Wednesday, February 28, 2007

One Fear

"I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!" (Luke 12:4-5, NASB)

Jim Roberts, one of our great teachers in the Contact Church of Christ, says, "One of the most frequent commands in the Bible is: 'Fear not.' Why? Because God knew that we would be afraid."

His words have prompted me to think: What would it be like to fear God alone?

Fearing God would mean fearing sin. I would hate the way it dishonors God. I would hate its effects on me. I would despise its impact on other people.

Ironically, fearing God would mean inner peace, knowing that the God I fear is also the God who gave His Best for me, the God who would rather absorb His anger Himself through His Son than take it out on me.

Fearing God alone would empower my humility. I would be able to admit my failures and sins without fear of what anyone else might think.

Fearing God alone would inspire fearless obedience. I would take risks without worrying about embarrassment, failure, or difficulty.

Fearing God alone would free me to live life as it was intended to be lived. It would mean a life of faith, a life of power, a life of courage, and a life fully free to love. It would mean living for the honor and glory of God.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Amazing Grace

My family just watched Amazing Grace, the new movie about William Wilberforce's political fight against the British slave trade of 200 years ago. We enjoyed the movie on many levels. While watching it, four passages from the Scriptures came to my mind.

A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel (Proverbs 12:10, NASB).

I noticed William Wilberforce's kindness toward animals. Throughout the movie, he cared for both wild and domesticated animals. His future wife mentioned that Mr. Wilberforce founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:12-14, NASB).

I also noticed Mr. Wilberforce's kindness toward the poor, especially in his habit of welcoming them to dinner at his mansion.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (Galatians 6:9, NASB).

William Wilberforce's perseverance in fighting the slave trade in the face of overwhelming resistance for decades eventually led to the triumph of goodness. So many hearts were changed by his efforts that the laws of the British empire eventually were changed.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16, NASB).

William Wilberforce's kindness and persevering faith in God attracted and inspired his wife. She joined him in his cause, becoming his greatest ally and source of encouragement. His life made the Christian faith appealing to the people nearest to him. On his deathbed, Prime Minister William Pitt expressed the desire to have a faith in God similar to Mr. Wilberforce's faith. His faith was infectious, as Jesus intended it to be.

Amazing Grace was a movie worth seeing ( and even purchasing on DVD when it becomes available).

Monday, February 19, 2007

Why Would a Christian Oppose Slavery?

"We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers---and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me" (1 Timothy 1:9-11, NIV).

Over the past few centuries, some have asked why a Christian would oppose slavery, since the Bible does not condemn it. While it is true that slavery exists in the Bible, it would be a mistake to suggest that it is never opposed. The issue is more nuanced and complex than it appears on the surface. Different conditions and situations existed in those days.

However, kidnapping and oppression never conformed to the teachings of Jesus Christ. He described a part of his mission as "to release the oppressed" (Luke 4:18, NIV).

As noted above, the slave trade was seen as contrary to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:9-11).

Jesus taught, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12, NIV). If I were a boy enslaved in Ghana, I would want to be rescued. If I were a young woman who had been kidnapped and forced into prostitution in Cambodia, I would want to be rescued.

Ultimately, Christians want to assist people in becoming free from Satan and sin by exposing everyone to the good news of Christ. Our opposition to slavery, oppression, and injustice compliments that objective in a profound way.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ending Modern Slavery

If you are interested in ending slavery in modern times, you may want to sign the petition at The movie Amazing Grace will be in theaters on February 23. It tells the story of how William Wilberforce worked to end the slave trade in Great Britain 200 years ago. Hopefully, it will inspire others to care about people who are enslaved as laborers and prostitutes today. You may also want to check out the link to the International Justice Mission at the bottom of my home page for more information about the struggle against slavery today.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

"Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love" (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, NASB).

In our home, we have a devotional time around the dinner table. We read from Our Daily Bread and pray. In January, we added another activity to our devotional time: memory verses. At first, I thought that we could memorize one passage a week, but we have found that going at Christopher's speed is much better. So far we have memorized Genesis 1:1, Proverbs 24:5, and John 3:16.

We are in the process of memorizing 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, so my mind has been on these verses lately.

Be on the alert

We never know where temptation and sin will come from, nor when they will hit us. However, we can learn from our failures and mistakes. We can figure out that being tired makes us vulnerable to impatience. We know that some media are designed to arouse improper sexual temptations. We can be alert to what we know. We don't need to be surprized by everything.

Stand firm in the faith

Many people attack our faith in many ways. We must stand firm in believing in the creation, the great flood, and the other miracles of the Bible. We must retain confidence in the God who cannot lie. We must believe in the accuracy of the Bible. We must trust in Jesus Christ, even when others waver.

Act like men

We must take initiative to protect and provide for others. We must approach life with courage and a sense of responsibility.

Be strong

Our strength comes from reliance upon God. We become strong by reading and thinking deeply about the message from God. We become strong by praying and by noticing God's answers to our prayers. We become strong from the support and encouragement of other believers. With strength, we can approach life with confidence. In addition, we are prepared to carry out the next command:

Let all that you do be done in love

We can find ways to live in a way that benefits everyone. We can be kind and patient. We can make the sacrifices. We can honor Jesus Christ through our lives of love.

These are powerful verses.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day, Janet

"Like a lily among thorns,
So is my darling among the maidens" (Song of Solomon 2:2, NASB).


When we first talked over the phone, I recognized the voice of a thoughtful, sensitive, and beautiful woman. We had not yet met each other face to face, but I had already fallen in love with you. The next morning, I told my co-workers that I had talked with the woman I was going to marry. They didn't believe me, but they had not talked with you.

When we met a few days later, you were everything I expected. I saw a beautiful smile. I heard an intelligent and compassionate young woman. I felt the sincerity. I knew that I had been right about you.

In the years since those early days, my love and appreciation of you has deepened. You are special, and I am honored to be your husband.

Happy Valentine's Day, Sweetie!


Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Name of the Lord

"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7, NASB).

Besides using the Lord's name as profanity, how may this commandment be violated today? I have thought of a few ways that we use the Lord's name today and a few ways that it may be misused.

We talk about...

The gospel of CHRIST

The good news must be focused on what Jesus Christ has done in order for it to be the gospel of Christ. It would be vain to make it about what we have done.

Baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Our baptism should be focused on God. It would be vain if it were done without faith in Christ or turning to God for grace and forgiveness.

The Lord's Supper

The Lord's Supper should remind us of the Lord's sacrifice on the cross. It would be vain to eat and drink without thinking of the Lord.

Prayer in Jesus' name

We should pray as if Jesus were using our lips to pray himself. It would be vain to pray as though Jesus did not exist.

Being identified as CHRISTians and the Church of CHRIST

We should live as followers of Jesus Christ. It would be vain to be called by his name without reflecting his character, values, and ideals in our lifestyles.

The name of the Lord is extremely important. If we care about him, we will honor and protect it. "Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored as special and holy."