Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Herod's Quarry

Here is a little more about biblical history. Archaeologists have found what they believe to be the quarry from which the stones for Herod's Temple were taken. Click here to read the article. I just thought it was interesting.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Old Friends

Courtney and I just spent a wonderful short weekend with some old friends (we decided to call each other long-time friends rather than "old" friends). We went to Arkansas to visit Tim and Nancy Head and their family. After going out to eat, we went to see their two youngest sons, Brian and Tyler, play football at their homecoming game. Their oldest son, Jimmy, also came home for the evening from medical school, and we were joined by Nancy's mother, Mrs. Effie. Courtney and I have known Nancy about all our lives, and we have known Tim for over 20 years. It is amazing how we can go 3 or 4 years between visits with this special Christian family and simply pick right up where we left off as if we had seen them yesterday. Times like this make the promise of heaven even sweeter.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Spirituality #3

One of the great dangers any army faces is attrition. Christians can suffer from attrition as well. That is why we can't take spirituality for granted. Today we will take a look at the dangers facing the Christian's spiritual life.

Worldliness or the works of the flesh is a real enemy of spirituality (Galatians 5:16-17). Of course, the flesh and spirit are always at war against one another (Romans 7). Paul even told us that our battle is against "spiritual wickedness" (Ephesians 6:12).

Take a moment to consider some signs of spiritual decline. I found this list in the Brownsville Church of Christ bulletin from when Howell Ferguson was the minister there. I do want to change that list up a little bit. Remember Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck" jokes? Well, I would like to say it this way... You Might Be In Spiritual Decline If...
1. You dislike religious conversations or company of Christians (1 Cor. 15:33).
2. Stay away from worship by willful choice (Heb. 10:25).
3. Worry more about a clean conscience than a clean heart.
4. Fear being called "over-strict" more than honoring Jesus Christ.
5. Trifle with temptation or think lightly of sin (2 Tim. 2:22).
6. Condemn in others what you tolerate in yourself.
7. Impatient and unforgiving toward others (Mt. 6:15).
8. Confess but don't forsake sin.
9. Shrink from self-examination (1 Cor. 13:5).
10. When you "strain out the gnat and swallow the camel."

Just remember, spiritual decline, unabated, will always result in spiritual death. What does it mean to be spiritually dead? It means to have stopped trying. It means to have stopped feeling. It means to have stopped thinking. It means to have stopped repenting. May we do all we can to avoid spiritual decline and spiritual death.

I hope you have benefited from these posts about spirituality as much as I have by writing them.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spirituality #2

In Galatians 6:1, Paul said, "...those who are spiritual...." In the last post, we took a look at what spirituality is not. But, who are these people?

A popular definition of the term is "believing in the unseen realm of spirits and being devoted to a system of feeling and/or acting based on the acceptance of those unseen realities." By this definition, animist or Buddhist who meditate for hours are spiritual. Also, Muslims who want to kill anyone who will not convert to Islam is spiritual. However, the Christian must discover and accept God's meaning for biblical terms. "Spiritual" is the adjective form of the noun "spirit." "Spirit has a very broad usage, such as, breath, wind, angels, feelings, will, demons, the quality of life, and man's inner being. When Jesus gave us a description of God, He said, "God is a spirit" (John 2:24). It is from this particular meaning of spirit as related to God that the term spiritual gets its primary New Testament meaning (One exception is Ephesians 6:12). "Spiritual" means "of, or pertaining to, God." It applies to a number of things reflecting a divine connection: the Law of Moses (Romans 7:14); The gospel (Romans 15:27); Reveled truth (1 Corinthians 2:13, 9:14; Power of miraculous gifts (Romans 1:11); Blessings (Ephesians 1:3); Songs (Ephesians 5:19, Col. 3:16). Throughout the New Testament it is apparent that when an inspired writer wanted to lift the reader to the God standing behind those things which have touched or can touch one's life, he used the term spiritual.

Paul made a distinction between those who are spiritual and those who are babes (1 Corinthians 2:14-3:1). He showed that it is an attitude toward revealed truth (1 Corinthians 14:37). Being spiritual has its reality in objective Bible truth and the manner in which a person opens his heart to it. This is how spirituality comes into one's life. Thus, being spiritual is not only to receive, but to LIVE according to the will of Christ (Galatians 5:19-61). The spiritual person of Galatians 6:1 is one who is busy maturing the qualites of personality possessed by Jesus and expressing them in service.

How can you know when one is spiritual? It is anyone who believes Bible truth and conforms his life to it. The degree to which one meets these criteria determines spirituality. Spirituality is not simply an "emotional high." As a matter of fact, Jesus recognized the fact that we may become tired and emotionally drained (Mark 6:31; 2 Corinthians 1:8, 4:8).

Hebrews 5:12-14 is a key passage to becoming more spiritual. It has to do with work and maturity. There is a need for food (personal Bible study). There is a need for exercise (constant use of what one learns). Of course, we must also claim God's help (Hebrews 4:16).

Imagine two Christians. One does a great deal of talking about the love of God. He gives an impressive discussion of Christianity using beautiful expressions of faith. The other is very quiet. When someone needs help, when one is discouraged, when one needs guidance, when one is wandering away, HE IS THERE! Which of these two is the spiritual person? It is one thing to talk a good game, but spirituality will put these things into practice.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Spirituality #1

In Galatians 6:1, Paul speaks of those who are "spiritual." This indicates that there is a state of being which is called "spiritual." But, what is spirituality? Many don't understand this basic New Testament concept, and therefore, we will take time in the next few posts to discuss it. In order to better understand spirituality, our first study will be a discussion of what it is not.

A spiritual person is not one with warm feelings or great emotions. Yes, emotion is inherent in Christianity, but it is not based on pure emotion (Isaiah 1:18; John 6:44,45; Romans 10:17). Spirituality is also based on learning and reason. We would do well to remember that emotions can't always be trusted because they are not necessarily based on evidence or truth. It is also very easy to manipulate one's emotions.

A spiritual person is not one who does a lot of talking about their own dedication. Some people act as if saying that they are something makes it true. Didn't Jesus condemn those who made a show of their "spirituality" (Matthew 6:7)?

A spiritual person is not one who only keeps negative commands. It is not enough simply to keep the "Thou shalt not's." There is more to obeying Jesus than just not doing some things. There are also things we must do. What about the Great Commission? What about brotherly love (Hebrews 13:1)? What about benevolence (James 1:27)? As Christians, we must take the initiative to do what Christ would have us to do.

A spiritual person does not use some mechanical process to become so. There is not a book or CD on "How to Become Spiritual In Five Minutes a Day." Well there might be, but I would doubt its effectiveness. I once received a letter stating that if I would carry some kind of cross in my pocket, I would prosper spiritually. Of course, they also wanted money. What we need is to get the crosses out of our pockets and into our lives (Luke 9:23). This is a 24/7 proposition.

A spiritual person is not spasmodic in living the Christian life. This is the on again/off again type of Christianity. A spiritually minded person doesn't try to take it on and off like clothes. They don't push a button to turn their spirituality on and off.

A spiritual person is not produced by baptism. Of course, this is when one is added to the body of Christ (Galatians 3:27). This is when one becomes a Christian, but he is also a babe in Christ (1 Peter 2:2). Yes, a Christian is a spiritual being, but growth is necessary (Hebrews 5:12-14).

A spiritual person is not necessarily one who is faithful in attendance. All spiritual people are faithful, but not all faithful people are spiritual. Faithfulness is a stepping stone to spirituality. An individual can be faithful in attendance and unfaithful in living the Christian life.

Finally, a spiritual person is not one who lives without relying on Christ. Even Paul recognized this (Philippians 4:13). We find our strength in Him (Ephesians 6:10). If you want to be spiritual, depend on the Lord.

Just being a good person or even faithful in some aspects of Christianity doesn't make one spiritual. There is so much more to it. My next post will deal with what spirituality is. Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Scientology On Trial

A prosecutor in Belgium is charging Scientology as a criminal organization in that country. Click here to read the article. One thing a reader might find helpful is a brief history and explanation of Scientology at the end of the article.

However, as interesting as the article is, it doesn't compare to the comments that follow it. Just scroll down and read what has been posted. It is amazing how much people hate "religion." Especially notice comments numbered 37 and 40. They give an idea of what many of the other comments are saying. These are not representative of all the comments, but they do show a strong tendency against religion as a whole. One person said truth is personal, and, therefore, no one should try to convince anyone else of their truth. Question: Why is he telling us this? Doesn't that violate his own rule that he should not try to convince us that he is right about his "personal truth."

First, unlike some of the people commenting on that article, I don't believe religion (even false religion) should be banned. Why? God even put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the garden of Eden (Genesis 3). He gave man a choice for a reason. Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating false religion, but I am acknowledging that people must make choices.

Second, a counterfeit always implies that there is a genuine article. In other words, if there are counterfeit religions, there must be a genuine religion. Man has always had a tendency to change God's way of doing things (Proverbs 14:12; Jeremiah 10:23).

Finally, we must get back to simple the Christianity of the New Testament. We need to preach Jesus just like Philip did when he was with the Ethiopian (Acts 8). Of course, that means one must preach all of His Word. The problem that so many have with religion today isn't really with religion in general as much as it is with the religious people who give it a bad name. Thus, we are challenged to be the best Christians we can be so that the world can see what real Christianity is all about (Matthew 5:16).

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Great Day In Doniphan

Last Sunday was a great day for the Doniphan Church of Christ. Bruce Gobbell did the preaching. Bruce was the perfect choice as speaker for the day since he served this congregation two different times. First, he was here in the late 1950's and the early 1970's. It was also good to see so many people who had formerly been members. Here are some pictures from the day.

Thank you for making this a special day for so many!