Have You Lost Your Saltiness?


A Passage To Ponder: Ephesians 6:10-18

On October 9, 1934, King Alexander of Yugoslavia visited France for an official visit.

Before he left his warship, he dressed in the full uniform of a Navy admiral. However, the uniform’s tunic did not fit easily over his bulletproof vest, so he removed the vest. As he was riding through the streets of Marseille, a gunman jumped out of the crowd and fired a shot that pierced the King’s heart. And he died.

If he had worn the bulletproof best, King Alexander would have survived. Apparently, he was more concerned with feeling comfortable and looking good in his uniform than being protected.

Alexander’s failure reminds us that we need to be prepared, protected, and proactive because we’re engaged in a spiritual battle and are susceptible to those who would harm us. Our text today tells us how.

Our Adversary

Read more: https://thepreachersword.com/2020/02/12/a-passage-to-ponder-ephesians-610-18/

Helping Others (and Ourselves) Mourn Well

Anyone who has lived long enough is acquainted with grief – that is, according to Dr. Alan Wolfelt, the “internal response to loss.” Mourning is a whole other experience entirely. Mourning is the outward expression of grief. Few people do this, but the mourner is not really to blame. Sadly, our microwave society does not allow people to take the time to mourn.

By the way, our society consists of us.

We don’t like pain. Not only do we avoid pain for ourselves, but we want the pain of others to go away. We are uncomfortable and unable to sit with the big emotions that naturally go along with loss. We put out messages that convey the mourner should move on. So, the mourner frequently does. At least from the outside. The end result is often prolonged and unresolved grief. I believe we could all  learn to mourn better by allowing others to mourn… and supporting them in that journey. Here are a few ways we can do that:

  • Be careful with words. We are all “guilty” of making missteps when we interact with people who have experienced loss. We minimize the pain and even the relationship between the deceased and the bereaved (When someone says, “I didn’t know the two of you were so close,” the mourner may be thinking either You don’t understand our relationship or It doesn’t matter how close we were, I am hurting over this loss in my life.) We make callous statements without empathy or compassion (When someone says, “You are so blessed to have had her for so long,” the mourner may be thinking: Yes, but I wanted her longer.) We verbalize religious views that are more hurtful than helpful (“God wouldn’t give you more than you can bear,” for example). To correct a few theological flaws: Humans do not become angels. We don’t always know if the deceased is in a better place. God does not “need” anyone. Instead of cliché comments or attempting to over-identify with the mourner (“I know how you feel,” for example), offer words of love and affirmation (“I am so sorry for your loss” or “I am here for you”), and ask questions sensitively (“I would love to hear about your favorite memory if you’d like to share”.) The examples in parentheses are just a few…feel free to add your own “what to say” and “what not to say” in the comment section.

Find the rest at: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/drlaurelshaler/2019/09/helping-others-and-ourselves-mourn-well/

Jesus’ I Am Statements: 7 Life Changing Truths

I am statements

I love Jesus’ I am statements in the book of John.

When someone says, “I am…,” it reveals something about their identity. About the core of their being. About what is most important to them and about them.

For example, when I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m making a big, bold statement that my identity in Christ is what’s most important to me.

So when Jesus says I am statements, we should pay close attention. He’s pulling back the curtain on his glorious character. He’s telling us something profoundly important – something we don’t want to miss.

With that in mind, let’s spend some time savoring Jesus’ I am statements.

1. I Am The Bread of Life

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst (John 6:35).

The original hearers of this one of Jesus’ I am statements would have had two things in mind:

  1. They had just seen Jesus miraculously feed a massive, teeming, ravenous crowd using nothing but a few loaves and fishes.
  2. God had miraculously provided bread in the desert for the people of Israel.

You could say that had bread on the brain.

But here’s the thing:

Both the feeding of the crowd and the manna in the wilderness were intended to point to a greater reality.

Jesus tells them not to long for physical bread, even if that bread is provided by God himself. Rather, they are to long for and live for the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

What is this bread of life? It’s Jesus himself.

Just like physical bread satisfies our deepest hunger cravings, so Jesus satisfies the longings of our hearts. He is the one who “fills us,” our deepest joy and most satisfying pleasure.

Without Jesus, even the most sumptuous pleasures of the world are empty and unsatisfying. With Jesus, we can be content even in the midst of poverty.

Charles Spurgeon said:

I have heard of some good old woman in a cottage, who had nothing but a piece of bread and a little water. Lifting up her hands, she said as a blessing, “What! All this, and Christ too?”

The old woman in the cottage truly understood what it meant that Christ is the bread of life. He satisfied her even though she had nothing but a piece of bread and a little water.

There is more at: https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/370237-jesus-i-am-statements-7-life-changing-truths.html

Bethel music? Should we support it?


Is Nothing Sacred? The Contemporary Practice of Revising Hymns


Long-Suffering & Kindness

A Broadcast with R.C. Sproul

In this world, Christians participate in the humiliation of Jesus. How will you handle that? Today, R.C. Sproul considers some of the more difficult fruit of the Holy Spirit to display in trying circumstances.

Dead to Sin

Romans 6:1-14

Last time, we covered the first four verses of this section (6:1-4) where the idea of being dead to the old way of living was introduced; now in the rest of the passage Paul develops this idea further beginning with verse 5:

Paul continues with the idea of having died with Christ as he moves from the picture of baptism to that of having been crucified with Christ. In this imagery, he reasons that since our old selves were crucified with Christ, our old selves died, and thus we are set free from the sin that ruled over us, so that now, united with Christ in His resurrection, we are free to live for God.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to Go. Romans 6:8-10

Read more: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2020/02/06/dead-to-sin-3/

12 Marks Of A Spiritually Mature Believer


“Unless Your Righteousness Exceeds That of the Scribes and Pharisees.” Should We Be Worried?

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20 (NRSV)

Should we be worried? Is it even possible that our righteousness can exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees? Keep in mind how meticulous they were at keeping the Old Testament laws. Jesus’ words here can stress us out. Are we good enough?

Let’s leave aside whether we are good enough for a moment. The scribes and Pharisees were certain, that Jesus was not good enough:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. . . . Matthew 5:17 (NRSV)

That is exactly what the scribes and Pharisees were thinking! Jesus often seemed to be very unJewish in not keeping the laws and customs as expected. Healing on the Sabbath was considered work and so Jesus was obviously a lawbreaker! Further, for his first miraclehttps://clarkedixon.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/unless-your-righteousness-exceeds-that-of-the-scribes-and-pharisees-should-we-be-worried/, Jesus used jars that had been set apart for religious purposes to turn water into wine at a party. Not only did Jesus seem to be unJewish, he even seemed to be irreligious. Therefore the scribes and Pharisees were obviously exceedingly more righteous than Jesus. Or so they thought.

Jesus set the record straight:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Matthew 5:17-18 (NRSV)

Though the actions of Jesus seemed to indicate that he didn’t care about the law, he declares that it is very important. The law and the prophets, a short-hand way of referring to all the writings of the Hebrew Bible, reveal the heart of God, and point to Jesus himself. Far from ditching the Old Testament, Jesus was the focus of the Old Testament!

In setting the record straight, it turns out the the scribes and the Pharisees were the ones who were not good enough:

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:19 (NRSV)

Read on at: https://clarkedixon.wordpress.com/2020/02/03/unless-your-righteousness-exceeds-that-of-the-scribes-and-pharisees-should-we-be-worried/