Thursday, December 20, 2012
How great would it be if all our Bible class teachers took the same approach? What if we had members who haven't taught classes step up and take on this great responsibility?
Some do and their teaching is admired. We need more people ready to teach. Sometimes it's out of our comfort zone, but teaching class is a great opportunity that needs to be taken. I have the blessed opportunity to work with a dear friend on a class he's teaching. We get together early in the week and go over what his class will be. We brain storm. We throw ideas around. He has the rest of the week to think about how he can apply that to the class. Confidence has improved his teaching. He's preparing to answer questions. Researching his topics. Trying to find ways to effectively share what he has learned. He has a love for the Lord and isn't afraid to step out of his comfort zone and try to help his Brothers and Sisters in Christ by teaching.
While there is a great difference in an interview and teaching a class, the preparation can be similar. Hosea 4:6 states, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." We need members of the Lord's church who are ready to take the challenge to teach. Teaching can be uncomfortable. But if you think about it, you may be teaching all the time and not realize it. We have Christians who will train people at their work places, who will teach in a school setting, or who know their trade so well they can share it with someone who asks. If we look at Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 we read, "My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." There are going to be many things that have been written or taught that will not have any eternal ramifications. We, as Christians, should be striving to teach from the most important book there is, The Bible.
Let us take skills we have been blessed with and try to apply those to teaching. You may be able to reach someone with your teaching that hasn't been reached before. You could be the key to helping someone in their spiritual walk. Are you ready to take the step to be that help? Are you willing to diligently prepare a class? The difference is, this isn't an interview for a temporary, earthly job...this is a matter of souls.
It can take some "getting used to", but the effort will be worth it. Sharing the Truth of the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) will result in good. These Three Words...Properly Prepared Teachers can make a positive impact on congregations. Properly Prepared Teachers can help share knowledge of the Truth. Properly Prepared Teachers can "get the job done". Picture taken from: http://blog.waspit.me/the-interview/
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
(Not in the church of Christ, bro)
A few years back, on national television, a denominational preacher declared that the church of Christ was a cult. Uninformed or hateful people (whichever they may be) took this as an opportunity to persecute members of the Lord’s church with something that is not true. The church of Christ is not a cult. We have three different evidences.
The church of Christ does not have a cult-type leader. We are led by elders or the men of the congregation. We never see an instance of one leader of a congregation, always a plurality (Acts 20:17, Titus 1:5-7). A cult will have a single charismatic person who controls everything a devotee practices and tells them what to believe. Unfortunately, many denominations have turned to a one-pastor system for expediency. This is an un-Biblical practice that should be studied diligently. The wrong man in a singular role of power could do much damage to a community falling in line with a cult-type of leadership.
Unlike cults, the church of Christ does not seek to brainwash its members. Brainwashing usually involves taking members from society and isolating them from non-members, and showering them with cult doctrine. This is not true of the Lord’s church because the Bible teaches us to be exactly the opposite. We are to go out (Mark 16:15-16) and be the light of the world (Matthew 5:16). We also have no man made laws or creeds, we strictly go by the Bible. Members of the church of Christ are not expected to blindly accept anything that is taught (Acts 17:2), rather we are taught to study and question. We do things as the original church did, holding to the apostles teachings (Acts 2:42). We have no need for brainwashing, only the ability to read and understand simple instructions from the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This is not true in many denominations. In many places whatever the “pastor”, or unbiblical creed book, says goes. Questioning members have their allegiance brought under scrutiny…so who is more like a cult?
Many cults claim to have top-secret knowledge. The church of Christ does not have any knowledge that someone couldn’t find reading their Bible. The Word of God teaches that anyone can come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4). The Bible can be understood by anyone (Ephesians 3:3-5; Romans 15:4). The Bible teaches us to share the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20) and that we are to be prepared to honorably defend our faith (1 Peter 3:15-16). There is no room in the church of Christ for secret doctrine! Many denominational preachers say the Bible cannot be understood without their leadership or creed book, because the “spirit talks to them”. They will then speak things contrary to the Word of God and their adherents eat it up believing that a man has some "divine insight" or that there is another inspired book other than the Bible. The church of Christ does not claim secret knowledge. The knowledge for salvation, Christian living, and acceptable worship can be easily found in the pages of the New Testament.
Therefore, there is no valid reason to accuse the churches of Christ of being a cult. The only motivation for doing so is to cause prejudice and prevent them from hearing the simple truth of the Bible…much like the Sadducee’s did in Acts 4 to Peter and John…but they didn’t quit preaching (Acts 4:19-20). Let us not give up the fight because people hurl insults. Keep fighting the good fight.
(Written by J.J. Hendrix, taken from the outline of Charles Billingsly)
Friday, December 14, 2012
Albert Einstein is given credit for defining ‘Insanity’ as ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ Often times Christians can get caught in a rut of non-growth and will neglect studying their Bibles (2 Timothy 2:15). Often times, life gets so busy that we neglect our studies . Whenever you are feeling like you are in a rut, don’t just continue to do what you are doing, remember to make an effort to study your Bible.
By all means, don’t stop the good things you are doing, just make some time to study the Bible. Studying our Bible is how we draw near to God (James 4:8) and how we feel close to God. When we continue in a rut and keep doing the same things over and over, perhaps we need to evaluate our relationship with God.
Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." If our minds are set on things above, then we should be striving for the best relationship with God that we can. If something is not working in our walk, we can reflect. Reflecting on our relationship with God is a good thing and shouldn’t be looked down upon. We should all have a desire to be as close to the Creator as we can be. We can draw nearer to God by studying his Word and having a better understanding of it. Have a question? Feel free to go to the preacher or a member of the congregation you respect and ask your question. Look in multiple commentaries for answers. Diligently search the scriptures. Our relationship with God should never be stagnant and can be a very exciting and rewarding relationship.
If you are not happy with your relationship with God, don’t keep doing the same things over and over expecting a different result. Pick up your Bible and read God’s Word. If you are looking for suggestions on where to start…Acts is a great book to jump into!
Friday, December 7, 2012
When I started graduate school, I had a teacher that really intrigued me. I looked forward to going to his class every day. Why? Enthusiasm. Every class. Every day. Everything he taught he shared with a great enthusiasm. You couldn’t help but practically be excited about what he was teaching because you could tell he enjoyed the material so much. When I say enthusiasm, he wasn’t jumping on a table and hooting and hollering. He wasn’t getting up and telling jokes. He wasn’t trying to make us feel comfortable. He was enthusiastic about his studies and wanted nothing more than for us to understand everything he was teaching. He loved it that much. The only comparison I could make with this teacher is that to a child on Christmas morning. He was excited to open every present, examine it, and tell you everything that "Santa" had brought him. There was a shine in Dr. Turley’s eyes that let you see how much he truly loved his job as an educator and the kinesiology material he shared. I can’t believe it’s been six years since I had that course. I actually called Dr. Kenneth Turley recently and asked his permission to use him as an example in my article. I told him what I remembered and the impression that he left upon me. With great humility he gave me permission. Dr. Turley brings a passion to his classroom, and to the lives of those he comes in contact with, that is infectious. He wasn’t overbearing with it. He wanted to share it and if you had a heart to hear it you would learn. Dr. Turley’s class was one of the hardest classes I have ever had in my life, but it was also one of my more enjoyable.
When we look at Romans 6:3-4, we read: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” When I was baptized into Christ, I did so knowingly understanding that I was being immersed into water for the forgiveness of my sins (Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21) and that when I came up from that watery grave of baptism that I was clean. I had come in contact with the Blood of Christ. Clean. Spotless. Beautiful. I didn’t feel that way because of a miraculous feeling. I felt that way because I read the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and I understood that I was a sinner in need of salvation. In 2 Corinthians 7:10 we read, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” Where most tend to worry about earthly matters, when we worry about our standing with God is where we truly can grow and act upon changing for the better. For those who have obeyed the Gospel and been baptized into Christ, to understand that God laid this out for us is amazing. To understand that this salvation was prepared for us to succeed long before we ever sinned, and even further, before we were even born should astound us and leave us humbled. Cognitively we should understand how lucky we are, and emotionally it should break our hearts if we are not sharing this with everyone we can, in our daily walk.
That clean feeling fired me up. I wanted to share the gospel with everyone. I wanted everyone to come to services. And so often we see new converts do the same thing. But eventually, they “calm down” and become part of the status quo. So many times their ideas are shot down and they become like most others who proclaim to be New Testament Christians. They sit in services. They may do a little more, but they are content where they are. The enthusiasm to share is gone. The enthusiasm of a clean, new life may inadvertently be taken for granted. Have we taken for granted salvation? I can’t help but think back to what Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 6:10-12: “And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” We don't deserve salvation, but because of God's grace we have an opportunity to obey the Gospel (Matthew 7:21).
It seems as if we can gladly partake in worship, call ourselves Christians, but lose the excitement that we had when we fully understood our sins were washed away. Have we grown complacent? God gave us the best gift we could possibly have and we should have an excitement to share that gift. Have you lost that excitement? If you've lost it, do you remember when you lost that excitement? What will it take for you to get it again? Whatever it takes. Search your mind. Search the scriptures. Get your enthusiasm to share the Gospel. The field is ripe for harvest, we need workers and abundant workers at that. (Luke 10:2).
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
The war in Afghanistan has to be tough for our soldiers. Not just because American soldiers are dealing with an enemy who is ready to blow themselves up, but because of where the enemy is able to hide. There are many caves in Afghanistan that Taliban soldiers can nestle into and American soldiers will not be able to find them. If the battle gets too intense and the American troops come too close, these Taliban fighters can run in the opposite direction and hide out in caves unfamiliar to Americans. The depths of these caves are dark. It is true, they may hide from troops, but they can’t hide from God. In the Bible, there were a comparable people to these Taliban members.
The Edomites were very similar. The sons of Esau took Mount Seir (Deuteronomy 2:12, NKJV) and dwelt there. The Edomites were known to live in this cavernous area and used the land as a benefit to themselves especially during times of war. As enemies climbed these mountains to attack, the Edomites could make easy pickings by shooting arrows down at them. But if the armies were too great, they could hide back into their caves. They would dwell deep in those caves. God was about to bring forth wrath on Edom and the surrounding areas. God knew what these people would do to try to flee from their destruction: “Flee, turn back, dwell in the depths…” (Jeremiah 49:8, ESV) This verse was not giving advice to these people, but just informing them that the Almighty knew what they were going to do. His response to their foreseeable defense was this: “But I have stripped Esau bare; I have uncovered his hiding places, and he is not able to conceal himself. His children are destroyed, and his brothers, and his neighbors; and he is no more…If those who did not deserve to drink the cup must drink it, will you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, but you must drink.” (Jeremiah 49:10-12). Their hope of escape was futile. They could not hide. The punishment from God was going to come…no matter how deep they dwelt. How deep do we dwell in our sin today?
Are we how many people today think they can hide from God? (John 3:19) When someone is confronted about a sin, they can get defensive or they can turn and run. Hebrews 4:13 says, “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” The judgment of the Lord will be precise and accurate. All secret sin will be laid out on the Day of Judgment. The things in the dark will be made light. There is no depth of darkness we can hide. Truly, the best life to live is one free from secret sin and darkness. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7, ESV) If we recognize sin in our life, is it something we want others to know about? Is it a sin that we would be willing to brag to Jesus about? If we have sin in our life, we must try to put it away from us…if we walk in the light, there will be no need to hide from our God.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Good afternoon everyone! Below is a link to the first BTSOP Alumni podcast. Landon Rowell and Paul Delgado were guests today. We're hoping to do this more often. I hope you listen and can hear about the 'fruit of the labor' of the school from graduates.