Monthly Archives: October 2013

Can You Give Five Minutes?

When it comes to telling the good news of God’s Word to others, there is often an excuse of time given by Christians as a cause for falling short. We seem to think that if we do not have an hour or three that there is insufficient time to adequately communicate truth to people.

For those who take the time to calculate such things, there are a number of different measurable modes by which people can express truth to others. Do you recognize what you can accomplish in just 5 minutes?

– In five minutes, the average person can type approximately 300-400 words (between 60-80 wpm).
– In five minutes, the average person can speak anywhere from 750-850 words (while that total may be doubled if you are female or an auctioneer, the total comes out to about 150-175 wpm).
– In five minutes, the average person can read between 1,000 and 1,500 words, equaling 200-300 wpm.

In five minutes, there are massive amounts of communication that can be passed from one person to another. Five minutes is longer than the average commercial break on radio or tv stations; it is longer than the amount of time it takes a tottering baby to walk/crawl from one end of the house to the other (I know from experience); and it is longer than the time it has taken you to read this article so far.

So, let me ask you a question: When you consider the 288 five-minute segments you have in every single day, is it really impossible to find one in which you can talk to someone about the Bible, God’s love for them, and why the decisions they make in regard to their eternal condition are so important? Those five minutes can do so much good, could lead to more opportunities to do the same with that person in the future, and may be the difference between life and death in all eternity.

So, let’s be honest, can you give five minutes?

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Standing Out

Last night my wife and I were swimming in a sea of maroon and white. The only problem was we were wearing blue. As we arrived at the stadium for the Mississippi State/Kentucky football game my wife looked around her on a number of occasions and said: “I don’t see any blue.” It was true, there were very few Kentucky fans there, as would be expected at a game such as this. While everyone we met or to whom we spoke was kind and courteous, there were many sidelong glances and small smiles, as if wondering how we made it in the gates (or, with the record of Kentucky this year, why we bothered to come).

On our way home from the game last night I was struck with a thought that developed over those couple of hours. That experience and those reactions are truly the way it is supposed to be with Christianity as well. As Christians, we are living our lives surrounded constantly by the world. We are to be in the world, but not of the world (1 John 2:15-17).

Last night, it would have been easy to wear colors that made us blend in with the crowd; to make it so that nobody could tell for whom we were pulling. However, that would not have well represented the side for which we cheered and the reason for which we came. We are to be a people that stand out as different and distinct from the rest of the world (Rom. 12:1-2). It is not supposed to be only in the privacy of our own home that there is a distinction; but in the public realms of life, our light of service to Christ should shine before men so brightly they cannot help but recognize the working of God on our lives (Mat. 5:16).

So, as we travel through life seeking to serve God, do we “wear our colors proudly?” Do we walk through the sea of the world, not with an air of rudeness, contempt, or arrogance; but simple declaration by word and deed of who we are and on what side we reside? We should; no, that wording is not strong enough… we must. For if we refuse to declare the side on which we stand now, we have no hope of our Lord pointing to us as being on his side in eternity (Mat. 10:32-33).

Are you standing out?

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Have You Removed the Dross?

Wise King Solomon wrote, “Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel; take away the wicked from the presence of the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness” (Pro. 25:4-5).

In order to purify silver to the point that it could be used or sculpted, the silver ore would be melted by fire. When that was done the dross (impurities, refuse) would be brought to the top where they could be removed and what was left was pure silver that could be fashioned for whatever purpose was needed. However, as long as the dross remained within the silver, both the value and usefulness of the metal was greatly diminished.

Solomon takes this principle and applies it to counselors of kings. He says that if you take away the wicked people (the dross) from a place of influence before the king, his throne will be established in righteousness. It has often been proven that, if you know who is giving a ruler (whether he be a king, president, CEO, etc.) counsel and guidance, you can know what kind of ruler he will be. The people that he trusts the most will be the people that reflect his morals and principles. This concept is certainly seen in the Scriptures with such examples as Rehoboam (1 Kings 12) who, instead of heeding his father’s counselors decided to listen to his own that were closer to his age. The results were catastrophic for his kingdom, and fulfilled the prophecies God had made before the death of his father.

However, let us take this same basic principle and make some applications for us. For we can take the exact same argument Solomon applies to kings and make a parallel application to the lives of each individual when it comes to their friends. A person’s friends are the ones that will first be approached for help, advice, and direction. Show off an individual’s friends (true personal friends, not social media), and people are able to see what kind of person that individual is and what they value most in life.

Therefore, it is essential that we remove the dross (evil influences) from our friendships. The Christian who seeks to follow Christ will not be surrounded by people who do not love, appreciate, and consider the things of Christ. Paul stated that, “evil companionships corrupt good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33), and Peter reported the effect that a life of serving Christ has upon those old friends who do not hold the same values (1 Pet. 4:3-6).

Beyond our friendships, however, there is another area in which this parable applies: the attitudes and actions of life. As we seek to serve Christ we must seek to mold our lives after his example. In order to do that, we must first be willing to remove the dross from our lives so that we can be the right material for that molding. The Colossians were told: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:5-10). Before we can be fashioned after the manner of Christ into the kind of person God wants, we must first remove the dross so that we may approach him with purity and holiness (Rom. 12:1-2).

Have you removed the dross?

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Have you “Googled” God’s Word?

Using the phrase, “to google something,” has become a commonly accepted figure of speech for “searching for something online,” whether someone is actually using the Google search engine or not. It carries with it the meaning of seeking to find information from a massive online database whereby questions or curiosities may be settled.

While this usage is of immense value on many different levels, there is one area that one should be immensely cautious in “googling:” the area of religious doctrine and practice. You see, it has become commonplace in today’s society to simply look across the broad spectrum of information available through massive online databases in search of the preacher, commentator, or author that is going to give someone the answer he or she desires to the question under consideration. The reasoning may be lousy, the logical processes non-existent, and the arguments may simply be a re-hashing of what one person has heard from another; but if it gives the answers one is looking for, it is too often considered sufficient.

When it comes to matters of belief and practice, should we not be much more careful in our quests for discovery? Should it not be the case that, instead of travelling into the endless shallows of man’s wisdom, we delve into the depths of God’s? It is about time we stop worrying so much about what so-and-so says about it and instead focus more on what God says.

When was the last time you “googled” God’s Word first in seeking the answers to Biblical questions? If you have access to the internet, you have access to the greatest level of biblical resources in the history of mankind. Your ability to understand God’s Word is limited only by your own desire and the amount of time you are willing to devote to it. There are many good translation tools, language tools, dictionary tools, and others as well (many of them free) that make it possible to read, study and understand God’s Word as he gave it.

If you want to know what a word means in Scripture: do not go to Mr. I’m-Smarter-Than-You-Because-I-Have-A-Ph.D., find the word in the original language by means of a concordance or interlinear translation and look it up for yourself. If you want to understand a concept or topic as used in the Bible: do not look up what “[insert religious group] preachers say about [insert concept/topic].” Look up what God said about it. See what the words pertaining to that topic mean, where they are found in Scripture, what the Bible says about the purposes, applications, and interactions of the concept/topic, and whether or not they are always used in the same way for the same purpose.

These things can be done with every word, phrase, or topic in the Bible. This does not mean that commentaries, articles, and the like do not have their place (hence the reason for the writing of this one), especially in areas of background knowledge about ancient societies that are foreign to us today. However, if the only reason you believe something is because a preacher or commentator said it, your faith is not truly in God and his Word, but in the preacher or writer from which you read it.

I have found over the years that the Bible is its own best commentary. God has given us everything we need to be able to know and understand his will for us. Some areas are more difficult than others, some require more time and effort to understand; but we have to be willing to overcome our own tendencies toward laziness and study it for ourselves, not rely on someone else’s studies for our own pseudo-understanding.

So, have you “googled” God’s Word recently?

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