Could It Be?

Does the Bible contain a “pattern” for how the church of the Bible should look? Is the primary duty of Christians to reproduce or restore the church of the first century? We look at these two questions and one might ask, “What do these question have to do with Christianity? The honest answer is very little.
Sometimes we miss the point of how Disciples were to be known. Men tend to emphasize the things we can see. We can piece together a verse here and a verse there and construct in our minds eye a pattern man can use to determine faithfulness. If you fit the pattern we have pieced together we will accept you as faithful Christians. If you miss some part of our pattern you won’t be known as faithful. Maybe you won’t even be recognized as Christian.  We further allow ourselves to have a say in who is faithful by making  a law that one must hold to the “restoration principle” to fit into the faithful category.
The Lord said his disciples would be known by their love. How did we manage to move from the point the Lord said would allow us to be recognized as His disciples to where we are today?
Love is hard to measure. It is hard to see inside a heart. Could it be that we invented laws so we could say, “See I am faithful I hold to the pattern!” It wouldn’t be the first time man has thanked God he wasn’t as other men.

Now That We Are Sinners……….

Before God created the world and all that is in it, God had a plan to solve our sin problem.  God’s plan to make sin payment was a gift God freely gave to man. God tells us, all are sinners and the wages for those sins is death.  This is the simple fact, without God’s grace, there is no hope for man.  We can do nothing  to pay our sin debt short of spiritual death.

There are two occasions in our life when relationship with God demands payment for our sins. First, prior to our initial forgiveness at salvation, we need payment for our sins.  Second, after we are saved, we need sacrifice as we continue to sin. Without that initial sacrifice and without a continued sin payment  we would be lost.  Please understand there is nothing man can do to earn forgiveness for sin.  Forgiveness is from God’s hand and at His discretion. Payment is made by the Lord’s sacrifice and forgiveness is given at His determination.

There are certain truths we must accept:

  • It is about forgiveness.  Everything in our lives revolves around the fact of forgiveness.  The last thing taking place this side of eternity will be judgment.  Where we spend eternity will be determined by forgiveness.  Either we will be in the blood and consequently have forgiveness or we will be outside the blood and have no hope.  Understand this truth, forgiveness is the only thing that matters.  Everything is about forgiveness.
  • We don’t get to decide the terms.  Jesus stiffest condemnation was directed toward those who might have seemed to be the most Holy.  Jesus condemned the Pharisees strongly.  The primary problem was connected with the fact that this group made salvation very difficult by requiring man to keep rules God did not make.  Today we tend to judge the worthiness of our fellow Christians in regard to forgiveness.  To borrow a phrase from president Obama, “That is above our pay grade.”  We don’t get to make the rules.  We don’t get to determine who gets forgiveness and who doesn’t.  We aren’t the keepers of the salvation gate.  We aren’t able to determine what constitutes repentance and what doesn’t.  We aren’t the football playoff committee, we don’t get to determine who is in and who is out.
  • All sin is damning.  We tend to determine grades of sin.  Your sin is bad and I can’t fellowship you. My sin isn’t really all that bad.  God will turn His head in my case.  Why is it we tend to see  the sin of others as bad and we see our own sin as something less?  The truth is all sin separates us from God.  We believe God tends to ignore the little white lies, the gossip, the divisive attitudes, judging the sins or maybe the repentance of others.  At the same time we usually see the really serious, condemning sins as being those committed by others.   We might well borrow the prayer of the Pharisee, “I thank you Lord that I’m not as other men.”

Think through this, without God’s grace all would be lost.  God is looking for a way to save all men.  In fact it is God’s desire that none should perish.  Salvation is in God’s hand and by His determination.  Rather than condemning all who understand or conduct themselves differently than we believe they should, let’s do all we can to serve God with thankfulness. Wouldn’t it be great if we sought peace and unity?  Let’s live each day as our last, doing all we can to love God and our neighbor with all our heart and soul.  Salvation isn’t based on our goodness, it is based on who God declares righteous.

Like An Old Friend

In June of 2012 I suffered a stroke.  As a result many things have changed.  Some were obvious and some were not so obvious.  One of the things that happened was simple, but  has bothered me a great deal.  After my stroke I had trouble accessing this blog.  In fact after late 2012 I could not access it at all.  Today, as I was sitting at my desk, it came to me how to get into this blog.  It was like an old friend had suddenly shown up again.  I never cease to be amazed at the good things God does for us when we need it most.  Welcome back old friend and by the way, “Who Told You That?”

Introducing For The First Time Mr. And Mrs. Jordan Kamali

american_flagToday I was blessed with the pleasure of sharing in the marriage ceremony of Jordan Kamali and Natalie Stewart.  I have been blessed with the opportunity to officiate many wedding ceremonies.  It never gets old nor do I take for granted the privilege of being part of such a wonderful event.  My part as minister is miniscule compared to the commitment the two are making to each other.  The grandest part of the wedding is the understanding that God is taking two individuals from separate families and making them one in His sight.

It had been quite a while since I had officiated a wedding with the groom in his uniform.  Jordan is serving our nation as a member of the United States Army.  Jordan and Natalie made a beautiful couple.  I hope this day will stand out in their memories as one of the best of their lives.  It is my pleasure to say to Jordan and all who serve our nation, “thank you.”

This wedding will stand out in my mind in many ways.  It was touching to see Natalie give to Jordan the ring that had been his father’s wedding band.  Jordan’s father passed away a few years ago.  This gesture allowed his father Saadi to be part of the ceremony.  I am very certain Saadi would have been proud of his son and the bride he has chosen.

My friend Guy Lewis was supposed to take the pictures for the wedding.  Just prior to the beginning of the wedding Guy was having chest pains and had to leave in an ambulance.  Guy has had two heart attacks in the last few months.  He gave us quite a scare but it turned out Guy “only”  had pneumonia.  Guy is fine and the young couple are on their way to years of happiness.  This wedding will always stand out in my mind as something special.  Congratulations to Jordan and Natalie Kamali.  In His hand, dell kimberly

The Glorious Comparison

In Scripture we have an abundance of beautiful stories. None is as glorious as theaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaachristmas-9 comparison of marriage and the church. Those of you who have been following my blog over the last month know I have been discussing relationship. I have dealt with it primarily from the standpoint of the man. In this article I am going to discuss responsibilities of both man and woman. This article is based on the teachings of Ephesians 5. This may well be the most important words ever written on marriage and the relationship that surrounds the couple who have committed themselves through marriage. We would do well to read again and again the words God shared with us through Paul in this passage.

  • Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  In our day and age the idea that a woman would submit to her husband is beyond our ability to grasp.  In this day of enlightenment,  no reasonable woman would place herself in a position of submission!  After all, women and men are equals, right?  I fear society has missed the entire point.  God isn’t instructing the woman to be less than the man, He is giving man and woman different roles.  The woman submits to her husband in a similar way to the church submitting to Christ.  I don’t know why God begins with the woman’s role but I suspect it is because they usually “get it”  quicker than we men do. The role of submission isn’t the role of a slave.  It instead is a role where the woman willingly puts herself under the care, concern, and protection of her husband.  To submit means she is willing to put herself in a role which allows the husband to take the darts and arrows of life.  She is giving up the role of running “point” for the family.  This doesn’t mean the husband is superior.  It simply means their roles are not the same.  Since the husband is the normally the stronger of the two, she allows him to take the rocks and arrows of life as she chooses to willingly give up the role of dominance.  She willingly submits to the care and protection of the husband.  In doing so, she puts herself in a position to take on a much more important role.
  • Wives Respect your husbands.  This word “respect” is an extremely broad concept.  When God took a rib from the side of Adam and created Eve.  Through Eve God made Adam complete.  The role of the woman is the most important role in the world.  She completes man.  Without a mate man is incomplete. Without a woman by his side man is in no position to deal with the world.  A woman who respects her husband is the woman who does everything necessary to make him all he can be.  She knows when to caress and when to correct her husband.  She knows how to comfort him when he is broken as well as how to motivate him when he falls short of what he ought to do.  She is much like the coach who stands on the sideline during a ballgame.  She sees the game of life from a protected position.  She sees what works and what doesn’t.  While the husband is taking the hits in the game of life, she stands in her protected position giving him both comfort and direction.  She allows him to be complete as a man.  In doing this she makes the house a home and the collection of people who dwell there a family.  The role of the woman is the most important role this world knows. All of us have heard the saying, “behind every successful man is a woman.”  No truer words have been spoken.  Without the woman’s role successful relationship could not exist.
  • Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.  When the Lord gave man these instructions he set the bar very high.  Think about how Christ loved the church.  The Lord loved us enough He was willing to die for us.  Christ suffered the insults.  The Lord went through the humiliation, the pain, and mistreatment.  He did all of this without any thought of Himself.  Christ shows his humanity in His prayer.  He said, “Father if there be any way let this cup pass from me.”  Even though He didn’t want to die he was willing to die for the church so that those who make up the church could have a chance.  He put the needs of the church before His own.  When God tells man to love his wife as Christ loved the church, God is saying to the man put the needs of your wife before your own.  The words come easy but the actions are difficult.  As a result of the wife submitting to the care of the husband, we men have the job of making sure her needs are met before our own.  She is to be shielded and protected at any cost.  Woman is God’s ultimate gift to man.  We honor that gift by giving woman the things she needs and deserves. This is the will of God.
  • Husbands love your wives as yourselves.  Men have you ever been driving a nail and hit the wrong nail?  What happens?  As soon as you hit the wrong nail a series of events begin to transpire.  In this series of events one thing always happens.  Almost immediately the other hand drops what it is doing and wraps around the injured finger.  It doesn’t matter what the other hand has been doing, it’s importance is diminished.  Immediately everything stops so that the injured nail can be cared for.  This is similar to how it ought to be with the wife.  When something happens to her nothing should prevent the husband from dropping what he is doing to meet her needs.  She becomes more important than anything the husband is doing.  She is priority number one because she is God’s gift that completes man.
  • For this reason.  Because of this relationship man leaves father and mother and is united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.  Tomorrow I have the pleasure and honor of joining a man and a woman in marriage.  My role is small, I am fulfilling a role that has become part of our culture.  My role is simply a tradition.  The role of the two committing themselves to each other is much more important than what I will do. Their role is important, but it is not the most important thing that will take place.  What God will do tomorrow is a mystery that is profound.  God will take two individuals and make them one.  God Himself said it was a profound mystery.  How can a man care enough for a woman so that he puts her needs ahead of his own?  How can a man love a woman enough to die to his own desires so that hers can be met?  How can a woman take on an almost impossible role of making man complete?  How can woman place herself under submission to a man who is anything but what he should be?  All this is accomplished by the hand of an almighty God who declares man and woman one in his sight.  Without the help of God it would not work.

All relationship is important but no relationship is as important as marriage.  Please don’t take marriage for granted.  God answers prayer and gives us someone with whom we share life this side of eternity. We help each other in this life and we ought to help one another get to heaven.  Don’t enter into the relationship lightly and please never take the one God has given to you for granted.  We may not understand why God has allowed us the opportunity to be bound with a mate so far above our pay scale but never question and never take for granted the gift God has placed in our lives.  This relationship should be the nearest thing to heaven we experience in this life.

In His Hand,  dell kimberly

Good Relationship Requires the Characteristics of Joseph

forgivenessJoseph is perhaps my favorite of all Old Testament characters.  Certainly as we read about his life we see God’s hand everywhere.  Joseph was a man of intense faith, great integrity, deep respect, and a willingness to forgive without cost.

As Christian men it is important we have these attributes in our lives if we are going to build good relationships with that special friend God has given to us.  In this article, as I discuss relationship, I am going to use the characteristics of Joseph’s life to describe how we ought to live our lives.  The characteristics of Joseph’s life are similar to the characteristics all Christian men should employ in their lives if their marriages are going to be successful. The following description is how your life would look if you were using the life of Joseph as an example to build a strong relationship.

  • Good marriages require men of deep faith.  Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery when he was not much more than a boy. He could have allowed this to change his outlook on life forever.  Instead of allowing this event to alter his life he continued to trust God for direction.  There will be unexpected events in every relationship.  Maybe it’s financial, perhaps sickness, or even infidelity.  Whatever the event may be there will be times when things don’t go as planned.  At times like this it is easy to lose sight of God.  Good marriages need to be led by men of intense faith.  When intense faith is displayed it allows God room to work.  One of the major difficulties I have personally is giving God the ability to work.  I want to know and control the future.  Some of you may have this same trait in your personality.  More times than not this gets us into trouble.  We don’t know the plan of God anymore than we can predict the end of time.  Every relationship would benefit greatly if the man in that relationship could be like Joseph, a man of intense faith.  Give God room, let Him work.  Only then can relationship mature in the way God wants.
  • Good relationship requires we be men of strength and integrity.  Potipher came to realize Joseph was special.  He knew God was with him.  As a result, Potipher put Joseph in charge of everything he had.  God tells us that Potipher was concerned with nothing but the food he ate.  This  gave Joseph tremendous power.  With power comes temptation.  Certainly the temptation to take care of himself was there. To make matters more difficult, during this time Potipher’s wife attempted to seduce Joseph.  A man relying on his power alone would have been doomed.  Joseph’s response to her was this, “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God.” Wow, we can see that Joseph was allowing God to be his rock and shield! Satan is always looking for an opportunity to take down a man of God.  It could be the temptation to lie or to steal to better one’s self.  It could be a woman as it was with Potipher’s wife.  Rest assured Satan will do his best to destroy both men and their marriages.  It isn’t if Satan comes after us it is when.  Good relationship requires men of great strength and integrity.  Strong marriages require men who refuse to give in to temptation.  Every man can be taken by Satan if he relies only on his own strength.  Joseph couldn’t have survived alone, he survived by the power of God.  To survive Satan we must rely on the Father.  When we sin in our marriages we aren’t just sinning against that special friend God has given us.  We need to realize when we sin we are sinning against God.  This is the type relationship which pleases God:   In it is a man who refuses to give up his integrity for a moment of pleasure.  In it is a man who is committed first to God then to the special friend God has given to him.  In it is a man who looks to God for his strength realizing he can’t defeat Satan by himself.
  • Good relationship requires men who believe in the power of the creator.  After Joseph had been accused by the wife of Potipher, he was placed in prison.  While in prison two men came to him with dreams.  By the power of God Joseph told them the meaning of the dreams.  The only thing he requested was that he be remembered when the one who was to live was released.  After the release Joseph was forgotten.  He could have been bitter but he wasn’t.  He knew the Father was in control.  Joseph put it in God’s hands.  His respect for the power of the creator was deep.  How many of us have had something happen in our lives that changed everything about our lives.  How easy is it to panic when we don’t know the future?  Most of us have faced a time in our lives when we didn’t know what would happen next.  Sometimes the most difficult thing for us to do is turn it over to God.  Men with this ability are an asset to any relationship.  Men do you have the ability to turn it over to God when you don’t know what is going to happen?  Can you be consistent in faith in God so that your special friend can be comforted by your faith?  Good marriages and any good relationship will have at the helm a man who has the ability to turn everything over to God, a man of intense faith.
  • Good relationship involves a man who is willing to forgive without cost.  One of the most amazing parts of the story of Joseph was when he brought his brothers to Egypt.  Looking back we can see the hand of God in the entire event.  If we had been Joseph do you think we might have been tempted to take our pound of flesh?  Joseph forgave without cost.  In any relationship bad things happen.  When those bad things happen we must to be willing to forgive without cost.  Things happen that hurt.  Sin causes scars in our lives.  It isn’t easy to forgive let alone without cost.  Most of the time when problems occur in relationship the two involved both think they are right.  Truth is most of the time both are wrong to some degree.  What an awesome marriage we could have if we forgave without cost!  Instead of getting our way what if we just said, “I forgive” and moved on.  Joseph was an incredible man.  He wasn’t the man he was except through God’s strength.  Good relationships are built by good men who trust in God, men who are willing to forgive without cost.

Joseph was a man whose characteristics, with God’s help, made him second only to Pharoah in power.  He was a great tool in God’s hand.  Men do you know what God has in mind for your family?  What kind of husband could you be if you would be a Joseph?  What kind of relationship could you enjoy if you let God choose the direction?  Men I challenge you to be a Joseph in your marriage.  With the help of God your marriage can be the closest thing to heaven you will know this side of eternity.

From His hand,  dell kimberly

Today is Different

Today is the first Christmas I have spent without family in my entire life. It is a sad day. Enjoy your family and friends. Take nothing for granted. May God bless you and hold you in the hallow of his hand. dell kimberly

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