Wednesday, April 30, 2008

One for the ladies!

Peter wrote, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the world, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation couple with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (1 Peter 3:1-4).

There's not much comment needed on the above verses. The wonderful God of heaven has given understandable words by which women can be godly. All of the trappings of "beauty" today are not really "beautiful" according to God. Ladies, put your emphasis on what is inside, building it up and renewing it by the word instead of spending all of your effort on the outside. Enhancing physical beauty is not wrong in and of itself, but dedicate yourself to what will really matters to men who need good helpmeets and to a loving God who will bless you richly.

Kyle Campbell

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No apologies necessary

We go out of our way to avoid hurting people's feelings; the last thing we want is strife between us and someone else. However, Paul understood the importance and the impact that piercing words would have on an individual, and he was more than ready to use them if necessary. Making a reference to their correction from past sin, Paul said, in 2 Corinthians 7:8-9, "Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it … not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led to repentance."

Political correctness and tact always have their place in conversation, but when a person's immortal soul is at stake, manners must be put aside in favor of godly sorrow. Jesus warned His followers that "anyone who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37). What is our attitude in delivering news about spiritual status to others? Are we hesitant to tell them because of the sorrow it might bring? When is a convenient time to tell them? We must act now, put feelings aside, and approach them as a loving brother or sister that is concerned about their eternal soul.

Brady Cook

Monday, April 21, 2008

Polygamy and the FLDS

No one knew when the Yearning For Zion Ranch, a compound populated by members of the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was raided in early April that one of the nation's largest polygamy groups would be uncovered. DNA tests are being now run to determine the rightful parents of over 400 children. Multiple pictures have been posted online showing the women of the group openly weeping because their children have been removed pending an investigation.

Sadly, all of this heartache could have been avoided if people would only go back to God's original plan. God said in Genesis 2:24 that "a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh." God intended one man and one woman to be married. Polygamy was never approved by God. Although one can find it in the Old Testament, Acts 17:30 says that those were the times were God "winked at" those sins, but that changed when Jesus died on the cross.

In Matthew 19:3-12, Jesus reiterated that one man and one woman are to married until death, except for the cause of fornication (cf. Romans 7:2-3). Do you see what happens when people leave God's inspired word? Do you see the heartache that is produced by sin? Everyone has religious freedom in this country, but that freedom does not translate into automatic happiness. According to the laws of our country, these people in Texas can do whatever they wish, but they, regrettably, must feel the consequences for leaving God's inspired word.

Kyle Campbell

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Count it all joy"

The letter of James begins with a basic introduction. "James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings." There are two main schools of thought when it comes to whom the letter is written: to the church in Jerusalem and to Jewish Christians that were scattered around the world. As we look at this letter, we will look at it from the standpoint of it being written to Jewish Christians for two reasons. First, at the time of this letter being written, most of the mature Christians would have been Jews converted from Judaism. This letter contains instruction on secondary principles. Secondly, the first verse addresses it to "the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad." There can be a case made that this is metaphorically speaking to the church in Jerusalem, but it would seem out of place in a basic introduction. James was one of the leaders in the church in Jerusalem. At this moment in time, a persecution had begun to scatter the Jewish brethren in Jerusalem. James would have known many of these brethren and would have been sensitive to the problems they would be encountering.

After the introduction, James begins to discuss trials. He writes to "count it all joy when you fall into various trials" (vs. 2). This seems false at first but upon further examination it becomes a clear paradox. No one wishes bad things or evil to happen to anyone, but trials do produce good. This is what James goes into a discussion of in the following verses. "Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (vss. 3-4). We must have the proper mindset. As everything does, everything we do or become all starts in our minds. In Proverbs it says, "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (23:7). If we go into our trials with a bad mindset, we will not come through it with positive results. We must remember that trials "produces endurance." Our trials draw us closer to God. God promises, "But seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own," and "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it" (Matthew 6:33-34; 1 Corinthians 10:13). He promises to take care of us. He promises that we CAN make it through ALL trials. It is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). We should take great confidence that no matter what happens to us, we will not only be taken care of if we draw closer to God, but He has promised that if we look for the way He would want us to go, He will provide that way.

In order for this to work, we must be submissive. We must be willing to do what God requires. Sometimes it is hard to do what is required of us, but it is possible. If we are unwilling to humble ourselves, then our mindset is not correct. In both of the promises mentioned above, a common theme precedes the promise. In Matthew 6, He promises to take care of us IF we seek His kingdom first, and in 1 Corinthians 10:12 we are told to examine ourselves "lest we fall." Being submissive, being humble is a state of mind where we put our own thoughts and desires behind God's. We live our lives in service to the Almighty God and everything else comes after.

We have discussed these promises that come to those that put God first, we must now also believe them. This seems like a very simple step, but still James addresses it: "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:5-8).

In order to go through our trials and tribulations, we must have wisdom. Wisdom is the application of our knowledge. Part of developing into mature Christians is wisdom. When we are brand new creatures in Christ, sometimes we still view sin as something that we would like to do, but can't. This is our immaturity. A mature, wise Christian no longer views sin as desirable but something that is evil and can cause eternal punishment. One way to develop wisdom is to ask of God. The only way we receive wisdom is to ask of faith. What is faith? "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). When we pray, we should not expect to receive anything from God if we ask something not according to His will, or we ask something not of faith (1 John 5:14). If we ask for things that we do not expect to receive, then we will not receive it. James tells us that we've become "a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

Jeremy Ferguson

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

This hope you have?

Numerous times in the New Testament, Paul would use the word "hope" to signify the life to come (Romans 8:25; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; Titus 1:2). This word is fitting for more than one reason, not the least of which is due to the fact that none of us have ever seen the place that is to come. It is something longed for, desired, and expected to come after the pain of this life is over. Moses, with a similar mind as Paul, desired only to be able to see the land that he labored so long for.

However, God had something far better for His servant than a physical Canaan, not allowing him to enter because of his unfaithfulness at the waters of Meribah. But these men would not have been able to have this expectation of a better life had they not worked in this life. Hebrews 4:1 calls this hope a "rest." Now tell me this: how can one rest from something for which they have not worked? Rather, the rest is our reward for the labor that we do in this life. While denominationalism will teach that faith is all you need to be saved, or that once you are baptized you can take it easy (e.g., "once saved, always saved"), this is clearly not what the Bible teaches. God wants a worker in this life so he can have a restful soul in the life to come. The only question left is: have you been working?

Brady Cook

Monday, April 7, 2008

What makes a Christian?

When you ask someone if they are a Christian, they almost always respond, "Yes, I'm a Christian." But what kind of Christian? If someone follows the Bible and a Catholic catechism, would they be a "Catholic" Christian? If someone follows the Bible and a Baptist manual, would they be a "Baptist" Christian? If someone followed the Bible and a Methodist discipline, would they be a "Methodist" Christian? The simple fact of the matter is, if you do not follow what the Bible says makes you a Christian, you cannot rightly be called a Christian (Acts 11:26). Man's efforts to "append" the name will not please God.

The Bible says that the steps to salvation include faith (John 1:12; Mark 16:16; Hebrews 11:6), repentance (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30), confession of Jesus (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:10), and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). After someone has become a steward of the grace of God (1 Peter 4:10), they must be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2; Acts 20:24). If they fall back into sin and do not repent, they are lost (2 Peter 2:20-22).

If America required someone to fill out a form, pay a fee, take a test, and wait a required amount of time before they would be a legal citizen of this country, could you call them a citizen before they finished the requirements? If you did, you would be in error. All of the requirements would have to be fulfilled before they could be called an "American." Likewise, one must complete all the requirements stated in the New Testament before they can be called a "Christian."

Kyle Campbell