A tale of two Bibles

Which Bible looks more like your Bible? Continue reading

Why do “they” go to church?

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He brought his Bible to church and they thought he was strange

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Could you go an entire day without breaking at least 1 of the 10 commandments?

By James Corwin
James blogs over at DirtyHands.com

 Which commandment do we all break?

Typically for the sake of clarity we condense and number them. Different groups of Christians number them slightly differently. I won’t get the why and how of that now. It’s interesting but not important to the overall question. This is how I learned them.

  1. You shall have no other gods. (no idols)
  2. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  3. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  4. Honor your father and mother.
  5. You shall not murder.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
  7. You shall not steal.
  8. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

So back to that first question. Which commandment do we all break most often?

I’ve heard many people say it’s numbers 9 and 10; coveting. Living in an affluent North American context this is obviously a problem. Our whole economic system would collapse in about ten seconds if we all gave this one up. After all our economy is built on consumerism; buying things. Companies spend literally billions of dollars to make you want what is not and in some cases should not be yours. But coveting isn’t the most frequently broken commandment.

Few people ever say it’s numbers 5 or 6. The reasoning goes like this, “Sure some people do murder or commit adultery. But those are the outliers. Most people don’t have serious issues with these two.” That reasoning works unless you happen to consider what Jesus says about numbers 5 and 6 in Matthew 5. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” And, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you everyone who looks at a woman (or man) with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” OK. So, seen in that light numbers 5 and 6 are broken more often than we would think at first. But they still are nowhere near the commandment we break most often.

The commandment we all break is the first. “You shall have no other gods.” Martin Luther once said the fundamental problem in law-breaking is always idolatryIn other words, we never break the other commandments without first breaking the commandment against idolatry. (A Treatise on Good Works parts X, XI) Let that sink in a moment. In his explanation of the first commandment he wrote, “You shall have no other gods. What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” And so anything that you fear, love, or trust more than God has become an idol for you.

When a person steals and breaks the seventh commandment, they have already broken the first. Their desire to have what they stole grew out of a violation of the first commandment. They did not fear, love or trust in God above all else. And so to fill their desire they took what was not theirs. And you can go down the list like that with all the other commandments. Each violation can be traced back to a breaking of the first commandment; “You shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Idols aren’t only or necessarily funny little statues made out of wood or metal that the unenlightened people of the past prayed to, but that we have outgrown. An idol can be anything. Anything you fear above all else. Anything you love above all else. Anything you trust above all else. The gods of today that vie for God’s place in your life are so ordinary and commonplace that many of us don’t even give them a second thought. The false gods of today don’t go by the name of Baal, or Molech, or Ashtoreth. They are our retirement funds and bank accounts, they are our homes and our families, and they are our countries and our smartphones. And we do our bowing and kneeling to them with our schedules, our credit cards, our imaginations and our work.

Yes, we all break the first commandment. And we break it often. The good news in all of this is that the Big Ten were never meant to be a checklist to get into heaven. God doesn’t attach a percentage to them and say, “If you keep them 90 percent of the time, or 60 percent, or 40 percent, then I’ll let you in. No. They do detail how God wants us to live. But in trying to keep them we learn not only the depth of our sin, but also our utter incapability to keep them.

Once Jesus was asked by a young man seeking to justify himself, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus expertly opened the young man’s eyes to the idol that was standing between him and God. The thing he feared, loved and trusted above all else was his wealth. He walked away sad, unable and unwilling to give it up. The disciples, watching from the sidelines, and realizing their own failings said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus responded, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:16-30)

Yes we break the first commandment most often. We break it every day. How should we respond? By repenting and trusting in Jesus, the one who from the cross said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Go thee into thy closet

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Having The Good Life

By Dr. John Ed Mathison
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

Do you want more of God’s kindness and peace? Do you want to john edknow God better? Do you want to be open to His power which gives many rich and wonderful blessings that He has promised? These are all questions that Peter asks in 2 Peter 1:2-7.

It all begins with faith. Faith is when we receive the gift of God’s grace and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord. Years ago someone shared with me an acronym of faith as Forsaking All I Take Him. That’s faith.

Peter reminds us that faith is the beginning, but not the end. Some people view faith as an insurance policy or ticket to heaven, but hope that it doesn’t interfere with their present lives. Faith is the beginning that leads to the life of peace and blessings and the gifts of God. Peter then lists four steps to what he calls “the good life.”

Step 1. “To obtain the gifts of God, you need more than faith – you must work hard to be good” (2 Pet. 1:5). I’ve been around people who say they are Christians but are not very good people. Their faith hasn’t filtered down to their language, or attitudes, or pocketbook, or motives. I don’t think that’s real faith, because faith expresses itself in being a good person.

Step 2. “We should learn to know God better and discover what He wants us to do” (2 Pet. 1:5). James reminds us that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Faith puts us in such a position that God’s gifts become evident as we use them to serve Him. The big struggle in life is determining whether we are doing what we want to do or doing what He wants us to do.

God has given each of us a gift. Many people are too often recruited to serve at church just to fill a slot. They feel guilty if they say no, so they try to serve in an area in which they are not gifted. That can end in frustration and burn out. People who know their spiritual gifts, and then deploy them in His service, discover the greatest joy there is in life. Jesus said, “When you lose your life in My service, you find Life” (Mat. 10:25).

Step 3. “Become patient and Godly, gladly letting God have His way with you” (2 Pet. 1:6). Being patient means we are on God’s timetable and not ours. It means we don’t put a period where God puts a comma. Patience is not a weak term, but a strong term, because it requires us to allow God to be in charge of our motives and actions (Tweet this). The word patient is followed by the word Godly which means that we do things the way God would do them.

Peter says “gladly.” I’m afraid a lot of times in life we only reluctantly let God have His way with us. We even complain about it at times. When we submit to Him gladly, we open up the possibilities of what God can do through us. Step 4. “Enjoy other people and like them, and finally you will grow to love them deeply” (2 Pet. 1:7).

This means that we have to learn to relate to people. We have to communicate. We can’t harbor prejudice. We first begin to like people, then we can grow to love them. Read Matthew 22:37.

Peter then gives a warning –“Whoever fails to go after these additions to faith is blind indeed – or at least very short-sighted.” God has given us faith so that we “can live a strong, good life for the Lord” (2 Pet. 1:9).

The Good Life is a gift provided for us through faith and our works that are a result of that faith!

John Ed’s blog posts appear on For His Glory each week.
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:info@johnedmathison.org

The Bible Police

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Does your pastor preach too long?

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Will public libraries ban the Bible?

I’ve read two emotionally-charged stories and received email this week suggesting that public libraries might ban the Bible.

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Why Do We Read The Bible?

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He Never Invited Her To Church

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Bible Lesson From A Fourth Grader

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“Religious Freedom” Is An Oxymoron

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Read Any “Self” Help Books Lately?

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A Perfect Memory

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He Didn’t Invite Her To Church

Leftist, Feminist Lesbian Professor Now A Pastor’s Wife Continue reading

Are You “A Christian” Or Are You “Christian”?

I resurrected this post from my archives. When I published it in 2012, it received some good feedback. Enjoy.

My friend Henry asked this question Saturday at our Bible Study. “Are you a Christian or are you Christian?”  It’s a question we can all ponder.Which phrase below best describes you?

___ I am a Christian.

___ I am Christian.

___ I am a good Christian.

If you answered “I am a good Christian,”  who is a better Christian than you? Who is not as good a Christian as you? God looks at each of us the same. Through the blood of Jesus God sees all of us who are born from above as forgiven, righteous and holy. In Luke Jesus answered a man who addressed him as “Good Teacher” — “And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.’ ” (Luke 18:19) Good is a comparative adjective which means someone compares people or things by degrees, such as good ice cream, better ice cream, best ice cream. God does not compare Christians.

If we say we are “a Christian” it implies that we claim to belong to a group of people. (A Gallup poll in 2009 found that 78 percent of Americans declared themselves to be a Christian, as opposed to being a Catholic, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, other groups or a non believer).

When we tell someone, “I am a Christian,” what does that mean to us? Does it mean we have claimed Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior (we’re saved)?  Does it mean we go to church 50 Sundays and Wednesday nights a year? Does it mean we read the Bible? Does it mean we can quote a bunch of scripture? Does it mean we volunteer at a soup kitchen twice a month? Tithe? Visit widows and orphans? Does it mean we pray? Does it mean we attend a Bible study every Tuesday night? Does it mean we’ve been baptized?

Both the ones calling themselves “a Christian” and those who are “Christian” do many of the same things. The difference is their motivation. Those who are “a Christian” do things for the approval of men. They link their works to their desire to follow all the rules, do all the right things, participate in all the right events, and look good to everyone around. These folks are religious. They are working to gain acceptance from God, when they are already fully accepted by God.

In Mark 10 we read about a rich young ruler who came to Jesus wanting to be a follower.

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ And he said to Him, Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.’ Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.  And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, ‘How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Jesus is not implying that to be rich or have lots of money is bad. He’s teaching us that if we love money, or anything else more than we love Jesus, and if we are not willing to deny ourselves and forsake all our possessions, we can not be an authentic follower of Jesus.

In Matthew 23, Jesus talks to the Pharisees about their religion and the seven woes. Two of the woes address issues “a Christian” faces.  Jesus says.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, (and those who call themselves “aChristian”) hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25-28)

In his book not a fan, Kyle Idleman says, ” That’s a picture of what happens to a lot of fans (those who call themselves ‘a Christian‘)If you asked them: Are you a fan (a Christian) or a follower? they would confidently respond, ‘follower.’ It’s not a question of their effort or desire. They are following hard. Here’s the problem; it’s not Jesus they are following. Without realizing it, they are aiming at the wrong target. Instead of following Jesus they are following religious rules and rituals.”¹

The major difference between those who call themselves “a Christian” and those who are “Christian” is their commitment to love. Christians allow Jesus to live His life in us, through us and as us. Jesus loves through Christians. Christian works come from a heart surrendered completely to God through faith. Faith in Christ to carry out God’s will through them. Faith in the Holy Spirit to lead them, help them and speak God’s will to them.

Christians love others out of their deep, abiding love for Christ.

So, are you “a Christian” or are you “Christian”? Your answer may impact your eternity. Not your salvation, but your eternal rewards.

Thanks for dropping by. Did you enjoy reading this post? I’d love to read your comments. If you enjoyed reading why not subscribe to my blog? Just go to the home page, and on the right side click Subscribe and enter your email address.  That way you’ll receive an email notification each time I publish a new post.

¹not a fan, by Kile Idleman; ©2011 by Kyle Idleman; published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids Michigan, 49530; pg. 69

Lessons From Camp

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My Last Post On For His Glory

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New On FHG This Season– Post Reader Polls

Interactive
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Jesus Loves . . .Whom Exactly?

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God’s Resume. He’s Looking For Work.

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Preparing For His Calling — Your Appointed Mission

By Author Amanda Beth
Guest Blogger Continue reading

August 11, 2000

August 11, 2000 I learned my true identity in Christ.

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New Things On For His Glory

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Does The Church Draw People, Or Drive Them Away? Part 1

This Is A True Story. What Would Your Church Do?

After reading this: Do you think the church is more like a harlot or a bride? Continue reading

Baskin Robbins Christianity

What’s your favorite flavor of Christianity? There’s so many to choose from. If you don’t like one flavor of church, you can find another flavor down the block. You’ve got more than 41,000 flavors of Christianity to choose from. Continue reading

New Author Coming To My Blog

I am thrilled beyond words to announce a new author who will appear this season on “…all for God’s Glory.”

Dr. John Ed Mathison, my former senior pastor at Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama for 36 years, now directs John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries. The purpose of the non-profit ministry, according to its mission statement is,

“first to bring honor and glory to the Kingdom of God. John Ed will accomplish this by speaking at churches, conferences, and leadership training programs on a local, national and global scale. He will also be participating in leadership activities within the United Methodist Church. One of the major goals of this ministry will be to give training opportunities for young pastors.”

One segment of John Ed’s leadership ministry is his blog. John Ed is one of the most effective, powerful and influential writers I have ever read. I found his website and his blog. I emailed him to ask if he would allow me to reprint some of his blog posts, and he agreed. I was overjoyed. Speechless. Excited to know you would get to share his writing.

John Ed’s style is conversational, compassionate and personal. He often interjects stories (some thought-provoking, some humorous, some sad, all good) of everyday people and their dilemmas, tragedies or victories. Then he relates his stories directly to the Gospel message and the Kingdom of God.

I have decided that each Thursday beginning next week, I will publish a post from John Ed’s blog. Here’s how much I respect John Ed’s writing and his unique ability to impact our lives with his writing: If you never read another blog of mine, read “. . .all for God’s glory” on Thursdays.  I promise you his blog posts will bless you out of your socks. (You do wear socks when you read my blog, don’t you?) Whether you wear socks to be blessed out of or not, don’t miss John Ed’s messages we’ll publish Thursdays.

Click here to visit the John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries website.

My Summer Of God — Part 1

In May I decided I needed a blogging break. I called my sabbatical my Summer of God. I asked God to refresh my spirit, replenish me with fresh ideas for devotionals, new references and new ways to blog about His Gospel. To show me what He wanted me to know about Him, and about myself. He answered my prayer in ways I didn’t expect. He did, as the Bible says do more than I could think or imagine.

Meeting A Fellow Blogger

One of my most memorable experiences during my Summer of God was meeting fellow blogger and writer AmandaBeth, her husband, Jay, her sister and Amanda and Jay’s four children (from  toddler to a pre-teen). They were driving through Atlanta on their way to Florida for a vacation after spending a night with Amanda’s sister who lives in Atlanta.

We all met at a Chick-Fil-A for lunch. They told me they had never had a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich. Next to an RC Cola and a Moon Pie, eatin’ a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich is about as Southern a food as you can get. Jay said they didn’t have Chick-Fil-A up Nawth where he hails from. So eating their chicken sandwiches was a real treat for the whole family.

They’re a Genuine Godly Family

I don’t think I’ve ever met such a fun and godly couple. Jay has the patience of Job with his kids. He is one of the most mild-mannered, yet caring and loving dad I’ve ever met. His kids listen to him (except the little one sometimes) and he interacts with each of them in a personal loving way. I truly admire him and hope to get to know him better.

Amanda is a sweetheart and a very Godly women. She disciplines her kids with love and respect. All the kids (except the little one sometimes) respect and mind mom and dad.  And Amanda and Jay have one of the most loving considerate relationships I’ve seen in a young couple. It was easy for me to be around them and if we lived closer together I know we’d become lasting friends.

Amanda is a published author

Amanda’s first book, You Can Have A Happy Family is a well-written guide for any family at any juncture of their relationship. It’s not as much a “how to” book as it is the biography of a happy family. One that works day-in day-out. Amanda also maintains a website about her writing, and she writes a devotional blog as well called Sharing The Truths Behind The TRUTH.

Psychologists and PhD’s usually author marriage and family books. They base their information for their books on research and experience counseling clients.  Amanda wrote YOU CAN HAVE A HAPPY FAMILY from the trenches.  When Amanda writes about discipline or sacrifice or intimacy or marital relationships you can take her advice to the bank for two reasons: 1) she lives what she writes every day. As a thirty-something stay-at-home  mother of four (from a toddler to a pre-teen) she writes about her own experiences, her successes and her failures. Her transparent candid informal writing style puts readers in the midst of her life.  2) She writes from a deeply felt commitment to allow the Lord to show her and teach her what His will is for her marriage and family.

You can find her book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christian Daily Resources and on her website. You can also watch Amanda’s video on YouTube about the book and about how she came to write it.