Pastor’s Blog

When GOD Doesn’t Make Sense

An Encouraging Word

  1. Hayden 3-9-17

 

Our world can often be a very critical and cynical place to live in. It is so easy to see how many Christians see this generation in light of the scripture that says, “10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:10-12). With record violence taking place in many of our major cities, ever increasing anxiety over the direction of world and online communications with one another becoming less and less civil due to our expansive differences in belief systems, it would appear that our love for one another, as the prophecy reveals, is certainly growing colder than ever before. While we may be witnessing this icy transformation take place in our nation and around the world, it does not have to be a characteristic of the Body of Christ.

John 13:34-35 says this, “34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” When the Lord tells us that we are to love one another, what He really means is…that’s right…we are to love one another. That means we should say encouraging words that lift each other up rather than finding ways to tear each other down. We are to seek the best for our brothers and sisters in Christ, not just for ourselves.

We read in Ephesians 4:29–32, “29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” When we communicate with each other, is our speech laced with kindness? Do we make every effort to speak edifying words to one another so that we are consistently imparting grace to those that hear us? When we allow the Spirit to be our guide, our conversation will be an encouragement to our fellow believers and the world will see the love of Christ flow through us and thereby know that we belong to Jesus.

 

Be blessed even more!

 

Pastor Chris


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This Too Shall Pass

Life can be like a roller coaster at times when in the middle of our peaceful world, sudden disappointments appear wrecking havoc and throwing us into turmoil. In one stretch of time we seem to be traveling along on a steady course that appears uneventful and peaceful and then…BAM…tragedy strikes and our world is turned upside down.   These are the moments that try our faith and can often lead us to question God and His purposes for us. The Bible gives us several reasons for why these things take place, but the most common reason that I see is revealed in this scripture. Matthew 5:44-45 says this. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Yes, we can blame the devil for many things that we see going wrong in the world. And yes, we at times need to lay the blame on our troubles at the feet of our own bad decisions. But more often then not, the sun shines as well as rains for all of us because we exist together on this giant ball called earth, living in a fallen world of sin that affects us in very real, tangible ways. And bad things happen to very good people just as they happen to those who have rejected God and blaspheme Him. There are instances in the scripture where we see God intervene and punish the unrighteous for their evil deeds as well as rewarding the righteous for their unbending faith in Him. We also see the devil at work trying to wreck havoc where he can. We have seen these examples in our study of Daniel on Wednesday evenings.   But if we continue digging in the Word, we will also see times when the unrighteous are seemingly ignored by God while His servants suffer.

Jesus encouraged His disciples during these times when He said that in Him we may have peace. In the world we experience tribulation; but be of good cheer, He has overcome the world (John 16). Just know this, and I hope this encourages you, God is watching and keeps an accounting of all He sees. For those following Him, He will never leave nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). His blood cleanses you of all sin and we can rest in knowing that when difficulties arise…THIS TOO SHALL PASS. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

 

Be blessed even more!

 

Pastor Chris


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Doom, Despair, and Agony On Me!

We live in an imperfect world to say the least. Sometimes we start to feel like WE are CHARLIE BROWN! The gas prices drop but taxes are too high and our take home pay is often too low, so what’s the point? The moment we really begin to enjoy the beautiful fall weather, an ice storm hits and the air drops to freezing! Then it goes back up to warm weather again, but we’ve come down with the flu, respectively, and are not able to enjoy it…wonderful. We just get the hot water heater fixed but then the furnace goes out right about the time the weather drops below 20o F so you are cold…again, get the flu…again and can’t enjoy the holidays…again! And by the way, the car broke down so who cares about the low gas prices! Sometimes, the problems are even more severe! Sound familiar…

We end up living in an ever perpetual loop of the “doom and despair” syndrome. You know the old Hee-Haw bit: “Doom, despair, and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Doom, despair and agony on me.” Now Jesus said that we would have tribulation in this world (John 16:33), but that we should be of good cheer, never despairing from the misfortune that befalls all of us at one time or another.

It is in these times when despair would bring us down into a pit of constant complaining, that we need to have our “God inspired gratitude” kick in to remind us of the greatest blessing ever given to mankind. It was revealed to us in Luke chapter 2 and in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” when Linus gives a wonderful soliloquy to fellow cast members. It goes something like this: “8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good tidings of joy that will be to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’ 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased’” (Luke 2:8-14).

This is a wonderful time of the year when it may be helpful to remind ourselves that God sent His son, Jesus, that we might be truly blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

Be blessed even more!!

Pastor Chris


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Purpose of Guilt & Shame

There are times when guilt and shame are properly placed and have a Godly purpose. We should never feel guilt or shame when we honor God, or embrace the same for something that is not our fault. Feelings of guilt & shame that are appropriate can only be so as they relate to God and our dishonoring Him.

In 1 Corinthians 6, we see the account of Christians initiating legal action against their brothers in Christ. The Apostle Paul rebukes this action declaring, “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame.” In this instance, brothers in Christ were dishonoring God by taking other believer to a worldly court. They were trying to appear righteous in deed, but were actually showing their spiritual weakness and dishonoring God. Paul said this to their SHAME!

In Ezekiel 43, the Israelites contaminated the temple by ignoring God’s specific instructions. The writer pens this in verse 10, “Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities;” When believers purposefully ignore God’s Word, His directions and sin, we are to recognize our guilt and experience shame. Guilt and shame are proper when our thoughts and actions dishonor our Lord. If the world had a greater sense of well-placed guilt and shame, we would have a lot less young celebrities “twerking” on Grammy Award shows!

Yet, even when we sin and dishonor God, Jesus does not want us to hang on to or bathe ourselves in guilt and shame, wallowing in self-pity. Properly placed guilt and shame becomes improper and misplaced when it continues on beyond the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Guilt and shame is used by the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin so that we can repent and be restored to God. Anything that lingers beyond that turns into ungodly condemnation and is of Satan to destroy us. The Apostle John tells us in his first epistle, chapter 1:8-9, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The devil uses guilt & shame to destroy us. God uses guilt and shame to bring us back to Himself and forgives us of all unrighteousness.

Be blessed even more!!

Pastor Chris


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Oh, The Shame

I don’t know about you, but there have been moments in my life when I have been inundated with feelings of guilt and shame. I think we all have had those moments. Sometimes the guilt & shame we felt was absolutely justified and sometimes the guilt & shame was absolutely unfair and should never have been embraced. Often we have a hard time telling the difference.

I recall feeling guilty and embracing shame one fine Saturday afternoon as we played our Junior League baseball rival. A hard hit drive from our opponent came screaming down the third base line (I happened to be playing that position at the time). The ball hit the dirt about 10 feet in front of me, then proceeded, as if perfectly targeted, to strike my sternum in such a way that every microbe of air exited my lungs leaving me collapsed on the ground. Oh, I had the ball, but the immediate pain and shock delayed my reaction to throw it to first and our opponent ended up with the, what was to be, the winning run on first. During the moment, my short stop cried out, “Throw the ball.” All I could do was mouth the words, “I CAN’T BREATHE!!! I felt guilty and I was ashamed for letting my team down.

Wikipedia describes guilt as a judgment or experience that occurs when “a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation.” Shame is the pain that results. As believers, we need to know that the Bible tells us that guilt and shame should only be embraced or rejected according to whether we have dishonored or not dishonored God. Paul tells Timothy that he should not be ashamed of the Gospel or of those who preach the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:8). Many in the world may try to shame us when we share our faith in Christ, but we should never embrace these feelings when doing something that honors God.

We should also reject guilt & corresponding feelings of shame when we have done nothing to dishonor God, but may have been inappropriate or inadequate according to others expectations (such as when I was unable to throw a ball to first base while doubled over in excruciating and debilitating pain). Neither should we embrace these emotions when someone else dishonors God, but we place their guilt upon ourselves because of unfair association. Isaiah 50:7 says this, “But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.” In the next Disciple, we will talk about when guilt and shame should be experienced and how to bring it under the authority of Christ.

Be blessed even more!!

Pastor Chris


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Um, Now What Do We Do?

Well, that is the $64,000 question now isn’t it. The further our nation retreats from the Biblical moorings given to us by God, the more pressure is placed on the Church to respond. The fact of the matter is, this really isn’t new to the Church worldwide or historically. Historically and in other parts of the globe, true Christians (not institutional religious Christianity) have often been the target of persecution and isolation from a larger world that has rejected Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It is just new to us here in America where for decades prayer and the Scriptures were incorporated into so many of our institutions including school settings (but now removed). America is changing at light speed and a heavy anti-Bible believing atmosphere is emerging to challenge traditional understandings of Scripture. It is being replaced with a culture more inclined to tout the virtues of diversity (regardless of unity) and doing what makes one happy at all cost. The world (and many in the Christian world) is certainly engaging in “Happiness Quest” over “Holiness Quest.”
So what do we do now? Just as we look to the Word to know what we shouldn’t do, we need to go there to learn what we should do as well. First of all, we need to realize that persecution is a part of all who will live Godly in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:10-12). Our faith will be challenged by the unbelieving on a consistent basis until the Lord returns so we need not be amazed when we see it happen.
Secondly, continue to follow Jesus and His Word. In verse 10, Paul reminds Timothy how he carefully followed his doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love and perseverance, etc. We need to do the same. They definitely lived in an anti-christian world. Thirdly, in verses 14 and 15, instruction is given to continue in what we have learned, namely the Holy Scriptures which is able to make us wise for salvation through our faith in Christ. We must not be deceived or diverted to the left or the right, but continue to study God’s Word and order our lives in accordance with Biblical tenets. In verse 16, Paul confirms the Scriptures value declaring that it is inspired by God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness.
Finally, let us follow the example Christ laid out for us. He was kind and gentle, loving and forgiving, full of truth and grace to all who would listen to Him, yet wasted no time on those looking to pick a fight. He gave the truth to the proud and grace to the humble. He was stalwart when proclaiming what people did not wish to hear, yet He did not come to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. We need to keep speaking God’s grace and truth (with grace and truth) to all who will listen so that the “whosoever will” may come to their spiritual senses and be saved through faith in Christ.
Be blessed even more,
Pastor Chris


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Uh, I Think We Knew This Was Coming

I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it, and if you have any doubt at all, I really don’t want to do it. What? I do not want to get into another political or ideological debate. But people, events and other political and ideological parties keep dragging me into it. And as long as this political tennis ball keeps landing on the Church’s “Biblical and moral” side of the court, I am compelled to address it and send it back across the net. It is not my fault! So here goes.
In light of the past Supreme Court rulings, and the pursuing discussions which followed, I think most would agree that we are seeing some significant change in the wind regarding the theological and moral compass surrounding the issues concerning marriage, family, the Bible, the Church and our national identity. The very fabric of our society is undergoing (and has been undergoing) a seismic shift away from what was held to be true for both millennia in the body of Christ, as well as the majority of mankind’s existence. And, although encapsulated in “good intentions,” it is revealing the ever increasing separation of our national and global culture, and Biblical understanding held by most men and women of God throughout world history. Having said all of that, we kind of knew this would happen.
This past month we spoke about what it would be like living in what many believe to be the “End Times.” As we read Biblical texts, we are clothed with the knowledge that “The World’s” understanding of rightness and wrongness would take a significant left turn (or right turn depending on your political station) from God’s Word. In 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes to a young pastor named Timothy and sets out to prepare him, and us, for an upcoming apostasy. He starts out with these words from 2 Timothy 3, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves…” STOP. I don’t want to hear any more!! (Hands on ears).
Following those first few words of Paul comes a laundry list of characteristics describing the condition we find ourselves in today. One thing interesting in verses 7 and 8, we are told that humankind would not only be unable to come to the truth found in God’s Word, but would indeed be resistant to the same (2 Timothy 3:7-8). We are living in a generation where many seek to remove Biblical instruction from all spheres of public life and consistently exalts humankind as their own savior and moral arbiter. Surely, we knew this was coming?! More on this subject in 2 weeks.
Be blessed even more,
Pastor Chris


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Thank You For Giving

I want to take this time to thank everyone who continues to give to the ministries of Central Christian Church. We have such a generous congregation and we all are blessed by the ongoing financial support that has become a hallmark of this wonderful congregation. So many have stepped up to provide for our needs whether through regular weekly giving or for special needs that occasionally arise. Not only have you given to the financial needs of this ministry, but you have shared your time and your talent as well, and all of us have been enriched by it. In Hebrews 6:10 we read, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” He never forgets what we do for Him and His reward is sure. In the book of Luke 6:38, we are encouraged to give to others. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you give, it will be measured to you.” Be assured that you cannot out-give the Lord. He has promised to repay some 30, some 60 and some 100 fold the gifts given in His Name and on His behalf.

However, we know that our congregation does not give expecting a return. You give because of your love for God and love for the ministry of Jesus Christ. We so appreciate your support and believe that God will bless all of those who from a pure heart give to the ministry of Central Christian Church; this congregation continues to evangelize and extend our love to the Huntington County community. In Philippians 4, the apostle responds to the giving of believers who have amply supplied for his ministry and the work God called him to. He describes a group of Christians who gave to his need “time and time again.” In the 19th verse he states this, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” That is my prayer for you and I believe, because of your marvelous generosity, God will supply all of your needs according to His riches as well. As you continue to support God’s ministry through tithes and offerings, shared talents and precious time, know that we remember you often in prayer and so appreciate the sacrifice you make.

We could never thank you enough but we so appreciate your faithfulness and support.

Be Blessed and Be Grateful and THANK YOU,

Pastor Chris


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Turtle Talk

God encounters us in a way we can understand. But we must take the time to listen and make space to listen. I have been told that researchers have conducted studies on the communication and conversation patterns of a breed of river turtles in Brazil’s Amazon territory. This research has yielded recordings of over 250 distinct sounds between a group of hatchling turtles and their mother. They were able to categorize this conversation into 6 different groups corresponding according to the behavior observed as a consequence of the “turtle chatter.” Now the communication elements are not definitive in their meaning, but it has become clear to researchers that information is being exchanged between the mother turtle and her babies. What some scientists have concerned themselves with is the noise pollution created by a growing level of modern civilization and heavy machinery that brings conflicting and distractive sounds to their world.

God speaks to us also. Not always in long soliloquies or eloquent orations, but God often speaks to us in a still small voice that can also be susceptible to distracting voices and sounds. These world manufactured distractions take us away from finding and hearing God’s voice spoken to our spirit. In Psalm 46:10 scripture tells us this, “10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” In this scripture, God lets us know of His awesome power; that he will be exalted among all people and throughout the entire world! Yet the Word of God starts with, “Be still and know…”

It is when we get in a place and a time of quiet peace that we can hear the voice of God speaking to us and telling us things that bring an intimacy to our relationship with God. Just as the baby turtles have to be in a place and time to be able to stop, hear and recognize the voice of Mama Turtle (Away from the noise of the world), we need to do the same with our Father who has opened up His line of communication through His Word and by the medium of the Holy Spirit speaking to our spirit. That is why it is so important to find a place of isolation and spend time with God before we leave our domicile in the morning, entering into the world with distracting activities and voices. Take time each morning and find a place where God’s voice becomes clear and His Words begin to speak to you.

Be blessed and be grateful,
Pastor Chris


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Talking Points

Do you believe in Conspiracies? Society is fascinated with them! Did George Bush order the 911 attacks? Did we really land on the moon? What is in Area 51? Or is it Area 54? Are the Bilderberger’s & Rothschild’s getting ready to take over the world thru the Illuminati? Who is the Anti-Christ, really? And, who drank my Sunkist that was in the fridge?

From Watergate to the IRS scandal and beyond, many people live from one conspiracy to another, latching on to the latest cloak and dagger theory. Some conspiracies have merit and some do not. But because we see silly conspiratorial theories come forth, some have taken the pendulum the other way and think there is no merit to any conspiratorial tales (unless it goes against something they happen to dislike). One thing that we certainly need to be careful of is becoming like “Paranoid Rob Lowe”, thinking that the government is putting microphones in our cheese!

Well then Pastor, do YOU believe there are conspiracies? Absolutely…I know there are dark agents that make up conspiratorial elements in our world. In our political system, the very fact that groups put out TALKING POINTS (whether believed true or not) reveals people who conspire for the determined goal of putting themselves into power! Regardless, the idea that there is a sinister force behind what we see going on in our world today has become a bit of a joke in the minds of some. The Christian Church needs to accept some of the blame for that due to all of the “date setting” regarding the imminent return of Christ. However, that does not mean that we do not face forces behind the scenes conspiring against us. For the Bible is clear that we do.

In Ephesians 6:10-12, we read ”Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c]against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” [CONSPIRACY] The Devil conspires against God and God’s people daily, and Satan has his own “Talking Points” to do so. Later in that chapter, verse 16, we are told to take the shield of faith in order to quench the “fiery darts” [TALKING POINTS] of the enemy. In fact, to be a follower of Christ is to know we have an enemy that conspires against the Cross of Christ and those who believe in it. Be reminded what the Apostles tells us in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” We can fight back… More later.

Be blessed and be grateful,
Pastor Chris


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