Beer, Beer, Beer! Christians and Alcohol.

This is Side 1:  See Side 2 here!

I know right? How can a person who claims to be a follower of Christ say such a terrible word! Beer is evil! So is anything else that contains alcohol! How dare Christians drink! If this is your mentality, buckle up.

Alcohol! Not many things are as controversial among Christians as alcohol. I grew up in churches where the consumption of alcohol was looked down upon. My parents never drank, their friends never drank, and the church body I grew up in preached drinking as a sin from the pulpit. I have known many other Christians who took the same strict stance.

There’s a problem though. Not only did Jesus drink wine (which was strong enough to get drunk off of), the Bible condones drinking. There was wine at the last supper. Paul tells Timothy that the elders should not be lovers of MUCH wine not any wine, and let’s not forget that Jesus’s first miracle was turning water in to wine. If Jesus did that miracle at a church meeting, there’s a good chance he’d get a talking to by the pastor or other Church leadership. Alcohol is Biblical and there is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. However there are still Christians who look down on other Christians who have a beer or glass of wine over dinner. It’s completely unbiblical to cast judgment on Christians who enjoy such a beverage, if that’s you, you need to check your heart and get Biblical.

I personally don’t drink, it’s a personal conviction I’ve had for a very long time. My father’s family all had major alcohol problems. The Lord was very clear that I was not to drink casually, and that alcohol was not for me. However many of my friends do enjoy beer, wine, or a mixed drink, and they are followers of Christ. For me to look down on them as “less” of a Christian is wrong because the Bible is so crystal clear that drinking is not wrong, being drunk is.

It’s also interesting to me that I’ve met so many Christians that view any kind of drinking as wrong but they are either are unaware or forget that many of the people we look up to in the history of the faith had their own brewery’s for beer. In fact, I recently read that the founder of Guinness became a follower of Christ by listening to John Wesley preach. Guinness turned his company in to one of the most charitable companies in Ireland. He paid his staff extremely well, and took care of the poor all through his brewing company Guinness. Owning a brewery was common back in the earlier centuries, C.S Lewis (Author of Narnia), A.W Tozer, and many other titans of the faith all enjoyed their beer. It was not until the fundamentalist movement came along in the 19/20th/21st centuries that our view of alcohol changed as something dirty, unbiblical, and something that only party people do. This view is wrong and in the grand scheme of history is a very small view of any kind of alcoholic drink.

Now I know people will say “well Tim people who drink shouldn’t cause a brother to stumble” to which I agree. I’ve been blessed to have great friends who made sure to check with me before they drank in front of me. If I told them I found it to be a stumbling block they would never drink in front of me. There are Christians who drink who like to rub it in other people’s faces, this is a terrible approach. However, the opposite is true, Christians who don’t drink need to get off their high-horse mentality and realize that they are only going above and beyond what Scripture teaches and we call that legalism. If you choose not to drink you have that prerogative (not to mention you save a lot of money when you go out to eat), but to cast judgement on brothers and sisters who do is so out of line I think Jesus would look at you in the eye and say “Get the plank out of your own eye before you get the speck out of your brother’s eye”.

What’s my point? To the Christian who says “did you see so and so drinking tonight?!” check your heart. Alcohol is all throughout the Bible. The Jews drank it when they threw week long parties. Jesus drank wine, so many saints of the faith had their own breweries and enjoyed beer all throughout the centuries. I can give you example after example of people that loved The Lord, had thriving relationships with Him that enjoyed their adult beverages as well. I realize that our culture abuses alcohol, I realize that it’s seen as a party drink, I realized getting so drunk you black out is cool among people my age, but that shouldn’t make Christians view the actual beverage as sin when the Bible mentions it so often.

To Christians who enjoy a beer or glass of wine, be aware of who you do it in front of. Sometimes the drink isn’t worth your brother stumbling over it. Make sure if your around fellow brothers and sisters that you check with them to make sure it’s not a problem to anyone. Paul is so clear in this and it saves relationships. Be patient with those who have opposing views, speak in love and in humility when approaching this subject.

EDIT- I should mention here that by drinking I do not mean being drunk or getting tipsy. These things Scripture is also clear on. Just like anything, alcohol can be abused. I just wanted to make sure I was clear on this point that by drinking I mean simply enjoying a glass of wine or a drink, not drinking to the point of being impaired.

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The Condescending Christian

Condescension: (n)
1: voluntary descent from one’s rank or dignity in relations with an inferior
2: patronizing attitude or behavior

I think this is a word we are all familiar with.  A word we are all disgusted with? Perhaps.  A word we are all plagued with.  More likely.

I’ve been discussing Christianity with various friends recently and we have all come to the same conclusion: Christians are not very Christ-like.  It reminds me of the first time the label “Christians” was used in the scripture.  We have all heard this before, but in Acts 11:26 we see that “in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”  The ironic thing is that this is an adjective and was not word that the believers called themselves but was a description that the pagans in Antioch gave them because they were following Christ.  The term was most likely a derogatory term given in mockery but the pagan world looked and saw people following Christ.  I wonder if they were being mocked because they actually acted like Him who they were attempting to follow.  Jesus said “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first” (John 15:18).  Contempt and mockery comes along with bearing the image of Christ.

Why do I say image instead of name?  “Christian” has become a nominal claim that holds no value but bearing the image of Christ is what we are called to do; be a reflection of Christ.  I believe a major problem in Christendom is that we are trying to be too “Christian-like” and forgetting to be “Christ-like.”

Now, this is not 100% true in every local church but it is a trend I am noticing more and more that the Church is shutting their “doors” tighter and tighter.  Obviously by doors I mean their hearts.  The attitude in local churches is that if you are on the inside you have been blessed and are a select group of “God’s elect” but if you are on the outside then you are not worth our thoughts.  It is interesting that Christ was never holed up in a building with the religious leaders of the day and reminiscing on how much better He was than the rest of the population (for He very well was MUCH better).  He was mocked for sitting and eating with sinners, for talking to a woman at the well, for calling children, for rescuing prostitutes, and loving the “scum.”  However, modern Christianity has turned their face from all of these ones that desperately need our love because we want to be “Christian-like.”  Christians don’t talk with non-Christians! Christians don’t get their hands dirty! Christians don’t sit and eat with sinners!  We want to stay in our “Christian boxes” and remind ourselves how great we are compared to all the sinners!  Paul knew nothing of this attitude when he writes to Timothy “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I AM chief” (1:15).  Paul knew he never lost his nature as a sinner and it motivated him to reach other sinners!  I remember hearing Billy Graham tell an interviewer that the first step for a gospel preacher is to first love sinners for whom Christ died.  Gospel preaching becomes dry and lifeless when the motivation behind the message is not a sincere love for the lost!  Why are people leaving churches to never return?  Because Christians are not “Christ-like.”  Christ didn’t have to provide entertainment to get a following and He didn’t need fancy projectors and loud music.  He only needed His love for every single person.  What happened?  They CLUNG to Him.  The world knows very little of God’s love because we have been called to be the vessels of His love but instead we shut ourselves in and pat each other on the back for being such a good Christian while lives are being torn apart, people are hopeless, and the world is spiraling out of control.

When I was in California recently I was talking to my friend and he was sharing with me some of the various things he has gotten himself into out there.  Every other Wed he goes and gives out burgers and Bibles to homeless people in LA.  Two of the ones he has reached come to services regularly on Sunday because he takes time out of his day to just sit and talk with them and helps them in any way he can.  This was just one of the things he was into and I really looked up to him for that.  He surely isn’t being very “Christian-like” but he certainly is being very “Christ-like.”

I’m not sure when we lost sight of the fact that we are only sinners saved by grace but we have.  Let’s step out of the box of our condescension and back into the life of love for people around.  I don’t care what race, sexual orientation, religion, or social status our neighbor is, they should all be getting a glimpse at the love of Christ.  Would my neighbor be able to call me a follower of Christ or is it just a label I’ve slapped on myself because I go to a Christian church?  What about you?  Lord, change my heart and help me to love like Christ.

-RM

 

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What Salvation Does: Part 2

Ok so in Part 1 we looked at what salvation is.  In its essence biblical salvation is agreeing with God that you are a lost sinner who cannot save himself (or herself) and turning to God for forgiveness of a debt you cannot pay (your sin).  Christ paid the price of redemption on the cross so that everyone can be saved but only those who believe on Him will be saved.

But now that we know what salvation is we should probably look at what salvation does.  If salvation was only “fire protection” from hell that would be a sad thing indeed.  Real salvation has real results! Being a believer is to obey Christ, to rest on him for salvation, and by God to be committed unto heaven’s doctrine of salvation.  We accept Jesus as our Prophet, Priest, and King.  Salvation is much more than just “a rescue from hell” although it is that.  Let’s see what the Bible says salvation does!
Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

John 7:37-39
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.

1 Corinthians 6:19
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?

What did Christ teach during His ministry?  He taught that the Spirit of God was going to indwell believers which is much different from the Old Testament experience where indwelling was a temporary thing and the Spirit of God would come and go.  Since the day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God descended (and after the transitional experiences of early Acts) we see that all believers are immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit permanently.  This CANNOT be lost.  This is probably the most important aspect of salvation.  Why?  Because the Christian life is actually impossible without the Spirit of God.  We have a teacher, a guide, a leader, a provider, a comforter, and a witness.  Salvation is a fresh start and it gives us the ability to live the life that God intends for us.

A New Man

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Colossians 3:9-10
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.

Salvation is not “a license to sin” because a person that has come into the good of God’s salvation realizes the price of it.  A person who has been saved knows that the price of salvation was the shedding of the precious blood of Christ on the cross of Calvary so to continue sinning is to add to the punishment of Christ.  Would a true believer ever think that salvation gives the freedom to sin?  God forbid!  But as Christians we are given new life as a new man (or woman).  We can be assured like Paul in Romans 7 that our sinful nature is still within us and shall be until we die or are taken up with Christ by the rapture but with Salvation we are able to serve the law of God.  Now, I made a comment in an earlier post that just because you are a Christian does not guarantee you will produce fruit for God.  I think I should clarify that statement a bit.  Christians will fail and fall, stumble and stagger, and sometimes be shipwrecks but the overall tenor of a life that has been saved by God should be of victory and bearing fruit.  What I meant by my comment was that just because we are saved does not guarantee that we will not fail and always produce fruit for God. If we continue to feed our fleshly nature then we cannot produce fruit for God but like David in Psalm 52 there is always restoration for believers (and salvation for unbelievers).  God gives us the power to overcome our sinful nature and gives us new life as a new man but we must walk in it to be victorious and a true Christian will not be happy unless they are abiding in the vine.  Now, we are not to be the salvation police going around and declaring people to be saved or not but if I am claiming to be a true Christian who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and given new life as a new man I had better be living to prove that and if I’m not I would hope that my fellow Christians would rebuke me and straighten me out.  We have a tremendous amount of “Christians” in this world that confess to be so but from their lifestyle it appears that this is just a nominal title.  Christianity is not a religion it is a relationship with God through a man who gave His life at Calvary.  So when we say we are tied with that man and act nothing like Him, why would anyone else want what “we have” (i.e. a changed life, a new man).  True salvation does change lives!  James gives us that when he says “show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.”

Peace

Romans 5:1
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

For me, one of the best things of salvation is that it brings peace.  Peace is something that this world is searching for.  Peace in the Middle East, peace in schools, peace in homes, peace of mind, etc. Everyone is looking for peace.  I would argue that the reason drugs and alcohol are so rampant is this one simple word: peace.  Everyone is looking for it somewhere.  What most people fail to realize is the reason there is no peace is because peace comes from God.  Now, I am not saying that Christians have no problems and enjoy very peaceful lives from the moment of salvation until the end of their life here on Earth, but what I am saying is that true Christians enjoy peace for the entirety of their lives.  When God gives peace it is not just peace from certain circumstances and dangers, and it is not just empty peace that things will turn out ok, but it is peace that whatever God is doing is the best possible plan for me.  Since we have been justified (made righteous by Christ), we have peace with God.  It is very important that this is only through the Lord Jesus Christ.  We won’t find this true peace anywhere else no matter how long we look.  I personally knew a former drug addict and dealer (who was actually the largest dealer in PEI, Canada) who got real salvation and it was the first time he EVER had real peace.  God’s salvation brings real peace because there is now no fear of death, no fear of the “afterlife,” no fear of what life may bring, because God gives peace.


So salvation is much more than being saved from hell, it is to know your sins forgiven, to be adopted into the family of God, to be coheirs with Christ, to be justified, to be sanctified, indwelt by and sealed by the Spirit of God, and the list could go on.  But as Christians we are given a new standard of living and should consider Christ as our role model.  Our lives should reflect well of Him who we claim to trust.  Let that salvation you have be the change that a chaotic worlds needs to see and be a light for the Gospel!

~Rob

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What Salvation Is: Part 1

The next two blog posts will be a little different.  Julia’s dad (my father-in-law) has professed faith in Christ last week and even got up and gave his testimony during CBC’s services on Sunday.  This is a place he hasn’t stepped foot in for years.  I was with him briefly on Monday night and could definitely see a change.  With that in mind I was thinking of what true salvation is and the ways salvation changes us.  This post will be what salvation is and the following will be what salvation does.

What is Salvation?
A mere decision to a proposition?  Not in the slightest.  A mere conclusion of logic?  Also, no.  Salvation of the Bible is something much more than simply a logical decision or a decision of change.  The shortest message of salvation I think you can read is found in Acts 16:30-31:
“And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

“Believe on” has the idea of trusting on, resting on, trusting oneself to, or depending on.  What it doesn’t mean is assenting to, acknowledging that, superficially accepting, or any other form of such things.  In Biblical Greek, the word “believe” and “faith” are very closely related (much closer than we know in English).  In fact it would be correct to translate Ephesians 2:8 as “For by grace are you saved through belief; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”  Believing and faith in the Bible are the same thing.  This is a much stronger word than what we use “believe” for in today’s English language.  We use it to say “to think” or “to assent/accept” and even “to come to understand.”  These meanings are not the meaning of “believing on” in Acts 16:31.  There is an illustration I’ve heard often of a tight rope walker in the 19th century that goes by the name of Charles Blondin (real name Jean Francois Gravelet).  He stretched a tight rope across the Niagra Falls to show his pristine balancing skills.  He started across with a balancing pole, then did a back somersault while walking across.  Each crossing after that he completed in a different manner: blindfolded, with a wheelbarrow, even making an omelet in the middle of the rope.  Then he comes to the crowd that was watching him and asks if they believe that he could carry someone across on his back.  Everyone at once screams “YES WE BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT!”  But then his question changed and was now, “Ok, who will get on my back and cross?”  The crowd suddenly went silent.  Everyone believed ABOUT Blondin.  They saw what he did and believed he COULD do it but no one was willing to believe IN or ON Blondin and get on his back.  Many people believe about the Lord Jesus Christ but only those who believe on Him will ever get real life.

“the Lord Jesus Christ” does not say “Jesus” or “the Savior” or even “Christ.”  He is the one of whom we read that died and rose again.
Jesus tells us that this is the one who became a man to be the savior.  We just recently celebrated the birth of Jesus.  Joseph was told “thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).   The name Jesus tells us of his humanity.
Christ is the anointed one.  He is the promised Messiah, the servant of Jehovah (Isaiah 42).  It is a shame to proclaim Jesus as a cool, party attending, rebel character that is found being proclaimed in many churches.  This is the anointed one, the Messiah, the promised one.
Lord is a term used of one in authority over you, one who you submit and bow to.  There are not two separate events of accepting Jesus as your Savior then accepting him as your Lord.  Salvation is the acknowledgment of Him as Lord!

So the gospel of salvation is that man is without ability to save himself but upon the confession of helplessness, the repentance of sin, turning to the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on Christ (both the person and the work) “you shall be saved.”

Romans 6:17 is Paul looking back to before they were “saved” when he says, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin.”  He is commenting on the fact that we were astray from God and servants of sin.  Then he reflects on their moment of conversion when he says, “but ye have obeyed from the heart.”  The tense of the verb “obeyed” is in the Aorist tense which says it happened at a definite moment of time (the moment of salvation).  But what is interesting is the last phrase, “that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”  Salvation is doctrine; it is truth to be received.  God has revealed the truth of the person and work of Christ and given man the responsibility to respond to the doctrine.  Salvation is truth to be received.

So in the ultimate sense, what is salvation?  It is the supernatural work of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  It is the redemption of a fallen race and is available to all.  It is not just giving your life to Jesus or accepting a Savior as I hope I made clear.  Now, at Salvation we may not have known everything we were coming into, I know I didn’t.  But we can look at that moment and see that all of these things are true and prove true in the life of a true believer.  Thank goodness we can say:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16

Next time, we will look at what salvation does.  Stay tuned.

~Rob

 

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Truth Despite Cost – Rob McMichael

This past weekend we had our annual conference for the church I am a part of in Pennsauken.  On Saturday the messages were all about “the Christian and the World”.  A message on understanding the culture of the world, the claims of the world, the claims of Christ, the necessity for consecration, etc etc.  On Saturday night we had a gospel meeting.  Two men spoke. The latter was “the usual” – a gospel message telling all how they can be saved (through faith in Christ only).  Yes, only faith.  Read Romans 11:6 (yes I know the context).  Now, the first speaker is the reason I am writing this post.  His name is John Miller.

John Miller was born into the Amish religion.  Yes, Amish IS NOT a preservation of an older lifestyle, it is very much a religion that can be traced back to the Anabaptists (just like the Hutterites and the Mennonites).  As he stated, there are most likely some members of the Amish community that are definitely real Christians, but the Amish lifestyle is one heavy on works and also very prideful.  It is made clear that if you leave and join the world, you are really condemning yourself to Hell.

If you want to read his full story of salvation look here:

John Miller’s Testimony

To make a long story short he was eventually saved (or born-again).  For reasons he could not explain he felt God was calling him out of the Amish community.  His family submitted to his lead and left with him.  This was not an easy thing to do as his entire family is in the Amish religion.  Basically all of your business is to other Amish folk.  As I stated before, if you leave and go “into the world” you are on your own.  Now when you leave the Amish, it is not a light thing.  His father will not speak with him and will not even allow John and his family to come into his home.  This has been going on for almost 5 years.  I spoke with him about the struggles of life outside the Amish community.  I spoke with him about leaving his entire past behind him to go forth to what God was leading him to do.  Since he left his wife and I believe 4-5 of his children have all received the gift of eternal life!

What is my point?

Truth despite cost.  John Miller and his family now attend a local church after the pattern of the New Testament.  For 3 years they drove 2.5 hours from their home in Virginia to the local church my parents attend in Denver, NC.  Every Sunday morning the Miller family would be waiting at the doors of the Denver Gospel Hall at 9 am after driving 2.5 hours to get there.  Truth despite cost.

Now, God has seen fit to raise up an assembly of believers right near their home in Virginia.  Would this of been possible if John Miller didn’t forsake all that he knew so that he might follow the call of God?  No.

So here we go:

Galatians 1:10
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Paul’s words here struck my heart.  I can think of no person in the Bible that was more devoted to his calling to preach the gospel than Paul.  Think of his descriptions in some of the epistles:
  • Prisoner of Christ (Philemon 1)
  • Slave of Christ Jesus (Romans 1:1)
  • Bond-Servant of Christ (Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:1)
  • Apostle of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, 1 Timothy 1:1, 2 Timothy 1:1)
And these descriptions were just in the introduction!  Many other times Paul refers to his calling in the gospel and that a life lived doing anything else would leave him miserable and devoid of his purpose.  The word used in Romans 1:1 is best translated as “slave”, which is meaning that the entirety of the individual is property of the master.  How anxious am I to tell others that I am property of Christ?  My actions are not my own, my life is not my own, my business is not my own.  Everything I am and do is in complete control of my master.  If only this were more true in my own life.Now, the reason this hit my heart so heavy was a matter of “revealed truth” and “conviction”.  Revealed truth is what leads to conviction but they each struck my heart individually.
Revealed Truth 
 When reading the scripture, and I mean really reading the scripture, God will always reveal truth to the truth seeker.  I have found myself reading out of habit with the mindset of “well my little plan here says I should read these chapters…”  What a way to come at the scripture.  I have also found myself with the mindset of “this is what I think the scripture teaches so I should find verses that give the idea of this theology.”  Both are mindsets that I never want to have when it comes to the Bible.  Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2 that all truth is revealed by the Spirit, for only the Spirit knows God (the Spirit is God).  Should my attitude then be one of submission to have truth revealed to me by the Spirit?  I pray that it is so.  Now when the Spirit reveals truth is where my heart was affected.  As I am reading and the Spirit reveals truth to me I believe there are three options:
  1. Reject the Truth
  2. Delay the Truth
  3. Obey the Truth
In rejection of the truth, my attitude would be to see what the Spirit is revealing to me and to have the attitude of “no, that can’t be what the scripture teaches because I have been taught this… or I think this… or I want this…”  What an attitude to have.  Now, a side point may be that a young Christian should not dive into the scripture with the purpose of having truth revealed beyond the spiritual growth of him/her.  For instance, a parent would not give an infant a nice 12 oz juicy steak for dinner.  That parent would wisely know that the child can only digest certain foods until he/she matures and grows and can handle such food.  God is the same way with our spiritual appetite.  God is the revealer of truth so let Him do the feeding.  There is nothing wrong with “studying to make one wise” but allow God to be the guidance for studying.  But I digress.  The point here is that my attitude can sometimes be to reject truth based on my presuppositions.  God is the revealer of truth and I do believe that He inspired all scripture so He knows what truth is contained.  Let Him reveal it and do not reject His truth.
In delaying the truth, my attitude becomes one of “well I do see that is truth, but I just can’t put that into practice yet”.  Circumstances in life, whether it be a job, friends, family, school, etc can cloud my judgment on how to deal with truth.  I can make decisions as to what I should do with truth based on what I think others will say.  This is where the verse from Galatians is especially powerful.  If my attitude is this “delaying of truth” then I am what Paul says… not a servant of Christ, but a pleaser of men.  I am too concerned about what my friends will think, or what my parents will say.  I am too concerned about how this will affect my testimony at my job or at school.  I see the truth and I acknowledge it, but I am not ready to be “a servant of Christ”, I would rather be a “man-pleaser”.
The final option is then to obey the truth.  At this point I am a true servant of Christ.  My devotion is first and foremost to my Savior who is the sole owner of my life.  I see the truth revealed to me and obey it with no delay.  If Paul was to delay the truth revealed to him, think of the amount of Gentiles that would have possibly missed the gospel of Christ.  Think of how many local churches would not have been established.  But Paul had no delay in the truth revealed to him.  He put the truth above family, friends, job, and his own will.  He truly became a slave for Christ and was “pedal to the metal” from the moment of conversion.  Oh how I long to be like Paul!
Remember John Miller?  What was his reaction to truth?  I’m sure he weighed up the cost many times in his mind.  I am sure that he had second thoughts at some point but his devotion was “if this is God’s calling then I must obey despite the cost because He is worth the cost.”  I can assure you that John Miller is one of the most joyous people you will ever meet.  There will never be a time where a Christian who follows God’s truth will regret that decision.  Oh how I long to take an example from John Miller!
Conviction 
A conviction is a convinced conscience.  True biblical conviction comes from revealed truth.  Further, a conviction can only come from truth that is accepted and not rejected.  A person that is delaying the truth they see must not have too strong of a conviction about it, or they are going against their conviction for other reasons.  This is a dangerous game to play.  I will give a personal example.  Some time ago, I began to feel convicted about the type of movies I was subjecting myself to in light of Philippians 4:8-9.  Many would know this as “the grid”.  So many of the movies that were passing into my mind were leaving messages, impressing images, and provoking thought that didn’t seem to make it through the grid.  At first, I was hesitant to obey this conviction.  I delayed the truth that I saw.  Worried about what others might say when I’m with my friends and they want to watch a certain movie.  I didn’t want to be the one to say “well I don’t actually want to watch that because _____.”  Then I would be pegged as a “holy roller”.  So I delayed the truth and put aside my conviction.  How unenjoyable movies became when all I could think about was how these movies just weren’t lining up with scripture and heavily went against my convinced conscience that it was wrong.  Going against a convinced conscience, in my belief, is sin.  See here what Martin Luther said:
“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason. I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”
There had to come a time where I stood by my conviction because it was laid upon my heart and mind by the revealed truth of the Word of God.  My attitude was not to please men, or be accepted by friends/family.  My attitude was to please God.  This is just one simple example ( I’m sure there are others with much better examples than my own).  Some truth will be more costly than others.  I have seen truth pull apart family ties, sever relationships,and destroy friendships.  But what is my attitude? To please men, or to please God? “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  Paul tells us straight that we cannot do both.  We must make the choice to follow truth, or please men.  I pray that in all things I will be able to have the courage and confidence to be marked by pleasing God.  That I will be able to say with Paul, “a slave for Christ”.

Following truth despite the cost.  Church isn’t a popularity game.  The church with the biggest numbers doesn’t get the biggest prize.  The believer with the best testimony doesn’t win bonus points.  The missionary with the wildest story doesn’t earn a bigger mansion.  The man or woman, boy or girl, who follows the truth revealed to them by God earns the reward.  What truth is God revealing to you (or has revealed to you)?  What truth is God revealing to me?  Will you follow it despite the cost?  Will I?  Or will I cave to tradition, family ties, friends, opinions, etc, and tell God to wait?

~Rob

God and Science? -Rob

Romans is probably my favorite book. I was reading today and this really struck me:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
~Romans 1:18-23

Now, I am very interested in the field of science. If I could do what I wanted I would return to school and get my graduate degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics. I love studying the universe. I have felt a burden in Christian circles about the negative attitude toward “science”. I am of the belief that science in no way contradicts the Bible and in fact supports it. God is the author of science after all; He made the laws which govern our universe. The outcry against “science” is perhaps why there is such a division between science and the Bible when really I don’t see why they cannot agree. Now, before this turns into a debate I will stop there. What is my point?

Above we have what I consider “a message to scientists.” God has shown each person the grandeur of himself since the creation of the world. God created us as investigatory beings and as we discover, probe, investigate, and question everything should really bring us right back to God, it is plain to see. What I find striking is “for although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.” Is this not what scientists do today? Before the discovery begins, and maybe a pre-step of the scientific process is to rule out the possibility of God. Even when all evidence is pointing directly at a Creator it is automatically assumed it cannot be. Look at great minds like Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, etc. Minds that are consumed by the search of something to explain away God. Paul tells us that their foolish hearts are darkened and claiming to be wise they become fools.

I got encouragement from this in two ways. First it reassured me that science reveals God, not denies. Also, although these men of science are very intelligent, we must not take their knowledge into account when talking about the credibility of the Bible. We can clearly see and understand that God created all things so that He might reveal Himself in everything! If God is denied it is only because of the their unrighteousness suppressing the truth! Let our God speak in the science He created!