Tag Archives: faith

Proper Fear and Persuading Others

Not long ago I preached a sermon to my congregation, the following text being one of several that I used.

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” – 2 Corinthians 5:11a

There is always talk about the fear of terrorism these days, yet very few talk about the fear of God. Why is that? After all, aren’t we commanded to fear the Lord? Isn’t it the wise thing to do?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” – Proverbs 9:10

The problem is that we get so distracted by the common, temporal fears of this world forget about the eternal. Some of us are terrified of what others may find in our closets, but forget that God knows all. Our minds are so cluttered with all the stresses of this life that we forget about what comes after.

Both of the previous verses also talk about “knowing” and  the “knowledge” of God. In the first passage (2 Cor. 5:11a) the Apostle Paul is essentially telling the Corinthians: “Hey, it’s because we know who God is and what He’s capable of, not to mention the fact that we must all stand before Him one day (5:10), that we do our dead-level best to tell it to you like it is!”

In the second passage, wise King Solomon is telling anyone who will listen, “The more you know God, the better you’ll understand how life works.” Knowing and understanding who God is will produce produce fear: terror in His enemies; reverential fear in those who love Him.

Jesus said: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). [emphasis added]

So, while ever-present bad news will tend to make us want to run and hide or take matters into our own hands, keep everything in its proper perspective. Those who serve the Living Savior; those who are reconciled to God by the atonement of the cross of Christ; those who were once strangers, but now have been made children of the Father, can find peace and rest in the fearfully omnipotent hand of our faithful Creator.

Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” – 1 Peter 4:19 

The only ones who should be living in terror, in fear of what may come today or tomorrow, are those who have never known God, have forgotten God, or worse, mock Him (Romans 1:18-32).

When we persuade others to fear God in the proper way, they will come to know His love and love Him in return. Then, instead of living in terror, ironically, “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18).

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15 

Are you living in fear? Can you call God “Abba, Father” (Daddy)? A proper relationship will produce a proper fear; terror is the product of rebellion.

If you don’t fully understand what I’ve written, or if you’d like to know more about how to live in peace without terror, click on the Eternal Life tab at the top of the page and follow the instructions.

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Filed under Bible Study, God, salvation, Struggles and Trials

Just Hupomenō

Writer’s Laziness

I don’t know that I would call it “writer’s block”; it’s more like “writer’s laziness.” You see, I have plenty of things to write about, but very little energy to attack them with the literary fervor each one deserves. Therefore, I am going to cut and paste something from a few years ago into a post for today.

A couple of years ago I told my daughter Katie (the one in college) that I was having a “form of writer’s block.” She asked, “Do you want me to give you a random suggestion?” I said, “sure.”

hupomenoTwo minutes later she comes to me with a picture and a word: hupomenō (ὑπομένω). “Write about this,” she said.

Hupomenō?

The word is a Greek word which means “to remain under,” or, “to remain under the test in a God-honoring manner, not seeking to escape it but eager to learn the lessons it was sent to teach.”*

But it could also mean standing firm by holding one’s ground (Mt 10:22; 24:13; Mk 13:13) and persevering in spite of difficulty (2 Tim 2:10).** The words that  hupomenō is most commonly translated into are “patience,” and “endure.”

Katie’s a godly young girl, so she wrote Hupomeno on her hand as a reminder to be patient and to “endure.”

Patiently Enduring

So how are you holding up? How are you enduring? Sometimes that’s all we can do, isn’t it? Sometimes all we can do when the winds are blowing, when the waves are crashing against us, and when the sand is shifting beneath our feet is to just endure the tempest while holding on for dear life to something…or Someone…unmovable and secure.

Whatever you are under right now, don’t give up – honor God with your faithfulness. Whatever you are fighting against, just hold your ground. Whatever road your traveling, even if it seems like it’s never going to end, persevere – don’t give up till you’re home.

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1:2-4 HCSB

Just hang in there; God is still God.


*Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), Ro 12:9.

**James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

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Filed under Bible Study, blogging, Faith

Five Things About God’s Hands

Maybe you are at a point in your life where you doubt God. Maybe you doubt He cares. Or, even if He cares, you wonder why you can’t see it.

I hope the following list of what God’s hands do will bring you some comfort and encouragement.

  1. They Created Man (Gen. 2:7). As much as we would like to think that we are self-made, there is a Hand that formed us from the dust of the earth. We are not like the rest of creation which was simply spoken into existence; we were fashioned by the loving, artistic hand of the Creator, and His fingerprints are all over us.
  2. They Contain the Believer (John 10:27-29). The believer should never worry about his salvation. He should never worry about being stolen away. Thank God that we are in His hand, and nothing, not even ourselves, can remove us from His omnipotent protection.
  3. They Chastise the Child (Prov. 3:12; 13:24; 22:15; 19:18; Deut. 8:5; Rev. 3:19). God is not a Father who encourages “timeouts;” He knows how to apply loving discipline to our seats of instruction. If more parents would worry less about the world’s wisdom and suggestions and follow the wise instruction of Scripture, we might not have as many entitlement-claiming, over-grown bratty children running the streets demanding their own way.
  4. They Carry the Broken (Isa. 40:11). Praise the Lord for His mercy and love! As the gentle shepherd who must sometimes break the leg of the wandering lamb, God must discipline us. However, it is then that He carries us close to his bosom where we learn to love being in His presence.
  5. They Catch the Stumbler (Psa. 37:23-24). There are times when we stumble, but because He is holding our hand, we will not “utterly” fall.

Jonathan Edwards preached in 1741, it is a “fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God.” But as a child of God, there is no better place to be!

David said, even after he had sinned, “Let me fall into the hand of the Lord…” (1 Chron. 21:13). He knew the truth that brought comfort, a comfort the world does not know: “The LORD will not cast off his people…” (Psa. 94:14).

Praise God for His loving, providing, protecting, parenting, and guiding hand! 

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Nine Years of Blogging

I Missed It

It is now September 5, and the only thing truly special about this day is that I’m writing this post while in a waiting room – a dreary one at that. My wife is having a scope done of her esophagus, and so I have nothing else to do but wait…I’ve already prayed, so I’ll write.

Anyway, I missed my WordPress anniversary on the 27th! 9 years ago last week I wrote my first blog post, and I still have those same Crocs! I have, however, retired them.

I Mused It

Looking back over the years, I’ve used this blog to share a lot of my thoughts about different things. Some of those things were current events which are no longer relevant, while others were topic of interest which will continue to be discussed – if not reposted.

But I’ve also used this blog to formulate my thoughts. I’ve used it as a test bed for my ideas, in the preparation of sermons, and as a way to hone my speech before it’s spoken.

Overall, blogging has probably helped me more than anyone else.

I Misused It

Right now I’m reading Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you haven’t read it, you should; the practical wisdom is invaluable.

In the first chapter Carnegie addresses the dangers of being critical of others and cites multiple examples. Towards the end of the chapter he says:

“If you and I want to stir up resentment tomorrow that may rankle across the decades and endure until death, just let us indulge in a little stinging criticism – no matter how certain we are that it is justified.”

Even though I’ve been convinced I was right, I may have been too critical of others at times, priding myself on the “stinging” part. Granted, much of that would have appeared while debating within the comment sections, but I’m sure I could have been more gracious at times. I apologize.

I’ll Make It

So, now that I’m into my tenth year of blogging, I look forward to writing even more about subjects that interest me and may interest others. In doing so, I hope that my transparency will not hurt my own reputation, but encourage others in their own walk of faith with grace.

Life is tough at times. Like I’ve mentioned before, I know full well the dangers of depression and an outlook that forgets Who is in control. Maybe more posts in the future will help others see and understand how good and faithful our God is. Maybe they’ll be less critical, less controversial, and more encouraging as the days get darker.

Sure, some things will have to be addressed or I’ll just explode – like how now that the mayor of Chicago and a black preacher at Aretha Franklin’s funeral said what needed to be said, but the culture is too far gone to accept it…and who’s fault is that? But, when all is said and done, the command of Philippians 4:8 must rule the day – we must think on those things.

In the end, Lord willing, I’ll make it safe and sound of mine to our 10th anniversary at The Recovering Legalist. If you’ll stick with me we’ll make it a celebration to remember!

Thank you for your friendships!

Anthony

PS, My wife is not yet out of surgery, and this waiting room is sadly depressing. No coffee!

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Filed under blogging, Faith, Future, grace, Struggles and Trials, writing

What Underground Churches Don’t Worry About

In a sermon I preached not long ago, I made mention of the fact that you never see “First Baptist,” “Methodist,” or “Community Non-Denominational” plastered above an underground church. When all one wants to do is worship God without being imprisoned or killed, denominational distinction is one of the least of their worries.

That led me to think of other things that an underground church might not worry about:

  • The color of the carpet
  • The font on the church bulletin
  • Whether or not they sing a hymn or a praise song
  • Whether or not the pulpit is made of wood or etched glass
  • Cassette tapes or CD’s
  • Bible Versions
  • Post-graduate or seminary training
  • Projection screens
  • Padded pews
  • Pews
  • A family activity building
  • Gold or silver communion accessories
  • How long the worship lasts
  • What people wear
  • Parking
  • Youth activities
  • Revival Meetings

No, I don’t think underground churches ever have time to worry about all these things. They are more concerned with fellowship, encouragement, prayer, reading God’s Word in any version they can get their hands on, and staying alive.

Yet, it would seem we think we are closer to God than the underground, persecuted church because, after all, we have more things to worry about.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. Jesus  (John 17:20-21)

Maybe we should concentrate more on what really matters…”that the world may believe.”

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Unity, God, legalism, Uncategorized, worship

Even Mondays Are Made By God

Today is Monday, but I guess you knew that.

Coffee always helps.

Coffee always helps.

How did you wake up? Was it with a sense of dread? Instead of turning off the alarm clock that woke you up, did you strike it like a mosquito that had been buzzing around your head for an hour?

I don’t like Mondays any more than you. As a matter of fact, Mondays are pretty rough. Mondays should be my day off, but I am (was) what they call a bivocational pastor; therefore, my alarm clock feels like a mosquito, too.

However, the Psalmist (David) says…

This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24 

Today…this Monday…every Monday…this is the day which the Lord has made. As a matter of fact, He has made every day. So, what will we do? Will we bemoan the blessing of waking up? Will we cry “foul” even before we enter the game? Will we start the day with the expectation that Monday will be like every other Monday?

This day was made by God. He knows what He is doing. Nothing will come our way that God is not already planning to use for our good – for those who love Him.

Today you may face a storm that leaves you feeling abandoned by God. You may feel like the disciples who were out on the Sea of Galilee all night fighting winds and waves. You may think that your Savior has forgotten you. Just remember that even in the worst storm, on the worst day, Jesus knows where you are.

When the time is right you might even get an invitation to surf the waves of adversity (Matthew 14:27).

So, rejoice! Be glad! Seize the day! It’s been custom-made for you!

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Filed under Christian Living, current events, Faith, God, Life Lessons, worship

Movies We Should Make!

Noah

noah-280314I know, you’ve heard about all you want to hear about Noah, the unbelievably un-biblical movie meant to be a slap in the face to Bible-believers everywhere. That’s why I am not going to give you any commentary; you’ve probably read it all by now.

One thing is for sure (and this movie proves it in spades), whenever you go to a movie you’re likely to be disappointed if you think the screen adaptation is going to be as good as the book. Seriously, how often are movies as good as the books they are loosely based on? About the only ones I can think of are the first Narnia movie (Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe) and the version of A Christmas Carol that had George C. Scott in it. That’s about it.

Noah’s story, as found in the Bible, is perfectly exciting. It is full of all the things that make a great movie a great movie: drama, action, animals, exotic locations, suspense, larger-than-life sets, and colorful characters. It even has its share of death, destruction, pathos, and the miraculous. So why change all of that? Why trash the written account in order to create a fictitious, over-the-top, insulting flop?

Knoahk-offs (Knock-offs)

Maybe it’s time we go ahead and make more movies using the Noah template? Instead of calling these new movies knock-offs, we could call them knoahk-offs! I mean, why not take the stories atheists and humanists know and love and turn them into evangelical sermons?

Let me see if I can come up with a few ideas off the top of my head…

  • The God Delusion (by Richard Dawkins).
    In this movie, a must-see by Dawkins’ fans, Yahweh actually sits down with Little Richard (the singer) to compose a musical called “The Delusion of Unbelief.” In this unique creation (pun intended), God describes Himself to the world as a loving, sacrificial Sovereign that wants to open the eyes of unbelieving vegans.
  • God Is Not Great (by Christopher Hitchens).
    This movie version of a classic by the late, great Hitchens will have audiences rolling in the aisles. God Is Not Great is a Christian comedy featuring the humorous, yet humble side of the Creator. Movie attendees will laugh along with God as He mocks those who deny His existence and get a kick at how He plays practical jokes on unsuspecting, self-deluded college professors at UC Berkeley.
  • Harry Potter (by J.K. Rowling).
    Atheists and lukewarm Christians everywhere love the Harry Potter series of books and movies, but a remake was inevitable. Yes, a truly accurate depiction of the books (with some creative license, of course) will be brought to the screen. Instead of witchcraft, Harry will be filled with the Holy Spirit, lead Hermione (who played in Noah) to the Lord, get married, attend Moody Bible Institute, then start Hogwarts Baptist Church in Herefordshire, UK.

So, what do you think? I don’t think anybody will be offended, do you? Freethinkers should applaud trashing the writings of their favorite authors, don’t you think? I mean, at least that’s what people are saying we Christians should do with Noah.

If Darren Aronofsky can create a Noah “for the 21st century,” there’s a lot more stories needing an update.

Can you think of a few?

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Filed under Culture Wars, current events, General Observations, Humor, Movie review