Sunday, May 22, 2016

It Matters that Morality is Declining – Paul's Ponderings

It is vital to remember that Jesus’ mission was not to make people moral, but to make people alive.

Throughout church history one of the ways the Church has been distracted from her mission of making disciples has been to focus on morality. Especially in countries where the Church has had significant influence, Christians have viewed themselves as the gatekeepers of morality. I think this has been to the determent of the Church’s mission.

Alexander Campbell (September 12, 1788 – March 4, 1866), one of the founders of the Restoration Movement wrote:

“To compel men destitute of faith to observe any Christian institution…is commanding duty to be performed without faith in God’ and therefore ‘anti-evangelical’ or contrary to the Gospel” (The Political Ethics of Alexander Campbell; p. 46)

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Choose the Path of Freedom – Paul's Ponderings

Our freedom is a gift from God. Not only did God create us with certain unalienable rights, but He also rescued us  from slavery to sin.

Even though freedom is a gift, the choices that we make allow us to be good stewards of the gift of freedom or waste it.

For example, if you decide to murder someone, that choice will rob you of freedom. Even if you were able to get away with the crime and escape a life behind bares, the guilt of the deed you committed and the constant fear of being caught would hamper your ability to enjoy your life.

Another, much more practical, example is how we choose to use our money. The choice to use credit to furnish a lifestyle way above your means will lead to the reality that you will be enslaved to your creditors. By spending tomorrow’s money today you limit what you can do in the future, because there is a group of people who have a rightful to the money. Not only that, because of the interest that needs to be paid you will actually be paying more for your things than what they are worth. Your freedom is hindered by the choice you made.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Listen to the Desire » Paul's Ponderings

A desire that is common to most people is the desire to change.

This doesn’t mean that you hate your life, but it is a recognition that life could be different.  This desire is telling you that  you could be more productive, you could have better relationships, you could provide a better example, or you could be more generous.

I don’t know exactly the desire of your heart, but I do know that it is not a bad thing to have such a desire. It is my belief that that this desire is God reminding you that He still has more for you in this life. The life you are currently living is not the full expression of the life He created you to live.

There are many reasons why we ignore the desire to live a fuller life. One common reason for us who live in the United States is busyness. If your life is like most people I know your life is filled with responsibilities from family to work to church. Adding one more thing to the mix seems like a crazy thing to do.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Spiritual Formation Through Trials » Paul's Ponderings

All of us would like life to be smooth, without bumps or surprises, yet we have lived long enough to know that is not the case. Life is difficult and full of unexpected problems.

We can react to these problems in one of two ways. The first way we can react is to allow these hardships and trials to make our lives miserable. The second way is to see them as opportunities for God to strengthen our faith.

In Seizing Your Divine Moment, Erwin McManus wrote; “It becomes more than obvious the longer you walk with God that His teaching environment for us really is life. And allowing us to fail is not a punishment from God, but a part of God's process for shaping who we are.”

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Curing Selfishness » Paul's Ponderings

We live in a world gone wrong. This becomes evident every time we are faced with some sort of tragedy and something within us screams, “That is not right!”

In those moments God is reminding us that our world has been corrupted and things are not what they should be. Satan, sin, and death are wreaking havoc throughout this world.

Another way we see the corruption of sin is through the selfishness of people. Many of the problems that exist in the world are the result of human selfishness. These problems were either caused by selfishness or they continue because or selfishness. This tells us that a tremendous amount of good could be done if people just lived out to the two great commandments: love God and love people. When we live with compassion and mercy we fight against the evil that is present in the world."

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