must desire success in their home, and genuine love is absolutely necessary! Each member of the family must take their differences into account and strive to communicate their feelings to each other.

This also relates to the church family

Paul Tournier once said there are two things one cannot do alone – be married and be a Christian.

The essence of being a Christian is not an extended set of correct doctrinal beliefs or even well-formed personal character. To be a Christian is to be connected to Christ in such a unique and special way that all other relationships are defined by that union. The perfect triune fellowship of God as Father, Son, and Spirit from eternity past has been opened to me by the blood of Jesus at Calvary. But I cannot experience their fellowship in isolation from all others who have been called into it.

Having others around is not a nuisance but a necessity for families. These interactions shape us. We sing and read, stand and bow, laugh and cry. And, yes, we certainly eat and drink together. But we do all these things as a network of friends. A gathering of family members. A church whose identity is not contained in itself but is found in the God who has formed it.

We are the community of the children of God! We carry his spiritual DNA. We bear his name. We have a great inheritance. Awareness of these things makes a difference in how we see ourselves and function in this world.

Perhaps if more of us saw ourselves as children of God rather than members of the church, we would claim a nobler inheritance. If we understood church as persons in relationship rather than names on the roll, we would function differently as the church. If we saw sin as the breaking of relationships rather than the breaking of rules, we would both live better and deal with one another more gracefully.

If we really love God the Father, we will create churches that are communities of love, accountability, and nurture where gradual spiritual transformation takes place over time. We will live gently with one another. Listen to one another’s stories. Teach and learn from one another.

A PRAYER FOR THE CHILDREN

     We pray for the children who …… sneak popsicles before supper… erase holes in their math workbooks and can never find their shoes.

    We pray for the children who …… don’t know how to run down the street in a new pair of sneakers… are born in places where we wouldn’t be caught dead… and, have never been to the circus.

    We pray for the children who …… bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions… hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.

    We pray for the children who …… never get dessert or have a “safe” blanket to drag behind them… watch their parents watch them die… can’t find bread to steal… don’t have any rooms to clean up… don’t have pictures on anybody’s dresser and… whose monsters are real.

    We pray for the children who …… spend all their allowance before Tuesday… throw tantrums in the store and pick at their food… like ghost stories and shove dirty clothes under the bed… never rinse out the tub and get visits from the tooth fairy, and… whose tears we sometimes laugh at and smiles can make us cry.

    We pray for the children who …… whose nightmares come in the daytime… will eat anything and have never seen a dentist… aren’t spoiled by anybody, and… go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep.

     We pray for the children who …… want to be carried and for those who must, and… we never give up on and for those who don’t get a second chance.

    We pray for the children who …… we smother with love and affection and… will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2016 in Article

 

Countries that have visited this site in 2015


2015 in reviewEric/Wendy’s December 2015 newsletter from Rwanda

https://wordpress.com/stats/year/countryviews/tjsman.wordpress.com?startDate=2015-01-01

COUNTRIES

United States

VIEWS

1,199

China 38
Philippines 23
United Kingdom 10
Canada 10
Bahamas 8
Norway 8
European Union 7
Brazil 7
India 7
Australia 6
Russia 5
Rwanda 5
Nigeria 5
Ghana 5
Singapore 4
France 4
Thailand 4
Taiwan 4
Hungary 3
Italy 3
Romania 3
New Zealand 2
South Africa 2
Hong Kong SAR China 2
Tanzania 2
Netherlands 2
Nepal 1
Saudi Arabia 1
Denmark 1
South Korea 1
Puerto Rico 1
Montserrat 1
Kuwait 1
Germany 1
Malaysia 1
Ireland 1
Belgium 1
Peru 1
 
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Posted by on December 19, 2015 in Article

 
 
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