Stop Exploiting So-Called Freedoms in Christ

“You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
Farewell” —Acts 15:29 NIV.”

There is a runaway mindset in the church today. It has to do with so-called freedoms that Christians are promoting and defending for self-serving purposes and not for the edification of the body of Christ (the church). Understand up front that this is not a rant or diatribe. It is written to teach how to move to a higher level of service to the Lord. There must be an understanding that followers of Jesus can be anywhere along the spectrum of growth from a babe still needing to partake of the milk of the Word to those who are mature and growing through partaking the meat of the Word. That being said, this article is for those who can take the information, not be angry for learning it, and pray about incorporating it into their daily service to our Lord. Continue reading “Stop Exploiting So-Called Freedoms in Christ”

If Salvation Was A Consumer Product

If Salvation could be purchased by human beings, its price would forever be rising. If the reality of the consequences of dying in sin was known, Salvation would only be available in the most upscale stores. If the reality of the beauty of eternity with God was known, only the wealthiest people might be able to afford Salvation. If we understood our value, then Salvation would be worth the ultimate price. And, an ultimate price was set and paid by Christ Jesus who, while we were yet sinners, died for us.

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:28-30).

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Sally Still Being Sally

Sally in better health back in June of 2010.
Sally in better health back in June of 2010.

Sally is older and skinnier.  She is still our little girl even though she is an old lady according to her doggy years. She will be 13 this December! I remember when we brought her home.  Her bigger sisters (Lucy and Amy) were not pleased. We thought we would have to take her back for her own safety. Even though we were not walking in God’s will for our lives at the time, we prayed that they would accept her. The very next day the big girls were okay with little floppity-eared Sally taking up space in their house and eating their food.

Soon, they began to protect her. When we moved to a place where we fenced in the yard, the girls all had a great time outdoors. If a stranger was walking by, the big girls would keep Sally behind them as they faced the potential threat. Lucy has give Sally a shove back a time or two, letting her know her place. The fenced-in area seemed small for our big dogs. Now, it seems big with skinny old Sally just going out to do her business and maybe walk the perimeter of the fence line, sampling a blade of grass or two.

We do not know how much time she has left. None of us know that about anyone, not even ourselves. I know God made us in his image. The bible is clear on that. However, keep in mind that animals were made first. God tells us that we are more valuable than many sparrows too. However, the word also points out in Ecclesiates 3:19 that my human flesh is going to die the same as animals. Job 12:10 lets me know that all life is in God’s hands.

I am not arrogant to say that pets who pass absolutely are or are not in heaven. The bible does not say one way or the other. That is because the bible is for us, not them. Sally is not in need of Salvation. It is us who have sin. It is us who are in need of Grace provided by Jesus (John 14:6). Would it not be an incredible sadness if pets are waiting in heaven to be reunited with their human family who never arrive?

Churches With Federal Tax-Exempt Status

There are no new winds of change. The rushing mighty wind of Acts 2 has already arrived and is the power of the church—the body of Christ. Rest assured that the Holy Spirit is orchestrating everything according to the will of God. The Word speaks of all these things that are happening. Nothing is taking God by surprise. We are commanded to be wise as serpents yet harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). It might be good to review Matthew 10 in its entirety. Add in at least Matthew 9:37-38 too.

Rightly divide the instructions. Jesus was never militant in opposing the will of man to preach the kingdom of God. We are fully instructed that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand still stands today as it did when they were the first words of preaching out of the mouth of John the Baptist and Jesus when he began to preach too. When Jesus speaks of not bringing peace to the earth but a sword, it is not militancy. It is speaking to the line drawn in the sand that the Gospel message brings. Saved by the blood of Jesus bearing fruit, or not. Faith in God and in his Word, or not. Walking in the spirit, or walking in the flesh. Doing what the Lord says, or not (Luke 6:46). There is absolutely no militancy as followers of Christ.

The world opposes the things of God. To be a friend with the world is to be at enmity with God—friend of the world, enemy of God (James 4:4, Romans 8:5-10). The world will do as it has done since the Fall. We will do as we have done since the quickening of the Spirit of God that dwells within us arrived when we put our faith in Jesus for our salvation. Those who have been whelmed in the Holy Spirit know and remain willing to do God’s will, and his will is to simply continue to “preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

As history has borne out, it is not always an easy task to keep declaring to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. There will be much opposition to the message, and it comes even in the form of legislation. Churches, be prepared to give up tax-exempt status. Be wise. The law already declares that to have a United States of America Internal Revenue Service designation as a tax exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) that the organizations “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” Not only the supporting of any particular candidate but also any “group of candidates” is prohibited. This is the law, and churches will abide by it if there is a desire to maintain tax-exempt status.

Now, consider a new law that may make it illegal for any tax exempt organization that performs marriage ceremonies to discriminate against same-sex couples desiring to be married. It is not at all beyond the realm of possibility for that, and more, to become law. Churches that refuse to abide by the law are under threat of losing their tax-exempt status. If things such as that become law, then it is law, it is law, it is law.  The church will either perform what the law instructs or will refuse and no longer enjoy tax-exempt privileges. No big deal. Render unto God the things that are God’s, and he will provide as he always does. Whether a coin in the mouth of a fish or dropping out of the sky (as it was given to me in a word), God will provide. Stay the course. Be wise and remain harmless.

Summer Fades Fast

aarts_copyright_2015_tiger_lillies_01Okay, so the summer solstice has officially arrived, but we Pennsylvanians know that the season is technically half over for us. Summer kicks off June 21st with Fall not officially beginning until September 23rd. However, by September, the vacations are wrapping up, kids are getting ready to start a new school year, lawn furniture gets put away and leaf rakes are readied to assist in the grand harvest of brilliant deciduous tree foliage. Continue reading “Summer Fades Fast”

Life and Death

copyright_aarts_2015_king_of_the_rockSpring is such a joyous time for me. The sunshine, the warmth, the freedom to be outdoors without bulky winter gear . . . Oh, and did I say sunshine? I crave the long hours of daylight that spring and summer bring.

Activity at the bird feeder changes from an occasional visit by an overwintering feathered friend to a busy local diner visited by sparrows, brown-headed cowbirds, European starlings, cardinals, rock doves (pigeons), a pileated and red-bellied woodpecker (maybe there is more than one of each), ducks and even rabbits. I have only seen one squirrel in our decade of living here, and he was not able to get up to the prize that awaited him at the bird feeder. Although when I did see him the first time, he was standing upright with his right fore paw having a firm grip on the feeder pole like he was an explorer who staked a claim to the mother lode. Continue reading “Life and Death”