David’s Misconduct

I have been spending a lot of time in the Old Testament. My professor has assigned two books and their corresponding commentaries per week. This week, I am reading and studying first and second Samuel.

This morning, as I was reading, I came upon the scandalous story which could easily fit into the headlines of today. “King David guilty of sexual misconduct.” While most of us have heard the story of the adulterous affair between David and Bathsheba, my commentary asks “Was the sex forced or consensual?” (Victor P. Hamilton, Handbook on the Historical Books, Grand Rapids:Baker Academic, 2001, 328). It’s a fair question to ask. David, a man in power, sent for Bathsheba with the intent of, at the very least, committing adultery with her. We aren’t told her response so we can only speculate, but it does put David in a more despicable light as a man in much need of redemption.

The men of today who are being accused of despicable acts are also in much need of redemption. Once David realized how horrible his actions had been (adultery, possibly rape, murder), he repented. He didn’t get up and say he was sorry to the nation and to his victims. He didn’t go before a commission to determine if his acts broke civil laws. He didn’t resign from his job. While those may be commendable actions, they don’t offer the redemption that David’s heart needed. Rather, David confessed that he had sinned against the Lord and asked for a new heart.

David, despite his horrendous actions, was known as a man after God’s own heart. If David could realize his sins and go before the Lord, how much simpler is it for us to do the same? God renewed David’s heart. All he had to do was confess and ask. That’s all we need to do: confess we are sinners and ask for Jesus to be our savior. Yes, we still have to face the consequences of our sins. David did. But with the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we can face those consequences with peace and joy.

Blessings,

~K

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Praying with Jesus

I have been absent from the world of blogging. I shouldn’t be here now. Am I procrastinating or is there a higher unknown reason for drawing me here today? I don’t know.

Where have I been? I started seminary in August. It’s been a wonderful, but busy experience. So much reading. So much writing. I’ve been crawling out of bed every morning at 5:00 am in order to get it all done. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a morning person, but God is transforming me into one. He moved me into a new house which provides views of the most beautiful sunrises and occasional visits from a herd of deer. I’ve been able to get some great photos during my “study breaks.”

Last night I taught a class on the book of John. We focused on Jesus’ prayer in John 17. I encourage you to read it. It’s a prayer given during the Last Supper. Jesus knows Judas is about to betray him. Jesus knows he’s going to be handed over, scourged, and crucified. All of this weighs heavily on his heart, and yet he prays for us. He prays for us.

Jesus begins his prayer by praying for himself in 17:1-5. He’s asking God to glorify him. He’s not being selfish. He knows the only way he can be glorified is by following the will of the Father. Ultimately, this is a prayer for us. Following God’s will leads to our salvation.

In verses 6-19, Jesus prays for his eleven disciples (Judas has already left the building). He prays that God will keep them. “Keep them” means to keep them loyal…keep them focused on Jesus and the Father. He wants to guard their minds from outside influences and evil because Jesus knows what’s about to happen to them. He doesn’t pray for their safety, but that they can endure suffering with joy.

Jesus ends the prayer by praying for all believers in verses 20-26. All believers. This includes you and me. He asks for unity among us. He asks that we know him. He asks that we be with him. Jesus desires that the world may know him and know that the Father sent him.

It’s a beautiful prayer and one we can pray today with Jesus.

Faith….not Works


You foolish Galatians. 

Paul is clearly frustrated with these people who had accepted the message of salvation by grace through faith and who were now living according to the law. He writes, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” 

In Paul’s day, the churches in Galatia were being influenced by Jewish Christians who believed the Gentile Christians needed to adopt Jewish law. Paul refutes this notion by explaining that Christ had redeemed them from the law, for no one can be justified through the law. 

In our modern churches (at least in my church), it is understood that Christians do not need to live according to Jewish law in order to be saved. That being said, several believers place upon themselves other laws or works which tend to limit their freedom in Christ.  

It is difficult for people to believe that they do not need to earn salvation. You do not need to read your Bible daily in order to be saved. You do not need to attend a church service weekly in order to be saved. You do not need to attend youth group, volunteer in a church program, attend a certain denomination, worship with a certain style, have communion, or anything else you think you need to do. You simply need to believe in the message of grace through faith. 

That’s it. It’s a simple message. Everything else just helps us grow in our relationship with Christ, but it is not necessary for salvation. Some of these things may even hinder our walk with the Lord if we allow them to consume us. Spend some time thinking about all you do and ask yourself, is this helping me grow closer to Christ or do I believe I need to do this to be a ‘good Christian’?  You may be surprised at your answer. 
Peace,

~K

Copyright 2017

Where’s Our Focus?

Life has suddenly become quite crazy for me and I’m afraid I have been a bit lax in my study of Galatians.  Since my last post we have sold a house and bought a small ranch.  We are currently in the process of packing and paperwork with the intention of closing on both places at the end of this month.  I have also begun working a seasonal job at a local greenhouse and landscaping business in order to earn money to pay for my graduate studies.

 

That being said…….

 

I decided to delve into Galatians from the beginning rather than pick up where I left off.  I love how the Word of God is fluid and living.  God speaks to us through His Word.  Every time I read through the Bible, something new jumps out at me… some little thing I may have over looked before…. some words of wisdom I didn’t need during a previous reading…. something to reinforce what I am learning elsewhere…. something to help me in ministering to others at a specific time… God is constantly speaking to us through His Word.

 

I recently attended a district conference for our church. The theme for the weekend was about working together as a district to become more effective for Christ.  We have many different backgrounds and many different mindsets within our district.  One of the main points of the conference was ‘major on the majors and minor on the minors’.

 

There are a few principals we need to adhere to as Christians.  God created everything.  Jesus is God’s son.  Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day.  Our salvation is based solely on accepting Jesus’ sacrifice in place of ours and making Him Lord.  Other things are secondary.  Which translation of the Bible should we use?  What type of music should be played in church?  Should we do raffles as fundraisers?  Should we serve wine or grape juice for communion?

 

It was interesting to pick up my Bible and reread Galatians after this conference.  Paul is amazed at how quickly the Galatians deserted Christ for a different gospel.  Note in Galatians 1:7 where he states, “which is really not another;”.  The different gospel had aspects of the true gospel but with a few variations….just enough to make it a different gospel.  They had begun to major on the minors.  They had brought the law back into the gospel.

 

How do we, as the modern church, bring the law into the gospel?  Do we believe serving in the church gives us more points for heaven than the person who comes late, leaves early and doesn’t serve at all?  Do we adhere only to traditional ways of worship or believe the spirit only works through a praise band?  Do we believe the KJV is the only authoritative version of the Bible?  I have seen people leave the church over secondary issues such as these.

 

We need to major on the majors and minor on the minors.

 

Blessings,

~K

copyright 2017

 

 

The Dreaded Testimony

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One of the hardest things a Christian can do is present a testimony.  Why is this?  I Peter 3:15 states that we should be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you”.  We are commanded to be ready and yet so often we are at a loss for words when the moment presents itself.  I believe our problem lies in a lack of training in how to present a testimony along with a lack of practice….and quite possibly a fear of rejection.

Years ago, I had the privilege of sitting in on a class which taught how to give a testimony.  As I worked on my testimony for class, the instructor came by and told me that I needed to find a way to connect with people rather than just spout off my life history.  He suggested that my lack of self-esteem prior to becoming a Christian should be the focus of my testimony.  With that in mind, I began to tailor my testimony to be a story of how I grew in confidence through knowing Christ.  I have since used that story many times to connect with people who question how I have become so confident once they learn about my past.

Galatians 1:11-24 is a great example of how to give a testimony.  In these few verses, Paul is presenting his testimony to the church in Galatia to justify why he had the authority to tell the Galatians what they needed to believe.  They were being misguided by a distortion of the Gospel of Christ.  Paul begins with a summary of his past persecution of the church followed by a brief accounting of Christ revealed to him.  Much of his testimony is then focused on his training and education, finally ending with evidence of people seeing a change in his character.  The rest of the book goes on to explain his ministry, authority and instruction to the Galatians.

Paul tailored his testimony to the Galatians.  They did not need to hear all about his past training as a Pharisee prior to his conversion like the Jews did in Acts 22.  They needed to hear about his education and credentials after his conversion for why he had authority to teach them.   We need to learn how to quickly assess the conversation and tailor our testimony to the hearer of the message.  For example, if I am conversing with a woman who is struggling with low self-esteem, I will tell her how God changed my life and built my confidence.  If I need to explain why I have authority to teach against misguided doctrine (like The Shack), I can focus my testimony on how I was ignorant of Christ before He was revealed to me, gained a desire to learn more about him, and pursued an education through personal study and obtaining degrees.

Having a testimony ready to present should not be feared.  Time spent in analyzing how God has changed your life and what you have done since to grow in Him can prepare you to speak with nearly anyone who asks you why you are “different” or “changed” or even why you think you have the right to speak with authority on a topic.  A fear of rejection is lessened once your story becomes part of who you are rather than just a tool for evangelism.

Blessings,

~K

copyright 2017

Galatians and The Shack

Years ago, shortly after the book first came out, I read The Shack.  Well, to be more precise, I read most of it before I couldn’t stand it any more.  Too many red flags flew at me from the pages of the book.  My blood pressure was rising and I needed to set the book down before I experienced a stroke.  I was dismayed to hear fellow Christians praise a book which so blatantly went against the doctrine of Scripture.  I could concede that God can present himself as a black woman (although it’s highly unlikely given that He never did in the many scripture references about Him), but the words spouting from her mouth were not the words of the God of the Bible.

The scuttlebutt of the moment quickly passed and it seemed as though the book would fade into oblivion.  Someone felt that the story had not made enough of a sensation (or money) and so turned it into a motion picture.  My Facebook account is now aglow with the pros and cons of the movie as Christians try to persuade each other on the merits of the story.

The story even managed to creep into my conversation with my cousin during a long overdue phone call (she lives in what seems like forever away).  After hanging up the phone with her, I did a quick check on Facebook to see what the world was up to and an article from Answers in Genesis regarding the movie appeared on my feed.  Hmmmm….. curious.  I shared the link with my cousin, had a quick lunch and then I cracked open my Bible to study.

I have had a desire, recently, to start studying the letters of Paul and somehow decided I would begin with Galatians.  I really have no idea why, but as I read the first ten verses of chapter one, I could tell God was talking to me about The Shack.

Beginning with verse six, Paul says, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”

Whoa…..  Paul goes on to say, “But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.”

Paul isn’t mincing any words here.  He’s quite clear that any deviation from the true gospel is wrong and those who preach such a false gospel should be accursed.  It’s quite clear.

Paul continues to say in verse 10, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”

Sometimes a feel good story with lots of love and forgiveness and hope seems like the right message, especially when one of the main characters is God.  We need to measure the character in the book with the true character of God in scripture.  Just as Paul wasn’t in the business of preaching the gospel in order to give people a warm fuzzy feeling, neither should we be.  Sometimes the message of the gospel isn’t what we want to hear but it is always what we need to hear.

Blessings,

~K

copyright 2017

 

God Remembered

br-79Noah was a righteous man.  He lived his life in a way that pleased God and yet he still had to go through a storm.

How often it seems that when we live our lives according to the will of God, we find ourselves pummeled by storms.  Many times we cry out and blame Satan for attacking us.  But is Satan really attacking us?  It wasn’t Satan who brought on the Great Flood.  It was God who brought on the deluge.  Satan seemed to be doing his work in the warm, lovely sunshine of the antediluvian earth.  Sure, there was a rampant amount of sin in the world, but a righteous 600 year old man could have ignored it, gone to live out in the country, and enjoyed the perfect climate.  God, however, had other plans for Noah and Noah obeyed God.

Life became a bit messier for Noah after he accepted the call of God.  His friends began to question his sanity and jeered at him.  He had a project which required much time and strength to accomplish with no understanding of its purpose.  When the rains came, he was surrounded with animals to care for and an uncertain future.  God had shut him up with his family and a bunch of smelly animals in a coffin shaped box.  Life had gotten dark, dank, and dangerous.  Was he being attacked by Satan for obeying the Lord’s calling in his life?

Certainly not.  While Noah was unable to see what was going on outside of his confined space, God was busy working.  While the storm raged on around Noah, God was clearing a path.  God was working within the storm.

“But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark.” Genesis 8:1.

I don’t believe God forgot Noah but rather Noah perceived that God had forgotten until the storm began to clear.  Noah still had to live in the dark, smelly ark for some time before the earth was habitable, but he knew that God remembered him.  Noah had never stopped trusting in God.

When the storms of life rage around us, we may wonder if God remembers us and we may blame Satan for the storm.  Perhaps life is dark and messy because God is working in the storm.  Trust that God is in control.  The rains will stop and you will begin to feel that God remembers you.

Copyright 2017