Renewal, Of People Of God – Knowing Jesus

by Dean Jones

 

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.

Ephesians 3:16.

Have you ever heard the phase – you’re living on borrowed time? Meaning living after the time you would have expected to have died. Well, there is some truth to the saying as we are all living in probationary time.

However, isn’t it wondering that Jesus has paved the way and that those who truly and earnestly desire eternal life and strive for it with desire and effort should have it. What a comfort it is to know that the Lord wants us in His family above.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.

(John 3:16)

We need to cherish and exercise faith. Our faith must work. We must have that faith that works by love and purifies the soul. The leaven has a vital energy, penetrating and absorbing all the elements into which it is introduced. So likewise, the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.

The Word of the Lord is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. The Word is a power as we practice it. The great change that the truth makes is inward. It begins in the heart, and works outwardly. With the heart, man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. “Burnt offerings and sacrifices thou wouldest not.” The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. God is not pleased with false pretence.

We should hide in Jesus Christ and trust in His love. We should believe day by day that He loves us with a love that is infinite. Let nothing, absolutely nothing discourage you, and make you sad. Think of the goodness of God. Recount His favours and blessings hallelujah.

I am labouring constantly in writing and speaking. The Lord has been my very best Friend, and you can testify the same.

Let the praise of the Lord Jesus Christ the be ever in your hearts and in your minds and upon your lips. In this way you can magnify the truth. The Holy Spirit will witness with your spirit that you are indeed children of God. Be of good courage; Jesus is our personal Friend and Saviour. He loves us, and if He notices the little brown sparrow, how much more will He love and care for us. The memory grows weak when it is not exercised. So will our faith and hope and courage become feeble unless we look unto Jesus with all the confidence that a little child looks to its mother. By beholding Him, we become changed into His righteousness. Let not one thought of unbelief be woven into your religious experience.

The Lord will be our efficiency and exceeding great reward. Amen.

 

https://godinterest.com/2019/09/15/renewal-of-people-of-god-knowing-jesus/

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Did Jefferson Really Edit Out the Miracles from his Bible?

Aug 4, 2019

Once in a while, the myth that Thomas Jefferson edited down the Bible in order to remove the miraculous, resurfaces. He supposedly did this because he was essentially an unbeliever who thought that religion had no place in the public square.

A couple of years ago, I teamed up with a pastor from Jefferson’s home town of Charlottesville, Virginia, Dr. Mark Beliles, to write a book on the faith of our third president. The book is Doubting Thomas: The Religious Life and Legacy of Thomas Jefferson (MorganJames, 2014).

There are two main points to our book.

1)         Whatever serious doubts he may have privately held later in life, Jefferson was not a lifelong skeptic. In fact, when he was most productive and helpful to the country, he was from all outward appearances a practicing Christian. This would include when he wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom (1777, passed in 1786), which says that because of the example of the “holy author of our religion” (Jesus), people should be free to believe or disbelieve.

2)         Regardless of whatever theological unorthodoxy he held (later in life), he did not believe in the separation of God and government—which is the way the ACLU and other secularists try to portray him.

For example, on a regular basis, when he was president, Jefferson attended the Christian worship services held at the U.S. Capitol building—services he approved of, which continued long after he was president.

As president, Jefferson took time one night in 1804 to cull through the sayings of Jesus as found in the four Gospels. Why did he do this?

The title he himself put on this unpublished work gives us a clue: The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted From the Account of His Life and Doctrines as Given by Matthew, Mark, Luke & John; Being an Abridgement of the New Testament for the Use of the Indians Unembarrassed with Matters of Fact or Faith Beyond the Level of Their Comprehensions.

This abridgement, clearly intended for the Indians, was not a biography of Jesus, only His “philosophy” as the title states. As such it left out most material found in the Gospels that did not fit the goal of compiling a “philosophy,” but there is no evidence of a motive to delete all of the miracles or evidences of Jesus’ divinity.

As our third president, Jefferson had made the largest land addition in American history with the Louisiana Purchase. Suddenly, hundreds of thousands of Native-Americans, many of whom had never heard about Jesus, were added to American territory. He wanted them to benefit from the moral teachings of Jesus Christ.

Jefferson believed: “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus.” (Letter to William Canby, September 18, 1813).

Much thought in the Christian world has gone toward important theological matters like the nature of Christ (as fully divine and fully human), and the nature of the Godhead—Three Persons, One God (the Trinity). Jefferson felt (perhaps condescendingly) that such matters of theology and philosophy were beyond the Indians. As a result, he wanted to simplify Christ’s teachings. He may have been misguided, but there’s no evidence that his motive was secularization or anti-supernaturalism, as many today claim.

Jefferson wanted the Native-Americas benefit from Jesus’ moral teachings–things we take for granted, like: the golden rule (i.e., do unto others as you would have them do unto you, Matthew 7:12) or the command to love one another, as Christ loves us (John 13:33).

There is no evidence I am aware of that Jefferson ever published “The Philosophy of Jesus.” There is evidence that around 1819, he created a second version of his private book, this time in English (the King James Version), in French, in Latin, and in Greek (the language of the Gospels). It was only published long after his death. (See Mark Beliles, The Selected Religious Letters and Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 2013, pp. 397-429).

Apparently, he used this compilation of the teachings of Jesus for his own personal edification.

Here are some miracles that remain the so-called “Jefferson Bible”:

Jefferson’s approach to the Bible, to strip away some of its rich doctrine in Christology or in the beauty of the Godhead, is not commendable or worthy of imitation. But contrary to what some atheists say today, Jefferson was not on a crusade to edit the miracles out of the Bible.

http://www.jerrynewcombe.com/7452-2/

Are You Close to God? Your Answer Affects How You Read Scripture

A new study suggests that both men and women who seek spiritual intimacy view the Bible more literally.
Are You Close to God? Your Answer Affects How You Read Scripture

Sociologists have long suggested that Christian women are more religious than men, but Blake Victor Kent wondered if this discrepancy has something to do with gender differences and intimacy.

A former pastor who grew up in the evangelical church, Kent took interest in how gender roles were articulated abstractly but then lived out differently. He saw a disconnect. For example, he noticed that some evangelicals draw firm theological boundaries around formal leadership but then allow women to lead informally all the time.

During graduate school, some prominent research on gender caught Kent’s eye and made him wonder if sociologists were missing part of the story. A study by John Hoffmann and John Bartkowski found that women are more likely than men to view the Bible as the literal Word of God. The authors viewed this result as a comment on female social standing in the church, a woman’s way of asserting her faith in a culture that won’t accept her leadership. But Kent thought it might have more to do with a person’s belief in the simple biblical truth that God is near us.

There are some differences in how men and women relate to God, which Kent argues could be cultural. His analysis, however, found that men and women who experience an intimate relationship with God are more likely to have a literal view of the Bible.

Kent, now at Harvard Medical School doing postdoctoral research on religion and health, recently published this passion project along with Christopher Pieper, a colleague from his alma mater, Baylor University. Their study compared men’s and women’s answers on the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey on two sets of questions: how intimate they feel with God and how they view the Bible

Kent spoke to CT about what he thinks pastors and ministry leaders can learn from gender differences in the context of spiritual intimacy.

The survey results give three ways of viewing the Bible: skeptical, interpreted, and literal. Can you explain these orientations?

We want to make the categories a little more nuanced than the authors of the other study did. They collapsed multiple categories of answers into two options. Either you’re a full literalist, or if you say anything else, you’re a non-literalist. We expanded that into three categories instead of two. The first category is “The Bible is the literal word of God.” The interpreted category is “The Bible is entirely true, but it takes interpretation to fully understand its meaning.” The third category we call “skeptics,” which is two different categories combined into one. One is “The Bible contains some human error,” and the other is “The Bible is a collection of myths and legends.” There’s also a fifth one that says, “I don’t know,” but these answers were not included in the study.

How do you define a “literal” versus an “interpreted” understanding of the Bible?

Literalism is an interesting variable. In some ways, people are talking about their true views of Scripture, but in some ways, they are also making a statement about their religious or political identity. So most people who say they are literalists, when it comes down to it, aren’t actually literalists. They still choose to interpret portions of Scripture in a selective way. The New Testament talks about women not wearing jewelry and women wearing head coverings and literalists would say, “Oh, well, that’s a cultural thing, and we don’t do that anymore.” So literalism means something different to different people.

What did you find?

The main thing is: Yes, women are likely to report higher levels of literalism, but when we account for people’s attachment to God, we find that that relationship goes away. It’s not so much that women are more likely to be literalists, but people who experience a secure, personal, intimate relationship with God are more likely to be literalists. If you take a man and a woman who report the same level of closeness to God, there is no difference in their likelihood of being literalists. So then you get into questions of socialization: Why do we find that women are more likely to seek that intimacy than men?

So that gets into attachment theory. Can you explain how that relates?

Attachment theory, which is a psychological theory developed in the 1960s, posits that the dynamics of the relationship you have with your primary caregiver in the first four or five years of life tend to set the tone for how you relate to people for the rest of your life. If I have a warm, secure relationship with a primary caregiver, I’m likely to carry that into future friendships, workplaces, or a marriage, and I’m likely to carry that into how I perceive God. If I have this anxious or avoidant orientation, despite my best intentions, I’m wired to be not quite as trusting or open, so that carries into those close relationships, including my relationship with God.

You mentioned something particular about adolescence in the paper. Can you elaborate?

One of the interesting things about attachment theory is that at a young age, boys and girls don’t attach any differently. What we observe is that as kids get older, they start to diverge in how they attach and relate. We see this in contemporary Western culture. In a marriage that doesn’t have a huge amount of relational intimacy, the research shows that women are going to be more dissatisfied than men are. That hasn’t always been the case.

Historically, views of male friendship were very high. Aristotle talked about platonic relationships between men as the highest form of friendship. Aelred of Rievaulx, a monk and theologian, talked of spiritual friendship. In Scripture, we think about Jonathan and David and what we observe as their intimate friendship with one another.

Even in contemporary culture—I used to live in China, and it’s very common to see two men who are friends walking down the street armin-arm or holding hands. I recognize that not everything comes down to socialization. There may be some biology that exacerbates or promotes some behaviors, but in the paper, we primarily argue that there’s a differential in the socialization of men and women, and that results in adult men engaging with God a little differently than women.

Let’s talk about the implications. What does your research suggest about adult ministry?

First, as a sociologist, the data says what the data says. Anything we try to draw from the study is going beyond what it says. But as a person of faith and a former pastor, there’s a chance to try to draw some conclusions from here. I’ve engaged with a lot of people who have really benefited from thinking about these things in terms of attachment.

Let’s say a believer really strives to connect with God but for whatever reason never quite feels it. There can be self-recrimination: “Maybe I’m failing. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough. Maybe if I do the following spiritual practices, it will all come together.” Insight from attachment theory says that in many ways, how we perceive God in an emotional way is a little bit out of our control. I’ve done training with churches on attachment to God and had lots of conversations with people one-on-one, and the general reaction is a sigh of relief.

Probabilistically, 60 percent of the population tends to be securely connected and 40 percent are in this anxious or avoidant category. So it’s a large minority of the population that tend to experience relationships in this way. This can be a starting point for growth and conversation.

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Given what we know about the socialization of boys, how can we think about their discipleship?

There are a couple of approaches. One is to try to minimize the differences—try to help boys see that it’s emotionally and spiritually healthy to connect with other people and to God and to be open and vulnerable about feelings. The other approach some people have taken is to accept that “hey, in this cultural moment, we have these differences, so let’s just try to gear ministry and programs toward meeting those approaches.”

For example, have you heard of “fight church”? There are people trying to connect with men by literally having fight club at church. It’s like we can punch each other in the face and wrestle and do it as a way of connecting and having a manly spirituality.

In the early- to mid 20th century, you had this movement called “muscular Christianity”—evangelists that were trying to emphasize the masculine qualities of faith, like fighting for the good, fighting social ills. More recently, you had John Eldredge and the Wild at Heart movement. Mark Driscoll has sort of fallen by the wayside, but a lot of his success at Mars Hill was taking young men and saying, “Hey, this is what faith is for men.”

Trying to connect with men in those ways isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But treating those behaviors as if they’re some kind of essentialized difference that cannot change is probably the wrong approach. We can say, “This is where we are culturally; let’s also talk about where we want to be culturally.” We can think about how we raise and socialize our kids to get to that place.

Will there be any follow-up studies looking at a different aspect of your data?

The follow-up I’m most interested in doing is not a survey analysis but a series of interviews. Essentially, I want to figure out the relationship between how people connect with God and how they connect with the people around them. And when you experience a deep, meaningful connection with God, does that in turn inform how you connect and relate with people around you? When you find connection with God, does it spill over to your friendships, your marriage?

Similarly, if you were feeling alienated from God but you get into a church or a relationship that helps you connect emotionally and be more vulnerable, does that in turn help you start reconnecting with God in a way that you’ve been missing? I suspect that probably happens both ways, but I’m interested in hearing people talk about it retrospectively from a young age.

That would be very interesting.

I think it would be very informative. There’s a word I love called concatenation. As something changes in one aspect, things change in parallel in another aspect. In a sermon I really love called “How to Change,” Tim Keller talks about the concatenation of the fruits of the Spirit. They tend to not happen in isolation. When you see changes in self-control, you also see changes in gentleness. I suspect that the types of attachments we have in relationships between parent, God, work, spouse, and children also work in that way.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/september/close-to-god-your-answer-affects-how-you-read-scripture.html

Why Is the Relationship between a Father and His Daughter So Special?

Having a positive relationship with Dad can really influence a young girl’s whole life

by Godinterest

On the first day of their marriage, wife and husband agreed not to open the door for any visitor! That same day, the husband’s parents came to see them and knocked on the door. Husband and the wife looked at each other. The husband wanted to open the door, but since they had an agreement, he did not, so his parents left. After a while, the same day, the wife’s parents came visiting. Wife and husband looked at each other, and even though they had an agreement, the wife with tears on her eyes whispered and said “I can’t do this to my parents”, and she opened the door! Husband did not say anything. Years passed and they had 2 boys. Afterwards, they had a third child which was a girl. The father planned a very big and lavish party for the newborn baby girl, and he invited everyone over. Later that night, his wife asked him what was the reason for such a big celebration for this baby, while we did not do so for the boys!

The Husband simply replied, “because she is the one who will open the door for me!”

One of the most beautiful things in this world is – A Father-Daughter relationship.

We now live in a culture where Dad is an equal partner in caregiving. From day one, dads are encouraged to be hands-on, changing diapers, giving baths, putting Baby to sleep and calming her cries. That presence and effort is the beginning of a very important relationship.

Daughters are so special.  However,  a daughter needs a dad to be the standard against which she will judge all men.  It is also the reason why fathers are very influential in their daughter’s lives, especially when it comes to self-esteem and decision making.  A father may  hold his daughter’s hand for a short while, but she holds his heart forever.  Their inside jokes and understanding for each other make them absolutely adorable.

“How Dad approaches life will serve as an example for his daughter to build off of in her own life, even if she chooses a different view of the world,” says Michael Austin, associate professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University and editor of Fatherhood – Philosophy for Everyone: The Dao of Daddy.

Let your heart be captivated as you go through these cute and short  father daughter quotes.

  1. He is the first man she looks up to and he totally brings out the best in her.  – Unknown
  2. There is this girl who stole my heart and she calls me Daddy.  – Unknown
  3. Dear Daddy, no matter where I go in life, you’ll always be my number one man.  – Unknown
  4. Fathers, be your daughter’s 1st love and she’ll never settle for anything less.  – Unknown
  5. Husbands, love your wives well, your children are noticing how you treat her.  – Unknown
  6. Some people don’t believe in heroes but they haven’t met my dad.  – Unknown
  7. The greatest thing a father can do for his daughter is to love her mother.  – Unknown
  8. As a daughter of the king of kings, your purpose is not to turn heads but to turn hearts toward our Heavenly Father.  – Unknown
  9. He gives her the confidence to do things on her own and become independent.
  10. It is admirable for a man to take his son fishing, but there is a special place in heaven for the father who takes his daughter shopping. –John Sinor
  11. Behind every great daughter is a truly amazing dad.  – Unknown
  12. When it comes to careers, a father is the first person every daughter goes to for proper guidance and advice.  – Unknown
  13. A real man treats his lady the same way he wants another man to treat his daughter.  – Unknown
  14. I’m so glad when daddy comes home, I would hug him and give him a great big kiss.  – Unknown
  15. Guns don’t kill people… dads with pretty daughters do.  – Unknown
  16. I am the daughter of a King who is not moved by the world for my God is with me.  – Unknown
  17. You are a daughter of an Almighty God, you are a princess destined to become a queen.  – Unknown
  18. No matter when a girl finds her Prince Charming, her father always remains the king of her life.  – Unknown
  19. A father opens doors for his daughter pulls her seat out and treats her with the utmost respect.  He sets a daughter’s expectations on how a man should treat a lady and that she should not settle for anything less.  – Unknown
  20. DAD — A son’s first hero. A Daughters first love.  – Unknown
  21. Fathers give the best piggyback rides. They are ready to do anything that makes their daughter smile.  – Unknown
  22. He dreams for you and takes pride even in your smallest achievements.  – Unknown
  23. He makes you feel like the most important person, most beautiful girl and the most capable person on earth.  – Unknown

Are you inspired by these cute and short father daughter quotes?

It’s ‘DAUGHTER’S WEEK’, and if you are a daughter or have a daughter who makes life worth living, by just being around – and you love her as much as your own breath. if you are proud of your daughter or being a daughter, send this to other people who have daughters or who are daughters. Daughters are angels!

https://godinterest.com/2018/01/02/why-is-the-relation-between-a-father-and-his-daughter-so-special/

Is America Incurring God’s Wrath Over Abortion?

August 4, 2018

[Picture of Longfellow, quoted here]

Is America shaking its collective fist at God through the wholesale slaughter of the unborn?

Some people virtually celebrate abortion.

  • Cecil Richards, president of Planned Parenthood for a dozen years, is leaving her position as a virtual celebrity. Her “legacy” includes 3.5 million abortions by Planned Parenthood during her tenure.

  • Some of the signs seen at January’s pro-abortion-rights march, such as “Abortion on Demand & Without Apology,” prompted lifenews.com to note, “New Women’s March T-shirts Celebrate Killing Babies in Abortion” (1/17/18).

Today we have surpassed the 60 million mark in number of abortions since the Supreme Court’s companion decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which on January 22, 1973, gave us abortion on demand.

What does God say about all this? Through the Hebrew prophets, God declared, “Woe to those who shed innocent blood.” Not only did He tell us to do no murder (which would include the unborn), but He tells us by way of the prophet Isaiah that we should not call evil good and good evil.

Yet today, rather than lament abortion, some celebrate it. A couple of weeks ago on national television Michele Wolf, the crude comedian, made people laugh at the White House Correspondents Dinner by joking about abortion. I suppose we could note that at least she recognized the unborn as a “baby.”

I find it fascinating to reflect on what some of our forebears said about the evils of slavery. Even some of those who owned slaves, like Thomas Jefferson, recognized it as a great sin. Jefferson said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

George Mason, one of our founding fathers—again, a slaveholder from Virginia—knew that it was wrong. He said, “Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgment of heaven on a country.”

But someone might say, “Isn’t there a constitutional reason for abortion? The Supreme Court said so, and there it is.” However, they also said, in the Dred Scot case of 1857 that the slave has no constitutional rights. We fought a Civil War over it. Many see that great tragedy as God’s judgment—the judgment of heaven brought on by about two and a half centuries of slavery in America. (Lincoln implied that in his Second Inaugural Address.)

Meanwhile, is there a constitutional basis for Roe?

I once asked that question of former Yale Law professor, Robert Bork, who was nominated to the Supreme Court until he was so lied about by the left that he got “borked” and was unable to serve there. This happened, despite the fact that the Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court, says “Bork’s legal competence and personal integrity were indisputable.”

Here is what Robert Bork told me about the infamous 1973 abortion decision: “If you read Roe against Wade, it’s a very interesting opinion.  It’s about 51 pages or something of that sort. There’s not an ounce of legal reasoning in it. He goes through what the ancient Egyptians thought about abortion, he goes through the English Common Law of abortion, he goes through what the American Hospital Association thinks about abortion, what the American Medical Association thinks about it, and then, suddenly, after all this history, which is utterly irrelevant to the issue before him, he suddenly says, ‘Well, there is a right of privacy and it’s broad enough to cover the right to abortion.’ Bang, it’s a terrible opinion.”

Some legal minds (even those who liked its pro-abortion rights outcome) called Roe “Harry’s abortion,” referring to Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion.

Does God sleep? Does the blood of tens of millions of aborted babies not cry out to Him?

During the Civil War, the great American author, William Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a Christmas carol, entitled, “I heard the bells on Christmas day.” In this poem, he struggles with how the bells peal out “peace on earth, good will to men,” but the reality he sees is anything but.

He continues: “And in despair I bowed my head: / ‘There is no peace on earth, ‘ I said / ‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song / Of peace on earth, good will to men.’”

How to resolve this seeming conflict? He comes to this great conclusion: “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: / ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; / The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,  / With peace on earth, good will to men.’”

Just because evil may prevail for a time, God will only allow it for a while. There will come a time of reckoning. How can America pretend that God Almighty is pleased with the blood of 60 million unborn babies on our hands? Lord, have mercy.

http://www.jerrynewcombe.com/is-america-incurring-gods-wrath-over-abortion/

A Sinner’s Prayer

ON AUGUST 27, 2019 BY FRANCES ROGERS

 

In 2014, at the age of 75, I wrote this hymn as a witness of how, over many years, the Lord brought me to Himself. I set it to a tune to be sung as a solo but I plan to use a  familiar tune, instead, so that it can be sung in corporate worship. It is a hymn all true Christians should be able to sing.

I share only the text in this post. I will share the musical version when it is available.

A SINNER’S PRAYER

He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:19

1. LORD, be merciful to me, a sinner.
What have I to bring to you?
I am poor, and lost, and helpless;
Show and teach me what is true.

Hear me calling, gracious Father,
I am deaf and cannot see.
I am hopeless; I am dying.
No one here can answer me.

2.  Lord, you said that you would save me 
If I trust in you alone.
What is faith; what is believing?
It is your work, not my own.

Hear me crying, dear Lord Jesus;
Hear my pleading; see my tears.
In my sin and in my anguish,
I have struggled through the years.

3. All my trying, all my labor
Are but vanity to you.
I am dust in need of Spirit.
Breathe in me your life anew.

I confess Lord, that I need you.
I repent of all my sin.
By your Spirit, live within me.
Be my strength and be my Friend.

4. Lord, you promised life abundant
When you came and bled and died.
Let me see and hear you clearly —
Jesus Christ, the crucified.

O, I can see you, I can hear you.
You have opened eyes and ears.
You have covered sin and sorrow;
You have banished all my fears.

5. Lord, let this poor, ransomed sinner
Know you, love you, and obey;
With your guidance, daily leading,
Showing me your will and way.

Hear me calling, blessed Redeemer,
In my nights and in my days.
I am helpless, but your grace, Lord,
Will lift these weak lips to praise.

© Fran Rogers 2014

A Sinner’s Prayer

Conformity

September 13, 2019 by Discerning Dad

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)

How can you tell that someone is a Christian? Think about it. What attributes, word usage, actions, desires, and dreams identify a Christian without them ever saying that they follow Jesus? On Sunday we “assume” everyone in church is a Christian, but can you tell a difference between those same individuals and everyone else in the world during the rest of the week?

Israel was in a unique position, they were God’s chosen people, and God went before them and gave them the land He promised Abraham. God defeated all the enemies that they faced during the process. God used prophets and leaders to accomplish the work but God was their KING.

Let’s take a look at 1 Samuel 8. The elders of Israel gathered before Samuel and said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have” (v.5 NIV). The Israelites were not happy being the only nation to not have a human king. They wanted to look like everyone else, they took for granted the unique position they were in by having God directly lead them.

God responded to Samuel and told them that “they have rejected me as their king” (v.7). It was not only a desire to look like other nations, but it was a direct rejection of God. God tells Samuel to let the people know the consequences of having a king. In verses 9-17, Samuel tells them that installing a king will make the people go to war, to give of their land, and to give of their best crops and animals. Finally in verse 18, Samuel finishes by saying “When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Even after all those warnings the people refused to listen and said, “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” The people did not care about what Moses said in Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV), “For the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” In Judges 4:14 (NIV), Deborah told Barak, “This is the day the Lord will give you victory over Sisera, for the Lord is marching ahead of you.” The issue here is not that the Lord abandoned the Israelites and they needed a human king to protect them, they wanted an option that allowed them to look like everyone else.

We know from reading the next few books, the consequences of what having kings did for the Israelites. For every David, there seemed to be multiple evil kings like Ahab, who neglected God and turned the people into idolatry. For every Josiah, there were kings who led the nation into captivity from their enemies because the protection of God was not on them due to their lack of obedience. God did not fully neglect his people but He did allow them to conform to the ways of the nations that surrounded them and reap the results of those actions.

What are some examples of ways Christians conform to society today?

Here are just a few:
– Not being able to tell a difference between a Christian and non-Christian at work in terms of gossip or profanity that is being used.
– Christians that consume any and all forms of entertainment media despite the blatant sexuality or occult themes on display.
– Christians who do not volunteer of their time or money to help those in need, to support the local church, or local organizations.
– Christians who refuse to love their neighbor because they don’t “get along” or it seems “awkward.”
– Christians who let anger control them to the point that if you cut them off in traffic they will give you a very ungodly response.

Now there are many more examples and some of these vices may be things you are struggling with. My goal is not to condemn you but to get you to think about your sanctification process. Sanctify originates from the Greek word hagiazo, which means to be “separate” or to be “set apart.” In the Bible, sanctification generally relates to a sovereign act of God where He “sets apart” a person, place, or thing in order that His purposes may be accomplished. Our sanctification process may be a lifelong journey that starts at salvation but we need to be aware of where we are at in the journey, ensuring that we are moving forwards, not backwards.

We need to listen to that conviction inside of us from the Holy Spirit, growing in holiness. We will never be perfect. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Our goal is to be transformed, to be set apart, to look different than the world that is overrun by sin. Romans 12:2 is a foundational verse for Discerning Dad because of how important I feel it is for Christians. We need to renew our minds daily, to not lose our witness to others. 1 Peter 1:14, tells us “do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.” Our sin nature does not magically go away when we accept Christ. We must allow ourselves grace as we grow, but also not get complacent with where are at. It is a battle we might fight until we are called home!

St. Francis of Assisi is attributed as saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.”

I leave you with this example:

Athanasius, early bishop of Alexandria, stoutly opposed the teachings of Arius, who declared that Christ was not the eternal Son of God, but a subordinate being. Hounded through five exiles, he was finally summoned before emperor Theodosius, who demanded he cease his opposition to Arius. The emperor reproved him and asked, “Do you not realize that all the world is against you?” Athanasius quickly answered, “Then I am against all the world.” 1

Discerning Reflection: What areas of my life am I conforming to the world in? Will others know I am a Christian by my actions, why or why not? What specific things do I need to ask for forgiveness about?

Prayer: Lord help me to be a witness to you in my words and actions. Forgive me for the sin that I try to justify so that I can conform to the world. Help me learn daily how to be transformed to be more holy before you. Amen.

Tim Ferrara
Discerning Dad

Discerning Dad was recently listed as one of the top 30 Christian Men’s Blogs to follow in 2019, check out the link HERE

Conformity