Monday, March 28, 2011

VOM: Bound With Them

Saturday, March 26, 2011 - It was an honor and a privilege to go to The Voice of the Martyrs Southwest USA Regional Conference "Bound With Them" 2011 held at Cottonwood Church in Los Alamitos, California.

I know we say it a lot about things like this without really meaning it, but this really was a life-changing experience.  The things I saw and heard, I pray, will stay with me forever.

The entire conference was one blessing after another, but seeing as it was 4-5 hours long, I can't relay all that occurred here.  I can, however, share a few highlights, and over the course of the next few days, this will be the theme of my blog posts.
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The first speaker, Robert Broch (long-time staff member with The Voice of the Martyrs), shared with us this acronym: T.W.A.


The Body of Christ (the Church) still suffers today.
We are to remember them, as it says in Hebrews 13:3!
As we serve them, they serve us even more.

It was to help us remember the theme and purpose of the conference: Bound With Them.

Hebrews 13:3 says "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body." [KJV]


NOTE: Some translations say "those in prison" and this has been mistakenly interpreted to mean anyone who is a prisoner, when the verse specifically means Christians imprisoned for their faith; the mention of the audience being themselves "in the body" tells us that the context is within the body of believers.


The first two points are rather self-explanatory.  But what does Mr. Broch mean when he says "As we serve them, they serve us even more"?


Have you ever heard someone who came back from a missions trip overseas say something like: I went thinking that I would save them, but they saved me? Or I went expecting to bless them, but I was the one who was blessed?

Often times it's those who are "empty" and "broken" who teach those who are "full" how to have joy even in adversity. Those who thought they were "full" realize they were "full" with all the wrong things. They lacked the joy that comes out of deep poverty--the poor soul treasures Christ because it realizes He's all it has.

Perhaps that's what Jesus meant when He called the "poor in spirit" "blessed (happy)".

It's the same way with the persecuted Church!

They teach us what true devotion to Christ looks like!  They teach us the true worth and the beauty of our God and Savior!

Friday, March 25, 2011

L.A.W. - 1 John - “Knowing” brings Joy

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. - 1 John 1:4, NKJV

If you've ever missed a friend's birthday or anniversary (or if you're like my dad and can't remember your own birthday—lol) then you will appreciate that you don't have the same joy as other people, because you didn't remember that the day was special—you missed out on something because of incomplete or bad information.

John the Apostle didn't want his disciples to miss out on something because of bad information; he didn't want them to miss the opportunity for joy because they didn't know the things he was writing to tell them.

This was a precedent set by Christ Jesus Himself:

In John 15:11, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Jesus taught His disciples, because He didn't want them to lose the joy they had in Him and He didn't want their joy to be incomplete.

Only the right information can bring the right joy.


Point to ponder:
  • How does Satan use bad information to try and steal your joy in Christ?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

One Word: Devoted

Some years ago I was asked to sum up what I wanted people to say about me in one word.  The word I chose was "devoted".


Why did I choose that word?


The word "devoted" means, according to Dictionary.com, "zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty, or affection."


I chose that word because I wanted whatever I did to be characterized by an attitude of devotion: zealous and ardent in attachment, loyalty, and affection.  


One who is devoted believes in what she does and that her task is not wasteful or pointless.
One who is devoted holds fast and floats even in the gales; she's a safe-haven, a buoy to those who are sinking.
One who is devoted will sacrifice and give of herself for the sake of others.
One who is devoted will run the race to the finish, so she may receive the prize.
One who is devoted loves much and has exceedingly great joy in others.
One who is devoted is entirely sold out; she holds nothing back.


One who is devoted looks like Christ... if, indeed, she devotes herself to Christ.


At the time I chose the word, though, I didn't think about what naturally goes at the end of the adjective: "to".


I didn't think about what I was devoting myself "to"... I just thought whatever it was, I wanted to be sold out to it. Which can be a dangerous attitude, because many people spend their lives devoted to things that don't really matter in the end.


So I ask it now: What is my "to" to which I'm devoted, and why does it matter?


It matters because I truly want my life to count


The only meaning and purpose in life is found in the Giver of meaning and purpose, God. He's the One who makes lives matter. He's the One we need to be devoted to if we want our lives to count.




Points to ponder:

  • What word would you want people to use to describe your life?
  • What word best describes your life right now?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

L.A.W.: "Knowing" - a series in 1 John

L.A.W. or "Living According to the Word" is a Facebook group I started based on verse 9 of Psalm 119: "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word."  You can view this discussion in the group, HERE. Prayerfully, a new L.A.W. will be posted every Monday.


1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. - 1 John 1:1-3, NKJV


...Gnosticism taught that salvation is achieved through special knowledge (gnosis).  This knowledge usually dealt with the individual's relationship to the transcendent Being.The unknowable God was far too pure and perfect to have anything to do with the material universe which was considered evil.Since, according to the Gnostics, matter is evil, deliverance from material form was attainable only through special knowledge revealed by special Gnostic teachers.  Christ was the divine redeemer who descended from the spiritual realm to reveal the knowledge necessary for this redemption.  In conclusion, Gnosticism is dualistic.  That is, it teaches there is a good and evil, spirit and matter, light and dark, etc. dualism in the universe.The danger of gnosticism is easily apparent.  It denies the incarnation of God as the Son.  In so doing, it denies the true efficacy of the atonement since, if Jesus is not God, He could not atone for all of mankind and we would still be lost in our sins.” - carm.org, “Gnosticism”

In 1 John, the Apostle gives the positive apology (defense) against heretical Gnostic teachings, although it is difficult to say whether the epistle was written specifically to answer the Gnostic heresy.

John begins his letter by affirming and confirming Christ's deity and humanity. “That which was from the beginning,” he says—clearly indicating that Christ, as God, is eternal—“which we have heard...seen with our eyes...looked upon, and our hands have handled.” What is heard, seen, and handled? A physical body. The Gnostics denied the physical humanity of Christ. Here, John affirms it. Without Christ's humanity, He could not die for sinners.

[C]oncerning the Word of life...” Here, “Word” is the Greek word logos, which John uses in his gospel to mean Christ Jesus, the living Word of God. “Life” is the Greek word zoe, meaning God's quality of life—eternal life (which Christ says in John 17:3 is to “know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”). Here, again, John affirms Christ's deity.

Christ was both fully God and fully man. Anything less could not atone for the sins of mankind. As God, He lived the perfect life I couldn't live on my own, and the atonement (covering of sins) He offers was made once and for all sinners who come unto Him for salvation. As a man, He was able to suffer and die on our behalf—God can pardon us, because Christ suffered our fate in our place.

Any “gospel” which does not teach that Christ was both fully God and fully man is dangerous because it cannot save.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. - Galatians 1:8-9, NKJV

What is the purpose of correcting heresies? So that people are saved from the just punishment of their sins into “fellowship...with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ”.


Points to ponder:
    1. What is the appeal of Gnosticism? What part of sinful human nature does it aim to please? Can you think of another false teaching and how it appeals to the sinful nature?
    2. What is the value of knowing what you believe? How does it help to be able to defend your faith against false teachings?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Relationship Status: Betrothed

betrothal: a mutual promise to marry.
- courtesy of Dictionary.com

A friend you know has just changed their relationship status on facebook. "Engaged" it says. You congratulate them, and wish them the best in their future marriage covenant.

Then, dear Christian sister (or brother), perhaps you start thinking: When will my time come? When will I get to change my relationship status to "engaged" and then "married"?

You aren't alone.

I think about marriage a lot. Which means I have to pray about it a lot, which means God is always teaching me new things.

I want to share with you something He's been teaching me recently, and I pray it is a blessing to you as it has been to me.


If I put my relationship status on my facebook profile, it would say "single".

But that isn't correct.

It should say "betrothed" or "promised".

Even if I never marry in this life, I am betrothed, or promised, as the Bride of Christ Jesus, Himself, and that is nothing to sniff at.

What is more, this is a definite betrothal; it is sure to take place. Therefore, I must prepare myself to meet my Husband when I die.

Here is something else, God may plan for me to marry one of His beloved sons-in-Christ on this side of Heaven, in which case I am still betrothed.

Let me explain.

If He intends for me to marry, God is choosing who it is He wants me to be with, in which case I am betrothed or promised to the one God has chosen (if indeed I am faithful to follow His perfect plan for my life).

Plus, a perfect Heavenly Father who loves me is doing the choosing for me. What cause then do I have to be anxious for marriage?

Yet, I want to remember that this second betrothal is an uncertain one, while my betrothal to Christ is certain.

May I live a life of beautiful devotion to Him!

~

God’s sovereign will is always meant for your good and His glory. If and when God decides you can best serve Him as a team member with a life partner, you won’t need to change Sunday school classes, search the singles ads, or join a dating service. He will work out the circumstances. “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22). This favor of the Lord is what God extends to His children in arranging the circumstances for them to meet their life partners. - Don Raunikar