Posts tagged ‘obey’

March 6, 2012

Courageous Faith

by pastortimfowler

In our men’s Bible study last night we finished the Courageous study based on the movie Courageous. I was not thrilled about teaching it because I have not seen the movie and probably will not see it. I don’t like movies, even if I see them with my wife. But the study was not really the movie, but the life of Joshua and the courage he had to stay true to God. I love his story and his faithfulness.
At the end of the study we were told to read this: 1 Peter 3:15 But dedicate your lives to Christ as Lord. Always be ready to defend your confidence in God when anyone asks you to explain it. However, make your defense with gentleness and respect.
The challenge was to be courageous enough to share what God was doing in our lives on a regular basis. I love this verse and was thrilled when it was part of our closing for this study. The first thing it tells us is to dedicate our lives to Christ as Lord. Not to a Savior, although He is, but to a Lord. That means a master or ruler. We rarely have a problem submitting to authority. Sure there are a few folks who do, but your average person has no problems following the rules. If a policeman tells us to do something we do it because they have authority over us in certain situations. We do what our boss at work says and expect to be rewarded for when we do a great job and for the consequences when we don’t. But for some reason when God says do something we find a million excuses why we shouldn’t. That is not faith and it certainly is not courageous faith.
Next we are told to be ready to defend our faith. It is hard to defend what you don’t put into practice.The sad reality is that most Christians like the Savior of Jesus but not the Lord. We would much rather do what feels right or good and leave the tough Christian stuff to the professionals. We argue that the Bible really doesn’t say what it says and listen to people who have no formal training in the Bible as if they were the experts. We don’t ask our pastor because He might tell us what we don’t want to hear. That leads to the next part of this verse which always makes me uneasy about my own obedience. It says that we should be defending our faith to those who ask. Are people asking you about your faith. Not your church, but how you are acting because you are acting on what God says even if you don’t understand it. I have faith in the chair I sit in. It never fails me, although it could. I don’t know how it was made, and could not make it myself, but I trust it will support me, not just based on what the manufacturer says, but on how people have sat in chairs for years and now me too. That is faith. An action base on real belief not a wish and a desire to go to heaven. If Christians did what the Bible said, and believed that the Bible was the words of our Lord, not just our Savior, we may have more people asking us about our faith in God not our opinion of what the preacher says or an opinion about a church.
It is also very hard to explain something that we don’t really believe or understand. That is usually because we have not tried to understand it. Years ago I began to learn how to scuba dive. Now I am very proficient at it and can explain about anything you want to know about it. I can tell you exactly what you need to do to become a diver and I believe in the training that I received to save my life and yours if you chose to follow me. But I did a lot of study and training before I actually dove and still refresh my mind in the basics every time I go diving. I ask lots of questions of my instructor and those who I dive with me who have more experience. I never go to someone who only tells me that diving is dangerous and never trust someone who tells me my instructor is wrong. That could get me killed. I want to know who and what I am putting trust for my life in to. Who are you trusting to learn the Bible? How much effort are you putting into learning it and living how God says to live and what God says to believe?
Finally it tells us to be gentle and respectful while defending our faith. This is hard when you don’t really know what you believe. But if you are confident and like Joshua, have trusted God time and time again and seen Him come through for you, you will be confident and be able to be gentle and respectful. There is a difference in being gentle and respectful and being  pushed around because you aer weak in your faith. Jesus was a master at defending who He was and what He was teaching with amazing gentleness and respect. But He never let a religious nut mess with Him and teach something that was wrong. Jesus had courageous faith. Do you?

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January 12, 2012

The Weeping Prophet

by pastortimfowler

I am finishing reading the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and it has to be one of the toughest reads I have had in a while. Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because his message was constantly rejected by his people. He was abused and imprisoned and called a liar to his face over and over for speaking the word of God. To try to imagine his pain and frustration is impossible and at times for me, a pastor, disturbing.
I have been in the ministry long enough to have been in churches where people would not listen to the truth. Even if you opened the Bible in front of them and read with them the truth of the word, they refused to see it. During those times it was painful and sorrowful but mostly if was angering. I can remember times when I even raised my voice in frustration, right in front of the one I was talking too. But to say that I can empathize with Jeremiah would be a stretch.
I am not saying that I didn’t learn from this or that I wouldn’t read it again, but I had to dig deep to see the positive in it all. So what did I get from it?
Well to start with, God is a very patient God. The people of Israel were in a very rebellious time in their history and had turned to idolatry. The message that God was sending them via Jeremiah was consistent with what they had always heard, so there was no reason for them to doubt that God was speaking truth through Jeremiah. But over and over when they heard from the prophet they rejected the warnings. God remained patient and offered chance after chance to change.
I also learned, well it was reinforced, that God means what He says and does what He says. When God says to turn from a sinful act, he is serious. God hates sin because it separates us from Him and He loves us. He would much rather bless us than to chastise us, but as the Bible says, whom the Lord loves, He chastises. The goal of chastisement is always to correct a behavior. If the behavior is not corrected there are always consequences. When God says that there are consequences, you can count on it. It is not His fault that humans are hard-headed, or should I say, hard-hearted.
Lastly, what I saw was the fact that He will always leave a remnant to rebuild with. The Old Testament can be difficult to reconcile for the casual observer. God was dealing with an earthly people who were promised eternity on earth and is not the church, who is promised eternity in Heaven. Jesus had not yet been sacrificed for our sin and therefore the physical punishments were often drastic and seemed harsh. But remember this, there was not a lack of hearing from God. There was not a lack of knowledge of the consequences that people would face for their disobedience.
The Jewish people were required to memorize the law before age 13 and in order to become an adult, they had to show that they had done so. This includes the part of the law that says “if you do this, this is the punishment”. And, they had seen God carry out these judgments for centuries. Think of it like this. We all have rules to follow in our homes. My parent told me that if I lied to them, I would get a whipping. So, when I lied, I got what they told me I would get. I did not, or should I say, I do not think that they were cruel, but I know that it was them being truthful and loving in their attempt to correct my inappropriate behavior.
God loves us more than we can imagine. We don’t fully understand Him and often believe that we know more than God, so we are quick to look at God as harsh or even unloving. But that is not true. When we respond with repentance, God blesses with restored fellowship and rewards. That is always His goal with us.
His love is so great that He allows His Son, Jesus, to be our sacrifice for our sins. From the beginning, God has told us that our sin will be rewarded with death. But with our asking for forgiveness, He waves the death penalty, (the eternal one) and gives us eternal life with Him in heaven. He is willing to do this for us and our only part is to have faith to believe Him. This means believe it all, not just the parts we like. Sometimes God sends us a message that we don’t like or don’t want to hear. We must trust Him as much then as we do with the promise of the blessings that we like.
So, Jeremiah relayed the message of repent or face judgement. The people chose to rebel and received the judgement that was promised. But, there was a group who decided to trust God, and as we all know, Israel is still here, just like God promised. They will never perish from the earth. As Christians, we are promised to never perish from God’s heavenly and spiritual world. Our obedience is still required and His blessings are as awesome as ever.
I am blessed to know that there are some who still believe and obey God and I am fortunate to not be a weeping prophet of modern times.

December 2, 2011

Child Discipline

by pastortimfowler

She is at it again, my friend who asks me to blog about stuff that usually gets me into trouble. Today it is about child discipline according to the Bible. People tend to freak out when you quote the Bible and it goes against what “the experts” say, but I tend to lean towards what the Creator says to get my beliefs. The Bible is not an outdated writing that needs to be changed to fit our needs, it is God’s instructions for living a life the way that He knows is best for us.
First, yes it is okay to spank. Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not hesitate to discipline a child. If you spank him, he will not die. Spank him yourself, and you will save his soul from hell. The King James actually says to beat him with a rod. This is a reference to the good old hickory switch. So let me put in my two cents worth.
I don’t believe you should whip a child with your hands, those are for hugging and holding as instruments of love. I don’t believe you should whip your child if you can’t control your anger, and certainly never while angry. Just like our legal system has a guide for punishment to fit the crime, parents should establish the same. For example. If you child does not do what you tell them to, the first time he or she is in time out. The second time they get 2 swats with the weapon, I mean the instrument of correction. If a whipping is warranted, you tell the child what he has done wrong, the punishment for what he did and that in 15, 30, 60 minutes, (however long it takes for you to not administer this in anger) the 2 swats with a belt, or switch will be given. Then they go to their room, remind them of the disobedient act and the punishment and administer it. If both parents agree on this and even write it down and post it where all can see, kinda like the 10 Commandments, then punishment is not done on the spur of the moment and will always fit the crime.
There is a difference between spanking and abusing and spanking is not abuse but rather correction. Pain is a powerful teacher and we know that sometimes we all have to learn the hard way. Excessive and abusive physical punishment comes when parents react in anger instead of love. It is defined by whelps (not red marks) or bruising and in worst cases blood. It should always be administered under control and on the meaty part of the buttocks. If you are angry and out of control, you will hit too hard and miss where you need to strike. Again, NEVER whip in anger. Anything with a closed fist, strike to the face or head, or with an instrument that can be damaging even under control should never happen. And, if you are whipping a child too frequently there is a problem and you should seek counsel. If discipline is administered properly, whippings should be few and far in between and should decrease in need as the child gets older.
Second, it was asked, what amount of authority should a parent have over a child and should a child speak against or defy a parent? Colossians 3:20-21 Children, always obey your parents. This is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, don’t make your children resentful, or they will become discouraged. Children should always obey their parents while they are minors. They should be taught responsibility and given liberties that are equal to their ability to reason, but always be in submission to the parent. Disobedience in the smallest of things leads to disobedience in bigger things. Parents should NEVER allow a child to be defiant on purpose. They must learn obedience at home or they will lack it elsewhere and especially with God. Proverbs 3:11-12 Do not reject the discipline of the Lord, my son, and do not resent his warning, because the Lord warns the one he loves, even as a father warns a son with whom he is pleased. Revelation 3:19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. Take this seriously, and change the way you think and act.
Parents must learn to communicate with their children, telling them about right and wrong and the consequences of disobedience. We should find ways to let our children tell us why they did what they did. It may not have been disobedience as much as misunderstanding. Our children should never be scared to defend their actions when they believe that they were acting appropriately. But when they cross the line into defiance, we as parents do them no favors by allowing it to go uncorrected.
Parents teach children who God is by their actions as much as by their words. God thinks it is so important for a child to respect its parents that He made it one of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live for a long time in the land the Lord your God is giving you.