WWJD?

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Idol meat at market

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 1When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”

“Others may, you cannot.” There are certain things that other believers are allowed to do that are forbidden for you personally. These are not the “biggies” like adultery, or murder (or anything in the flesh, see Galatians 5:19-21).

However, there are the relatively small things of individual conscience. They are the issues of personal preference. Sometimes a Christian has the liberty to smoke or drink a glass of wine. Since there are nothing specific in the Bible against these, some feel free to exercise a certain amount of liberty.

In Paul’s time, meat that had been offered up to idols was afterwards sold in the markets. Some believers would buy the meat; others stringently objected to this. Their faith wouldn’t allow this.

“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. 25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?”

1 Corinthians 10:23-26, 29

I believe conscience is how we are meant to conduct certain decisions. We’re to always surrender our right to do something that might offend another’s principles. Their faith should never be weakened by your actions or behavior. At that point– it becomes sin.

“Idol meat” (code for things of “individual preference”) should never be a stumbling point for other believers. Some issues of conscience could be:

  • the theatre, ballet, dancing,
  • internet, reading material,
  • sporting events, parties
  • parades, arena performances,
  • movies, TV
  • Halloween, solstice observances,
  • smoking, chewing tobacco,
  • drinking wine or a beer, (but not drunkenness),
  • playing cards,
  • medications, mental health services,
  • rock music, Christmas, eating pork, etc.

Perhaps the real issue to grasp is the manner in which we’ll serve another brother’s faith. I believe that that is the core point. Often the conscience has to be trusted to become the guidance we seek in doing the will of the Lord.

I may have throughly confused you, I pray that I haven’t. Just keep in mind that your conscience should be “tuned in” to the Lord’s Spirit. It is not an infallible guide. Great questions to ask when your wondering if it is right or not:

  • Is it loving?
  • is it God-honoring?
  • is it going to encourage a brother or sister?
  • what would be right?
  • does it edify (build up)?

Follow the Lord’s lead, “WWJD?” It may sound corny, but there is something of value here.

Your brother, Bryan

 

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Losing Time

Wooden_hourglass_3“The most important thing to remember about depression is this: you do not get the time back. It is not tacked on at the end of your life to make up for the disaster years. Whatever time is eaten by a depression is gone forever. The minutes that are ticking by as you experience the illness are minutes you will not know again.”

— Andrew Solomon (The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression)

This morning we turned our clocks back one hour. I much prefer this adjustment over the spring moving them  ahead, as I always feel cheated when I have to do this.

Losing time is one of those quiet issues that a mentally ill person often faces. The days spent in bed, the hours “hiding” in our rooms, the minutes frittered away with dull and anxious thinking are forever lost.

I have to believe that somehow God intervenes on behalf of the broken believer. That He can redeem all the time wasted in depression and its misery. The loss is tangible. But so is His redemption of me.

“Then I will make up to you for the years
That the swarming locust has eaten,
The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust,”

Joel 2:25, NASB

The prophet Joel saw the devastation that swarms of locusts had made on Israel’s crops. He observed the damage they had inflicted, and the loss they brought.

The theme of restoration runs through the Old Testament. It has the idea of reparations and repayment for God’s people. In many places God speaks a word of promise to those who suffered loss.

“He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.”

Psalm 23:3

David’s shepherd psalm speaks hope and life to those of us who’ve suffered loss, “He restores my soul.” Psalm 23 describes the deep essence of God as a shepherd caring for His own, We can find in Him the restoration we want and need.

God’s heart for wayward sheep is huge. He loves those with a mental illness, and He comes to us willing and capable to redeem all our past yesterdays. He brings us beauty out of the ashes:

 “and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.”

Isaiah 61:3, NIV

All we have to do is wait. Lay out your issues of loss before Him. Let Him become the Lord of your past.

your brother, Bryan

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Preparing Yourself for Water Baptism

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“Those who accepted his message were baptized.” (Acts 2:41)  

 “Repent and be baptized.” (Acts 2:38) 

 “Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God.” (Col. 2:12)  

One of the most significant and vital decisions we will make is to follow Jesus Christ into the waters of baptism.  This is just obedience to the Lord’s command to be baptized.

Baptism becomes a public pronouncement or declaration to the physically seen world and to the invisibly unseen world of the Spirit. 

It takes faith to be authentically prepared for baptism.  You will be taking a stand. By faith, you’re making public your allegiance to Christ.

“Baptism was to put a line of demarcation between your past sins when you are buried with Him by Baptism–you are burying your past sins–eradicating them–putting a line in the sand saying that old man is dead and he is no longer alive any more and I rise up to walk in the newness of life.”

T.D. Jakes

I would suggest that you attend to the process listed below.  You will find there is a big difference to truly being baptized, and just getting wet!

A word to “older” believers: There may come a time when you feel that you would want to be baptized again.  I believe that this is not only allowable, but commendable.  You may have not had a good understanding of the baptismal process, but now it makes sense.  I would encourage you to follow your heart. God will honor your rededication. 

The Interrogative Process

I.  A series of questions is then asked, to which the reply is always “I renounce them”:

  1. Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?
  2. Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
  3. Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?

II.  The second half of the query is asked, to which the reply is always “I do”:  

  1. Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?
  2. Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?
  3. Do you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord?

“Indeed, baptism is a vow, a sacred vow of the believer to follow Christ. Just as a wedding celebrates the fusion of two hearts, baptism celebrates the union of sinner with Savior.”

Max Lucado

III.  The Apostles Creed can be recited. This is our faith distilled down to its very essence:

“I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, who was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. and on the third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,  (not to be confused with Catholicism, but “universal church”) the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

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