Misplaced Loyalty

There is a difference between loyalty to an idea and loyalty to the very thing about which we have the idea. Let me explain. I have noticed that Christians are loyal to certain basic doctrines. However, are they loyal to believing them without understanding them? I’ve known people who have been saved for many years and firmly believe in the doctrine of the virgin birth. Nevertheless, they couldn’t tell you why Jesus had to be virgin born. This becomes very serious when we are more loyal to the importance of faithful Bible study than to studying the Bible. It is possible to be loyal to the greatness of Jesus more than to His teachings. We are often loyal to the need for obedience but not as much to being obedient. To look at it from another angle, we may be more loyal to our pastor than to loyally checking the Word to see if he’s right. In Acts 17:11, Paul commended the Bereans  “….in that they received the Word in all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Our enemy doesn’t mind if we are pre-occupied with the shell, as long as we don’t partake of the substance. Selah! Loyalty to the Living Word is validated by loyalty to the written Word, reading it, studying it and applying it, because it is in this way that we truly relate to Him.  Ron 

Mind Block

The serpent didn’t try to reason Eve into sinning. He appealed to her emotions and pride. Look at the beautiful fruit, think how good it will taste and it will make you like God. The lust (strong desires) of the eyes, the flesh and the pride of life opened her up to deception. He was only asking her to think about her desires. Ever since, he has used this strategy, over and over. The reason that we respond emotionally is that sin has put a block on our minds. “….the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not.” (From II Corinthians 4:4). This is speaking of unsaved people. When we are born again, it takes time and discipline to remove the block. We still have a left over predisposition to respond emotionally. As the mind is renewed by internalizing Scripture, we begin to see the block give way. When we act and think based on Biblical principles, sanctified reasoning takes hold. There is nothing wrong with good emotions, provided they don’t form the basis for our decisions. When we respond  with what we learn from God’s Word, healthy emotions are the result. Emotions that move us to impulsive decisions are dangerous. Selah! Searching out Truth from God and letting this Truth control runaway emotions is the means of being a maturing disciple. Feelings that are the result of wise choices are far superior to those that prompt bad choices.  Ron

The High Cost of Emotional Responses

That car that I looked at, it’s fabulous. It is powerful, has beautiful color and style and purrs like a kitten. People will look twice when I roll up with this car. “Look what he’s driving,” they will say. I’m certainly going to make an impression. I’ve got to have it. Never mind that an older car that worked well would do just as well. It would cost less. I could put the difference in cost between the two cars in the bank, draw interest and have a good start toward the next car. Still, I think (read “feel”) I have to have the nicer car. I make several payments and then lose my job or health. I may face the shame of repossession. Or I had unexpected expenses and am in over my head financially. I now experience the bondage of debt. Unable to meet all my bills, I become discouraged. Perhaps I will have to go through bankruptcy. What a poor testimony! Compare this to the wisdom of sound financial planning, critically examining all purchases in terms of my real needs as opposed to my desires. Oh, the wonderful freedom of being debt free! The bottom line is that we need to use our heads, not our “feelings” to make decisions. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7). Selah! This is just one example among many of how catering to our emotions can end up being very costly in multiple ways.    Ron

Lazy Responses

Consider the possibility that our responses to life are often made because we are too lazy to think. The fact of the matter is that it takes far less effort to emote than to discipline our minds to think. I recall a late night talk show from WNBC, New York. A listener called stating that the caller’s conclusions were not reasonable. The host replied that they were not reasonable. He then said that “98% of people are not reasonable; they are emotional.” To cite just one example, consider junk food. Is the appeal high nutritional value? Of course not! It looks good and tastes good. The result is a craving that clamors for relief. The lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh furnish the motivation for our decisions. How many products would sell, if we were given only solid and reasonable information? This situation gets politicians elected because people “feelgood about them. It results in immoral people becoming role models because they are “colorful” people. This becomes even more tragic when people are drawn into cults and false religion because they meet nice, sincere people, and “feel” love and acceptance. Even among truly saved people, we often accept teaching at face value without measuring what is said against the Scriptures, simply because we trust the teacher and “feel” good about him or her. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21). Selah! It’s time to think and critically analyze all input that is aimed at us and refuse emotional impulses. Emotions that are the result of sound thinking will be enjoyed. The other kinds of emotions will cause trouble and hurt us.   Ron

“Tucked in” Worship?

Do we think seriously about what it means to worship? Or have we sub-consciously accepted the average Christian’s inadequate concept of worship? Is our routine to relegate “worship” to Sunday for an hour or so? Worship should begin at the moment of conversion and form the context for our daily activities. It appears that we try to “tuck in” some worship at the end of the week and busy ourselves with other things the rest of the week. How are we to develop true worship? It will require discipline! Begin with God! He is the object of our worship. Think on Him, read about Him and listen to what He reveals about Himself in Scripture. When you talk with Him (in prayer), keep in mind that you have entered in to His Presence. Love Him, honor Him, thank Him, praise Him, admire Him, adore Him, reverence Him. Learn to do that all week. How you handle your work, play, exercise, diet, speech, conduct, recreation, family, friends and rest should be with the determination to authenticate the seriousness of our worship. What shall I avoid so as to not dishonor Him? Is my heart so full of worship for Him that I want whatever I am, or do, to elevate His greatness and goodness in the eyes and minds of others? Impossible? Not if you love Him enough and consistently practice the necessary discipline. Start with baby steps and work toward greater strides. “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His Name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2).    Ron

Internal Music

It’s obvious that music can effect moods. Try being sad while thoughtfully singing a hymn such as “In My heart There Rings a Melody.” Try driving slow while listening to “Onward Christian Soldiers!” Romantic songs put us in a romantic mood. Trumpet blasts stir us to action. However, it’s the message in the music that matters most. This can be negative or positive. Satan, himself a talented musician, has subtly used beautiful or exciting music to inject ungodly suggestions into our beings. Much of modern “Christian?” music has contained a man-centered message, using superficial lyrics. This is bad enough but it also distracts people from developing a taste for music that is not only masterful but instills vital Spiritual Truth. A lot of today’s popular music imparts immoral desires, while the loud beat short-circuits one’s critical thinking apparatus. Frequently, it seems that Christian musicians have majored on professional excellence more than on conveying God’s message for the life, and too often evoking admiration for the musician(s) more than really getting the message across. (Excellence should be the means to the end of honoring God, not the end in itself). Good Godly music offers a means of grasping the Truths of God’s Word in a “down to earth” way and also as a vehicle of worship. “….Come before His Presence with singing.” (From Psalm 100:2). “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and Spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). Selah! Music is a gift from God. Use it to glorify Him. Use it often. Use it wisely.   Ron

Guardianship Has Been Corrupted

I grew up in Evangelicalism. There is much of Evangelicalism that is good. When this movement started to weaken in some areas, modern Fundamentalism flourished and engaged in defending the Truth. It has done a lot of good. I basically am a Fundamentalist. However, we have a clever adversary and to a certain extent we have fallen for his wiles. As for Evangelicalism, in an attempt to win a hearing from supposed intellectuals, it has lost ground on some major doctrines. For example, there has been a weakening on verbal, plenary inspiration. Also some leading Evangelicals have “waffled” on Hell. Today, in modern bible versions, many translators use a method called “dynamic equivalence.” Instead of rigorously trying to translate what the writers actually wrote, they settle for what they think the writers meant. Fundamentalism has pretty much held to the basics and has sought for purity of Scripture. However, there seems to have developed in some quarters a harsh attitude toward those considered compromisers. Instead of reaching out to them firmly, but in loving concern, we have too often verbally chastised them and shut off any opportunity to win them back to Truth. Add to this problem, that some seem to have become proud of their faithfulness and refusal to compromise. Only God has enabled faithfulness, not our efforts. Paul made it clear in Ephesians 4:15. We are to practice “….speaking the Truth in love.” Selah! Stand for the Truth, defend it, love it. Do it graciously, firmly, loving the one who has embraced error, while exposing the error by proper use of God’s Word. Attack issues; not character! Don’t be a victim of the devil’s devices.   Ron

Still Hiding?

One of the flaws in our fallen human nature is our attempt to cover up our sins. We devise many ways to try to cover them. We make excuses. We rationalize. We blame someone else. We compare ourselves with someone we see as worse than ourselves, hoping to lessen our guilt and conviction. All of this is to no avail! Hebrews 4:13 makes very clear how futile are our attempts at covering up. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Proverbs 28:13 warns, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Adam and Eve tried to hide from God. “….Adam and his wife hid themselves from the Presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.” (From Genesis 3:8). Our trees today are not like those in the Edenic garden. Our trees are the products of our own imaginations. We may hide behind education, entertainment, business, countless activities, faulty reasoning, etc. Nevertheless, God still confronts us with His Presence, just as He did with Adam and Eve. The psalmist wisely asked, “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy Presence” (Psalm 139:7). The obvious answer is that we can’t escape His Presence. We will be wise if we heed Isaiah 55:7. It says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Selah! Who are the “wicked?” All who sin! (Some more, some less, but all have sinned-Romans 3:23).   Ron

Is There Any Legitimate Religion?

When we explain that religion and true Christianity are incompatible and that religion can save no one, James 1:27 has to be considered. It says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” This is not religion, in the sense of a system. It is a practical expression of genuine Christianity. Verse 26 mentions that failure to bridle the tongue renders this man’s religion vain, leaving this person of undisciplined speech self-deceived. Caring for those who are needy and have suffered loss, being uncontaminated by the world system and its ungodly values, and having speech governed by Scriptural standards are identifying marks of a true Christian. God looks with approval on this kind of religion. It doesn’t save the person who lives this way. However, the person who is truly born again will demonstrate the validity of his or her faith by this kind of “religious” way of living. Selah! A religious system and worldview is simply human effort intended to impress ourselves, God and others. Christianity inspires pure religious values and conduct. This is for God’s glory and expresses love and respect for Him and others.  Ron 

Religion-A Dangerous Substitute

Mankind is susceptible to the false hopes that are offered in many religions. Most human beings have bought into the idea that they must be and/or do things to be accepted by whatever concept of a higher power or being that they hold. It’s really a catering to pride. If we are good enough and/or faithful enough, we will end up O.K. Religion will never help anyone beyond the grave. It may make them somewhat better in this life. However, it deceives them; lulling them into a false sense of security. It blinds them from seeing the Truth that only the God of the Bible reveals, about how to know that you will spend eternity in Heaven. Proverbs 14:12 warns, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Religion is a nice looking coating over a deadly ingredient (error). Only the right relationship matters! Jesus alone, received as Lord and Savior, can guarantee Heaven. No religion, not even the Christian “religion” can save anyone. Nor can the Protestant or Evangelical or even Fundamental “religion” save us. Only Jesus can do that. Selah! Religion is man trying to reach God in some way. Salvation is God reaching down to man with the offer of a Savior!  Ron