Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Let the Redeemed Say So

Redemption. At the heart of the word is the idea of paying a price to release something or someone from slavery. The people of Israel understood this concept when they remember the Lord delivering them from the Egyptian stronghold. The Exodus is a vivid reminder to every Jew that they have been released from captivity. It is recorded in Deuteronomy 24:18, “You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there.”

Things did not change in the New Testament. Under the thumb on Roman rule, the people of Israel were looking for their Messiah to come and deliver them from their bondage. They anticipated the day when their Redeemer would come to restore them to their rightful place among the nations. These are physical reminders of a spiritual bondage that we all face. Each of us is a slave, but we have a Redeemer who has come to set us free.

Within the pages of the Old Testament we find a small book which illustrates redemption through a person. The book is Ruth. The person is Boaz. In Ruth 3 Naomi encourages Ruth to go to the threshing floor, wait until Boaz has eaten and drunk, and slip next to his feet when he has laid down to sleep. When Boaz has fallen to sleep, she uncovers his feet and lies down next to his feet. Notice the interchange between Ruth and Boaz in verse 9. “Who are you?” Ruth replies, “I am Ruth your maid, so spread your skirt over your maid, for you are a close relative.” Don’t miss the beautiful image here. There is nothing immoral or dishonest going on here. Ruth is making a suggestion to Boaz. She is saying, “I am available to be your wife.”

Any Jew would have vomited at the thought of marriage with a Moabite. How dare she propose such a thing? Moabites were from an incestual relationship. They were no friends of the Jews. In fact they were not allowed to enter in the temple of God to the tenth generation. However, here find Ruth the Moabitess asking to become a member of God’s covenantal family. How? Faith. She demonstrated her faith in the God of Israel when she told Naomi “your God will be my God.” Through her faith, she is not looked at as a Moabite but as a child of God. It amazes me that God has chosen to allow us to enter into a covenant with Him through His Son Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Church Website

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Call of the Soldier

“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6

We can look to the writings of the apostle Paul to understand the importance of powerful and relevant words. When words are used that people can connect with, the message has a way of penetrating hearts as shrapnel from explosive devices. In the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul uses the military language to enforce the urgency of his message. You will notice the multiple use of the word “command” in chapter three (3:4, 6, 10, 12). The use of the word refers to the authority of a military superior as he issues out orders to their subordinates. Paul picks up this image to instruct the Thessalonians to become a soldier for Jesus Christ.

We are commanded to become soldiers of Jesus Christ. Paul gives us two commands from these verses to follow: fall in and follow orders. The first command that Paul gives to us is to “keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life.” The Greek word “unruly” refers to a soldier who has gone AWOL and has abandoned his post. We are to avoid the person who has forsaken his assignment. I know several individuals who have received a dishonorable discharge from the military. Even to this day I am told that employers will look unfavorably on individuals who have this mark on their record. Paul tells us not to follow after those individuals who have broken the ranks of the Christian armed forces. We are to fall in and report for duty every day and not be swayed by the actions of others who are not faithful in reporting to duty.

The second command that Paul gives is to “keep away from every brother [who does not live] according to the tradition which you have received from us. Paul is referring to the apostolic teaching that has been handed down from disciples. I remember the first time when my brother Dean joined the Navy. His preparation and training took place at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center right off Lake Michigan near Chicago. The last image that I had of Dean was a hefty 6’3” young man with long hair. The recruits were allowed to call home when they arrived but could not call again until the end of the boot camp. Dean was given several packs of literature to prepare when he arrived at the Naval Center: training booklet, drill and ceremony booklet, literature on ranks, and Navy Core values. He was instructed to study and memorize certain sections of these booklets. Dean was excited. My mom and I traveled to Chicago to see Dean graduate from boot camp, we were amazed to see how much he has changed. He was so thin. My mom almost did not recognize him. As we talked we learned all that he went through: the first thing that he was taught when he arrived was to stand at attention (stand there and not say a word unless someone asks you a question), took his clothes and was issued Naval fatigues, and followed medical and physical procedures. He said that the first three weeks were the toughest. He had to learn how to fold his clothes, polish his shoes, lessons on professionalism and courtesies, take swimming tests, etc.

As I thought about Dean’s recollection of what he went through, I am amazed of the parallels between his experience and ours in the church. We too must be prepared with the Word of God if we are to go into battle. And there is nothing more that the enemy would love to do is to distract you from the Word of God. He loves to downplay its importance in our lives and cause us to trust in other things that the Bible. Not only are we commanded to fall in, but also to follow orders.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Written by the late Erma Bombeck after she found out she had a fatal disease.

If I Had My Life To Live Over
by Erma Bombeck

If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.I would have cried and laughed less while watching television - and more while watching life.I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."There would have been more "I love you's".. More "I'm sorrys" ...But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it ... live it...and never give it back.

© Erma Bombeck

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

First Revival

I conducted my first revival a couple of weeks ago. Pastor Tommy Mills of Pleasant Hill Baptist, Steubenville, OH, extended an invitation for me to come and speak in their church. This was my first revival, and Pastor Tommy prefers revivals that continue the whole week not just through Wednesday. I enjoyed the opportunity of sharing God’s Word with them and the pleasure of meeting some fine folk living in Steubenville. Thanks.

Those of you who are not familiar with Steubenville, OH. It is the home of Dean Martin and the town is considered the “mural” capital of America.