Christianity 201

February 12, 2017

“God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life”

by Russell Young

Consider the cliché: “God has a wonderful plan for your life.”  This pronouncement is often given by those trying to evangelize.   This cliché is easy to accept at first glance.  It is encouraging to the one going through one of life’s struggles; it offers promise.  Those who accept that there is a god would esteem him to know all things and to be all powerful. They also accept that he is all loving.  Consequently, the message is given and taken as if the person being addressed would only confess faith, his or her life would be wonderful, richly blessed and filled with joy. Although these descriptors are true, they are not true according to the world’s understanding.

What was “God’s wonderful plan” as experienced by the apostles? They all, but one, experienced horrible deaths. Think of God’s wonderful plan” as experienced by the many faithful today who are being martyred for their faith in Christ. What are people to think when they suffer through disease and poverty? How are they to interpret God’s “wonderful plan”?

God does have a plan for our lives. Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ may be for the praise of his glory.” (Eph 1: 11─12 NIV)

The plan is not “for us” directed; it is “for the praise of [God’s] glory.” Later in that book Paul wrote, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10 NIV) This is also the declaration of a plan.

God’s plan is “wonderful” but will not necessarily bring the worldly blessings that many infer. Paul wrote: “The Lord will reward everyone for the good he does whether slave or free.” (Eph 6:8 NIV) The rewards of God are not trivial nor are they necessarily temporal and their accomplishment requires suffering.  “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim 3:12 NIV) Despite the trials, persecution, pain, and poverty that true believers endure in this world, they will reap a harvest of blessings and eternal life, if they remain faithful to the end. (Mt 10:22)

The walk of truth and obedience brings glory to God and eternal rewards.  This is his wonderful plan.  It does not include ease, riches, and the pleasures of this world, and those who present clichés need to take care concerning the impressions that they leave others.  They can mislead and be destructive to furthering the gospel. Weak faith based on misrepresented truths can give way to disillusionment and destruction and the spreading of a false gospel. Should the one being evangelized know the truth about what is before him or her?  Absolutely!  They must count the cost if they are to become strong and useful. Perseverance to the end is the only way that God’s plan can become wonderful. True believers know this and have committed themselves to victory over all sorts of trials through the presence and power of Christ. It is for the fulfilment of God’s plan in one’s life that his people have been called for the praise of his glory and it is in that fulfilment that they bring him glory. His plan is to conform the faithful to the likeness of his Son and to assist in the building of his kingdom.

It should never be accepted that God has ordained a moment by moment strategy for the way a believer is to live, that his moments have been pre-destined and firmly established.  The manner in which believers are led will depend upon how well they listen and how closely they follow.  Paul wrote, “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Rom 8:27 NIV) It is God who searches our hearts and from his search determines a strategy to affect the Spirit’s purpose.  Sometimes God will discipline, and at other times he will punish.  “Do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Heb 12:5─6 NIV) God’s plan is wonderful because he has a personal interest in accomplishing those things in our lives that will give opportunity for transformation of heart and practice so that a person might become acceptable to him. (Rom 15:16)  It is wonderful because it leads to eternal life, but most of the ‘wonderfulness’ will come in glory, not as we walk this earth.


Russell Young has been a regular Sunday contributor to Christianity 201 for the past year and is the author of Eternal Salvation: “I’m Okay! You’re Okay!” Really? available in print and eBook through Westbow Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble; and in Canada through Chapters/Indigo.  9781512757514 $17.99 US

January 26, 2017

Keep Calm and Carry On: The Letter to Smyrna

by Clarke Dixon

Convert to another religion, pay a heavy tax, or die? Which would you choose? This is a choice which many Christians have had to make as ISIS spread its evil. We do not face that kind of pressure in North America, but we do face subtle pressures that can gnaw away at our passion for Jesus. There is the pressure to choose materialism as a worldview. This is not materialism meaning a love of things, but a way of looking at the world that will not admit the supernatural. And if we will not be materialists, well then there is a pressure to affirm every religion as equally valid. Such pressures are subtle, but they are there.

Pressure on Christians is nothing new. In fact in our second letter of Revelation chapter two we read of a Christian community under pressure.

8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life:
9 “I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death. Revelation 2:8-11

What pressures are the Christians in Smyrna under? In the Roman way of doing things, emperor worship was expected, as was fitting into a society which had many beliefs and practices that went against the Christian way of life. Stick to your, or rather Christ’s, principles, and you could find yourself estranged from the majority, shunned as odd and stupid, and your business boycotted. This may be behind the reference to the Christians in Smyrna being in poverty in verse 9. As an aside, whenever we Christians are the majority, we do well to remember the “Golden Rule” of Jesus in the area of economic opportunities.

Due to some wise decisions from Rome, some religions could get a pass and be lawfully different, as happened at times for the Jews. But here is another side from which there is pressure against the Christians. The Roman officials often thought of Christians as being a sect of Judaism, and hence Christians could also enjoy some peace. However, if the Jews turned on the Christians, they could be out in the cold and would need to fend for themselves. That will not be easy when they consistently claim that “Jesus is Lord,” which means of course that Caesar is not. You can think of it this way; it is as if the Jews are travelling through Roman territory on a bus. They are allowed to do this safely so long as they remain on the bus and don’t disturb the locals. Some of the Jews on the bus realize that the driver of this bus is, and has been all along, Jesus, and so become Christ followers. Some don’t like that and throw the Christ followers off the bus. Actually they throw the Christ followers under the bus. This explains why at least some of the Jews in Smyrna are referred to in a not-so-nice way in verse 9: “I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” These particular Jews are actively working against the God they profess to love and serve. So with pressure from Jews and Romans alike, what are the Christians to do? What are we to do with the pressures we might face today?

First, do not fear: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer” (verse 10). Fear has its tightest grip on us when we do not know what to expect. But we know what to expect.

“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. . .” John 15:20

“Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Tim3:12

It should never surprise a Jesus follower when pressures come. It does not surprise God. He knows about it: “I know your affliction and your poverty” (verse 9)

Second, remain faithful: “Be faithful until death” (verse 10). Jesus gives us the example:

5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.  Philippians 2:5-8

Third, look to Jesus. He is described as “the first and the last” (verse 8). What a contrast between He who has all eternity in His hands and those who have their hands on the Christians for only “ten days” (verse 10). Whether we are to take those as being ten literal days or as symbolic of a set time, it is a limited, and very short time in comparison to eternity.

Looking to Jesus, we are also to know that He “was dead and came to life” (verse 8). If the Christians in Smyrna face death, they can know that Jesus faced it first. And remember how that turned out in the end!

Fourth, look to what lasts into eternity. “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (verse 10). This is not the crown of a king or queen here, but the crown given in ancient times to victors in athletic games. Being killed for following Jesus is not the end of life, but the completion of a race. Celebrations come next.

Further: “Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death” (verse 11). The second death refers to complete removal from the presence of God and the removal of all the blessings that come from His presence. While the Christians in Smyrna ought to be full of hope, their persecutors ought to be full of fear. We are reminded of the words of Jesus:

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 

Fifth, be ready to die, not kill. While this is not stated explicitly, we should note that there is not a hint in this letter to Smyrna of “you will face incredible pressure, so get ready to fight.” In fact there is not a hint of this attitude anywhere in the New Testament. Being faithful to Jesus means dying, not killing. You might justify killing in the name of a nation; for example, killing for the common defence of people who could happen to be from all kinds of religious backgrounds. But violence in the name of Jesus, or for the sake of Christianity is not an option for the follower of Jesus. Where it has happened, there have been complexities around the forces of history and confusion around the separation of Church and State, or lack thereof. Jesus carried a cross and not a sword. He encourages the Christians in Smyrna to do likewise.

Is there an increasing pressure on Christians in Canada to be less passionate about Jesus? It is not the first time Christians have faced pressure. May we not fear, but instead remain faithful, looking to Jesus, looking to what lasts into eternity, and resisting every urge toward violence.

(Scripture references are taken from the NRSV)


Weekly C201 contributor Clarke Dixon is a pastor in Ontario, Canada. Read today’s and other sermon summaries at his blog, or go directly to this article via this link.

April 8, 2013

We Do Not Lose Heart

Heartlight is a website offering both daily devotionals and longer articles. This one  from the articles page by Tom Norvell appeared in February. You’re encouraged to read this at source, and then visit the rest of the site.

I suspect there are some reading these words might take exception to the title: “We Do Not Lose Heart”! You do not mean to lose heart. You do not want to lose heart. You know that you should not lose heart. But, that’s where you find yourself: losing heart… or at least you feel like you may be losing heart.

You have dreams that seem to be fading. You think about opportunities that have passed by or never ever came to fruition. You see obstacles that are too big and too powerful to overcome. You are faced with problems that seem to have no solution. You feel the pressure, you are perplexed, you feel you are being attacked on every side and from the most surprising people, and are afraid that if you are knocked down one more time you may not be able to get back up. You feel weak, tired, and defeated.

What are you going to do?

What can you do?

Start here. Read what Paul wrote:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you (2 Corinthians 4:7-12 NIV).

Does that sound like you? At least does this part sound like you?

  • hard pressed
  • perplexed
  • in despair
  • persecuted
  • abandoned
  • struck down

Do those parts of Paul’s words sound familiar? And the other things — the positive things, the things of faith — not so much right now.

Read what he wrote at the end of the chapter:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Feel any better?

Does it help to know you are not alone in your struggles?

Do you find any comfort in hearing that others have experienced the same difficulties?

Maybe? Maybe not? I know. I have been there.

Before you quit, take a deep breath. Before you slump off into depression and hopelessness because you still cannot figure out how to fix all the stuff that is wrong in your world, read this third paragraph that fits between the other two. This is where Paul reveals the reason he does not lose heart:

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:13-15).

Did you see it?

It is right there in the middle of the paragraph. One sentence:

…because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.

That is the secret. That is the key. That is what can keep us from losing heart. Look up. Look at Jesus. Rely on the fact that He will raise us up. Our struggles show that the Gospel is at work in us. Our difficulties will be turned into His glory. There is a lot we cannot see if we stay focused only on what we can see. This is temporary stuff. We are about the eternal.

I pray that through our faith in Jesus Christ who will raise us up we will not lose heart.

April 5, 2013

White Harvest: What Jesus Did and Didn’t Say

This is Post # 1100 at Christianity 201 !

Exactly two months ago we introduced the writing of Darrell Creswell. Today I discovered that I had an earlier post by him — written in January — which never ran here, and I thought this would be a good day. As always, you’re encouraged to read C201 posts at their original sources; for this one click here.

The harvest field belongs to God, not to you and me. He is “the Lord of the harvest”, but we are the workers and co-laborers of the Lord. He has prepared the way for us to an abundant harvest and fruitful production in our lives.

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest . . . to send out workers into his harvest field” Matthew.9:37-38.

God has removed the chains of the curse of sin that had weighed upon the backs of mankind since Adam fell in the garden. The weight of sin that the world had to bear has been removed once and for all by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary. All of humanity was lost, burdened by the law, stuck in the sacrifice for the temporary forgiveness of sins. Jesus in His love, with His life gave us the ultimate gift to permanently removed sin’s stain as He bore the sins of the world as he was nailed to the cross.

Before the advent of salvation we were compelled to obey God’s law, and forgiveness was given only by animal blood sacrifice for breaking that law. Thank God we are now free in Christ Jesus, saved by the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross that issued in a new age of forgiveness called Grace. This Grace in Christ Jesus has given us the freedom from sin, and the freedom to have a personal relationship with Him.

Since that dark yet luminous day on the hill of Golgotha over 2000 years ago, God has increasingly given us more in Christ.  In just the last 100 years He has overwhelmed the world with technology and innovation. The current age in which we live is blessed beyond measure in our ability to serve God, share God and learn about God.  God has done everything necessary to prepare us for an abundant and fruitful harvest.

He provided salvation where we had no hope through His Son Jesus. He provided us truth, intercession and comfort by the Holy Spirit working in our lives and dwelling in us. In these last days we have access to technology and advancement that no other age of believers has ever had.

We have His Word translated in every language in the world, and we have different translation versions of the Bible such as the KJV and the NIV. We have things that no other dispensation of believers could have even dreamed about ever had. We have Christian movies, Christian TV, Christian Radio, the lists of media goes on forever. We have podcasts, broadcast, seminars, webinars, etc.; again the list goes on and on. There are churches basically on every corner to meet whatever type of need you might have. There are more teachers, preachers, apostles, and evangelists than ever before in history.

His Word declares that He is going to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh in the last days. It is now possible for first time in history where a person can stand at a podium and speak in the name of God and at the same moment be heard instantaneously in every nation upon the earth, as it is broadcast through the millions upon millions of different avenues and venues around the world.

God has prepared His body for this time of harvest. There is a lost and dying world that needs to know and accept Jesus Christ as Lord. This last day’s harvest is ever ripe before the Church. We have been given the tools to reap the Final Harvest which will prepare the way for the coming of our Lord. There has never been another time in the history of the church that a world harvest has been possible by a worldwide connected Body of Christ.

God is the manager and overseer of the harvest. He prepared for it with Christ Jesus with a most excellent grace, instituting proper ordinances. God expects fruit from us that enjoy the privilege of salvation. We may have good purposes, but good purposes are not enough. There must be fruit from our lives as our thoughts and affections, words and actions, are in line and submissive to His Spirit. If we do not use that which God has provided for the harvest, we will bring forth bad fruit of a corrupt nature and a disobedient church.

It is sad that we see within the Body of Christ, instead of humility, meekness, love, patience, and compassion for the world, we see sinful pride, self-importance, lust, and malice, and contempt for God. Instead of praying and praising, there are loose tongues and corrupt language seen in many believers. Let us bring forth fruit with patience, that in the end we may obtain everlasting life, and reap a harvest of souls. Let us gather in the lost for the kingdom of God, as we honor the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, that the harvest might be ripe as we utilize the tools he has given us in these last days.

Jesus tells us in John 4:35

Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.

There will be a day when God will hold us accountable for all that He has done for us to prepare for the harvest. He wants us to utilize all that He has provided for us to reach a lost and dying world.

Luke 12:48 When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

As we labor for the Lord’s harvest there will be hard times and adversity.

Keep in mind that Jesus never promised us that

Things would always go well for us
We would never have problems and hardship
We would never be hurt or betrayed
We would never be afraid
We would never be depressed, sad or discouraged
We would never fail or make mistakes
You would never be talked about, criticized or ridiculed

But what Jesus did promise us is that

He would be with us when things are not going well

Hebrews 13:5-6 Since God assures us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you or forsake you,” so I can boldly say, God is there, ready to help; I will not be afraid no matter what. Who or what can get to me with God at my side?

He would be with us as we face problems and hardship 

John 16:33, In this world you will have trials and tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

He would be with us when we are hurt or betrayed

Psalms 147:3, He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds.

He would be with us when we are afraid

Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, and surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

He would be with us when we are depressed, sad and discouraged

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

He would be with us when we fail or make mistakes

Psalm 37:23-24 If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumbles, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

He would be with us when are talked about, criticized or ridiculed

2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

1 Peter 4:13 – But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.

In Christ the world still has hope regardless of what they are facing.  This world is perishing and we are the messengers of that hope. Those who belong to Christ shall never be destroyed.  Step up and out to prepare His fields of harvest, we are meant for more.

July 21, 2012

Don’t Hair-Trigger Respond to Your Critics

God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.  Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.  ~ Matt 5: 11, 12 (NLT)

James MacDonald wrote the following for pastor and church leaders, but it really applies to anyone who dares to step out in a visible role in public ministry, which includes sharing a verbal witness with your co-worker or next-door neighbor.  In typical James MacD. fashion, he titled this: You — Shut Your Mouth!  Click the link to read on the Vertical Church blog.

“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” (Proverbs 29:11)

A complex issue for ministry leaders is how to process the incredible amount of feedback that comes from so many sources, both in and outside the church. It falls into some basic levels, regardless of the source:

  • General input (random and one time)
  • Persistent input (continuous on many topics, not always negative)
  • Irreconcilable disagreement without sin (Paul and Barnabas)
  • Constructive criticism (always negative, but goal is helping)
  • Destructive criticism (always negative, with goal to wound)
  • Harsh unjust criticism (intended to tear down)
  • Personal attack and character assassination (intended to destroy)

The further what you’re facing is down that list, the more this article is intended to guide you. Part of the puzzle in processing feedback requires evaluation of the person who brings it (let’s save that for another post). A.W. Tozer and many other men of God have had, throughout their ministries, a policy of ‘no attack, no defense’ when the opposition involved unjust or untrue statements from those outside of their own churches. Instead they chose silence, and I believe we should do the same.

1: When Answering Would Cause You To Sin
Every question does not need an answer. For those outside the information flow, the interrogative can be more appealing than the prerogative of love, as the former expands the ego while the latter deconstructs it. Knowing the whole story is a burden that leaders must bear in plurality, so the company or the congregation or the country does not have to carry the weight of full disclosure. In a culture where journalists dictate the information flow, we start to think getting the full scoop is the ultimate good. But seeing firsthand the failings of others without becoming disillusioned is what leaders are called to carry for the sake of all. To keep serving and loving and giving while knowing every detail of every disappointment with yourself and others is a deterrent to sanctification, not an accelerant. Parents, pastors, and all in authority learn that those they lead are better at asking questions than they are at living with the answers they often demand. If the questions are misplaced, badly motivated or beyond the petitioner’s need to know, the wisest thing to do is remain silent. If the answers requested require betrayal or gossip or casting pearls or dignifying someone’s disdain, it’s better to bite your tongue.

“[Herod] plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.” (Luke 23:9)

2: When Refusal Turns to Reviling
When the answers don’t come in the right amount at the right time to those who demand explanation, they will sometimes become caustic. Your child will attack your withholding of explanation, your employee will question your loyalty, your friend at church will question your fidelity. Can you continue to keep your mouth shut when your heart wants so badly to set the record straight? Can you wait on God for vindication when you have the information that would silence the scoffers in a second? Can you remain quiet when the incensed strike you in anger for your silence? Can you bear the reproach rather than return fire to injure those whose words are wounding you? Jesus did.

“And while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats…” (1 Peter 2:23)

3: When the Weight Seems Too Heavy
As you wait for God’s vindication you may begin to fear that you will be crushed by this burden. Is that so bad? Maybe crushing is just what the Lord has in mind for the pride that insulates our souls from greater grace. God’s sovereignty is so awesome and all-encompassing that He can capture what others meant for evil and use it for your good (Genesis 50:20). God can utilize the misplaced zeal of the ignorant and the well-intentioned crusade of the uninformed as the crushing that increases your Christlikeness. Often what we think is the worst season to endure will become the best season of our lives, if we handle it God’s way.

“Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him…” (Isaiah 53:10)

4: But Jesus Was Silent and Innocent
The obvious difference is that Jesus was silent while 100% without guilt, and we never are. Jesus could give it over to the Father, knowing that His complete innocence would eventually come to light. However, only by self-deception can we view ourselves as innocent. It’s so tempting to run to the part someone else is getting wrong, or camp on the corner of a third party’s misperception—but is all the opposition without merit? Isn’t it better to find the truth that exists in almost all criticism and embrace your own responsibility? Don’t make the mistake of hiding behind the parts of the problem that flow from the faults of others. Get a mirror and focus, with the help of those you trust, upon the portion of the reviling that is legitimate. Covenant with God and those around you that collective regrets will turn out for better service to God and others in the future. A continued focus on learning what you can from your own mistakes will help suppress your desire to retaliate and keep you focused on the one person you can change, yourself.

“Do not be wise in your own eyes.” Proverbs 3:7

5: But My Silence is Making Matters Worse
Can you sit quietly even when you see people you care about get picked off in the crossfire? Shouldn’t you stand up for the innocent who get drawn into the campaign to criticize by telling the ‘whole story’? Don’t allow yourself the rationalization that you are breaking your silence so the sheep don’t get scattered. Yes, any leader should be grieved deeply to see a formerly supportive participant become disgruntled or disillusioned. As hard as it may be, though, we must look to a purpose beyond helping those who know better than to listen to self-appointed arbiters of orthodoxy, who do little more than guess and gossip. Your choice to be silent when reviled is not about the 10 that are caustic or the 100 that are curious—it’s about the 1000 that are calling out for a space and time example of how to handle injustice. Scan the horizon of our world and see how seldom those that are falsely accused hold their tongues. Hear the hurting pleas of the men in loveless marriages or the women who keep serving in humility when affection and appreciation are not forthcoming. See the overlooked, underappreciated and often maligned all around us who truly want to handle injustice as God has commanded. Those who think silence means there isn’t a good answer are naïve. Maybe something much bigger is at stake. Maybe it’s not about you or your detractors at all—maybe it is about those who are watching.

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to what is honorable in the sight of all.” (Romans 12:17)

6: Give it Some Time
The most important partner you have in a season of injustice is time. The season will end, the false criticism will be eclipsed by your growth in grace, the loyalty of those with all the facts and the love of those that know you best. The problem with most of us is that we want the issue settled, handled, inventoried with all blame assigned and everything back in the place it belongs for our own peace of mind. Yet Scripture exhorts, “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5). And while you await your appointment before God’s throne, be sure you are preparing for shock at the things you were wrong about, with a vigor at least equal to your anticipation of vindication. Sit back, listen to those closest, keep silent, and wait for the Lord.

“Avoid foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2:23)

7: Can I Ever Say Anything?
I have written a post about when to answer a fool and when not to, but the key is to answer only once and then remain silent. Silence may enrage the foolish, but it will model something important for those you are called to lead. If a fuller defense becomes essential, as in Paul’s ministry at Corinth, let others do as much of that talking as possible—you are not Paul, none of us are apostles. Beyond that, your silence helps you turn down the volume on fixing others and focus in on what God is trying to teach you. When I have gotten this wrong I have deeply regretted it, and purposed afresh to keep my focus on what God is teaching me. I am in the midst of a month largely without email or twitter or much of the internet at all. I am following no one and keeping up with nothing, except my relationship with Jesus, my family, and the wonderful leaders of our church. It has been incredibly refreshing to my soul, and the silence has given me a much clearer picture of what God is growing in me.

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:25-26)

~James MacDonald

scriptures: ESV

May 27, 2010

Gift Industry Theology

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:27 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I just spent an hour scrolling through about 3,000 pages of giftware images:  plaques, picture frames, ceramic crosses, candle holders, ornaments, etc.

The company whose wares I was scanning has a fairly high percentage of items which contain Christian sentiment or scripture:   Lord’s Prayer, Serenity Prayer, Ps. 23, I Cor. 13, Jer 29:11; and various pieces that just say “hope,” or “believe,” or “joy.”

I remember years ago hearing a preacher talk about verses you’ll never see in a gift store, like this one:

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  II Tim 3:12 (NASB)

It might not sell well, but it would provide balance.

I wonder, do some Christians follow, and live inside the bubble of a “gift shop” theology?

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.