boyradd

Forgiven…Loved…..Transformed!

Archive for the tag “faith”

Losing the Faith

If you run in the Christian circles like I do, you have most likely heard or read about several recent prominent Christian leaders who have “lost the faith” or “turned away from the faith.” While this is alarming, it is definitely not a new trend.

Back in the 80s and 90s there were quite a few very popular Christian bands that had some high profile artists. There were several of those who turned away from Christ. Many are now claiming atheism.

But let’s go farther back.

In the Bible we see many stories of people who either turned away from their faith or doubted it. In Exodus 12, for example, we learn that Miriam and Aaron both oppose Moses but end up being restored. The Israelites spent 40 years in the desert due to a lack of faith. It even led to a bloody conflict that led to half of Israel being killed by the other half of Israel because of faith.

Then you have Jeremiah who wished he had never been born.

King David, in Psalm 13, had doubts. Even in 1 Chronicles 21 we see that David counted his armies rather than trusting God.

Even Elijah, in 1 Kings 19, despaired.

Then you have the doubters. Moses, Thomas, and Gideon all doubted. Peter both doubted and denied. Judas turned away from the faith altogether, and he was in Jesus’ inner circle.

I know that over the years, I have viewed my faith as a moving target sometimes. As humans, we all wax and wane in our faith. There are times we feel so far away from God and others we feel that we are best friends.

One thing I have learned about doubt, or even the “failure of faith” is that we easily get confused when we see ourselves as the prime leader in the relationship. I’d like to focus on a few Biblical characters whose failures could have led to any of them turning away from God altogether. But they each ended up humbling themselves, realizing that they were not the Creator of the Universe (even their own), and came back from their failures.

I like to start with Paul. He is someone I like to think I associate with closest in the Bible. An evangelist at heart but with so much baggage in his past that he always wonders how God can use him. Paul was the epitome of sinner. Prior to his conversion, he was the dreaded Saul of Tarsus. Not only was Saul a killer of Christians, but he was the one who approved the execution of Stephen in Acts. Saul’s sole purpose was to destroy the Christian church. He would go door to door in Jerusalem and seek out Christians and then throw them in prison. Once there, he would track the letters they sent to fellow believers and gather them up as well.

After Saul’s conversion to Christ he changed his name to Paul and became one of the world’s greatest evangelists.

But he still hated who he was.

1 Timothy 1:15-16 – Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

So what can we learn from Paul? No matter when you give your life over to Christ, even after an entire life of horrible sins, the Gospel is too powerful to leave you the same person you were and that transformation becomes a powerful testimony to God’s grace.

Next, let’s look at David. David was the same guy who took a stone and killed the Philistine champion Goliath. He wrote many of the Psalms as worship to God. He was a man after God’s own heart.

However, David was not only mentioned in over half of the Bible’s books, but he broke over half of the 10 commandments!!! He coveted Bathsheba, committed adultery, stole her from Uriah, lied to him, and then had him killed!

But when he is confronted, David repents.

That repentance doesn’t undo everything he did in the past, but it does change the trajectory of his spiritual future.

2 Samuel 12:13 – David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

What we can learn from David is that if we truly do repent of our sin we are not saved from the consequences but we are still able to be used by God.

Third, I would like to look at John Mark. John Mark came from a very important family. Peter went to John Mark’s house when he was released from prison. Paul & Barnabas pick up John Mark on the way back from a mission journey. Unfortunately, we learn that John Mark left Paul & Barnabas in Perga and went back to Jerusalem.

While we don’t know the reasons behind why John Mark left them, we do know that it wasn’t for a good reason. Barnabas later suggests they go get him and Paul refuses to do it. This leads to the disagreement between Barnabas and Paul that causes the two of them to part ways. Barnabas chooses Mark and Paul chooses Silas and they go their separate ways for as long as we know in the Bible.

Later, when Paul is in prison, he writes to Colossae and tells them that John Mark is with him and has been a great comfort and that they are to welcome John Mark. This is the same person that disappointed Paul earlier in life so much that it caused division among the saints.

And now, Paul is calling him a “fellow worker.”

What can we learn from John Mark? While conversion is instantaneous, it takes a lifetime to grow into the faith you are accepted into. Maturity comes at a later date, even when we think we are mature enough to handle situations we cannot. As long as we persevere, we can outgrow those immature moments in life.

Next, let’s look at Peter. Peter was loud and shoots from the hip quite a bit. Peter was one of Jesus’ closest friends. He was the only one to attempt walking on water and he was the first to tell Jesus he believed He was the Son of God.

But we know what happens, Peter denies Jesus not just once but three times!

Jesus doesn’t give up on Peter though. Peter is the first person Jesus appears to. He restores Peter at the Sea of Galilee.

And then Peter went on to preach the first sermon in which 3,000 people got saved!!!

What is it that Peter can teach us? Failure doesn’t disqualify you from the Kingdom of God.

The last person I would like to look at is Elijah.

Elijah was someone who worked so many miracles it would be hard to think of him as human. He caused the rain to stop for 3 years, he was fed by ravens, he witnessed a young man resurrected, and he called down fire from heaven, thus destroying the prophets of Baal.

But then we see that Elijah burned out. After calling down fire, Elijah realized he couldn’t take anymore. He fled to the wilderness and felt totally alone and afraid.

God met him there. He fed him. He allowed him the time to rest. And after a while, he answered Elijah in the still, small voice.

What can we learn from Elijah? Burnout is only permanent if you allow it to be. Don’t listen to everything and everyone when you are exhausted. Take time to care for yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Then get back out there and win people to Christ.

The only way that failure will win in your life and cause you to leave the faith is if you allow it to do so. We serve a big God. This is the same God that created the universe! He can give us what we need, if we only allow Him to do so.

As American as Apple Pie, Baseball, and….Mormonism?!?!

Mark 16:15 – And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

A few days ago, my girlfriend got us tickets to go see the Minnesota Twins play the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. She and her boys are big baseball fans so we headed out for a night on the town. Now I am not a baseball fan. I like futbol and football, in that order. Columbus Crew in the USA and Argentina internationally for soccer and the Pittsburgh Steelers for football are my faves. If they are on, especially if the Crew is playing DC United or the Steelers are playing the Ravens, you better believe I will be enjoying the game somehow. But this was neither soccer nor football. It was baseball, much longer than either of those other two sports. Strangely enough, it was on the 98th anniversary of the fastest baseball game ever played. And the Twins even played in that game, the Winston-Salem Twins. That game was 31 minutes long for 9 innings. Ah whatever happened to the good ole days.

But I digress.

As we were walking into the stadium there was a single man on the street corner giving a fire and brimstone sermon. Clearly Christian, this man was yelling Bible verses AT people. Everyone, including myself, gave a second glance thinking this guy was crazy. I felt bad for thinking that and went on into the stadium to watch the game.

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes

Part of the way through the game we saw a couple young men, no older than say 25, walking up one of the aisles wearing black dress pants, a white shirt, and a name tag. My first inclination was, “There are some Mormons at the baseball game!” I never expected to see a couple Mormons in uniform at a baseball game, but I figured, “Heck, they need to get out and have fun just like the rest of us, right?”

They were clearly enjoying the game, but I don’t think that is why they were there.

Later, as we were leaving we saw a LOT more.   It seemed as if they had enough Mormon men there to place teams of 2 in a majority of the bleacher sections. As we walked through the stadium to the exit, there were groups of people taking pictures with the Mormons and speaking with them.

Then at a red light near the stadium, they were talking to people in general conversation. I overheard very little of it, but what I did hear was talking about Mormonism.

One man even walked a family to their car! He shook hands with the family and I saw them talking about something for a little while before we drove off.

Now, Christian, I am first going to say that Mormonism is a cult. I posted about that here. But quickly, here are a lot of things where Mormonism runs counter to Christianity:

  • God used to be a man on another planet (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321)
  • God resides at a star called Kolob (Mormon Doctrine, p. 428)
  • After you become a good Mormon, you have the potential to become a god (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345-347)
  • There is a Mother God (Articles of Faith, p. 443)
  • God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children (Mormon Doctrine, p. 516)
  • The Trinity is composed of three separate gods (Articles of Faith, p. 35)

Those are just a few of the ways Mormonism differs from Christianity.

1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

But one thing is very similar in both: Evangelism is the key to spreading the message.

So which do you think is more effective?

Standing on the street corner blasting through a very loud P.A. system that Jesus is the only way to save you from hell….

or…

Spending time getting to know the people at the stadium, walk with them to their cars, and help them as they spend time with their families at the baseball game.

One of the rare times that we saw Jesus lose His temper was directed only to the religious elite. Every time He spent time with the sinners, He was filled with grace and compassion.

And that is precisely what the Mormons were doing at the baseball game. They were showing grace, compassion, and genuine love for their fellow humans.

James 2:26 – For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

I hate to say it, Christians, but Mormons got us beat in the evangelism arena. We have a lot of catching up to do. It is as if we know we have the right answer (which we do) and yet we lord it over people rather than love them into the community.

I’ve heard it said before (on a DC Talk album) that the “greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who proclaim Him with their lips and deny Him with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

Christians, it is time for us to evangelize. Yes, we need to use words. But even more so, we need to use actions. Faith without works is dead. When the people see the man on the street corner yelling the Bible at them, they do not see the man who would potentially walk beside them in the tough times. They just know this guy is yelling at them.

When they see the Mormons talk about their faith as they are walking a family late at night to their car, then they gain instant credibility because they are acting out that faith.

We need to act out the faith we proclaim. We need to break down the defenses of the world around peoples’ hearts before they will listen to the words we speak to them. If we simply go AT them with the Bible instead of going TO them and walking with them as they struggle, they will shut us out.

So let’s take a lesson from the Mormons. No, I don’t mean listening to any of the heresy they proclaim. But I do mean evangelizing like a Mormon. It will add credibility to your message that you are trying to preach.

James 2:18 – But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

The ALS Challenge – My View

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

So I had been on the fence about this whole ALS challenge thing. I mean, first, it is bringing awareness to a disease without a cure. It is bringing people together a whole bunch of people to show the world the gruesome effect this disease has on people and on families.

Next, it is a great time to get wet. I am a fan of getting wet, just usually not me. I probably should have been a cat in a previous life, if I wasn’t allergic to them, and if I believed in previous lives.

But on the flip side, this has turned into a water-wasting, celebrate me type of event where people pour water on themselves in glorious fashion so they can avoid donating to the cause.

I was really torn about this.

And in the grand scheme of things, there should be a LOT more things out there that bother me than this stupid challenge. So I let it go.

Until I got challenged.

Uh-oh…time to put up or shut up.

Hebrews 13:16 – Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

So I started to pray pretty hard about this and went to God asking Him what He would do.

After soul-searching, grieving in my heart, and prayer (ok, minus the grieving in my heart thing), I found a few Bible verses that helped me understand that this can be a good thing, if done properly.

So here is what is happening:

First, Chesapeake Christian Fellowship’s youth ministry (G2:20) challenged the young adult ministry (United). So what we are going to be doing is fundraising until September 2nd. For every $20 we raise, 1 gallon of ice, cold water will be poured on the heads of the leadership of each group. As I write this, we have $40 with United and, last I heard, G2:20 had $20 raised. Our hope is to see us raise enough money for ALS research that we have to dump large trash cans of water on our heads.

On September 3rd, the night of the United end of summer cookout, we will be letting the water flow for all of social media (and anyone who drives by the church) to see.

Help us raise money for ALS research. It is a very fatal disease. It not only kills, but it takes a person’s identity along with it. It is better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerves cells, brain, and spinal cord. It eventually leads to the person’s death, but not before taking every bit of muscle tone with it. Since the motor neurons degenerate, they no longer send impulses to the muscles to allow movement. The muscles that affect the arms, legs, speech, swallowing, and breathing are the most affected.

Help us at Chesapeake Christian Fellowship to combat ALS. Please make a donation to the ALS Association today. The link for donating is here:

Thanks and let’s hope to see some very wet church leaders on September 3rd.

Oh…and if you want to see us carry this out, you call follow me on Instagram (Boyradd) or Twitter (Boyradd). I may also post it here, but that is only if I remember, lol.

Thanks again!

Proverbs 3:27-28 – Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.

Woah! That’s a Lot of Woes!

Habakkuk 2:1 – I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the lookout tower. I will watch to see what He will say to me and what I should reply about my complaint.

So when we last left our hero, Habakkuk (why couldn’t I have picked an easier name to spell throughout this series), he was waiting on God’s reply.

God tells Habakkuk not to worry because the Babylonians are going to get their due. He says it may seem like it will take a long time, but it will happen. I am fairly certain God knew to say this because Habakkuk, while a very devout man, he was a man. When we don’t see something happen, we begin to question whether it was meant to happen at all. In the Bible, God spends a lot of time doing what is called “tarrying.” When justice tarries, as it did with the Israelites in Habakkuk and happens all around the world today, we begin to think it is never coming. We get on social media and begin to blast either the conservative or the liberal blaming it on them.

Faith in God is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Habakkuk 2:4 – But the righteous one will live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4 is one of the most quoted verses in the book of Habakkuk and is spoken about by James in James 2. He says, “the righteous will live by faith.” Some versions say “faithfulness.” Both faith and faithfulness are part of what Habakkuk is trying to say. Faith is WHAT you believe while faithfulness is acting according to what you believe.

James 2:22 – You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected.

Many people like to claim that faith isn’t true by using the example of the smoker who knows it is bad for them but doesn’t stop thinking they will be fine. That is false faith. Placing your faith in an object which is specifically bad is not what the Bible is talking about. Faith, in the Bible, is specifically geared toward a single entity, God. Anything outside of faith in God is false faith. Faithfulness is following God’s law to serve God and others. There was a remnant in Judah that God would protect. Verse 2:4 is geared toward them to tell them how to proceed during the dark days coming.

In verse 5, we see God explaining Babylon, comparing her to a drunkard. Babylon was well known for their drunken parties. It is how Cyrus defeated Babylon in 539 BC. Here is the account by the Greek historian Heroditus, “But, as it was, the Persians came upon them by surprise and so took the city. Owing to the vast size of the place, the inhabitants of  the central parts (as the residents at Babylon declare) long after the outer portions of the town were taken, knew  nothing of what had chanced, but as they were engaged in a festival, continued dancing and reveling until they learnt about the capture. Such, then, were the circumstances of the first taking of Babylon.” (translation by George Rawlinson)

Verse 5 goes on to show that the Babylonians were never satisfied. They would continue to look for places to conquer and would war with anyone they felt they could beat.

This is an important contrast. The Babylonians, described as proud, or arrogant, spend their time going out and abusing others while the righteous are humble and place others before self and do acts for for the good of others.

While this one is very specific with Babylon and Judah, there is a universal truth proclaimed and it leads into the “oracle of the 5 woes.” While pride is not specifically called out in the oracle, it is something that is a human trait that we need to be wary of and oppose. We need to constantly be on guard for pride in our hearts as we make choices and decisions lest we become a singular Babylon instead of a righteous person.

Habakkuk 2:7 – Since you have plundered many nations, all the peoples who remain will plunder you

Verses 6-20 describe the rest of the “woes.” There is a woe to the greedy which says that those whom the greedy have taken from will take from you. There is a woe to the dishonest as they will bring shame upon their house. There is a woe to the violent that God’s glory will become known in their cities as violence does not come from God. There is a woe for those who get drunk and naked for they will be filled with disgrace, not honor and glory. And finally there is a woe to the idolater, and those who worship something other than God. Those are not alive, they do not speak. They are not active in this world. Only God is a living, active being creating and generating history each and every minute.

Habakkuk 2:19 – Look! It may be plated with gold and silver, yet there is no breath in it at all.

The chapter ends with a very sobering verse, “But the Lord in His holy temple; let everyone on earth be silent in His presence.”

Here, God is giving a message to Habakkuk, and to all who believe in Him. He is telling them to simply be silent and spend time in God’s presence. THAT will oppose injustice. THAT will bring down strongholds. THAT will bring about lasting change.

We can’t simply sit on the sidelines as injustice happens, but we can’t go out and attack with our words or actions simply being the opposite voice of those who are bringing injustice. How, then, will that bring justice to THEM?

Yes, we need to think about those being persecuted and abused. Yes, we need to act out against injustice of all sorts. But we CANNOT and SHOULD NOT act without spending time being SILENT in prayer in HIS PRESENCE. That will affect the change in our own hearts to see how we should proceed. The goal is not be the one with the loudest voice at the end. The goal is to be the one who shines the light of Christ.

In everything we do, whether it is speaking out against the government, standing up for pro-life, pro-marriage, anti-gun, or anything, we need to speak Christ, not our opinion.

That is the challenge.

That is where we fail.

Look at social media and you will see post after post littered with hate speech against another person.

For our battle is not against flesh and blood! It is against the powers. It is against the authorities. It is against Satan in this present day and age.

That is where our anger needs to be directed. Not to MSNBC or Fox News. Not to Republicans or Democrats. Not to Israel or Palestine. None of those or more.

We need to direct our anger appropriately and know just who is pulling those strings.

It is Satan.

And he is laughing our world all the way to hell.

So, Christians, wake up. Before you speak out against something, check your own self first and make sure that when you speak out against something that YOUR voice is not heard and the CHRIST’S WORD is taught.

Habakkuk 2:20 – But the Lord is in His holy temple; let everyone on earth be silent in His presence.

Habakkuk and the Little Old Lady Experience

Romans 1:16-17 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

First, I never know how to spell Habakkuk. I always want to put 2 “b” and 1 “k.” So if I misspell it, please forgive me.

While on vacation last week, I took some time and went to a local park to get in the Word. My morning devotion was Romans 1:16. That verse has become very cliché in recent history because of the Christian hip-hop movement. That has become the rally cry of the movement. There are shirts (I own one), buttons, stickers, and songs all dedicated to “116.”

I knew that Paul HAD to mean more than a Christian song lyric when he penned Romans 1:16, so I decided to make that the focus of my time in the Word.

So I grabbed my handy dandy Bible and started walking to the park. When I got there, it was empty. I was able to read through Romans 1 and trace the 1:16-17 passages back to Habakkuk 2:4. When I got into Habakkuk, I was struck by that guy’s straightforward honesty with God. I made a choice to begin reading the book of Habakkuk.

Habakkuk 2:4 – “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright– but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness —

I made it through much of chapter 1 when a group of little old ladies came to the park and sat in the same area I was sitting. They were there to watch their grandkids and boy were they LOUD! They couldn’t walk too well, so they sat on the benches and yelled their commands to their grandkids all over the park. I think even the dead started to open their eyes thinking it was the sound of the trumpet!

I decided to close my Bible and talk to these women.

Almost immediately the woman turned the conversation around to what I was doing in the park. I told her I was studying the book of Habakkuk and her eyes lit up. She started telling me all about the book and the questions that it always brought up in her mind. This woman was amazing! I was so impressed with the knowledge of her the Bible without even opening it that I was almost speechless.

Habakkuk is one of those books that we hear a lot about with regard to injustice. Whenever someone brings up injustice in the world, the book of Habakkuk is readily quoted. Many times unbelievers, and even believers, take many of Habakkuk’s words out of context and use them to attempt to weaken the Christian message of the book.

Over the next few weeks I am going to take us through the book of Habakkuk.

We are not the only generation to realize injustice. Even though we sit in our homes and wonder why the dishonest and wicked people prosper while those who try to live moral, upright lives tend to be used and abused, we are not the only ones who have done so.

In 620 B.C., Habakkuk wrote his message.

Habakkuk 1:2 – How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?

As has been done many times in the past, the writer’s name has something to do with the meaning of the book. Habakkuk’s name means to “wrestle” or “embrace.” Throughout the book, Habakkuk is wrestling with a significant issue: If God is good, then why is there evil in the world? And if there is evil in the world, why does it prosper?

In the book of Zephaniah, the Israelites thought something similar. Unfortunately in that book they believed that God was neither good nor evil, much less involved in life at all. The Israelites then continued in their sin. But Habakkuk looks at this a different way. He fears God and wants to do what is right, but is getting frustrated when evil prospers and good gets the shaft.

Zephaniah 2:15 – This is the self-assured city that lives in security, that thinks to herself: I exist, and there is no one else.

Spoiler alert: Habakkuk begins by worrying about the world around him and God’s seeming indifference but he ends in worshiping God. Habakkuk moves from questioning God to trusting Him.

Next week I will look at chapter 1 of the book.

This is a great study for anyone who has questioned whether God really cares about our future and the presence of good and evil in the world.

Stepping Out

Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

A few months ago, I told myself that I was going to step out in faith and quit my high paying job to go out on my own and start a franchise company while turning my focus to serving the Lord. I had to laugh when a month later, my old job called me and asked me to come back as a consultant and travel to NYC weekly.

This opportunity came at a great time as I was trying to get my business started.

Well, the business started very slow. My tithe went from quite a lot to quite a little, still above the 10% usually.

I was worried. I knew I had enough funds to last until about July for both the business and personally. Needless to say, I was a little worried.

But you know what? God never let me down. The opportunity at my former job helped to pay the mortgage every month. It gave me the ability to enjoy my time as my company got started and ministries got started.

But then something happened.

God happened.

Ministries began to grow.

I wasn’t really planning on that.

I mean, I did. Just not now.

I expected everything to happen in MY time. Why does God have to plan things outside MY time?

John 15:16 – You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

I started leading the young adult ministry. Then missions took a turn that I didn’t expect. Now I am on the newly formed mission board at church.

Again I ask, why won’t God work in MY time.

And then I remember the initial reason I left my high paying job. You see, when I left, my prayer was to dedicate everything, the good and the bad, to God.

I am quite sure that I failed a test of some sort. I don’t really know how to explain it, but I think the consulting gig was provided to me to see if I would truly give everything to God. To see if I was ready to just make the jump.

I failed.

I took the thought that God HAD to be providing me this opportunity to get the business started. But that isn’t how the Bible works with regard to stepping out in faith.

I took the role of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. Jesus told this dude to give up ALL of his possessions and when he realized it, he went away sad because he realized it would cost too much to follow Christ.

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

I’ve been through a tough season in my business. I haven’t been able to tithe as much as I planned on tithing by this time. I am wondering if my tough season could be because I walked away from the promise I made to God to give Him everything.

Jesus told the rich, young ruler that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. There are a couple of things here that need defining before I come up with a plan for the future.

First, a camel going through the eye of a needle. Of course a camel can’t go through a needle’s eye, right? It is at this time that you might be saying that God was alluding to the idea that no one who is rich can ever enter the kingdom of God.

There are plenty of theories as to what Jesus meant by the “eye of a needle.” The Biblical statement from Jesus is similar to one shared by the Persians that talked about an elephant going through a needle.

The first theory revolves around the Needle Gate in Jerusalem. This was an after-hours entrance to the city and was small for security purposes. A camel could only go through it if you stripped it of all saddles and it crawled through on its knees. The main problem with this theory is that there is no evidence that this gate ever existed.

The second theory is that the Greek word for camel (kamelos) should really be the word for “cable” (kamilos). Then it would say that a rope or a cable would be going through the eye of a needle. However, believing this breaks the whole idea of inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture.

My view is that Jesus is using hyperbole, a figure of speech that uses exaggeration for emphasis. He was no stranger to this form of speech such as when he talked about a plank in one’s eye or swallowing a camel.

Basically, Jesus is destroying the notion that the rabbis held that the rich were blessed by God and therefore were more likely to go to heaven. What makes it difficult for the rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven is that the rich are typically very proud individuals.

I have to admit, I was proud of the fact that I started a business. I was proud of the fact that I could be rich even before I put a dollar in the bank. It is hard to think that I could have missed my spiritual poverty while chasing physical riches.

But now, let’s get to the second definition needed, the kingdom of heaven. This is a phrase used throughout the New Testament over 77 times in its variations of kingdom of heaven/kingdom of God. If we compare the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, it is fairly clear that these two phrases can be interchanged (Matthew 5:3 and Luke 6:20).

I like a couple of definitions that other theologians have given. First, there is Graeme Goldsworthy who said it is “God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule.”

Another definition is from Anthony Hoekema who said it is “the reign of God dynamically alive in human history through Jesus Christ….”

This got me thinking. If I would have not been the rich, young ruler, could I have entered into those definitions of the kingdom of God? Would my testimony of God be stronger? Would the ministries be better served? Would my business have been more mature?

I can’t help but think that God’s blessings would have poured out if I would have given everything to Him in the beginning. He never let me fail. I am still paying the bills and tithing, but I can only imagine what would have been if I would have simply been faithful.

James 1:5-7 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord

So here is the plan.

July 6th I am leaving the consulting gig. So the guaranteed income is now gone.

But here is the thing. I am not worried. God has continued to take care of me and He won’t stop now. The business will pick up. I have complete faith that will happen.

But more importantly, the ministries will flourish. I already know that.

I look forward to seeing what God will do. And I am much less scared than I was in January when I left my job originally.

Do you have something you need to give completely over to God? Just do it. Don’t think about it. Sometimes our thoughts betray us. Didn’t that happen to Adam and Eve? They thought about how God could be lying to them and ate of the apple. And what happened? Well, the rest of history as we know it.

I can only imagine if all Christians, everywhere, gave everything over to God completely. We would see such a beautiful society that would shine the light of Christ.

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

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