From the desk of Joshua Creel
If Facebook had been around during Paul's day, I wonder what would have been on his wall? Before his encounter with Jesus in Acts 9 I could imagine Saul posting stories from the Jewish Chronicle with headlines like "New Atrocities Committed by Roman Soldiers" and "Top Ten Reasons Why Jewish Independence Is So Important". Maybe he would have poked fun at how the Gentiles looked or offered his hot take on why The Circumcised were better than the uncircumcised. However, I would assert with great confidence that all of those things would have disappeared after his encounter with Jesus. The reason? Because no matter how much Paul hated the Roman government or how much pride he had in his Jewish heritage, he would have known that something was far more important. "I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it." (1 Cor. 9.22-23).
It seems that our society is becoming more polarized by the day. People have impassioned stances on issues such as gun control, immigration, health care, etc. People are divided over whether they should "stand with her" or think the Donald is "uuuuuuge". We feel justified in having impassioned stances on these issues because they matter: they affect our homes, our country and our pocket books. But they also divide us, and ultimately they are not what matters the most. "I do all things for the sake of the gospel..."
I write this with some trepidation. Understand, I'm not trying to tell you how you should vote, or have you side with me on any issue. Just a reminder that rhetoric is powerful... sometimes so powerful that it drowns out the gospel.
Revelation Chapters 10-11
The outline for Revelation 10-11 can be downloaded here.
From the desk of Steve Patton
"Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence." - Genesis 6:11
"As is so evident in our day, man succeeds only in darkening the skies, ravishing the ground, poisoning the water, setting men against each other in violence and cruelty, and in spreading death, fear, and hatred throughout the earth. But all this is done in the midst of increasing comfort and luxury and the technical brilliance that builds impressive cities and produces astonishing gadgets of incredible complexity and power" (Ray Steadman).
It all sounds so familiar. Genesis 5 records amazing achievements by Cain's descendants: domestication of animals, inventing of musical instruments, discovery of the metal forging process. Yet the moral world was crumbling until it reaches the circumstances recorded in Genesis 6:5-11. Every thought was continually evil and the earth was corrupt and filled with violence. While glorying in his achievements man was planting seeds of his own destruction.
I have no idea how far along our nation is on the path of destruction. I do know it is much worse than when I was young. Recent events testify to the disregard for human life, the depths of moral corruption and the overall descent into the abyss of evil. Satan is truly at work and having great success. All we can do is respond like early Christians did. When faced with an increasingly sick society what did they do? They all became evangelists (Acts 8:4). This is the hope of our culture, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The best use of your time in influencing our culture is not in social and political action, but in trying to convert your neighbors and friends. Let's get busy doing it.
This Week's Fight by Joshua Creel
The fight against temptation is a constant one. Whether our struggle is alcohol, pornography or the sins of the tongue, every day demands the greatest vigilance. Sometime we lull ourselves to sleep, particularly after we’ve successfully resisted temptation for a few days or even weeks. But even after Jesus resisted him for 40 days, Satan left only to look for an opportune time (Luke 4.13). The lesson: we may feel strong now, but Satan will look for the times when we feel weak.
Thankfully, we needn't stand alone against our enemy. He stands with us, as do a host of saints. God and His people are there to encourage us in the fight, and they are also there to support us when we stumble. While it is not necessary or even helpful that you confess your faults to everyone, you do need someone. “Confess your sins to another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” (James 5.16) So, if you're struggling with temptation you need to open yourself up to the help God has provided. Whether it’s an elder, preacher, parent or friend, open up to someone and be accountable.
I serve as an accountability partner for a few brethren, but recently I've been wanting to provide them some extra help each week. A scripture to focus on, a prayer to make their own and ways they can be active in their faith each day. I call it This Week's Fight, a weekly post you can read online or have emailed to you each Monday morning. If interested, you can check it out by visiting www.builtbyhim.com/category/this-weeks-fight/.