Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Being Truly Religious – Paul's Ponderings

Do you consider yourself to be a religious person?

I know I do, in spite of the fact that I am told that Christianity is a “relationship not a religion.”

Religion is not a bad thing. Religion is the system of practices that guide people in worship and grow in their knowledge of God. In other words, religion is how we have a relationship with God.

We are not to avoid religion, but the religious spirit. This is what Jesus condemned in the religious leaders of his day. These leaders put a greater emphasis on following the regulations and rituals of their religion than truly having faith in God.

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Living What We Believe – Paul's Ponderings

What does faith look like?

In American culture we usually associate faith with belief. For many it isn’t even just belief, but specifically belief without evidence. To be a person of faith means to believe things without evidence, or even,contrary to evidence.

That is not how the Bible talks about faith.

Belief and faith are connected. Belief is the starting point of faith. The writer of Hebrews wrote; “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6; NLT)

Without belief faith could not exist.

That is because belief is the seed of faith. Belief needs to be planted and watered for the plant of faith to emerge.

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Monday, June 06, 2016

The Sacrifice of Obedience – Paul's Ponderings

"A consistent theme that runs through the pages of Scripture is the theme of sacrifice. This is especially obvious in the Old Testament since the Jewish religion depended on the sacrificial system for covenant restoration. The sacrifice that was offered in faith would restore a person or the entire nation to the covenant they had with God.

In the New Testament the focus of sacrifice shifts to Jesus. When Christians talk about sacrifice we are usually talking about the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross so we can be saved. Since we are saved by Jesus’ sacrifice we often over look the sacrifice that we are to make when we follow Jesus.

What sacrifices am I making to follow Jesus?

That is an important question to ponder. Since many of us live in the United States, it is fairly easy to “follow” Jesus. There isn’t much of a cost to being a Christian. We have been spared from harsh physical persecution and we have been blessed with enough money that it isn’t much of a sacrifice to give to support the ministries of our church families."

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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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