Tag Archives: Church

From “Morning Thoughts” by Winslow

“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of men, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:11, 12

THE great and distinctive truth thus so broadly, emphatically, and impressively stated is the divinity of the gospel-a truth, in the firm and practical belief of which the Church of God needs to be established. The gospel is the master-work of Jehovah, presenting the greatest display of His manifold wisdom, and the most costly exhibition of the riches of His grace. In constructing it He would seem to have summoned to His aid all the resources of His own infinity; His fathomless mind, His boundless love, His illimitable grace, His infinite power, His spotless holiness-all contributed their glory, and conspired to present it to the universe as the most consummate piece of Divine workmanship. It carries with it its own evidence. The revelations it makes, the facts it records, the doctrines it propounds, the effects is produces, speak it to be no “cunningly devised fable,” of human invention and fraud, but what it truly is, the “revelation of Jesus Christ,” the “glorious gospel of the blessed God.” What but a heart of infinite love could have conceived the desire of saving sinners? And by what but an infinite mind could the expedient have been devised of saving them in such a way-the incarnation, obedience, and death of His own beloved Son? Salvation from first to last is of the Lord. Here we occupy high vantage ground. Our feet stand upon an everlasting rock. We feel that we press to our heart that which is truth-that we have staked our souls upon that which is divine-that Deity is the basis on which we build: and that the hope which the belief of the truth has inspired will never make ashamed. Oh, how comforting, how sanctifying is the conviction that the Bible is God’s word, that the gospel is Christ’s revelation, and that all that it declares is as true as Jehovah Himself is true! What a stable foundation for our souls is this! We live encircled by shadows. Our friends are shadows, our comforts are shadows, our defenses are shadows, our pursuits are shadows, and we ourselves are shadows passing away. But in the precious gospel we have substance, we have reality, we have that which remains with us when all other things disappear, leaving the soul desolate, the heart bleeding, and the spirit bowed in sorrow to the dust. It peoples our lonely way, because it points us to a “cloud of witnesses.” It guides our perplexities, because it is a “lamp to our feet.” It mitigates our grief, sanctifies our sorrow, heals our wounds, dries our tears, because it leads us to the love, the tenderness, the sympathy, the grace of Jesus. The gospel reveals Jesus, speaks mainly of Jesus, leads simply to Jesus, and this makes it what it is, “glad tidings of great joy,” to a poor, lost, ruined, tried, and tempted sinner.

 

A Thought on Truth and Hypocrisy

Sometimes, we as Christians, and just people in general, have a hard time accepting the truth.  We can see it, even know it, and yet still refuse to live by and accept it.  We live in a world that likes to tell us that we can live according to our own truth, that we can make it up as we go along, or that we can just pick out the parts of it we like, and leave the rest of it.  All of these things are ways of rationalizing our behavior.  The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word rationalize as:To devise self-satisfying but incorrect reasons for (one’s behavior).  That’s a fancy, intellectual way of saying, that we just plain flat-out lie to ourselves.  Some people become so good at it, they don’t even recognize that they’re doing it.  Imagine living in a whole world full of people who are all telling themselves lies so that they can feel self-satisfied with their behavior…

Christians aren’t above this kind of behavior either, sad to say, and it’s because they’re not, that we have had to live with the world’s accusation that the church, the body of Christ, is filled with hypocrisy, and that many of us are hypocrites.  In the ancient Greek theater, a hypocrite was one who wore a mask while playing a part on a stage in which he would imitate the walk, talk, and behavior typical of a character being played.  It’s where we get the modern term “actor” from.  In essence, he would be a religious fraud.  I won’t deny that there are hypocrites in the church, but then there are hypocrites in the world, too.

Truth and hypocrisy go about as well together as peanut butter and sauerkraut, a striped blouse and polka-dot skirt, white wine at a tailgate party…. you know what I mean.  Yet, so many people, both in and out of church, in the world, mix and match, and combine, all sorts of things, and come up with some of the most  comical, nonsensical,  and inane conclusions about their own lives and the lives of others, and the world we live in that well… just defy understanding.  Not only that, but it’s in the combining, the mixing and matching, of things that don’t go together that have given birth to some of the most perverted ideas and philosophies we see in the world around us.

Some people might roll their eyes, when I say that there’s such a thing as “spiritual blindness,” but I know there is.  I know this as well as I know that there is darkness and light, right and wrong, good and bad.  I know that some things can’t exist together side by side, and that there are some things you can’t bring together because by their very natures they are in direct opposition to each other.  The fact that people can believe that they can involve themselves with the filth of this world, and yet be a part of God’s Kingdom just goes to show that many people are indeed “spiritually blind.”

Hypocrisy is a form of “spiritual blindness” in that it allows people to look at other people through the eyes of  condemnation and judgment, often to the point of damnation, with no thought or ability to look at oneself, and is a complete denial of the truth of God’s Word which is the only real truth.  The fact is that we must make a choice between living for truth or living for ourselves.

Truth, real truth, destroys hypocrisy….

 

From “Morning Thoughts” by Winslow

” For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” Hebrews 13:14

The true believer in Jesus is a traveler. He is journeying to a city of habitation, to the mount of God-and, blessed be God, he will soon be there! The apostle Peter dedicates his pastoral letter to the “strangers scattered” abroad-the people of God dispersed over the face of the earth. Such is the Church of Christ. It is sometimes incorrectly called “the visible Church.” The idea is unscriptural. Visible churches there may be, but a visible Church there is none. The saints of God are “strangers and pilgrims” scattered abroad. Here on earth they have no permanent abode, no certain resting-place. The Church is in the wilderness, journeying through it. The present is called the “time of our sojourning.” We are but wayfarers at an inn, abiding only for a night. “Here we have no continuing city.” We are strangers and sojourners, as all our fathers were. But this, beloved, is the reconciling, animating thought-we are journeying to the dwelling of God. We are on our way to the good land which the Lord our God has promised us; to the kingdom and the mansion which Jesus has gone to take possession of and to prepare for us. In a word-and this image is the climax of the blissful prospect-we are hastening to our “Father’s house,” the home of the whole family in heaven and in earth, the residence of Christ, the dwelling-place of God.

To this each believer in Jesus is journeying. The road is difficult, the desert is tedious-sometimes perilous from its smoothness, or painful from it roughness; its difficultness now wearying, its intricacy now embarrassing. But who will complain of the path that conducts him to his home? Who would yield to the sensation of fatigue, who is journeying to an eternal rest? Much of the disquietude and repining of spirit peculiar to the pilgrimage of the saints arises from the faint conceptions which the mind forms of the coming glory. We think too faintly and too seldom of heaven. The eye is bent downwards, and seldom do we “lift up our heads” in prospect of the “redemption that draws near.”

And yet how much there is in the thought of glory, in the anticipation of heaven-its nature and associations-calculated to stimulate, to cheer, and to allure us onwards! It is the place where we shall be sinless; it is the residence where we shall see God; it is the mansion where we shall be housed with Christ; it is the home where we shall dwell with all the saints; it is the point at which are collecting all the holy of earth, some of whom have already left our embrace for its holier and happier regions, and whom we shall meet again. Why, then, should we be cast down because of the difficulty of the way, or for one moment lose sight of the glory that awaits us, or cease to strive for the fitness essential to its enjoyment? In a little while-oh, how short the journey!-and we shall be there. Then we shall realize, to their fullest extent, the beauty and the sweetness of the description so often read and pondered with tears of hope- “You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to thousands of angels in joyful assembly. You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge of all people. And you have come to the spirits of the redeemed in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which graciously forgives instead of crying out for vengeance as the blood of Abel did.” O my soul! will you not stretch every nerve, endure every privation, and relinquish every weight, thus to reach this glorious city of God?

 

A Thought on the State of the Church in America

     Looking at my title “A Thought on the State of the Church in America.” seems a little daunting to write about now that I’m looking at it, but I’ve often thought about this subject.  To be honest, I’m not sure it’s the wisest course of action to write about this.  It’s not like I’m an authority on any subject, and I know of no quicker way to look like an idiot than to write about something of which I have no real education, yet, I do have a thought or two on this subject so here goes. 

          To me, trying to write about the “church”  without writing about “America” is like writing half the story.  I don’t think it’s possible to write intelligently about one and leave the other out.  The fact that there are people who can routinely talk about “America,” and not even mention the “church” adds a whole new layer to the term “separation of church and state.”

     When I think about  “the church,” a number of things come to mind,  but primarily it’s failure to carry out its’ God-given mandates.  I realize a statement like this can draw some fire from people who are going to say I’m making judgements I have no right to make, that I’m being too harsh, but I’m going to stand by what I said.  How can I say something so inflamatory?  Who do I think I am making a statement like this?  The answer to the first question lies in my motivation for saying it. 

      Everything in life whether it be cars, houses, or clothes, to the way we tie our shoes, to how we feel about abortion and think about government came about as a result of making comparisons.   When I look at this country and the way it is now, and the way it was when I was a boy, and compare the two, I see a discrepancy between the country I lived in then and the one I live in now.

     I’m forty-nine.  I’ve seen a lot of things change during that time.  How about you?  Is your life now the same as it was 5, 10, 20 years ago?  Is it better now than it was then?  Is it worse?  Perhaps you feel it’s just different.  What were people like then?  How did they act in your life then as opposed to now?  What about values, morals, sports, politics, education, religion, sex, technology?   Wouldn’t you agree that all these things, and the attitudes toward them have changed?  In some instances these things have changed the way we think and live dramatically. Now am I saying any of these things are good or bad?  No, but what about the attitudes toward them? 

       Our attitude is our disposition toward something.  It’s our inclination to think and feel about things in a certain way.  Our attitudes are developed under the influence of what we experience.  We’re all a product of  the things that influence or fail to influence us.  It’s here that the “church” comes in.   Up until the 1960’s, I believe, the church was the single biggest influence on our society, and it’s people.  That’s not to say the church quit being influential, but it’s influence on society began to change.   Why is that important, and how does it play into what I think is the failure of the “church?”

     Why it’s important is because I believe it’s the church that upholds the word of God, and in doing so upholds the standards of morality and decency.  In the 1960’s, our country started undergoing changes because of the Vietnam Nam war, protests, free love, and illicit drug use, and they started having an affect on eveything around them.  Think about this.  In just the last 25 years school and workplace violence, unwed pregnancy, divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, crimes against children, murders and suicides in this country have grown exponentially.  Our government, unemployment, the national debt, taxes, welfare, are all out of control, and our once great nation is now on the verge of collapse.  

      So what does this have to do with the failure of the church?  All of these things that I just talked about are social ills.  Frankly, all these things are the result of sin, of living in rebellion against God, and to be blunt are the result of the church’s failure, both as an organization and as a body, to uphold, and live out what God has called His people to be and to do.   Is that being too harsh?  Is that being unfair?  I don’t think so, and here’s why.  

     I remember a time when preachers’s taught the Word of God verse by verse, chapter by chapter.  I remember a time when I was a boy, and my pastor taught on what being a good husband and father entailed, on the value of marriage and why it was important, why you shouldn’t have sex before you were married, why it was important to be a good steward of what you had, why it was important to raise Godly children, and why it was important for children to obey their parents, what love really was, and how someone who really loved showed it.  I remember how the people I went to church with knew each other by name, how they banded together to help each other, how when one member suffered we all suffered and would gather around to help and support them.  Most of all, I remember as a child hearing about the love of God as expressed in the life of Jesus, and why He came, and what He did for me. 

     Instead of the church maintaining it’s stand, and it’s commitment to teach the Word of God, and to hold itself and it’s members accountable, it allowed hersy to enter in.  It started teaching philosophy instead of doctrine.  It allowed the things of the world to enter in, and started using the things of the world to appeal to people.  Churches started telling people that “Feeling good,” “Being happy,”  and “Name it and claim it” were what God wanted and would give.  They gave people the God they wanted and not the one they needed, and now we live in a country that spends every waking minute worshiping him.

     The thing about it is all those things have one thing in common, “SELF.”  Christ didn’t come for  him “self.”  He came for me and for you, and to gather unto himself a people who would love Him, and each other.  The failure of the church is in the fact that the one thing thing it was called to do it quit doing.  What is that?  To demonstrate to each other, and to all people, the love of Christ.    The saddest commentery on the church in America, in my opinion, is what happened right after  Sept 11.  For a period of time, the churches in our country were filled to overflowing, and then in a very short time all those people who were seeking answers quit coming.  Why?

     The answer to the “why” is because there was nothing different in the churches than what they saw in the world.  The churches forgot that it wasn’t the condemnation of Christ that drew people to it, but His love.  If our country is to survive, the only way that will happen is for the “church” to quit being the organization it has become, and become once again the living, breathing, “body of Christ” who showed through the example of His life the kind of love that could and did change the world. 

     Who do I think I am?  I think I’m a sinner who has experienced the love of Christ; who has accepted His death on the cross for my sin, and who I’ve placed my faith and trust in.   Who wants people to know that although there are hypocrites in the church that Christ isn’t one of them.    To beg you to consider what I’ve said, and to know that Christ loves you, that He died for you, that He will accept you where you are, and take you where He wants you to be.  and that all you have to do is confess that you’re a sinner, and ask Him to save you.  He will do so.    If you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share, I will be happy to help or listen as you will.