Sunday, August 02, 2015

In the Name of Christ - Stop!


May 1, 305 AD, the most powerful man in the world, Emperor Diocletian, stepped down from ruling Rome, only two years after he had begun a systematic persecution to exterminate Christianity.  Diocletian forbade worship, burned books, arrested clergy and demanded pagan sacrifices.  From Europe to North Africa, thousands were persecuted and martyred.

Suddenly, Diocletian was struck with a painful intestinal disease and resigned.  Eight years later Emperor Constantine ended the persecution of Christians.

In the fourth century, a monk thought he heard God telling him to go to Rome.  He followed a crowd into the Coliseum and saw the gladiators.  He realized they were going to fight to the death.  He cried out, “In the Name of Christ, stop!”  He made his way through the crowd and climbed the wall into the arena.

As he was pleading with the gladiators, one of them plunged his sword into his body.  His last words were, “In the Name of Christ, stop!”

Suddenly the gladiators stood looking at this tiny form. In dead silence, everyone left.
That was the last battle in the Coliseum.  One tiny voice saying, “In the Name of Christ, stop!”  We should be saying that today.

We can only hope and pray that with the recent disclosures about Planned Parenthood’s practices that even those that do not believe in the Creator of this world or his moral requirements will silently stand up and walk out of the abortion/choice coliseum.  If ultrasound pictures showing what is going on in the womb and the casual/trivial way the remains of the unborn are discussed is not enough to convince someone to rethink their position on this issue, I am scared to think…….what would it take?

When we found the German concentration camps, the horrors they forced on millions that were an inconvenience to them and the uses they made of their body parts supposedly in some cases for medical research, we asked ourselves how could any civilized people do these things?  I believe a day will come in which the same question will be asked of our culture. How could they have killed millions of unborn children and sold their body parts?  But what also concerns me is that God will ask some Christians why they were in the coliseum of death and gave tacit if not overt approval to what was being done.

In Christ,

Shawn and Ann

P.S.  Regardless of your beliefs in this area, Ann and I are committed to loving you and praying for you; we are both just sinners saved by grace and we believe in supporting women that need help in having and raising their children instead of aborting them. We do not believe in condemning anyone who has had an abortion.  They deserve love and support just as much as anyone else.

Monday, November 28, 2005

God Is The Christian's Friend

A young man stands watching a beautiful sunrise three thousand years ago; he has previously saved his nation and its leader from total destruction. He had not ever been formally trained in the art of warfare as it was known at that time, but with only a sling and a stone visible to those watching he conquered Israel’s greatest enemy. Unseen by both armies, but seen with the eye of faith which he had, is his friend. The young man is the son of Jesse. We know him as David: he will later be a king over Israel, his friend is the King of all creation and He has arisen from His throne to protect and give victory to David.

We who have the eyes of faith know this one who stood by David’s side. We know Him as Jesus of Nazareth. He is our Lord and Savior, and He wants to be our friend also, and to have us know Him with all that the scriptures reveal that relationship of friendship to hold. When we receive the Spirit of God by the hearing with faith and are thereby born from above, we receive many spiritual gifts from God: eternal life, forgiveness of sins, aid to fight the power of sin in our lives, and even God’s Spirit Himself to indwell us.

We can be thankful that the list is very long; but I would like to draw attention to one oft-overlooked gift, a gift that actually demands a relationship. I am talking about the privilege and honor of knowing God, not only as Lord and Savior, but also as my friend. This relationship does not lend itself too readily to mere intellectual assent, nor can it be just one on a list of religious statements you check off and use to proclaim yourself a Christian. Neither can it be but one of a group of religious shibboleths you profess to hold so as to remain faithful to whichever Christian subgroup in which you presently claim membership. Jesus says to his disciples that they are His friends, and He wants you and me to have this relationship with Him as well.

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever: the one who stood with David wants you to be his friend. What an honor and privilege! You can see: this is not going to be something you may possess by intellectual assent, nor certainly by proxy. This must actually be yours, and you must live in, with and by this relationship as you do with other relationships in life and with all the other relationships God has with you.

If this seems difficult to grasp -- in many respects it surely is -- look closely at the relationship of David with Jonathan, or of Paul with Timothy. God does not choose His words lightly, and these are among the clearest examples of friendship He ever gives.

Is there a danger of being too familiar with Christ, which is to say, in a bad way? Sure, and an immature Christian might well use this fact to hand check or dismiss the concept of Christ as friend. But I believe better things concerning you. All due respect is required at all times and is never to be compromised; yet God Himself defines His boundaries, and friendship is among them. God -- your friend -- must help you through.

The Bible says there is a friend closer than a brother. David knew this truth and walked with his friend all his days. If you do not have this closeness with the Lord, then like Jacob wrestle with God, and do not let Him go until you receive a blessing: the blessing of knowing Him as a friend.

In Christ, Shawn

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Your life: a ministry

Every Christian has a ministry.

One of the results of the Reformation and the return to the Bible as our source of faith and practice was the return to the concept of the priesthood of all believers. A proper understanding of this leads one to the conclusion that all Christians are ministers of the Gospel to those God places in front of them and that evangelism is not just for the professionals. Just because I am not playing on the PGA tour with Tiger Woods does not mean I do not know how to play golf! It might also be noted that in God’s providence if you want to learn to play you will have more access to me. You do not have to be a church professional to serve God. Until the breakthrough of the Reformation, this was not taken for granted. The Reformers threw out the two-tiered system of religious professionals versus lay believers rejecting the spiritual elitism this fostered. The effects of this abomination remain to this day as witnessed by the testimony of my Grandfather that none of our ancestors were in the clergy, as they were not of this class. In the Middle Ages the word “vocation” was used strictly of religious callings, priest, monk, or nun, Martin Luther deliberately chose the same term for the occupation of being a merchant, farmer, weaver, homemaker, baker or seller of bread; maybe even a dentist if they had one. He clearly wanted the lowliest Christian to understand that they had a ministry where they stood and wherever God took them, does “not many noble, not many wise but God has chosen the things that are not,” etc. etc. come to mind? Prior to the Reformation, Christianity was thought to consist wholly in the observance of certain holy days, rites fasts and vestures. These observances had won for themselves the exalted title of being the spiritual life and the perfect life. As a result, obedience to God in ordinary life was devalued. They admired the monks and those in church office, and falsely imagined that the activities of such men were more acceptable to God. The Reformers hearts went out to these devout but devalued laypeople, and they strove to restore spiritual significance to the activities of ordinary life. Calvin articulated a view of ordinary work so distinctive that it later came to be called the “ Protestant work ethic”. If you are the person God uses to lead a person to Himself, you will be the most important person in that life; do not underestimate your calling: the general one of sharing the Gospel, which all Christians possess. Dentistry is not my ministry; it is merely the conduit through which I access my ministry! Those of you who know me personally are aware that I have a fairly extensive theological library and have actually read most of the books. I have read a book recently that I feel is one of the best written and most needed for Christians to not just read, but make a cornerstone in their studies. If you understand its’ teachings, you will be able to not only compete but also win in the world of philosophical ideas. It will help you to develop a Christian worldview and begin to know how to recognize the ice below the waterline. (see Titanic article) The book is TOTAL TRUTH, by Nancy Pearcey.Get it, read it, study it. This is not a read and shelve it book, I am on my fourth read through.

We have heard the joyful sound, Jesus saves, Jesus saves.
Shawn

Monday, August 29, 2005

Titanic

April 10,1912, the largest and most luxurious ship ever built slips her moorings in Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York. She is the RMS Titanic and this will be her only trip.

Titanic was the pride of the White Star Line and stood at the pinnacle of man’s technological accomplishments. Moreover, she was believed to be unsinkable. There were two schools of thought regarding this. One said, she is literally invincible. The other said that, though she could be sunk, any iceberg large enough to sink her would be easily seen in time to turn out of the way. Either way, in Titanic, man believed he had mastered nature itself.

I will now pause so that any Christians reading this can take a few seconds to think about this biblically, something Titanic's builders clearly never did (to me, the most appropriate biblical concept is that about building bigger barns). The night of Titanic's destruction was one of calm seas, and it is said that the spotters aloft did not even have binoculars to aid them. They did not have the aids to help their view! We have all seen in the movie that, although her crew had been warned about icebergs by other ships navigating through that region, she was traveling at near top speed of about 20.5 knots: after all, she was unsinkable.

Of course, the crew ultimately spotted the berg and came hard over; but it was much too late. She scraped the iceberg's side, the great ship shuddered, ice hit the deck. The ship glided forward as if unhurt. Children played in the ice, all seemed peaceful: was it possible all was well after all, that the ship was as unsinkable as had been claimed?

The men below decks knew better: invisible from above, the ship had been struck a fatal blow. As all sailors know, it is the ice below the water line, the ice beneath that which can be seen, which does the most damage. The foundational ice, the heart, the core of the berg sinks ships, not what can be seen or what falls on the deck. The visible ice is but a warning of the hidden danger. And so it proved that night.

In less than three hours, Titanic plunged to the bottom, her pumps barely buying time. She took 1500 souls with her. The world was stunned. And it would be 73 years before human eyes looked upon her again.

Like the crewman tasked with watching for icebergs, we as Christians are tasked by God to discern the times in which we live and act as the watchman, crying out a warning to all who will listen and taking appropriate steps to avoid or neutralize the danger. We have been fairly good at spotting many visible parts of our spiritual icebergs: evolutionary teaching, pro-abortion court rulings, confiscatory taxation, God's removal from our schools and public places. We picket, we vote for Christians, we pray.

But all too often we fail to regard the philosophical underpinnings or world and life views which prevail all around us. We fail to remember that it's what's beneath that tip of the iceberg, whether physical or spiritual, which does the real damage in our lives. We must attack the core beliefs, of the worldview that began with these words “hath God said?"

The first step in this battle is to understand the two pillars of the Christian faith: (1) "in the beginning God", and (2) "thy word is truth", total truth for all of life. The battle must first be won in our own hearts. We must develop an all-encompassing worldview that addresses every aspect of the creation.

All was lost in the first Adam; all is being restored in the second. Pray that God might help us develop spiritual binoculars -- employing the lenses of His Word and focused by His Spirit -- which allow us to see the whole iceberg; and when we do, to humbly share that knowledge with our other crewmembers.

May God bless,
Shawn

Friday, August 26, 2005

Sharing your faith

Beach thought 6
God always has you exactly where you are supposed to be every moment of your life. As someone once said, “there are no backup plans with God for your life only plan A”. Once you accept this and know that you can honor Him wherever He places you, you can have peace within that no enemy can steal. Our real calling in life is to show the love of Christ in our lives and share His gospel with those that do not know it. There is opportunity to do good and see changed lives everywhere. I have had the blessing of seeing many beautiful sunrises and sunsets while at the beach. In the afternoon many people go down to the water and watch the sunset end another beautiful day on the Gulf coast. An elderly couple has been coming here many years and each day they watch the sunset while holding hands, an activity often observed by others and commented on as their perceived love and devotion are admired. This day will be different than the others as it is there last day here and they must head back north to Michigan. What is also not known to other onlookers is that this will be the last sunset over the Gulf that the wife will ever see, as she does not have long to live, but the story does not end here, for 2000 years ago God sent His son to die for this lady and she has committed herself to Him and is trusting Him for the forgiveness of her sins and life eternal. Christ was there on the beach as the sun went down and as she enters the sunset of her life is even now preparing a place for her. When she says,” remember me” he will say come and let me show you your new home. This is the Christian hope which I pray everyone reading this letter has, but since I do not know who all will eventually read this, please bear with me and let me say just a few more things. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart and savest such as be of a contrite spirit. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found. Call upon him while he is near. Let the wanderer forsake his ways and the unrighteous his thoughts. Return unto the Lord and he will have mercy and abundantly pardon. Though your sins are as scarlet they shall be as white as snow. This is a faithful saying that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. Commit your ways unto him and he will never let you down. He will be all you need when he is all you have got. His love will never fail you. If you have never truly committed your life to Christ, do it while it is still called today, Watch the next sunset with him at your side. If you know the Lord as your savior look for opportunities to share your faith, you never know where or when God will use you to change a life. Just a beach thought. In Christ, Shawn.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

True Value

Beach thoughts 4


Walking along the beach, the wonders of God’s creation present themselves and bring to mind many teachings of God’s Word .The sea gulls overhead remind me of a passage where Jesus teaches us God’s care for us, and the value He sees in us. ”Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly father feedeth them. Are ye not of greater value than they? God loved us enough to send his son to die for our sins, does this not obligate us to search the scriptures and see wherein true value and worth lie and align ourselves properly to that which it demands? The scripture teaches that fallen men see worth much differently than God. Since we are not home yet we also need to heed the warnings of the Bible. We all inappropriately value, heritage, degrees, intellect, money, fame, knowledge, possessions. All good if kept in proper perspective. How often do these not go to our heads and improperly influence our view of others and ourselves. Paul writes, ‘For ye see your calling brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, But GOD hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are; That no flesh should glory in his presence. May I share the thought that our real worth or value is not measured by our achievements done in the flesh but our true value lies in how much we empty ourselves of self consideration and fill ourselves with the desire to serve Christ by selflessly serving others. It is said of Jesus ‘HE emptied himself and assumed the form of a servant.

In Christ,

Shawn.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Be prepared for helping

As Christians, we are told to always be prepared to share the love of Christ with everyone we meet--to do a kindness, to comfort those afflicted by sickness, tribulation or death of a loved-one. All of us must admit that we never feel adequate or prepared. We can only call upon God for his mercy and help; praying that He will use our feeble efforts to bring a small measure of comfort to those in need. We are told that He will supply our needs, including those words to comfort others. So often, comforting someone is less of doing, and more of being. People are less interested in what you can do or what you know, yet more interested in knowing that you care. A hand on a shoulder or a well-meant hug, we all know a heart filled with compassion when we feel or see it. In these times, the true Christians stand up--no invitation needed. We all must be ready at all times to comfort. A scene in ‘The Yearling’ illustrates the need for readiness and the truth that the “un-churched” often call upon us for spiritual help in time of need. In a scene, Fodder-Wing, the little crippled friend of Jodi, has died. He was the soft spirit of the Forrester family. The mother and family are in deep sorrow. Jodi’s father, Penny Baxter, stands over the grave and is addressed by the father of the dead boy. Not knowing who else to ask he addresses Penny, “Penny, you have had Christian raising, we’d be proud, did you say something.” Penny prays words of comfort in his own manner, “Now you’ve se’ed fit to take him where bein’—crookedy in mind or limb don’t matter. But Lord, h’it pleasures us to think now you’ve done straightened out them legs and that poor back and them hands. H’it pleasures us to think on him moving around as easy as airy one.“ These words bring a smile to the mother of the dead boy. Though it may be difficult to see the best in such a time of sorrow, we must remember to remind those suffering of God’s mercy and the blessings He brings in the life to come. BE the kind of person that people will call on--that person is described by these words ”he went about doing good.”

Just a thought….In Christ,

Shawn.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sent to the cornfield

Sent to the cornfield.

When I was growing up and TV was black and white only, one of my favorite shows was THE TWILIGHT ZONE. An episode which few who saw it can forget is ”It’s A Good Life”. A young boy named Anthony Fremont has the power to shape reality however he wishes it. A great gift, which he turns to selfish and evil use, instead of blessing the world, he turns it into a living hell. If something annoys him, he gets rid of it. If it does not meet his standard, he kills it. No one can do or say or act in anyway that does not meet his approval. All joy and love and kindness and graciousness are removed. He alone can do good in the world he has created: all others must be killed.

Anthony is a spoiled, prideful, arrogant, self-centered child, with no humility and no awareness that someone greater than himself has given him this power! When he wishes to kill or remove someone that points out his shortcomings, he sends them to oblivion by “sending them to the cornfield.”

In our reality, thank God, none of us have this ability; but that does not mean we have no temptation like jealousy, envy, or pride brought on by our “discovery” of some great theological (in our own sight) “truth”. We do fall to these weaknesses. Since we cannot kill those we disagree with or envy, we send them to a cornfield of our own making by assassinating their character, always of course while hiding behind the flag of doctrinal purity, and usually not to their faces.

In this regard, Anthony is better than we are because he usually is not afraid to go man to man. We slide the knife in very subtly, like Satan. Some of the phrases I have found helpful to use are: “He is an Arminian”, “He is not reformed”, “He is a Catholic”, “He is a “Methodist”, “He is dispensational”, “He is charismatic”, and of course the all-time-send-them-deeeeeeeeeep-into-the-cornfield, “He is a Baptist!” (That last one will make sure that no one listens to or reads anything that person writes!) Off with their heads!

The newer versions that are popular are: “He is not covenantal”, “He is not confessional enough”, “He is one of those seeker-friendly people”,” His worship service is not ritualistically liturgical enough”, ”They do not really have a worship service”, “They do not even have robes or anything!” ”Why they do not even kneel for prayer! Do you think God still hears their prayers?”

Maybe it is time for each of us to humbly examine ourselves with God’s Word and see where we fall short. Again, where WE fall short, as in ME!

When I played on a golf team, occasionally the coach would walk out onto the course to see how I was doing along with the rest of the team. When he said to me, “How are you doing?” I told him how I was doing. Again, how I was doing! Imagine his amazement if, when asked that question, I answered it with “Better than Bill up there on my team. Let me tell you how bad his game is today, blah, blah, blah…his form is just terrible. Let me just tell you about how much better I am than he is! Why I am not so sure he is really even playing golf!”
One more time for the record, and please get this straight: putting another Christian down or badmouthing his beliefs will never make yours correct; neither will it elevate you in God’s sight. It certainly does not edify anyone, especially in the context of a worship service.

If you do not have a Christian worldview of your own -- one that includes humility -- DEVELOP ONE! Do not waste your time criticizing others. This is exactly what the left is doing in the political realm. They do not have a plan for Social Security, so they just criticize Bush’s plan. They convince no one, they solve nothing, and they set an example of which many of their own people are increasingly rightly ashamed.

I will end this with a request. If, like me, you have participated in any of the aforementioned activity, read James 3:8 -18; 4:10,11. I will remind each of us that the Bible says, “Knowledge puffs up.” How important is this point to God? His anointed, the Apostle Paul tells us: he saw and heard things that cannot be spoken, and so that he would not get puffed up God gave him a thorn in the flesh. Our God says, “Touch not Mine anointed.” We better heed this warning, lest He send us to HIS cornfield!

In Christ,
Shawn

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Make your life a mission for the truth!

When traveling down the road last week I came upon a sign which each of you have seen on numerous occasions, it said that this particular stretch of road was maintained by the Elks club. You all know how this works, a person or a group of people take a stretch of highway, make it their own and keep it beautiful cleaning it as needed. No group can take the whole highway, so they each stake out a piece and try to do the best they can with a part, leaving it to others to do their best on other segments. All of the highway is important, but you are called to do one piece, and do it well. I like to think that there is a lesson for us here that touches upon our responsibility to share the gospel with every creature God places in front of us and to seek to do so regardless of what part of the highway God assigns us. The parable of the wedding feast contains this statement” Therefore go into the highways and as many as you find invite to the wedding “. I believe that wherever God places us is our part of the highway, our work, our play our church, wherever your foot shall tread.” Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us The Ministry Of Reconciliation, that is, that GOD was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” Let me pick out a few words from the texts quoted "Go, Find, Invite, Plead, Implore...Come to the Feast, Be reconciled to God!" Your entire life no matter what you do is a mission field for the truth of God, the responsibility is clear, you have the ball, what you do with it is up to you! A few verses from trinity hymn 496,”Go, labor on while it is day: The world’s dark night is hastening on, Speed, speed thy work, cast sloth away; It is not thus that souls are won. Toil on faint not, keep watch and pray; be wise the erring soul to win; Go forth into the world’s highway, Compel the wanderer to come in”. How shall they hear unless someone be sent? I guess we have been sent.

Thought in Christ,
Shawn

Friday, June 18, 2004

Doing more

Schlindler’s List is perhaps one of the most difficult movies to watch because it so vividly portrays man’s inhumanity to man. It most tellingly shows the result of the fall and a world antagonistic to Christ and His love. Having said this, I must also add that it is avery profitable movie, for if one of its teachings is applied to us as Christians it will drive us to our knees for God’s mercy and forgiveness for our lack of concern for the lost. I am referring to the scene in which Oscar Schlindler is presented with a letter written by those whose lives he was instrumental in saving. In the letter they state what he did for them. Ezak Stern had once said that the list was life and that it was humanly speaking. You will recall that Oscar looks around and says "I could have gotten more out, I should have saved more, I wasted so much time and money. That car: Ammon always liked that car. He would have given me ten more people for that car. This Nazi party badge: it is made of gold. Two lives, at least one, he would have given me one!"

As Oscar breaks down we have but to wonder if perhaps one day we will stand before God and be handed a letter signed by those we have led to Christ and we will feel like Oscar. I should have done more! Yes I spent time doing religious things even good things, but so much of my study was unto winning debates and not unto serving others, especially the lost. Each of us must personalize this: I cannot do that for you. We are not all called to be great worldwide evangelists, but we can start where we are and with whom God places in front of us. A smile, a brief thought from God's Word, a kindness shown to someone who can never repay it. May it be said of us as it was of Jesus,"HE WENT ABOUT DOING GOOD."

In Christ,

Shawn