29 August 2016

Meme Christianity

Who doesn't love a good meme? They are visual. They are pithy. They are effective at making a point with minimal space and effort. And let's face it, they are ideal in today's attention deficit disorder world of social media and character limits.

Unfortunately, they also seem to be taking over. Ministry Facebook pages are now littered with memes, and one has to wonder how much edifying and useful conversation these short thoughts actually generate.

For those of you who are a bit less well-traveled in the social media world, a meme is, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture." Wikipedia offers a much longer description of the word and its origin, but for the purposes of this article, let us simply offer the reader a few examples of some of the popular memes floating around "Christian" social media circles these days.

Memes and cartoons may be a clever way to deliver short bursts of spiritual truth, but they must stop being our primary "Shares" on social media. A meme cannot deliver the gospel. Pictures of characters from cult-classic movies are not as compelling as a personal proclamation of repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. Please, Christian, stop relying on these gimmicks for your primary means of gospel communication. By doing so, you are little better than the seeker-sensitive pastor with his trendy sermon series.

26 August 2016

This 'n' That

Recent weeks have been filled with trial and loss, and I'm certain that is true for many of us. It is these times when we find comfort and encouragement in the knowledge that our God ordains such times to strengthen our faith and our trust in Him. It is also in these times when meditation upon the person and work of Christ is exponentially vital. It is one thing to hear, "trust God," but it is quite another to pause and reflect on the Christ who saved you. Growing knowledge of Him increases our trust in Him, for we cannot trust a God we do not know.

If you find yourself in trying times, do not be discouraged by checklists of do's and don'ts that are allegedly designed to boost your trust in God. Simply open His Word and read. Pray for understanding, wisdom, and guidance. Pray that He would reveal Himself to you through His Word. Read again the truth of Jesus Christ. Then rest in that revealed truth. Believer, be comforted by the knowledge that you belong to Him and no one and no thing can snatch you out of His hand. Transitory circumstances change with the breeze, but our God and our King are unchanging and reign forever.

So if you're ready for a break from the busyness of the week, why not relax a little while you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

19 August 2016

This 'n' That

I caught myself screaming at my computer in a whisper yesterday. Yes, it can be done and it's not an uncommon occurrence considering the speed (or lack thereof) of my PC. I'm convinced the insides of my computer are actually from 1999 and it is only masquerading as a new piece of equipment. And yes, I do tend to mutter to myself at times. I'm convinced it's the sign of genius...or madness...but let's go with the former.

When I noticed myself uselessly arguing with a piece of electronics, it reminded me of an interesting observation I made one day while driving home. I saw a man sitting on a park bench talking...to himself. He was having quite a conversation, and no, he was not on the phone and was not wearing a bluetooth headset. He was simply talking...to himself.

It occurred to me that this is what many people think it is like when you talk to God. For many, the idea of prayer is the like talking to an empty park bench. Many people simply do not believe that God is there, let alone that He actually hears us.

These people are gravely mistaken. The God of the universe, the God of the Bible, the Creator, King, and Lord of all is real. He is real and He hears His children when they pray to Him.
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1 John 5:14-15)
When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:5-6)
Christian, do you take comfort in the reality of the immanence of your God? Do you rejoice in the person of your Savior and the work that He has done in reconciling us to the Father?

Now that you've pondered that, it's time for your week in review (kind of):

14 August 2016

Equipping Eve: A Victim of Spontaneous Baptism

The professing Christian community has a variety of views on baptism. In recent years, there was some controversy surrounding so-called “spontaneous baptisms,” but what does the Bible really say about this practice?

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Additional Resources
A Closer Look at Baptism (sermon by Pastor Don Green)
Equipping Eve: The Cross of Christ
Equipping Eve: Making Abortion Convenient
What Exactly Are "Women's Issues"?

Sunday Morning Praise

God Will Take Care of You

12 August 2016

This 'n' That

There are a host of words wandering around the English language that simply are underused and unappreciated. I was recently browsing through some material for a project and suddenly saw the word "fortuitous" proudly decorating the page. Fortuitous; that is most definitely a word that is not used nearly enough in casual conversation.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, fortuitous means, "happening by chance." In other words, if something is fortuitous, its occurrence is accidental and was not brought about by design. I love this word. I love this word because, if we pause and ponder, we realize that nothing is actually fortuitous.

It's true, from man's finite perspective, many things appear to happen by chance; however, from a divine perspective, all things are ordained and designed by the sovereign God of the universe.
In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:8b-12)
The sovereignty of God surely must be one of the most fascinating, wonderful, and comforting of all His attributes. Nothing is beyond the grasp of the One we serve. He is surprised by nothing and He is supreme over all things. Wow. Pondering such realities puts into perspective even small things like enjoying your week in review (kind of):

05 August 2016

This 'n' That

I am a morning person. I love the early morning; the colors of the sunrise and the sound of the birds singing is a favorite way to start my day. Follow that with freshly brewed coffee and some Bible time (should I insert my selfie righteousness, perfectly-staged, coffee-and-Bible-devotional photo here?), and you'll have a happy me...at least until I have to leave for work, that is.

The morning reminds me of the Lord's lovingkindness toward His people:
The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
And while most of us are not in a similar position as David might have been when composing Psalm 143, his trust and expectation that God would be gracious to him anew each day and throughout the day teaches us to view our God in the same way:
Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning;
For I trust in You;
Teach me the way in which I should walk;
For to You I lift up my soul. (Psalm 143:8)
Let us, like Jeremiah, trust in God and praise Him for His faithfulness. Let us, like David, ask God each day to teach us the way in which we should walk. Let us turn to His Word early so as not to walk one step without feeding on His truth.

That being said, if you've not spent time in God's Word yet today, please go do that now. Otherwise there is just no way that you'll truly enjoy your week in review (kind of):