HOW DO YOU STAY STRONG IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE? Part 3

Remember our basic premise? Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:25 that “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.” Paul gives us a clue to staying strong. This clue explains his own resiliency in life and ministry. It is this: He trained himself to go the distance. He sees life as a long term race, not a short term sprint. There are many people who discovered Paul’s ingredient for staying strong in the midst of change. We have considered David, Mary and Asaph.  We have examined three keys for staying strong in the midst of change learned from these saints of God.

# 1 – Choose to build the strength of your inner life (Psalm 119:28).

# 2 – Take wisdom from what God has already taught you on your past journey (Luke 2:19).

# 3 – Be courageous to embrace biblical values when all around you move the other way (Psalm 73).

We want to take a closer look at the Apostle Paul himself and discover yet another key for staying strong in the midst of change.

# 4 – Live every day pursuing the big picture not the little cluttering images we are  challenged with. It was in Acts 26:15-18 where Paul recounts his conversion with King Agrippa that he was captured by the big picture for his life.

15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ 19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,

It is no wonder that Paul emphatically testified to the Philippians that he forgot those things which were behind him and kept straining forward to what was ahead of him, so much so that he confessed that he pressed on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14). Paul told Agrippa that he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. In spite of all the changes and challenges and cluttering images that life threw at him, Paul just kept living in the “big picture” of his life.

Gordon MacDonald in his book “A Resilient Life,”  reminds us of the Life of Moses. He recalls that Moses learned to live in the big picture. But it took forty years of of desert training and reaching the age of 80 no less before he got it (Exodus 3:6,10; 4:12)

6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Gordon observes something very critical about Moses: “Now Moses had his big picture and his marching orders. They never changed. Everything in his life, from this point forward, was measured against this large-view orientation.”

He concludes by warning us when you have no big picture by which you are living then “Life comes to resemble a bunny track–furtive darting to and fro, lots of motion, little direction.”

Remember Paul’s observation that we can become people who are “…tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14).

Are your eyes opened to the big picture of your life, and to what things would look like when the curtain falls on the last act?

Ask yourself  the following questions:

[1] How has God gifted me to serve him and am I using those gifts?

In other words, what have I been equipped to accomplish?

[2] What am I living for and what is getting in my way?

[3] What does God want me to give out of my life to make the difference in the end?       Think it thru

HOW DO YOU STAY STRONG IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE? Part 2

STAY STRONG 4You will recall that Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:25 that “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.” Paul gives us a clue to staying strong. This clue explains his own resiliency in life and ministry. It is this: He trained himself to go the distance. He sees life as a long term race, not a short term sprint. There are many people who discovered Paul’s ingredient for staying strong in the midst of change. We looked at David and Mary last time. 

# 1 – Choose to build the strength of your inner life (Psalm 119:28)

# 2 – Take wisdom from what God has already taught you on your past journey (Luke 2:19)

I would like for us to consider a man by the name of Asaph who found himself in the midst of dramatic change and it threw him for a time. But he learned a key ingredient for staying strong in the middle of those changes much like Paul, David, and Mary.

# 3 – Be courageous to embrace biblical values when all around you move the other way. Asaph, in Psalm 73 learned this the hard way. He was struggling with those in his own culture who were at ease, rich, and appeared to be “riding a gravy train with biscuit wheels” while he himself was constantly struggling. They had abandoned biblical values and seemed to have a better life because of it. Asaph was envious, discouraged and even frustrated by what he saw around him (73:16, 21a). But something happened to him. Like a flashing beacon the word “until” jumps out at us in the text. In 73:17 it all turned around for Asaph. “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.” Asaph was able to evaluate time in light of eternity and earth in the light of heaven. He looked at the godless people and thought to himself that they had everything a heart could desire. Later though, he changes his mind because he realizes that he is the one who has everything because he has God. “My flesh and my heart fails: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.” His value system was readjusted. Having the right values gives us strength for the days ahead. The missionary martyr Jim Elliot thought the right values where a matter of life and death. That is why he said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” When Asaph gathered with the people of God he regained his perspective and his courage. Take courage to live by God’s right and wrong declarations not by the pressure and prosperity of those who are moving the other way. Don’t miss those last words of v. 17-18. Asaph saw the end of those who departed from God’s value system. They had no strength to survive “…then I discerned their end.Truly you set them in slippery places, you make them fall to ruin.”
And there are some more ingredients to come. Think it thru!

HOW DO YOU STAY STRONG IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE?

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:25 that “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.” As you trace all the changes in the Apostle Paul’s life, it looks like a country road. There were sharp bends when he could not see what was coming around the bend (the flight from Ephesus for his life, the departure of Demus, the stoning at Lystra). There were bridges out (trying to go to Mysia, then trying to go to Bithynia…). There were potholes and washouts (imprisonments and scourgings, and betrayals by friends). AND YET, Paul forged on strong in his calling and faith. How did he do it and how do we do it? We have come through political change, health changes, societal change and on the list goes. What’s next? I will tell you, more change.
Now Paul gives us a clue to staying strong. This clue explains his own resiliency in life and ministry. It is this: He trained himself to go the distance. He saw life as a long term race, not a short term sprint. There are some key ingredients that help us maintain the pace of training necessary to stay strong in the midst of change.

# 1 – Choose to build the strength of your inner life. Your relationship to the word of God is the key to inner strength. Your love and passion for the word of God will build a kind of stamina in your inner life that will prepare you for the emergencies and contingencies you will face as you run the race. Bill Toomey, the Decathlon gold medal winner for the United States in Mexico City described how he was able to endure and finish the race strong. He said, “Whatever pursuit you undertake, the requirements should start with a love of what it is that you are pursuing.” David said in Psalm 119:20 “My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.” and Psalm 119:40 “Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!” I think of Daniel as he and his friends were being enticed away from the race God had set for them. His words echo the strength of his inner life. “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine” (Dan.1:8). The discipline of resolve is grown by constant injection of the life-strengthening word of God. Psalm 119:28 says “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” Listen to Psalm 119:5-6 “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.”
So there is the first key ingredient for staying strong in the midst of change. We make a decision to build the strength of our inner life by means of God’s word! Notice the second ingredient.

# 2 – Take wisdom from what God has already taught you on your past journey. There is nothing so strength-giving than to look back for a moment and notice how God fortified you for what you are or will be facing next. Remember what Mary, the mother of Jesus, did at the birth of Jesus? Facing tremendous stress and anxiety as Herod’s henchmen come to Bethlehem seeking her baby’s life, Mary found strength to forge ahead. How did Mary gain the strength to undergo all of these things that came hurtling at her? The text in Luke 2:19 explains how she did it. “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” She took wisdom from all that had been told her…the angels, the shepherd’s testimony, and all the parts of her journey. She saw God’s hand at work in mighty ways. She drew wisdom from that to move forward with strength. God was still at work. God’s work is not static but on a continuous line of progress in our lives. God worked yesterday! We can rejoice in that and be comforted by that. God is working today. We can take strength from that as we move forward. God will work tomorrow! We can draw hope for all that will come to us tomorrow. That is God’s way of working things out in our lives. Recall the moment when Joshua asked Israel to choose twelve men to pick up some stones and carry them out and place them in the midst of the Jordon River? This is what he said about that: “These stones will serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD…These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:1-7). So here is the second key ingredient for staying strong in the midst of change. We take wisdom from what God has already taught us on our past journey.

Next time, we will look at some other key ingredients for staying strong in the midst of change. Think it thru.

HAS CHRISTMAS BECOME “SHALLOW-IZED”?

I know. The title sounds negative, doesn’t it? With the COVID virus going on and a tumultuous election season just past, many are wanting to hear something positive. Shouldn’t we say something positive about Christmas celebrations? But that is just the thing. Christmas is good news…or at least at one time, it was. Is it possible that the good news has become buried under shallow “stuff”? We drag out the manger scene to make us feel like we haven’t left Jesus out. We sing carols to spread a sense of good emotional well-being. We give gifts to people we love because…well, we love them and it is Christmas.
We do not debate that Jesus came to this earth. But we bury the reasons WHY He came under some very shallow wrapping paper. We “shallow-ize” Christmas (yes I know, there is no such word. I made it up…but I think it is a fake word that communicates engaging in shallowness).
We think of a soft, cuddly Jesus, and light candles to give that warm glow around our celebrations. But in reality, He came as a warrior soldier to do battle. We had some enemies Jesus engaged on our behalf. Our sin held us as prisoners and proves to be one of our worst enemies. No wonder Paul said in Romans 6:23 “the wages of sin is death….” Sin is a very strong enemy because all it has ever done is hurt us and seek to destroy us! But Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:24 that “He [Christ] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”
And of course, Satan stands as our enemy and Jesus took him down on the cross. Recall Hebrews 2:14-15 “Since then the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He (Jesus) Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death (His death on Calvary’s cross), He might destroy him who had the power of death that is the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
And don’t forget God was our enemy. Paul states in Romans 5:10 that we were enemies of God and in Colossians 1:21 that we were alienated from God and were enemies in our minds toward God. But Christ reconciled us to God and fought for us to make us no longer God’s enemies. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20) And in 2 Corinthians 5:18 Paul states clearly that “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;”
He went out on the battlefield and faced our enemies so we could go into the Father’s home and be at peace!! He bridged the divide between God and man. We are in need of reconciliation, not God. We are the guilty party deserving of judgment. Oh, but Christ came… Unwrap this at Christmas. The warrior Jesus came on the scene to win the battle for us AND HE DID!!
But the story doesn’t stop there. Paul says something very interesting about our warrior prince in Ephesians 4:8-10. Admittedly this text has some mystery to it, yet there is a glorious realization in it. “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men. (in saying ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Paul speaks of the ascension of Christ as an act that followed the triumphant resurrection in which he set us captives free and gave gifts through the Spirit of God to the church. Paul also feels compelled to speak of his decension too. He came down to the lower part of the earth which I believe is just a metaphor for the lowest state of humiliation. Heaven stands in opposition to the earth. One is above, the other is beneath. From the one, Christ descended to the other. He did not just come to earth but he stooped to the most humble condition of humanity while here.
He came down so far that we might go up so far. He came down to where we were to bring us up to where He is (John 14:3). When a man trusts Christ as his Savior, he comes from a descended existence to an ascended promise. Now that is Christmas brought out from under the shallow wrappings where we have hidden Jesus!
I am thankful Jesus came into this world as a baby, and that His coming was motivated by love and grace, but make no mistake…this was no ordinary child…meek and mild. This person we call Jesus Christ was a warrior prince who went to war on our behalf…and WON! Maybe we should hang a “soldier figure” on the Christmas tree and tell our kids the whole story! Think it thru



HOW SIGNIFICANT IS YOUR WORLDVIEW? part 3

We have been examining the matter of a Christian worldview. Let me remind you that our worldview shapes all of our thinking on moral, social, economic, and psychological issues. That is why it is so critical to get the right world view. I remind you again that the Apostle Paul stated his concern clearly on this matter in Col. 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” We are considering how to form a Biblical world view and live by it. We considered the  first two steps:

Step one: We must decide who will be the ultimate authority in life for us.

Step two: We must commit ourselves to see all of life in relation to Christ.

Now let’s consider the last two steps.

Step three: We must accept an unchanging foundation to rest our worldview on-namely the Scripture. Matthew 24:35 states clearly that “…heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Hebrews 6:13-15, 17-18 affirms the following: For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,  saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.”  And thus Abraham,having patiently waited, obtained the promise. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,  so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.”

The foundation upon which we rest our belief system is only as good as its ability to endure and prove reliable. We need to stand on something to sustain and hold us up through life (“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105). One of the old hymns  speaks of “Standing on the Promises of God.” The second verse states, “standing on the promises that cannot fail.” The fourth verse reads, “standing on the promises I cannot fall.” These verses declare a simple truth: when standing on the promises of God, we cannot fall because the promises of God cannot fail.

Psalm 119:89 gives additional assurance about the unchanging foundation of the Word of God. “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” There is something satisfying, and settling about having your belief system resting on something that will not change–ever. There is another old hymn that expresses the unchangeable nature of God and His word.The second verse of Abide with Me, goes like this:

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Our worldview may grow and develop in maturity, but when it is anchored on the unchanging foundation of scripture we are safe, firmly rooted for whatever storms assault our lives.  We do not have the time or the wisdom to experiment with worldview options. Go for the gold from the start. Let the scripture dictate  what you believe about science, sociology, psychology, government, marriage, vocational ethics, etc. It will never steer you wrong. It is rock-solid!! You will find it more than sufficient to govern rightly your belief system. Read Psalm 119 and listen to why the Psalmist based his worldview on the Scriptures!

Step four: We must believe that sin and evil are offensive to God. R. C. Sproul used to say “If we understand who God is, and catch a glimpse of His majesty, purity, and holiness, then we are instantly aware of the extent of our own corruption….That is the dilemma that Scripture sets before us: we have a holy God whose image we bear and whose image it is our fundamental responsibility as human beings to mirror—yet we are not holy.”

This is a day of extreme toleration.  Sin and evil are  called good. When man sins, excuses are given on a wide-range of possibilities. We tolerate it in ourselves because we see it in others. We feel smugly righteous if we discount the evil and sin we see in others and conclude we are loving and kind by not mentioning or condemning such actions and behaviors. R. C. Sproul’s take on this very idea is compelling:

When we sin, we want to describe our sinful activity in terms of a mistake, as if that softens or mitigates the guilt involved. We don’t think it’s wrong for a child to add two and two and come up with five. We know the answer’s wrong, but we don’t spank the child and say, “You’re bad, because you made five out of two and two instead of four.” We think of mistakes as being part of the human condition. But as I said to that pastor, if one of us is wrong, it would be because he came to the Scriptures while wanting it to agree with him, rather than wanting to agree with the Scriptures. We tend to come biased, and we distort the very Word of God to escape the judgment that comes from it.

Listen to Psalm 16:2 “I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” The psalmist’s worldview was that God was Holy and he was not.  There was a divide between himself and God that he could not bridge. Isaiah’s testimony confirms this biblical reality. “And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!'” (Isaiah 6:5)

The importance of this step in forming a biblical world view is that it draws the rightful conclusion that man needs a Savior. He does not need rehabilitated, he needs redeemed. He does not need reformed, he needs transformed entirely from the inside out. He does not need refurbished, he needs rescued.  He does not need a makeover, He needs a totally new creation.  Our worldview as believers embraces the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only hope man has.  It is the Gospel that confesses to the Holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. The coming of Christ to die on the cross, to be buried, and to rise again the third day, substituting Himself for sinners admits to the truth that the people of this world need saving from their sins!

Do you have a biblical world view? Are you willing to take the steps it requires to form a biblical world view and then live by it?  Think it thru!!!

 

HOW SIGNIFICANT IS YOUR WORLDVIEW? part 2

A survey conducted by the Barna Research Groups determined that only four percent of Americans have a biblical worldview. Even more alarming, only nine percent of born-again believers in America have a Christian worldview. This should not surprise us when we observe the fractures in our psyche, our social networks, family life trends, our denigrating of authority, and our moral confusion.
Our worldview shapes all of our thinking on moral, social, economic, and psychological issues. That is why it is so critical to get the right world view.
The Apostle Paul stated his concern clearly on this matter in Col. 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Any world view that excludes Christ and the Biblical perspective God gives us in His Word on life and death will lead us to ruin both now and for all eternity. That is a very serious matter!
So how do we form a biblical worldview and live by it?


Step one: We must decide who will be the ultimate authority in life for us.
This is the critical first step. Until this matter is decided, then a right and biblical worldview is impossible to embrace. The prophet Isaiah in 45:5 of his book quotes God: “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me.” The God of the Bible, not a god I invent in my mind, is the only safe authority to submit to. He is the true and right “equipping one” that gives us in life what is needed to live rightly and wisely.
The consequences of this decision are clearly spelled out in Rom. 1:20-25
“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.”
Did you catch all the worldview mistakes that are made when we do not honor God as God, as the ultimate authority in our lives? We become futile in our thinking, we have darkness that clouds our being, and we give “away the store” by thinking we are ok and do not realize that we have become fools, trading away the one thing we had going for us (the glory of God) resulting in abandonment by God Himself. Choose carefully what authority will dictate your thinking and decision making. Your worldview determines your outcome.


Step two: We must commit ourselves to see all of life in relation to Christ. This step is also critical because it helps us hold the right perspective on all we see, feel, and experience. Col. 3:3-4 “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Did you catch those words? “…your life is hidden with Christ in God” and “When Christ who is your life….” Our heavenly identity may not seem like much in the eyes of the world, but it is real nonetheless. We have not been physically transported to heaven nor do we look any different from those around us who still belong to this world. One day, when Christ comes, we will change. In the meantime our true status is hidden, and though we don’t look much different, we certainly need to live differently. We are to see all of life in relation to Christ Himself. What He has done (saved us), what is He doing (interceding for us), and what He will do (come again for us).  We must perceive life here and live life here with the reality that Christ is making the difference both today and tomorrow. Paul says Christ IS our life. In Philippians 1:21 Paul’s testimony was simply this: “For to me to live is Christ…” J. A. Medders tells the story of having a shirt when he was in high school that said: “Basketball is Life. The Rest Is Just Details.” Later on in life, he commented: “What a dumb and sad shirt!” We hear people say “my kids are my life, or my job is my life. But our worldview is simply that those things cannot define us. My success in life is not my life. Christ is my life. My mistakes and failures are not my life, Christ is. My job is not my life, Christ is. My life is not even my life (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Christ is my life. His victory is my victory. His reward is my reward. His righteousness is my righteousness. His home is my home. His Father is my father. We see all of life in relation to Christ. We make a commitment to see and evaluate all of life in relation to Christ! That is the second step to embracing a biblical world view. Remember something or someone will define your life and its trajectory. We dare not get this wrong! If it is not Christ, then our worldview is faulty and will lead us into the proverbial “ditch.”

We will continue in our next blog with the final steps needed to embracing a biblical worldview.  Think it Thru!

HOW SIGNIFICANT IS YOUR WORLDVIEW? part 1

What is a worldview anyway? Oregon State University (Ken Funk – March 1, 2001)) defines a worldview as:
“A set of beliefs about fundamental aspects of Reality that ground and influence all one’s perceiving, thinking, knowing, and doing. One’s worldview is also referred to as one’s philosophy, philosophy of life, mindset, outlook on life, formula for life, ideology, faith, or even religion.”

James Anderson from Ligonier Ministries commented on a defined world view like this:
As the word itself suggests, a worldview is an overall view of the world. It’s not a physical view of the world, but rather a philosophical view, an all-encompassing perspective on everything that exists and matters to us. A person’s worldview represents his most fundamental beliefs and assumptions about the universe he inhabits. It reflects how he would answer all the “big questions” of human existence: fundamental questions about who and what we are, where we came from, why we’re here, where (if anywhere) we’re headed, the meaning and purpose of life, the nature of the afterlife, and what counts as a good life here and now.”

Believers in Christ hold what we call a Biblical worldview. This is a framework of ideas and beliefs through which a Christian individual, group or culture interprets the world and interacts with it based on the teachings of the Bible.

How significant then is the worldview that you hold? You might say to me: Why should I be concerned about my own worldview? And just maybe you are thinking, that you don’t even know if you have one. 

Let me give you three points to ponder right upfront. Here they are:

  • One, everyone forms a worldview. You have one whether you know it or not. Your worldview is what informs all of your life. It determines what you do with your life and all the choices you make in your life.
  • Two, your worldview will take you either in the right direction or the wrong direction in this life. Your view of the world will determine how you think, how you respond to all the scenarios life presents to you, and how you make decisions about all of that.  And your worldview is the deciding factor as to whether you are moving in the right direction or wrong direction.
  • Three, your worldview will decide where you will spend eternity after this life is over. What you believe about God, death, morality, and authority has eternal consequences for you.

Think about this: If your worldview is erroneous, then your behavior will be misguided, even wrong. Even worse, if you are not conscious of your worldview and fail to appeal to it as a basis for your thoughts and actions, you will find yourself at the mercy of your emotions, your impulses, and your reactions. This means that you will be inclined to “follow the crowd” and conform to social and cultural norms and patterns of thought and behavior regardless of their truth, value, or merit. And where you end up exposes your worldview choices which will prove either delightful or disastrous!

Let me give you an example. Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, in a recent daily briefing broadcast hit the nail on the head when he said the upcoming election is not about politics or personalities, nor about whether one is a republican or democrat, but simply and basically about worldview. What you believe about God, the world, and your own life purpose is really what is driving all the issues, and will ultimately determine how you vote. In other words, we better listen carefully to the candidates’ worldviews for that will guide their platform on the issues. Let me say this again. The worldview one holds is highly significant for it dictates all the decisions one makes and all the subsequent actions one takes.

Here’s another example of worldview impact. Alex Trebek, the host of the game show Jeopardy, back in 2019 was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He made this statement sometime after his diagnosis: “Because I understand that death is part of life. And I’ve lived a long life…When death happens, it happens. Why should I be afraid of it?”  His worldview is reflected in his confession where he says he does not believe in a specific god nor ”a particular version of the afterlife.”

Glenn Schultz in his public blog dated October 21, 2018, states that the foundation stone of every worldview is formed by how one answers this one question. Who or what is my ultimate authority?
I believe his statement has merit because how you answer this question, determines what you believe about God. And what you believe about God, in turn, shapes what you believe about every other component of your worldview. A biblical worldview is based on who God is. If one doesn’t know God, he/she will never have a truly biblical worldview that can direct all of life wisely and in the flow of true reality.

Solomon wrote in Prov. 1:7 that
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Later he followed up in Prov. 9:10 with the truth that
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

Tim Keller wrote the following piece of advice based on what Solomon taught us:
“The beginning of all wisdom is the “fear of the Lord.” But how do we know if we are relating to the real God? The answer is there is no real knowing of God unless we know him through his Word. Otherwise we are creating a God out of our imagination.” And I might add, you cannot really know the Word of God unless you know the Living Word who is Jesus Christ Himself! Jesus said that no one could really get to know God apart from Himself (John 14:6-9).

In part two of How Significant is your Worldview, we will talk about why a biblical world view is vital to life and death. Then we will talk about the steps involved in forming a right world view from the Word of God. Think it Thru

HOW SHOULD WE DEAL WITH UNCERTAINTY?

COVID19 has introduced a new level of uncertainty into the everyday “norm” of life, so much so that the questions raised about this pandemic have revealed our startling lack of sure and certain knowledge. With all our academic brains and advanced technology, here we sit “churning in the ditch” trying to get traction. This uncertainty has divided friends, family, churches, businesses, schools, local, state, and of course our federal government. We have struggled with the uncertainties for so long that we have lost sight of the great certainties. The world has always presented us with uncertainty. It is just in these “abnormal” times that the uncertainties are highlighted and brought to the front more forcefully.


For a moment let’s turn away from the uncertainty and go back to what we know to be certain. It seems when we rely on the great certainties proclaimed in God’s Word that the uncertainties of this life hold less of a worrisome grip on us.
Let me list some of life’s great certainties:

# 1 – There is a God and He knows and ordains the course of life on this planet! Of that, we are certain! Divine comfort and assurance from a Sovereign God who is “driving the bus” gives us a settled peace and a sure message for an uncertain time! Listen to God’s Word: “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7) “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29). “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1). “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). A steady and wise hand on the wheel—that is the certainty we have in this always good and ever-faithful God!

# 2 – The Word of God is absolute truth and will never fail! Of that, we can be certain. This life manual will never need revision. How sad that some men who claim to hold the faith struggle with the whole matter of certainty. It is either all truth or none of it can be trusted. There is no middle ground. John 17:17 declares “Your Word is Truth.” Ps. 119:89 says that “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” I Kings 8:56 states categorically the following certainty: “Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel according to all that He promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises He made through His servant Moses.” Matt. 24:35 says that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” We have an absolutely reliable voice in the Word of God! Its unchanging declarations hold us  fast in uncertain times.

# 3 – There will never be a change in Christ or His atoning sacrifice! Of these truths, we can be certain! “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). “Behold, I have come to do your will. He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:9-12). To know that Christ remains steadfastly the same person and character that He has always been and that his death on the cross stands forever as the only and ultimate sacrifice for our sins imparts strong confidence as we walk into the future with all its uncertainties. That is the message of our unchanging and certain Gospel…the good news! No wonder Paul could testify to Timothy with such assurance when he said: “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me” (2 Tim. 1:12). No wonder the Bible calls our Savior God  “my rock,” and “the rock of my salvation” (2 Sam. 22:47; Ps. 18:2; 62:2; 1 Cor. 10:4).

# 4 – Jesus will never leave His own! Of that, we can be certain. Jesus said in Heb. 13:5 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God affirms this certainty to his people in Deut. 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  One of the most heart-wrenching byproducts of the virus is the prohibition for loved ones to be with those who are critically ill and dying. As hard as that is, for the believer to know that our Savior is always in attendance with us and with those who know Him brings comfort and peace to our souls. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). What great certainty! Even more, Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans” (John 14:18).

# 5 – Death will end in life for the believer in Christ! Of this, we can be certain. Paul said for the believer that when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:1, 8). We have a “new house” waiting for us and Jesus assured us if this were not true, He would have told us (John 14:2-3). We have the word of Christ as our certain hope and assurance. Eternal life is not a pipe dream for the one who knows Christ. It is an assured reality! Thank God there is not a black uncertain hole awaiting those who know Christ. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

There are many other certainties in God’s Word but these five should ground us to deal with the uncertainties we are now continuing to face. Praise God behind the uncertainties of this time, there arises God’s solid ground of certainty for those who know and follow Christ. Think it thru





DO YOU HAVE A HIDING PLACE?

“Shelter in Place” has now become a common expression. A few weeks ago we would have asked “What is that?” Now we know!! This idea prompts a very critical question. Do you have a sheltering place, a hiding place for your soul, your heart, your mind? The old hymn entitled “A Shelter in the time of storm” seems very appropriate today.

“The Lord’s our Rock in Him we hide, A shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide, a shelter in the time of storm.
A shade by day, defense by night, A shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes affright, A shelter in the time of storm.

The refrain continues:

“Oh, Jesus is a rock in a weary land, a weary land, a weary land.
Oh, Jesus is a rock in a weary land, a shelter in the time of storm.”

We certainly live now in a weary land in need of a rock shelter. The man who wrote that, Vernon J. Charlesworth, was the man who headed up Charles Spurgeon’s orphanage. He knew first hand what storms can do to your heart and he had a hiding place. Christ was a more than sufficient hiding place for him and He is that for us too. Come to Christ for your salvation.  He is the only sure rock in the shifting sand of this world’s troubles (1 Corinthians 3:11; 10:4)!

There is another song that comes to mind written by Annie Johnson Flint entitled: “He Giveth More Grace.” She wrote this in the midst of great pain with sores all over her body needing eight pillows just to bear her body up. (You will recall she was also blind and subject to many other illnesses).

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done;
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Refrain:
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His pow’r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

The Grace of God is an incredible hiding place (2 Corinthians 12:9). The generosity of this God in giving his grace to sinners is overwhelming! But it is true!! Trust the grace of God to be sufficient for your battles!

Are you still a bit shaky? Then consider the following texts of Scripture. Think about what the psalmist had discovered about God being his hiding place and what that means:

Psalm 17:8
Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.

Psalm 27:5
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.

Psalm 31:20
You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.

Psalm 32:7
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Psalm 61:3
For You have been a refuge for me, A tower of strength against the enemy.

Psalm 64:2
Hide me from the secret counsel of evildoers, From the tumult of those who do iniquity,

Psalm 68:20
God is to us a God of deliverances; And to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death.

Psalm 119:114
You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word.

Psalm 143:9
Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies; I take refuge in You.

Oh what a hiding place the Word of God is for us who know Christ! The psalmist testifies that when his heart is “melting away” with sorrow, the Word of God strengthens his soul (Psalm 119:28). He confesses that the Word of God is well tried (Psalm 119:140) and  that it is life-giving, reminding us of God’s great mercy (Psalm 119:156). He also tells us that God’s Word brings great peace to those who love it, and they will be guarded from stumbling (Psalm 119:165)

The Son of God, the Grace of God, and the Word of God…what astounding “hiding places” for the soul. Have you gone there yet? Flee, go there quickly, rest there!! Come to Christ for your salvation. Trust the Grace of God to be sufficient. Go to the Word of God for your strength and hope.

Nothing prepares us for the outside battles like having a safe inside retreat. Think it thru




SO WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT CONFESSING OUR SINS?

 

I read an article recently by Kevin DeYoung in which he addressed the subject of the confession of our sins as believers (TGC, May 10, 2014). This is what he said:

“God loves us fully in Christ, but this does not mean we are incapable of doing things that are displeasing to God. We can get out of step with the Spirit. We can grieve him too. Even after we have been redeemed, our sin continues to be offensive to God. And this has an effect.

Think of adoption. You complete the paper work, pay the money and the child is yours. You are not sending him back. Never, ever, ever….You will always love him deeply, more than he can possibly realize. But you can still get upset, still be offended, still be very pleased or very displeased. In the same way, God still notices our sin and it disrupts our fellowship with him.”

It seems that sin is a big deal to God even for the believer who has been saved from his sins. Here are some reasons why confession of sin is so necessary & vital for our well-being:

First, our sin is a disruption of fellowship. DeYoung was right. Even though we are “in fellowship” with God in our relationship, sin disrupts the enjoyment of that fellowship. We no longer enjoy the intimacy of “sonship” or appreciate the blessings of our redemption. For example, sin blinds us to gratitude. Remember Israel’s sin of complaining in the wilderness where they detested God’s provision of manna and pined for the leaks and garlics of Egypt? (Hey, I cannot imagine pining for leaks & garlics -pizza maybe). Their complaint was sin and that disrupted the enjoyment of their fellowship with God. God could not do anything right in their eyes. The leaders God gave them were fools. The provisions God gave them were tasteless. The path God led them on was meaningless. The promises God gave were discounted. The victories God won were long forgotten. The presence of God among them was ignored. Disruption…Disruption…Disruption!

Second, our sin is a precursor to disaster. The disrupted fellowship in the family of Israel brought discipline to them…and yet… they remained the people of God. Ps. 99: 8 shows us the balance of grace and truth resident in our God in terms of our sin: “O LORD our God, you answered them. You were a forgiving God, but you punished them when they went wrong.” James reminds us of the progressive path that sin pursues when we surrender to it in our lives when he says,  “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it it fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). Why do I call sin a precursor to disaster? Because sin is partnered with death. They walk hand in hand. They are “buddies,” “inseparable pals,” connected by a  deep passion for each other. If you partner with sin, then look out because connected to sin is his old partner “death.’ Israel got their wish for flesh to eat (quail) but oh, how sick they became on that meal. Later, they were bitten by poisonous snakes and many of them died. What a precursor  to disaster our sin becomes. They discovered the partnership between sin and death to be crushing and destructive.

Third, our sin is a drag on the wonderful life God has given to us.  DeYoung likens our sin to barnacles on our ship of life which keeps us from moving forward in our growth: “The cleansing, mind you, is not like the expunging of a guilty record before the judge. That’s already been accomplished. This cleansing is more like the scraping of barnacles off the hull of a ship so it can move freely again. I  John 1:9 says that “if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (barnacles).

Confession of sin is a big deal. It is so because God declares it to be so. And it is so because of the tragic and terrible consequences that come from a lack of confession of sin.

DeYoung’s conclusion is worth noting:

“Some of us become Christians and just go on our merry way, never thinking of sin, while others fixate on our failings and suffer from despair. One person feels no conviction of sin; the other person feels no relief from sin. Neither of these habits should mark the Christian. The Christian should often feel conviction, confess, and be cleansed.”        THINK IT THRU