Source: Rejoicing in the Lord: A Study of Philippians by Gary C. Hampton
Source: Rejoicing in the Lord: A Study of Philippians by Gary C. Hampton
I am part of a ladies’ Bible class that I love. If you are around me for very long and in our area, I will be inviting you to be part of that class. It has enriched my life in so many ways because we really study the Bible. I mean, we really study the Bible. We don’t use any class book, not because we don’t believe in them or can’t find a good one (I know there are lots of good ones out there), but because we see a need to just study God’s word in depth.
I was thinking about a song we sometimes sing at our congregation. The title of the song is “Give Me the Bible.” I was wondering if we really mean it when we sing that song. One of the verses has these words:
Give me the Bible all my steps enlighten,
Teach me the danger of these realms below;
That lamp of safety o’er the gloom shall brighten,
That light alone the path of peace can show.
The reason I’m wondering about whether or not we really believe what we’re singing is because when certain subjects are taught from the Bible – God’s inspired words to man – some people become very upset and begin to try to justify their actions.
Some of those topics that seem to cause grief among some members are:
The teaching of Genesis 2:24 concerning one man for one woman for life and the leaving of parents and cleaving to each other in the formation of your own home often goes ignored. How many young men and women go back to their parents when the first disagreement takes place?
God’s plan for the husband to be the head of the home often causes grief in a marriage. Some have said that in our culture that just isn’t realistic. You might want to take that up with God then since His word says, “For the husband is the head of the wife…” (Eph. 5:23).
If you really want to get some women stirred up, just talk about wives being in submission to their husbands! Now they don’t seem to have a problem with being in submission to a boss, a school superintendent, or a department head, but when you say that they are to be in submission to their husband you have just crossed the line. However, Paul told the Ephesians that wives were to submit to their own husbands, as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22).
Oh, how difficult it is to talk about modest clothing in this day and age. It isn’t just difficult to teach to girls at a youth rally, but it is often very difficult to convince mothers and fathers that they should be teaching this to their sons and their daughters. However, Paul wrote to Timothy in his first letter that “…women should adorn (beautify) themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control…” (1 Tim. 2:9).
I read a great deal now about it not mattering where we go to worship. As long as the people there believe in God any church will do, and several have posted and boasted about their attendance at different places. This is not a statement of judgment on anyone, but my Bible teaches me that in order for my worship to be acceptable to God, I must come before Him with a pure heart and offer my worship to Him (John 4:24). If I come together to worship with others just to see what I can get out of it – feelings or entertainment or happiness – I have attended worship for the wrong reason.
When Jesus was asked the question concerning what the greatest commandment was in the law, He answered with these words, “…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37, emphasis added). How many of us can teach today that God wants all of our being, and not be considered a radical in their thinking?
These are but a few of the topics that came to my mind when thinking about teaching others the whole truth.
Do I really want to know what the Bible says?
When I know what it says, do I recognize it as the inspiration of God? (2 Timothy 3:16)
When I recognize it as “breathed out by God” am I willing to apply it to my life no matter what anyone else says?
Can we truly sing the words to the song “Give Me the Bible?”
AUTHOR: Donna Faughn
The older I get, the more time I have found myself spending in Ephesians 4. Not only have the first several verses of that chapter become a favorite part of the Bible for me, but I continue to see how their practical application would solve so many issues congregations face.
In verse 11 of that chapter, Paul writes that there are different leadership roles in the congregation. Following up on that, he writes the purpose of these roles: “To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” If you continue reading (verses 13-16), you will see the result, and it is nothing short of breathtaking!
I think many congregations are missing it when it comes to “equipping the saints.” Church leaders, here are some random, but hopefully helpful, thoughts on that phrase.
It Does Not Merely Mean Having a “Program of Work.” A congregation can have ministries and org charts, and still not have equipped anyone to actually do the work!
It Takes Time. Members need to know what is expected, so it takes time to come up with expectations. They need the necessary training, tools, and opportunities. These take time. Coming up with an idea for a ministry is one thing. Equipping people to do it is quite another.
It Doesn’t Absolve You from Working. Too many leaders see their role as equipping the saints, and by that, they mean, they get to plan something and let everyone else do it. Read this carefully: one of the best ways to equip members for ministry is to let them see you get your hands dirty, too! Lead by word, but also lead by example.
Deacons Play a Major Role. While deacons are not listed in Ephesians 4, their role is inferred by simple deduction of God’s plan for the organization of the church. Elders and preachers can help train and equip deacons, who can, in turn, equip far more people to get a task of ministry done.
It Reinforces What “Ministry” Really Means. The term “ministry” (diakonia in Greek) simply means “service.” When people are equipped to really serve, they feel like they can serve and help anyone. It reinforces what that idea should mean to the strength of the church and the winning of the lost.
It Will Reduce Disunity. We often say that people just need something to do and they will stop complaining. That may be true, but if we do not show them (1) what to do and (2) how to do it, we are actually adding fuel to the fires of disunity! (Remember, Ephesians 4:3 had spoken of the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”? This is one way to help with that!)
Each and every congregation, no matter how large or small, can follow this command. Yes, it takes time and effort, but it will result in a more flourishing and more unified group of people who trust their leaders even more. Let’s equip the saints!
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
Perhaps one of the most well-known events in the life of Christ is recorded by John the apostle in the eighth chapter of his gospel account. Though this passage is questioned by some textual critics regarding its inclusion, we read of a woman who was caught in adultery and brought before Jesus. The mob was ready to stone her, but the question about what should be done was posed to our Savior as a test. You can just see in your mind the image of this woman pushed down into the dust at the feet of the Lord. Perhaps that is why he stooped down and wrote something on the ground. Maybe he was trying to place himself there with this hurting woman so she wouldn’t have to be alone in the dirt.
In the midst of this tragic moment, we recall Jesus’ incredible reply – “Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone.” Nobody did. Every individual present was convicted in their own conscience of their personal sin and one by one they walked away from the troubling scene. Only Jesus and the woman remained. There were many stone holders but no stone throwers on that day. Praise God! This event in the life of the Messiah still testifies today of the mercy and forgiveness of the Creator. And then, on top of all of it, we have the final, beautiful, resounding words from Christ to this struggling woman, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
As we consider what Jesus said to the mob we are reminded that the conscience is a powerful thing. It constitutes one’s spiritual mind. Our conscience is to be active and pure and good and clean (1 Tim. 1:5, 19). It needs not to be seared (1 Tim. 4:2). We should hold the mystery of the faith with a good conscience (1 Tim. 3:19). Our conscience is the genuine representation of the heart which lies within us. Our conscience, if spiritually healthy, can either condemn us to or deliver us from the wrath of God (Rom. 2:12-14).
Our hypocrisy is often revealed by the way we view people and events. We tend to read this passage and we say, “What a terrible, hateful, deplorable mob!” It is probably hard to imagine yourself being one of the people with a stone in hand, ready to punish – ready to kill! But it occurs to me that there is something much worse than gathering stones for throwing. After all, God approved and even commanded stoning for certain occasions.
But then Jesus came, and that changed everything. His coming taught that there was something worse than picking up stones to throw at others. You see, it would be better to hold a stone in your hand than a stone in your heart! At least the mob was convicted! At least they still had a conscience! They dropped the stones and walked away. They weren’t as bad as we are when our sins no longer bother us.
It’s not enough to drop the stone. That should be a given. There’s also a stone within us, deep in our cold, sinful hearts – that at times, must indeed, be cast.
“Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.” – Deut. 10:16
AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum
1964 was an election year. For those of us who lived at that time, we probably remember the victory that Lyndon Johnson achieved over Barry Goldwater in the presidential election that year. It was decidedly one-sided (486-52 electoral votes; 61.1%-38.5% popular votes). When the dust settled, the Democratic Party had sixty-eight of the one hundred Senate seats and 295 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives.
Many factors played into all of that. I will leave it to the historians and experts on presidential elections to discuss and debate those things.
Other than the fact that there was an election in 1964, that year was probably a fairly typical one in some ways. One exception to that is that the Beatles came to the United States for their first tour that year, but that is a subject for another time.
One of the ways that 1964 was probably a fairly typical year is that most likely, a number of things went up during the year. I haven’t done the research on all of this but I suspect that the prices of such things as houses, automobiles, food, and a host of other things increased in 1964. That seems to always (or at least typically) be the case. I’m also fairly confident that, along with these things, wages and salaries probably went up somewhat also in 1964.
Something else also went up in 1964. I have done the research on this. I heard a brother make a statement at Polishing the Pulpit that I thought I would check out. I was not surprised to learn that he was right.
He just mentioned some trends and something that happened in the “fashion world.” I did a little digging and found some more information to add to his. What I found was alarming.
Combining what he said with what I found, the facts show that, for the first time in the history of our nation, the number of forcible rapes that were reported exceeded twenty thousand in 1964. That number has never been below twenty thousand since then. In fact, that number has exceeded one hundred thousand in some years since 1964.
So – what else went up in 1964 – and is there any connection?
Are you familiar with the name Mary Quant? Do you know what role she played in 1964?
If not, you might find the following information helpful. I found it on stylecaster.com. It was entitled:
A History of the Miniskirt: How Fashion’s Most Daring Hemline Came To Be
The information was presented in a “timeline” format. Here what was presented for 1964:
1964: If anyone should be credited with pioneering the miniskirt it is British designer Mary Quant. Quant opened what became the iconic boutique Bazaar in 1955 on King’s Road in London’s Chelsea neighborhood. Inspired by the fashions she saw on the streets, Quant raised the hemline of her skirts in 1964 to several inches above the knee, and the iconic miniskirt was born. She named the skirt after her favorite car, the Mini.
So; the number of rapes in our nation went up during the same year that hemlines went up. Could there possibly be any connection?
Maybe Mary Quant, herself, could help to provide an answer to that question. With a little more digging on my part, I found some interesting quotes. For example, she is quoted as saying:
“Good taste is death; vulgarity is life.”
Here is another one of her quotes that should give us an idea about “where she is coming from:”
“Pornography is great if it’s good.”
Those two quotes should be enough to tell us all we need to know about the “worldview” that prompted her to popularize the mini skirt.
Another quote I found was:
“People call things ‘vulgar’ when they are new to them. When they have become old, they become ‘good taste.’”
I invite you to reread that last quote. Could that help to explain the behavior and attitudes of so many today? Could that be at least one reason why so many accept the fact that women (young and not so young) can wear the name of Christ while also choosing to wear clothing that is very revealing – even as they assemble to worship?
I am very concerned about physical violence done to anybody. I am also convinced that many women who are victims of rape are entirely innocent and are, in every sense of the word, victims.
Revealing attire may not always lead to physical assault. Revealing attire can and does lead to sins in which a person may be a willing participant.
Thanks, in part, to Mary Quant I am now concerned about the message being sent by women who choose fashion and popularity over godliness. I am especially concerned when I see a sister in the Lord dressing in a manner that is honestly not appropriate for one who wears His name.
A lot of things went up in 1964. Sadly, one of them has led to a trend downward in morality and decency. Even more sadly, this downward trend may be one of the reasons that those in the world see no difference between them and some of us who call ourselves “Christians.”
AUTHOR: Jim Faughn
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In this week’s podcast, Adam and Leah share a fantastic quote from Gregory Tidwell about the need to focus on Biblical parenting. Then, to help families do just that, they share a free resource from the blog to help children memorize basic Bible facts, memory verses, and more.
Quote from Gregory Tidwell on parenting [Facebook]
Pew Packers Resource homepage [A Legacy of Faith]
To subscribe to A Legacy of Faith by email for free click here.
Ask the people of Texas. Or those in Florida. Or the ones in all the areas of the raging wildfires. How long, how many days did it take before their lives were changed? I would suggest that the answer could even be shorter than days – maybe hours or even minutes.
Sunday morning, my son, Daniel, pointed out an instance in the life of one of Christ’s disciples where things changed in short order. In Matthew 16, we read of the great confession Peter made of Jesus being the Christ, “the Son of the living God” (verse 16). For that confession, Peter was praised and given a new name.
But look a little further to verse 21: “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Now, I haven’t been able to track down the exact amount of time that the phrase “from that time” indicates. Most of what I read focused more on the fact that Jesus made the switch to speaking openly and plainly as to what was coming. And with that switch, Peter becomes concerned for his friend and teacher. In an attempt, perhaps to comfort Christ or protect those whose hopes were built on Him, Peter tells Christ not to speak that way. He goes so far as to “rebuke” Christ, saying “This shall never happen to you” (verse 22).
Now for what my son Daniel pointed out: Just 6 short verses, and either a few short days or hours, from being called “blessed” by Jesus, Peter is now called “Satan” (verses 17 & 23). What a difference! But what made the difference?
Peter changed his focus. When he declared Jesus to be the Christ, he was focused on Who Jesus was and what He was here to do. But when he was telling Jesus that this death on the cross should never happen to Him, he was playing into Satan’s hand. J.W. McGarvey points out in his book The Four-Fold Gospel that Peter was offering the same basic temptation that Satan had in Matthew 4. He writes: “He was unconsciously trying to dissuade Jesus from the death on which the salvation of the world depended, and this was working into Satan’s hand.”
What can we get from this consideration? What difference will we make in the coming days or hours? Things change in our lives quickly and often unexpectedly. But we can be prepared for those changes by keeping our eyes and our focus on Christ for He never changes.
May the storms, fires, and trials of life help us focus on the One with whom there is “no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will go strangely dim,
In the Light of His glory and grace.”
AUTHOR: Amber Tatum
If you know me at all, you know I like to read. Other than my daily Bible reading, I try to have two or three books going all the time. [If you want to see a list of all the books I have read so far this year, here’s a link.]
As with anything else, however, it can become easy to read in an “echo chamber.” In other words, we may be reading good material, but, too often, we only read things that we already agree with or that we know are going to make us feel good and uplift us.
Recently, however, I have finished two books that truly shook me. They were on two different subjects but were connected in that they both reminded me of real pain that people have gone through in the past. I simpy want to share them with you today.
The first is a book that I have owned for many years, but I had never read all the way through. Witness to the Holocaust
But I am so glad I read it. It hurt to read. At times, no exaggeration, I was nauseated reading it. A couple of times, I struggled to sleep just because of the images in my head. Why put myself through that? Because I needed to! I needed to be reminded of how that awful event came about, and I needed to be reminded of just how horrific the suffering was. I needed to be reminded of just how depraved sinful mankind really can become.
The second book was far shorter, but just as impactful. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass only takes a couple of hours to read, but it will open your eyes to the harrowing realities of slavery in American history. Douglass (which, by the way, was a name he chose as he started to come out of slavery) was a highly intelligent man, but this book will cause you to realize the price he paid just to know how to read and write.
The descriptions of beatings and other awful acts (some to Douglass and some to other slaves) will, hopefully, make you both angry and sad. What stood out to me as I read this short volume, though, was the constant struggle in the thinking of Douglass of “do I want to be free or is it even worth it?” The owners of these slaves would do just enough to make them question whether or not they wanted to be free, and that psychological back-and-forth is both fascinating and frightening.
I am a Caucasian. I’m sure that, if I went back far enough in my family’s history, I could find someone in some place who suffered as a slave. But to be reminded that, as a nation, we are not that far removed from this awful practice is something I need to be reminded of.
I challenge all of us to read a lot, but I also challenge us all to read things that cause us to think and cause us to remember the depths of evil and sin, so that we do not allow these things to even have a toe-hold on our thinking ever again.
(Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to read something about Philippians. I need some joy in my life!)
AUTHOR: Adam Faughn
Recently we have been witnessing some incredibly impressive events in our natural world. Hurricanes and earthquakes and floods, oh, and I also heard something about an eclipse happening somewhere. With these events, there has also been some conversation through the media and other channels concerning their occurrence and what part God might possibly play in it all.
Have you heard anything like this before?…
“Well, New Orleans got hit with Katrina because God was cleaning up all the sin down there…”
“God is punishing Texas with Harvey because they voted for Trump…”
And let’s not forget this one, though not associated within anything weather related – “9-11 happened because God is sending His judgment upon America for its ever trending loss of Biblical morality.”
These statements do, in fact, beg the question: Does God execute judgment today on the physical world through natural calamities as a way of disciplining sinful humanity? I believe the answer is unequivocally and undoubtedly, “No.”
Now to this someone might say, “What about Noah and the flood? Wasn’t that because of sin?” Or, “What about the plagues of Egypt?” Or, “What about the locusts in the book of Joel?” We could go on and on with similar examples. If we look at the Biblical record there is no doubt that in times past God did, in fact, use nature to discipline or even completely wipe out particular nations. In truth, there has never been a time when anything in the universe was not at God’s disposal in the case that He did indeed want to execute His divine and just judgment on His created world.
But it is my firm belief that since Christ came, and the Holy Spirit completed God’s revelation in the pages of the Holy Bible, that to say that God is inflicting mankind with specific storms as a way of divine justice is not only irresponsible but nothing more than mere conjecture. Here’s why…
1. Nobody knows what is on God’s mind unless God reveals it (1 Cor. 2:9-13). If God isn’t specifically explaining his intentions and activities, who are we to speak for God? To say God is doing this or that without Him saying so is really the sincerest form of blasphemy.
2. These statements people make about weather events or terrorism and God’s justice are also skewed to fit their own personal agendas. Far right-wing conservatives used Katrina to make expressions that suited their politics. Now far left-wing liberals are using recent events to do the same. It’s almost as if these terrible disasters that are killing people are being used as fuel by whoever is not currently considered as “in power.” It’s grossly inappropriate, entirely uncompassionate, and it needs to stop. As if anyone will ever be “in power” but God anyway…
I remember as a kid hearing people say that the AIDS virus was invented by God to punish the gay community. As time has gone on I have realized just how inappropriate and unhelpful that statement was. Are we willing to paint a picture of God that he himself has not painted? While STD’s, in general, happen because of sexual immorality – God is not using viruses to make a statement. He has already said everything He needs to say about moral activity in His word. His appeal is instead the grace of Jesus, which has come to all, to draw us to a lifestyle that loves and honors Him and Him alone.
And so what about natural calamities? They have always been here, and they will always be here. And I guess you can say in their own way they are a form of divine discipline. They are a reminder to all of us that this world is not our home, and that earthly life is only temporary. And they help us to count the good days as blessings and be prepared for true Advent of our Lord. Because, “He sends His rain to fall on the just and the unjust”, and because, “Behold, He cometh with clouds…”
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age”
– Titus 2:11-12
AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum
I am typing these words on September 5, 2017. I thought I would provide that information for a couple of reasons. Neither of those reasons has anything to do with the fact that this particular date has any monumental significance. First, since I do not know when this will actually appear online, I thought it would be appropriate to provide a kind of “time stamp” for my thoughts.
I also provided that date because, as I type these words, Hurricane Harvey is beginning to “do a slow fade” from the news headlines. That “slow fade” has actually taken place in a relatively short time.
It has only been eleven days since Harvey hit the coastline of Texas. Many of us watched repeated reports of the devastation it caused and the impact it had in so many ways on the lives of thousands of people. News reports about the physical, social, and emotional devastation caused by Harvey dominated the headlines, alerts, and updates for days.
During the last couple of days, our attention has turned, at least in part, to Hurricane Irma. We are being told that this storm could also have a major impact on parts of our nation. People are watching, waiting, praying, and preparing.
So, as I type these words, it might be said that I am doing so in somewhat of a lull between two (possible) devastating situations. As I sit in the safety and security of my house which has not been affected at all (except for some fairly heavy rain that occurred rather briefly), I am thinking about some “life lessons” suggested by all of this.
I will begin my comments about those “life lesson” with a report I saw on the news this morning. The reporter began by saying, “The rains have stopped in Houston, but the flooding has not.” According to him, he was in a part of Houston that was especially hard hit by Harvey.
There was no water anywhere to be seen. The sun was shining. Harvey was gone. The reporter assured those of us watching that there were still flood waters not far from where he was standing.
Some of the effects of Harvey were clearly evident where he was, though. There were piles of clothing, furniture, etc. outside the house that was serving as a “backdrop” to his report. Some of these items were there to be collected as trash. Some, hopefully, were salvageable and usable.
Some of the effects of Harvey were not quite as evident. These did not become evident until the reporter interviewed the lady who owned the house. I did not know until the lady said during the interview that she was still without power eleven days after Harvey came ashore. I did not know that the vehicle in the background was not hers. She said it had been loaned to her by a friend. I’m not sure if she said, but the clear implication at least was that her vehicle was a “victim” of Harvey. I did not know a lot of things about how a major hurricane was still having an impact on this person’s life eleven days after the initial damage was done until I heard what she had to say and saw the signs of fatigue for myself.
It is no exaggeration to say that this lady is literally trying to pick up the pieces of her life. She is also figuratively trying to pick up the pieces of her life. The hurricane had an impact on her and on thousands of others that has nothing to do with mortar, machinery, or money.
Thousands and thousands of lives will never be the same. Some relationships have ended because of death. Others have been changed in ways which would be difficult for many of us to imagine.
As I type these words, I am doing so five hours or so after I saw the report on television. I’m wondering where that reporter is now. Do you think that he is still with that lady? Is it not more likely, that he has moved on to another story? After all, he probably has some responsibilities himself to turn in a certain number of reports on some sort of schedule. He could even be assigned to get ready in case he needs to report on whatever happens due to Hurricane Irma.
I’m thinking that this little segment of the news and some questions it raises in my mind might have a wider application than merely one man’s thoughts about something he saw on television. I’m wondering if this doesn’t demonstrate how we react to many things in our lives.
As we go about our lives, some things that were in the forefront of our minds at one time may begin to fade. We might have been very concerned and even involved at one time, but that seems to no longer be the case. Our attention has gradually and almost imperceptibly shifted to other things.
Do you remember that dear brother or sister who lost his or her spouse? Do you remember how concerned and involved you were at the time? When was the last time you visited, called, sent a card, or even prayed for that person?
What about the family that suffered the loss of a parent, sibling, or child? Were you concerned about them immediately after that loss? Are you still concerned? Do they know that you are still concerned?
What about the person who is dealing with some very serious health issues? Were you not almost as devastated as he or she was when they first learned about the situation? Did you go out of your way to try to assist in any way you could? Did you tell them that you’d keep checking on them?Have you done so?
Do you remember those two people were about to get a divorce? Did you spend hours and material resources to try to help them? Have you asked how things are going lately? Do you know how things are going? Do you care as much now as you did “early on?”
Maybe you know somebody who actually got a divorce. He or she did not want one, but it happened. Did you do sort of “go the extra mile” early on in order to let him or her know that you cared? Have you done that lately?
I think you get the idea. I know I do. I know that I needed this reminder as much as (maybe more than) anybody else.
This reminder may be especially needed for those of us who may not be directly involved in a particular situation. After all, there are other things going on in “our world.” We each have our own relationships, bills to pay, trips to plan, jobs to fulfill, hobbies to enjoy, etc. The “shorthand” way of saying this, I guess, is that “we have our own lives to live.”
While I’m living my life, I need to remember the difference between the initial effects of a devastating life event and the long-term effects. The initial impact could be in the distant past. The long-term effects may never completely go away.
As I sit in my comfortable house in Kentucky and feel no immediate or long-term effects of Harvey (except for a little extra rain), I need to remember that others were not so fortunate. As I listen to the concern for those who may be in the path of Irma, once again, I have no reason to believe that I will be directly affected.
However, there are people all around me who would trade what they have experienced – and are experiencing – for a hurricane any day. I need to do a lot better job of trying to keep the “slow fade” from happening as I relate to them.
I know that I am editing the television reporter’s statement a little, but the message is still the same. I need to be aware of the fact, that, in so many areas of the lives of so many people –
The rains have stopped, but the flooding has not.
AUTHOR: Jim Faughn