Children Walking in the Truth

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 4

The apostle John, referring to himself as an elder, is writing to Gaius who was a member of the church. Gaius was one whom John had discipled and could now see the fruit of his efforts and it gave the apostle great joy. What if church leaders stopped discipling other Christians? What if parents stopped teaching their children about the Scriptures and Christlikeness? Imagine what the church would look like in only a few decades if we could not take our eyes off ourselves for one or two hours a week to invest in someone else? The business of daily tasks is robbing us of one of the greatest joys in life; make disciples for Christ. Are you currently in a discipleship relationship with anyone?

Parents are the main disciplers of their children. Are we diligent in this task? Are we teaching our sons and daughters how to grow into men and women of God? As faithful parents who will give account to the Lord regarding how we have discipled our children we need to be intentional about teaching them how to pray, how to study Scripture, how to treat their siblings, how to honor their parents, how to handle money wisely and how to surrender their will to Christ. We as godly parents should explain to them the dangers of being self-willed and head strong. Harvey Newcomb stated, “There is no being but God to whom children are so much indebted as to a faithful parent; and almost all the blessings that God bestows upon them come through their parents.”

If there is no greater joy than to know that our children are walking in truth and communion with the Lord then there must be no greater burden than to know they are living for themselves apart from the grace of Christ. I know of no satisfactory answer to the question of how can a child grow up in a Christian home and yet rebel against truth, mercy and the love of Christ. We must then rest in the grace of Christ and make our appeal to Him for the soul, life and heart of our children to turn and look to Him as their Lord. Be persistent in your prayers for your children. Affirm in your prayers the faithfulness of God and His love for your children. Spend a little extra time today in prayer for your child. Don’t just assume your young children will walk in truth as they get older, pray hard for them now.

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David Ferguson

Yep, you guessed it! David Ferguson (born c. 1525) is my great, great, great, etc…grandfather.  My dad has researched the Ferguson family tree for many years. He has traced our family back to 16th century Scotland. It has been discovered, and confirmed, that we have a clear record of an unbroken line back to David Ferguson. From what I understand, an unbroken line this far back is kind of rare.

This peaked my interest as you might imagine. I found out that David Ferguson is referred to as “one of the Fathers of the Reformation in Scotland.” He was used by God in ministry especially in his criticism of the Pope and the corruptions of the church which led to the Protestant Reformation. John Knox said of Ferguson that his “heart was glad and praised God” for the important leadership role he played.

Reading 16th century Scottish literature can be difficult. Can you read this: “I trust the vnaffectionat Reader shal perceaue but we builde not vpon men, but vpon the treuth of God, confessing oure seues ‘to know nothing but Jesus Christe’ (no him that hingeth in a cord or halter ouer your altars sumtyme til he be worm-eatten and not worth the holding adjudged to the fyre): no, but him we confesse that wes made, not of white corne, but ‘of the seke of Dauid, according to the fleshe,’ yea, euen him that wes crucified, and ‘declared mightylie to be the Sonne of God, touching the Spirit of Sanctification, by the Resurrection from the dead.’”

Or what about this: “Ye knowe planely if that ye loke ouer the Scripture with humilitie the slight and desait of Sathan (Christes and all Christianes enimies) for to misreule and disturb the trew Kirk and his furious interpryses, also to deleit and put away the remembrance of Christ Jesus ye misknow not.”

I suppose my Southern dialect today would sound just as strange to him. I will enjoy reading the book. I wonder if I will disagree with anything he says? I look forward to a great conversation with him in heaven one day.

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What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary

Good book; not great, but good. The title leads the reader to assume that the book will be about how Seminaries have failed to prepared men and women for ministry. After reading the book I would say that’s what White intended to write about. I don’t know what Seminary White attended but I suppose his Seminary was not as well-rounded as mine.

I went to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and they actually did teach me many of the issues White talks about. Of course they didn’t teach everything. No Seminary can teach absolutely everything. School can not prepare a person like on-the-job training can. That’s just life. What Seminary does do, my Seminary anyway, is to prepare God-called men and women to be fully equipped ministers of the Gospel.

I have never met James Emory White but my wife and I have attended his church one time. I have full confidence that he is preaching the Word of God and the grace of Christ. This book is a great reminder of what we all face – the need for wisdom in everyday situations.

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The “Dark Knight” Massacre

Waking up this morning to yet another senseless massacre of innocent people who gathered to see the new Batman movie I could not help but think to myself, “What if my family and I had been there?” The premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” will go down as one of the darkest nights in American history.  As of now, reports say there are 12 dead and as many as 50 injured.

Think about the last five years. In 2007 the country suffered through the Virginia Tech massacre. Then in 2009 we saw the Fort Hood massacre. Now, in 2012, the Dark Knight massacre is the latest in a string of horrible shootings.

Are we living in a country, even a world that is falling apart? Well, yes we are. Where is the fear of God? Where is moral restraint? What is happening? Surely there will be commentators who will analyze this event from every angle. But I have just one comment to make.

We need the King of kings to come back to this broken world and rule in righteousness and power. Jesus is returning to this world and His reign will be in power and might. Until He returns, Christians should remember several things.

  1. Cling to His goodness – Whatever you do, don’t throw your hands up and think God does not love. James 4:8 reminds us, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Let this tragedy send you into the loving arms of God.
  2. Seek Him with all your heart – It is in seeking the face of the Lord that lifts our spirits. King David said in Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”
  3. Pray for revival to sweep the land – May there be a mighty wind of the Spirit to sweep through the church to awaken the sleeping body of Christ. Change will not come from Washington but from Zion. The new birth that comes through repentance and faith in the Cross of Christ will change people.
  4. Pray for the victims and their families – Please don’t grow numb to waking up to another story of a great massacre in the world. Rather, be fervent in praying for the victims and their families. Pray this would be an open door for the love of Christ to bring the spiritually dead back to life.

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The Eclipse of Faith

Put yourself in Eliab’s shoes. “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of this stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). The oldest of Jesse’s sons, Eliab was the most likely candidate to be anointed the new king. His future was bright. Great days were ahead. Then he was rejected as king. His day turned to night. His hopes were dashed upon the rocks. His dream died an excruciating death. His clear future became muddy. His faith was eclipsed as David, the least likely candidate, was anointed king right in front of him (1 Sam. 16:13).

Eliab’s rejection to be king was not a rejection of Eliab. It was simply that God had a different path for Eliab. But Eliab made a huge mistake. He allowed his faith to become eclipsed by this disappointment. He allowed anger, bitterness, envy and jealously to enter his life because he was passed over (1 Sam. 17:28).

Don’t allow your faith to be eclipsed by shattered dreams and loss. Abide in Christ and let His Word abide in you and your life will bear fruit for His glory (John 15:7-8). Affirm your love and trust in God when things don’t turn out the way you thought. Guard against anger and bitterness when you are “passed over.”

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Is Your ‘Comfort Zone’ A Good Thing?

Our fallen nature is drawn to what we typically refer to as “our comfort zone.” We tend to gravitate toward what is familiar even when it is not good for us. We see this in Exodus 16:1-3 when the people bemoaned that they should have remained in Egypt because, at least, there was food. It became a comfort zone to them even though it was bad for them.

Then, Deuteronomy 31:1-8 describes Moses encouraging the people just before entering into the Promised Land. The wilderness became their comfort zone simply because it was familiar. Any change can bring about fear and anxiety. Yet we must move forward in what the Lord has in store for us. The Lord is not stagnate and He does not want His people to become paralyzed in the familiar. Embrace change as it is orchestrated by God. Do not be enslaved to your comfort zone.

Ask the Lord to help you know your comfort zone and to help you move forward as He leads. Confess your comfort zone as a lack of trust in God. Pray for strength and courage to live for God. Remember what King David said, “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.” Psalm 52:8-9

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Heaven is for Real, Really?

I have a lot I could say about this book, but I will try to boil it down to the basics. The first half of the book describes Colton’s illness. It really draws one into the story of these hurting parents. I could not help but remember when our youngest son was in the children’s hospital in Charlotte a few years ago.

The second half of the book deals with the interesting comments Colton made while engaged in everyday conversations with his parents. Colton was three years old when all this happened and his account slowly drips out over the next several years. There was not one big “heaven dump,” it was more of a slow leak.

Colton’s account was interesting. He said he saw Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit. He saw family members in heaven as well as his mom and dad in the hospital while Colton was in surgery. The claims did not seem wildly unscriptural compared to other near death books I have read.

The whole question for me is the issue of authority. Did Colton really see and experience heaven? Maybe, maybe not. We will never know for sure. The experience cannot be authenticated. We must remember that this book is not authoritative. The only authority from God for life and the afterlife is the Word of God. Extra-biblical accounts should be kept in their proper place.

Given the rise of near death experiences (NDE) perhaps the evangelical community should gather together in one city (I volunteer Charlotte) to come up with some sort of biblical standard by which we can measure the validity of NDEs. We could call it the “Charlotte Statement on Near Death Experiences.” Maybe this could attach some guidelines to establish some measure of authority regarding such accounts. (Somehow I don’t’ think such a group will assemble.)

The big question to answer is how does this, or any other NDE, compare to visions of heaven in Scripture? If such a counsel could redirect our focus back to the Bible and away from subjective experiences it would be well worth it.

Do I believe heaven is for real? Absolutely! But Scripture is the only authoritative source from God to settle the issue not a near death experience.

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