Forgiveness, Fulfillment, and Freedom

December 1, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Posted in Mark | 1 Comment
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In demonstrating His role as the greatest servant, Jesus, during His earthly ministry, brought the gifts of healing and miracles, but He also brought the gift of forgiveness.

Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

Mark 2:9-12

Jesus healed the man, but first He forgave all his sins. Forgiving sins is the divine Servant’s greatest act of ministry. The forgiveness of sins meets the greatest need, costs the greatest price, and brings the greatest blessing. It also results in the greatest assurance. The religious leaders came to see what Jesus could do, but they came with a critical spirit, and they did not seek the forgiveness of their sins.

In addition to forgiveness, the Servant also brought fulfillment.

And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Mark 2:16-17

Sick people are patients who need the fulfillment of healing. Lonely people are guests who have not been invited to the party. Single people are people who haven’t committed to someone else. Broken people are not people who need to be patched up; they need to be made new.

The divine Servant brought forgiveness, fulfillment, and freedom.

And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.

Mark 3:12

There was a prohibition against “work” on the Jewish Sabbath, but only about six or seven specific instructions in the Old Testament Scriptures concerning what it meant not to work, so Jewish tradition had come up with 39 acts that were strictly forbidden. This was a form of bondage not intended by the Law.

And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.

Jesus withdrew from the crowds in order to teach His Disciples.

And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him.

Mark 3:13

He called together the leaders of a new “nation:” 12 Apostles representing the 12 tribes of Israel. The people who had known Jesus from His childhood – from the days before He began His outspoken public ministry – began to worry about Him, possibly questioning His sanity. As a Christian, once your unconverted family members start to think you are crazy for living in accordance with your faith in Christ, it may be a sign that you are on the right track doing God’s will.

There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.

Mark 3:31

What the Knows Have and What the Know-Nots Have Not

November 28, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | Leave a comment
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In a previous lesson I discussed how “ministers,” including all believers, will have their building materials judged. This is known as the Bema seat judgment.

If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

I Corinthians 3:15

This verse is not a reference to purgatory, although the Roman Catholic Church used it to attempt to bolster its unbiblical tradition. It is actually in the context of Christians having their works, doctrine, and motives judged, not their sins. Christians will be at this judgment. Unregenerate sinners will not.

If you are a Christian without an official ministry title, in what way are you still a “minister?” Hopefully, you are ministering to your spouse, children, parents, friends, fellow church members, fellow Sunday School class members, or whoever finds his way into your sphere of influence. Remember, there is no “secular” versus “sacred” distinction in true Christianity and in true Christian living.

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

I Corinthians 3:16

Know-Nots do not know that this world, and all our lives, are about God – and specifically about Christ. The Knows know that God designed them to be a temple – a dwelling-place for His presence on earth. In the Old Testament when the profane touched the holy, the holy was defiled, and, in the case of the Tabernacle, the holy destroyed the profane (worldly) in order to preserve its holiness.

If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

I Corinthians 3:17

This goes all the way to our motives. In the church at Corinth the Knows were acting like Know-Nots. They were being childish, forming factions, and feuding over the leaders with which they aligned themselves. To have our “works” judged will be one thing; to have our “doctrine” judged will be another; but to have our “motives” judged, this will truly be a consuming fire. Our motive is revealed – this side of eternity – by cooperation (working together for God’s glory), rather than by competition (outdoing others for my own glory).

Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;

I Corinthians 3:21

What can the world give you? Nothing, really, because you have everything good in Christ. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” What can the world take from you? Nothing, really, because you don’t truly own anything. Christ owns it all. The Knows have everything and nothing, which is perfect freedom. The Knows-Nots seek everything and are never able to find it, which is utter bondage.

Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

I Corinthians 3:22-23

All things are ours = Christian liberty
You are Christ’s = Christian responsibility

No More Wondering, Working, and Waiting

November 21, 2016 at 5:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I. When you think of God’s holiness and your own sinfulness, do you ever wonder how God could love you?

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Ephesians 2:4-5

It is simply in His marvelous nature to show forth His great love by His wonderful grace.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

I John 4:8

It is understandable that you might wonder HOW God could love you, but, if you have been born again into the family of God, justified through faith alone, and adopted as His Own child, then you ought never to question IF God loves you.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

II. When you understand that God’s holiness and justice require your absolute moral perfection and obedience, do you doubt that you have you worked hard enough to earn God’s approval, favor, or blessing?

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Romans 4:4

You can stop asking that question. There is no doubt that you can never do enough good things to make God your debtor. HOWEVER:

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Romans 4:5

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

You could never work your way to Heaven, but if you have trusted Christ unto salvation, then your disobedience, sin, and lack of good works have been washed away by the mercy of God in the blood of Jesus.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Titus 3:5

III. Do you hope that one day God will forgive you, or decide to be kindly disposed toward you in spite of your rebellion and shame? Are you longing for a day when you will find yourself forgiven and accepted?

(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

II Corinthians 6:2

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Luke 4:18-21

The sovereign Lord and Ruler of this universe, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the all-powerful, majestic and holy King above all kings, will answer your call this very moment.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

John 1:12

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13

If you have repented and believed His Gospel, He loves you with an everlasting love, and nothing in this world or beyond will ever separate you from it.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

If you have been regenerated, justified, and adopted by the Lord Jesus Christ, then you do not have to wonder at, work for, or wait upon God’s love.

Becoming Part of the Family

November 18, 2016 at 9:53 am | Posted in Mark, The Family of Faith | Leave a comment
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You get into an earthly family by being born or by being adopted. You get into God’s family by being born again (regeneration). He also adopts born-again believers into His family (grants them the status of adult children). This is very important to remember, because, as we are trying to do good to those who are outside of our family, the best “good” we can do them is to invite and encourage them to join the family of God.

It is also important to remember, as we minister to our fellow family members in the family of God, that none of us deserve to be in this family. Babies don’t birth themselves, and you can’t adopt yourself into a family. We are only a part of this family by God’s grace – His unmerited favor – His election of us – not our impressive abilities and not our works. We can’t “earn” grace. I’m not proud to be an American because I had nothing to do with where I was born. It would be even more ludicrous for me to be proud to be a Christian, because God is the One Who made me a Christian. I did not make myself one.

This motivates me to do good especially to those who are in the family of faith because they belong to God. If you are my brother in Christ, then you are God’s son, which means God loves you. A good Father protects His children, so I’m placing myself in danger if I fail to treat you the way God wants me to treat you.

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

Mark 9:42

Compassion for the Crowds

November 16, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Posted in Mark | 1 Comment
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In His earthly ministry, Jesus was almost constantly being sought out by lepers and sick people, because of His miraculous ability, and willingness, to heal them.

And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.

Mark 1:32-34

And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.

Mark 1:37-39

These healings were specific and instantaneous, not like the ambiguous and suspicious so-called healings practiced by “psychic healers” or the religious charlatans in the Word of Faith movement today.

The Lord Jesus in His earthly ministry showed that being a servant is the highest calling. True Christian servants get their authority from God. No one in this world should exercise authority unless he recognizes that he is under authority himself. Jesus also showed that being a good servant requires compassion. The false gospel so often propagated today is based on a false compassion.

… [T]he Gospel of today insists that Christ came not to save men’s souls with a view to their entering Heaven in the future. But to save men’s lives with a view to enriching earth in the present.

J. Stuart Holden, from the sermon, “The Unrecognized Victory in Life’s Flood-tide,” 1913.

Jesus healed multitudes, and this caused crowds to gather, but, sadly, most of the people in these crowds wanted only what Jesus could do for them physically. Perhaps some of them wanted to see a show. Most of them did not want the Truth.

And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.

Mark 1:40-45

Jesus commanded people not to tell anyone about Him, but they told everyone. He commands us to tell everyone – but we tell no one!

Knowers, Growers, and Showers

November 14, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 1 Comment
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The Knows sometimes behave like Know-Nots. This was another one of the chief problems in the church of Corinth. In I Corinthians Chapter 2 Paul had defended his method of preaching and the message he preached. In Chapter 3 he once again takes up the problem of factions and fighting among the church members. He ties the ideas together by addressing the accusation that his message (the Gospel) and his method (simple preaching) were too simple.

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, [even] as unto babes in Christ.

I Corinthians 3:1

Paul said that he had spoken to them very simply with a very elementary version of the message because they were obviously babies. You may have heard the term “carnal Christians” or maybe not. It was very much in vogue for a while, but in more recent times it has come under attack. On one side are those who say every professing Christian who lives carnally must still be considered a true Christian because of his profession. On the other side are those who say that the profession of those who live carnally must be false. I Corinthians Chapter 3 has nothing kind to say about carnal Christians, but it certainly proves that there is such a thing (“brethren” who are “carnal”).

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able [to bear it], neither yet now are ye able.

I Corinthians 3:2

Milk is good for babies, but, whether good or not, it is necessary because it is all babies can handle. Basic Christian doctrine can be both milk (for baby Christians) and meat (for mature Christians), but there is also a sense in which it can be seen as needing to be controlled by the givers of the milk rather than offered freely and received according to maturity level by the receivers of milk. The Roman Catholic church grew apostate partly over this doctrine, known as the Disciplina Arcani, the doctrine of the “hidden essence.” Lay people shouldn’t be trusted, they say, with the unadulterated Word of God. God says otherwise.

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas [there is] among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

I Corinthians 3:3

Verse 3 sounds as if was written as a scolding – albeit a scolding-in-love. “Divisions” especially speaks of a spirit of “side-choosing” – factions or “parties.” Such divisions are not only troublesome among the church, and not only irritating and time-consuming for the leadership and those caught in the middle, but they ruin the testimony of the Church of Christ. Why would an outsider seeking an earthly representation of the Kingdom of Christ want to join your local church assembly if the members “walked like men,” meaning they lived just like every other worldly, non-Christian person? The distinction here is not a literal distinction between immature children and mature adults, but between regenerated spiritual believers who should be united around sound doctrine, and ungodly pagans who squabble childishly over personal recognition and preferences.

For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I [am] of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

I Corinthians 3:4

Can you hear the sing-song connotation of childishness in Verse 4 as each petty party-member calls out his or her favorite church leader by name? Paul tries to put a stop to it in Verse 5.

Who then is Paul, and who [is] Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

I Corinthians 3:5

Paul, who, among all his virtues, really stands out for his humility, is not being falsely modest when denigrates his own personality as being completely unworthy of any party allegiance, and he illustrates this with a familiar Bible example: a vineyard or a farmer’s field.

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

I Corinthians 3:6-7

Planting and watering are menial tasks compared with the power of God, Who actually gives the increase. Charles Hodge, in his commentary on I Corinthians, wrote that the Holy Spirit’s point here is, “Ministers are nothing.”

Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

I Corinthians 3:8

Not only is the work of Christian ministers remedial and replaceable from God’s perspective, but their personalities are in a sense consumed corporately into the same goal: the fulfillment of the Owner’s plans and desires.

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, [ye are] God’s building.

I Corinthians 3:9

We are both the tools and the building. We are what God uses, and we are supposed to be the habitation in which He is pleased to dwell and show His glory. Remember, the Knows have only received their “know-how” purely as a gift.

Growth requires different types of workers (diversity), but diversity requires unity (working toward the same goal). Unity requires humility.

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

I Corinthians 3:10

We can be “wise masterbuilders,” but we must build on the foundation already laid, and we have to “take heed” to be careful how we build. We can put our “wisdom” to use in building relationships or even just gaining an audience, but we can’t deviate from the foundation of Christ or the foundation of His Person and work in the Gospel any more than a door framer can frame the door 30 feet from the slab, or than the cabinetry workers can build cabinets in mid-air above the slab.

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 3:11

The foundations of the Know-Nots are false foundations, and they will be tested.

The beauty of God’s building is a byproduct of its strength. Its foundation is Christ and the Truth about Himself. This is the “rock” upon which He builds His church.

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 6:13-17

The building must have the right foundation, and only the right doctrine (precious jewels and materials) must be used to build it.

Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

I Corinthians 13:12

Gold, silver, and precious stones like granite and marble were used in temples, but wood for the doors and posts, hay for the walls, and stubble or straw for the roof were used in common houses.

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

I Corinthians 3:13

The day of the Lord will be revealed by Jesus appearing in fire. It will be a time of harsh testing, and then the wood, hay, and stubble will burn, and the gold and silver and precious stones will be purified. False teaching will be revealed. False doctrine will be exposed. There will be no disputing or confusion in that day of fiery judgment.

 

REVIEW

I. Knowers (I Corinthians 3:1-4)

A. New believers feed on Bible facts.

B. Mature believers feed on Bible doctrine.

II. Growers (I Corinthians 3:5-9)

A. Growth requires diversity.

B. Diversity requires unity.

C. Unity requires humility.

III. Showers (I Corinthians 3:10-13)

A. The beauty of God’s building is a by-product of its strength.

B. It must have the right foundation, and it must be built with the right materials.

C. False teaching will be revealed and false doctrine will be exposed in a future judgment.

The Propriety of Paragonal Parenting

November 11, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Previously we have seen some of the problems with popular, pecuniary, and petulant parenting. The most Biblical, and therefore best, model for parenting is to parent in such a way that we are, as parents, showing our children a good example of the love of God and the fear of God. We do this by emulating our perfect paragon, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many of His attributes are strictly divine and are incommunicable to us. However, as to His communicable attributes, parents, as authority figures over the children He has entrusted to our care, have a serious responsibility to portray them accurately and faithfully in our parenting. We are, in a sense, God’s ambassadors to our children.

Christ has a three-fold mediatorial office: Prophet, Priest, and King. As parental “prophets,” we must teach our children this truth:

All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

Matthew 11:27

Christ revealed God to men. Parents are to reveal Christ, and God in Christ, to their children.

As parental “priests,” parents must intercede for their children.

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Ephesians 5:1

We can not atone for the sins of our children, and we are certainly not their eternal saviors! However, just as Christ interceded before God the Father for us, we should intercede before our Heavenly Father on behalf of our children, seeking to bring them into a right relationship with Him in Christ, and praying for them diligently.

As parental “kings,” parents must rule their children.

Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

John 18:33-37 (emphasis added)

Jesus did not deny being a king. He was the King of the True Kingdom. As Christian parents, we are united to Christ, the greatest King. Good kings do not only rule by force. They rule by love. They protect their subjects. They even serve their own subjects. We must exercise our God-given authority over our children toward the end that they will be united to Christ through our ministry and united to God through His.

Especially the Family

November 7, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Posted in Mark, The Family of Faith | 3 Comments
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We have many relationships in our lives: friends, co-workers, acquaintances. But “family” is a special relationship.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

In the original language the word translated as “household” meant family and those who live together under the same roof. It is used three times in the New Testament, and it refers to Christians who are related as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Bible says we are to do what is good to people in general. Jesus taught His disciples to love their “neighbor,” and he criticized the religious hypocrites for failing to love their neighbors.

And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:28-31

This is essentially what Galatians 6:10 is saying when it says, “let us do good unto all men.” Should we be nice to people that are easy to be nice to, and mean to people who rub us the wrong way? No, of course not – not according to the Bible. Should we be nice to Christians, but ambivalent toward the unsaved? No! We are to love even our enemies, and even those who persecute us! In fact, that is one of the great indicators (to a lost and watching world) that we belong to Jesus. Anybody can be nice to people who are nice to them first, or when there’s a reward at stake. Jesus loved, and died for, those who HATED Him.

We must bless those who hate us and pray for those who despitefully use us. However, Galatians 6:10 does have a warning word – something of a qualifier. It doesn’t say forget about doing good to all people, but it does say to do good ESPECIALLY to those who are part of the household of faith: fellow Christians – brothers and sisters in Christ – and, in the context of Galatians 6, doing “good” (“the good” in the Greek) means bearing one another’s burdens and sowing to the Spirit (which results in reaping everlasting life) instead of sowing to the flesh (which results in reaping corruption). In other words, we are commanded to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24) in dealing with our spiritual family members. So, since the Holy Spirit emphasizes the importance of serving in the household of faith, next time we will look at exactly what it means to be a part of this household/family.

Why I Didn’t Care if the Mainstream Media Ignored the Flood

November 4, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Posted in The Flood | Leave a comment
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In July, 2016, a Baton Rouge police officer shot and killed a man named Alton Sterling, prompting protests and national media attention. Later on that month, a gunman shot six Baton Rouge law enforcement officers, killing three, and critically wounding another. On August 12-13, 2016, the banks of the Amite, Comite, and Tickfaw Rivers disappeared beneath raging torrents of rain and runoff. The water began to rise at an alarming rate. Houses – and whole subdivisions – located on property which hadn’t experienced flooding since time immemorial began to fill up with water. The main shopping districts in downtown cities disappeared beneath newly formed lakes. Vehicles sank or floated off the sides of highways. It quickly became apparent that this was going to be one of those events that earn the adjective “catastrophic,” like hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and tsunamis. The national media won’t admit it, but they love these things. They are great for ratings. Reporters rush to the scene and report live in their “rough-weather” gear, often holding onto something for support in the storm, and speaking of doom and gloom into a shaky camera.

Here in southeastern Louisiana it was going to be our turn in the spotlight… except it wasn’t. At least not at first. By and large, the national media, fascinated with the spectacle of a shameful pick-your-poison fiasco of a presidential campaign, and a weird scandal involving Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, gave short-shrift to our noble struggle to stay afloat down in Bayou Country. The difference was glaringly obvious. Social unrest and violence caused by alleged prejudice and bigotry? Alert the media. A common-cause weather disaster prompting us to set aside our differences and work to help each other? Yawn.

And the locals didn’t like it one bit. Social media gives everyone a voice and many people used it to express their disapproval. Why did Louisiana get big-time coverage for our problems, while getting ignored for our resiliency and unity in a desperate time? And, to be fair, the complainants had a point. Conceivably, faster and greater media attention could have resulted in faster and greater aid from around the country. Also, the perception that the Yankee media thinks that us Southern rubes make for better entertainment when we’re getting up to criminal hi-jinks, than when we’re nobly helping our our neighbors, is not without support.

I was one of the few that did not wish for more national media attention during the flood and its immediate aftermath. One reason is that, with the prevalence of social media, people are already overly-enthusiastic about seeking attention. There were plenty of people out doing heroic things during the flood… and posting about it on Facebook. Most of the so-called do-gooders were quickly hashtagged, shared, liked, retweeted, and instagrammed. When a boatful of Cajun good ‘ol boys ferries you from the roof of your house to a National Guard staging area, everybody logged in at home gets a nice case of the feels. When you click on a cell phone camera photo of some kid’s soggy rescue-pet puppy wagging his tongue over the gun-rack in the back windshield of a jacked-up high-water-defying pickup truck, how can you not get the warm fuzzies about your community and humanity in general? The national media would have only reinforced and emphasized a wrong view of ourselves and our true motivations, and that is the last thing we need.

Within a few days after the flood, the harsh reality started set in. This was not going to be about heroism, bravery, and daring in an air boat, or about sandbag-delivering Samaritans, or about ice chests filled with bottled water instead of Bud Light for once. It was going to be about the cleanup, and, for Christians, it was going to be about opportunities to share the good news about Jesus. No one delights in viewing a Facebook photo of some old dude down on his knees in the back of a dark closet four days after a flood, trying to scrape out the last crumbles of moldy drywall so that it’s safe to put the new stuff up later when it arrives (plus my butt crack was probably showing from that angle and NO ONE wants to see that!). No one hashtags #LouisianaStrong or #BatonRougeProud over a picture of Grandma’s water-warped antique dresser lying smashed in a pile of debris out by the road. So, after the opportunity for glamour, comes the opportunity for ministry.

Wait a minute though, says the objection, shouldn’t we celebrate the spirit of resilience and golden rule reciprocity that comes when people put aside their differences and band together to help, while it is going on? Maybe we should. As Christians, though, we need to be very careful about what we celebrate and, especially, what we label as good. If the Cajun Navy restored your faith in humanity, or if seeing people with different skin colors sitting in the same rescue boat sharing a blanket made you think that people are basically good deep down, then you need to remember what the Bible says about our inherent “goodness” and self-righteousness.

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Romans 3:10-11

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

Ecclesiastes 7:20

Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

Titus 1:15-16

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Isaiah 64:6

Apart from Christ, every person, regardless of whatever “kindness” or “goodness” or “righteousness” he seeks to perform or demonstrate, is condemned before God. Unless they are born again by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His Gospel, every admiral, midshipman, and ensign in the Cajun Navy, every “good” neighbor and “good” ol’ boy, every rescue and relief worker, will go to the lake of fire for all eternity. And the mainstream media will not change that truth whether they show up or not.

Casting FOR Fish, and Casting OUT Fiends

November 1, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Mark | Leave a comment
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Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

Mark 1:16-18

Mark stressed the active service of Jesus and His Disciples with the use of the word “straightway.” Jesus called fishermen. Perhaps He knew they would need patience in winning souls. Fishing for recreation can be relaxing; fishing for a living is a get-up-and-get-moving business. But, at the same time, fishing often involves perseverance and waiting.

And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.

Mark 1:21-22

People were astonished when Jesus taught, because of His authority. He was Truth personified. He didn’t need to quote other teachers, and when He quoted Scripture, He was quoting Himself.

And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out;

Mark 1:23

It is not clear whether this demon had revealed himself in this man before, or whether the Jews in the synagogue believed he was mentally ill, but still allowed him to remain. In either case, the demon was exposed as soon as Jesus entered.

Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

Mark 1:24

The use of plural pronouns (“let us alone; what have we to do with thee”) may have revealed how closely the man identified with the demon. There are church members today who have some knowledge of Who Jesus is, and they will even confess His name with their mouths, but they are terrified of Him because He is their enemy.

And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine [is] this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.

Mark 1:25-28

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