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Thursday, May 28, 2009 2 comments

James 1:1-8

"James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

Too often our response to trials is to complain. This response does not reflect a Christian attitude. James gives sound advice on how to respond during these times.

First, trials should be faced with an attitude of joy. Trials should not be viewed as a punishment, curse or calamity. Do not be mistaken, James is not implying to be joyful for the trial, rather be joyful in or during the trial.

In addition, there is profit from trials. Trials produce patience, which can also be translated as endurance or perseverance. Through tests a Christian will learn to withstand the pressure of a trial until God removes it at His appointed time. For example, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 talks about Paul having a thorn in his flesh. Paul longed for relief, but God would not remove the thorn as Paul requested. However, God continually supplied him with grace to endure it. There is no gain in endurance without some investment in trials.

Do not misinterpret verse 4, "perfect" does not mean sinless perfection. A better translation would be mature. Thus, if perseverance goes full-term it will develop a thoroughly mature Christian.

James' argument may seem logical, but it is still difficult to see how trials can be welcomed with an attitude of joy. Verse 5 describes the assistance God gives. Only divine wisdom enables believers to be joyous and submissive in trials and God will not only provide wisdom, but will do so generously. However, God's provision has some prerequisites. First, the believer must ask in faith and not doubt. This refers to a distrust in God. God compares someone who doubts His ability or willingness to provide wisdom to a "wave of the sea". This person is "double-minded", meaning that their mind or soul is divided between God and the world. A hypocrite, who who occasionally believes in God but fails to trust Him when trials come and thus receives nothing.

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Humility Is Disarming In This Culture

Thursday, May 14, 2009 3 comments

Written by Dave Burchett

Once the word gets out that I am a practicing “evangelical,” I get lots of comments about the church. I hear about hypocrites in the church and about national leaders whose lives fall far short of their rhetoric. A lot of the comments are true. So how do you handle those accusations? Ideally you can reach a point where you can explain the Christian theology of original sin and that redemption is only because of Christ and not because of works. But the old bumper sticker argument that “I am not perfect . . . just forgiven” is not a compelling defense for those who don’t understand the gospel and who witness the daily shortcomings of Christians.

I thought about a church in my town that decided last fall to own up to their failures. They made a bold decision to confess in humility and see what might happen.

The headline in an ad that ran in The Dallas Morning News screamed out in big, bold letters:

We Were Wrong

We followed trends when we should have followed Jesus. We told others how to live but did not listen ourselves. We live in the land of plenty, denying ourselves nothing, while ignoring our neighbors who actually have nothing. We sat on the sidelines doing nothing while AIDS ravaged Africa. We were wrong; we’re sorry. Please forgive us.

That is a powerful and sobering admission. I was shocked. And I was greatly encouraged by the courage and the humility needed to admit such an embarrassing message to the public.


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What We Need

Monday, May 11, 2009 4 comments

As many of you know, my favorite musical group is the O.C. Supertones. Last week I was listening to them and one particular song caught my attention. The song is Return of the Revolution. I have heard this song hundreds of times, but this time it really resonated with our current times.

Morally, we are going backwards. In addition, times are difficult economically. The unemployment and foreclosure rates are extremely high. Companies that were once giants are now considering bankruptcy.

Who do Americans turn to? President Obama. People are putting their trust in President Obama to help the poor and bring peace in the world. This is not a personal attack on Obama, I don't care who is president. He will not succeed. He will not bring true peace and what does Jesus say about the poor? Answer: Matthew 26:11. We will always have the poor. We should only place our trust in God. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says we need to cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us.

Furthermore, Luke 12:22-26 says "Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?"

This is where the song Return of the Revolution fits in. What are Christians doing today? The Bible says study the word (2 Timothy 2:15). Hebrews 5:13-14 talks about advancing in knowledge. Here are excerpts from the song:

"See wisdom and knowledge is one thing that we lack
You’ve been a Christian how long and you’re still on similac"

"And we can’t defend our faith ’cause we don’t even know it
We say we love His word but pick a funny way to show it.
And the world walks by and we don’t have a thing to say
I call ’em like I see ’em
And that’s what I see today"

The song mentions people who started a surge in the faith such as Martin Luther and John Edwards. There is a battle going on. We need to pick a side and not sit on the bench. The song fittingly ends by asking "So what about you? Will you join us?

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Hawaii Votes For Islam Day

Friday, May 8, 2009 1 comments

Hawaii's state Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill to celebrate "Islam Day," despite the objections of a few lawmakers who said they didn't think the state should honor a religion connected to Sept. 11, 2001.

The resolution to proclaim Sept. 24, 2009, as Islam Day passed the Senate on a 22-3 vote Wednesday. The bill was previously passed by Hawaii's House of Representatives.

The bill recognizes what it calls "the rich religious, scientific, cultural and artistic contributions" that Islam and the Islamic world have made.

But the Senate's two Republicans argued that radical Islamists cheered the 2001 attacks. They also noted that other religions didn't have a special day honored.

The lone Democrat voting in dissent opposed it on church-state separation grounds.


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U.S. Military Destroys Soldier's Bibles

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 2 comments

The U.S. military is confirming that it has destroyed some Bibles belonging to an American soldier serving in Afghanistan.

Reuters News says the Bibles were confiscated and destroyed after Qatar-based Al Jazeer television showed soldiers at a Bible class on a base with a stack of Bibles translated into the local Pashto and Dari languages. The U.S. military forbids its members on active duty -- including those based in places like Afghanistan -- from trying to convert people to another religion.

Reuters quotes Maj. Jennifer Willis at the Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, who said "I can now confirm that the Bibles shown on Al Jazeera's clip were, in fact, collected by the chaplains and later destroyed. They were never distributed."

According to the military officials, the Bibles were sent through private mail to an evangelical Christian soldier by his church back home. Reuters says the soldier brought them to the Bible study class where they were filmed.

The Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, told a Pentagon briefing Monday that the military's position is that it will never "push any specific religion."

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