For years I toiled under the weight of a “works” oriented salvation. I believed that to please God I had to work to earn His favor and His grace. When I did good things I believed my deeds were pleasing to God and, for the moment, I had gained His favor. But, when I sinned (and I did. A lot) I believed, even when I repented, God would make me pay with some consequence or retribution. I considered it, “Waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
It was a miserable way to live. I went about my day trying to figure out what the
shoe would be. Would it hurt? Would it drop when I least expected it? Would it drop when I was enjoying pleasant times? Would it drop on my friends? When it dropped would my friends abandon me? Would it grieve me or cause me emotional pain? Would I suffer?
Then in August, 2000, I learned my true identity in Christ. God showed me His grace and taught me I didn’t have to pay for any or all the sins I committed. He told me, “They’re all already paid for. Stop waiting for that shoe and let me show you how much I love you.”
I’ve never worried about that shoe again.
“Well, [pause] yes,” he said. [Pause again] “Sometimes you may have to.” Continue reading
But church folks can minister to families struggling with mental illness in effective, loving ways. Continue reading
Someone once told me we’ll be able to pick out the Baptists when we get to heaven. They’ll be the ones toting the covered dishes. Eating has always been a hallmark for us church folks. We love to eat and gather around the dinner table.
The trouble is, it seems to me the church is guilty of treating church like a pot luck supper. More and more we’re ignoring God’s banquet table and cooking up our own “kitchen religion”. The church would rather eat whatever tastes good than feast on God’s Word. The church would rather roast a bunch of rules and regulations than feast on the Bread of Life. The church would rather gorge on opulence than taste obedience.
“I’ve made myself available
to those who haven’t bothered to ask.
I’m here, ready to be found
by those who haven’t bothered to look.
I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’
to a nation that ignored me.
I reached out day after day
to a people who turned their backs on me,
People who make wrong turns,
who insist on doing things their own way.
They get on my nerves,
are rude to my face day after day,
Make up their own kitchen religion,
a potluck religious stew.
Isaiah 65:1-3 MSG
I’ve read two emotionally-charged stories and received email this week suggesting that public libraries might ban the Bible.
You might be a Pharisee if . . .
you catch yourself saying, “You can’t talk to me like that!”
you think life is not always fair.
your prayers are more self-talk than talking with God.
you catch yourself mumbling, “Did you hear about…”
you believe you’re more spiritual than your friends.
you justify your anger because you know you’re in the right.
you enjoy receiving praise from other believers.
you believe you’re pleasing God by following rules.
you believe you’re humble.
you don’t think you need anybody’s help”.
outward righteousness is better than heart holiness.
you celebrate the failures of others.
you obsess over the opinion of others.
you are convinced your opinion is the only right one.
you’re quick to criticize others when they disagree with you.
you think “Christians” who don’t agree with you are “compromisers”.
you feel good when you catch someone’s Scriptural error.
you look down on people who are not on your spiritual level.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness
and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee
and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself
and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—
robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not
even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said,
‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other,
went home justified before God. For all those who
exalt themselves will be humbled, and those
who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14
What started as a small scratch, a break in the skin, turned into a blood infection which turned into a rare flesh-eating bacteria, which resulted in the amputation of both feet and right hand of Cindy Martinez.
By Dr. John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
Funerals are a reality in our culture today. This isn’t really any different from years past. Everyone will die. All cultures have some form of expression and focus to acknowledge the death of a person. The Christian focus is on a celebration of life to come.The attendance at funerals is always interesting to see. I am oftentimes surprised, both positively and negatively at the number of people who attend. Will Rogers once said that the biggest factor determining the number of people who attend your funeral will be the weather.
An interesting thing just occurred last month in a rural part of China. The Chinese government is forbidding strippers from performing at funerals in the country. They have called the burlesque send-offs “uncivilized.” Evidently family members hire strippers to attract large crowds to funerals. They think a large attendance at the funeral is a way of guaranteeing good fortune for the deceased in the afterlife.
Part of this new crackdown by arresting strippers and their employers is a result of the “Culture Ministry.” The Culture Ministry said, “This type of illegal operation disrupts the order of the cultural market.” They should also have said something about social morals.
Britain has also recently had an interesting twist to funerals. In order to get more people to come, you can hire weeping professional grievers for wakes and funerals. You order them from “Rent-A-Mourner.”
The cost is $68 per head. The rented mourner will read up on the deceased’s life story “so they converse with other mourners with confidence.” That is sad. Yogi Berra always had a lot of interesting things to say. One of his best was, “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.” Some funerals in today’s culture are interesting. They are often eloquent eulogies and high tributes to the poor soul in the casket, or urn. Upon hearing the eloquent things said about the deceased, some attendees wonder if they are at the right funeral.
A good Jewish friend shared with me recently about his father’s attending a funeral of a friend. The presiding Rabbi told of so many extremely good qualities (greatly exaggerated) of his deceased friend that he told those sitting around him that he needed to be excused. When asked why, he said, “I want to peep in the casket to see if that’s my friend. I might be at the wrong funeral.”
Abraham Lincoln once listened to all the good things said at the funeral of one of his generals. Lincoln observed, “If he had known he’d get a funeral like this, he’d have died much sooner.”
The important focus about a funeral is not how good the deceased looks, or the quality of the music, or the cost of the casket, or the flower arrangements, or the eloquence of the eulogy. The focus is not about how many people are coming, but where the deceased is going!
Jesus said, “”I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25) Paul sounded the victory for the Christians, “O death, where is your is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Focus – Christians never see each other for the last time.
John Ed’s blog posts appear each week in For His Glory.
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org