Monday, September 22, 2014

The "AFTER" Picture

Our end goal in this body and life transformation is to live a life of godliness with contentment. Not because we get something out of it but because we understand who we are, now.

People choose an "AFTER" picture as a motivator to become someone else, to live a life that will get them those results. They are tired of making the choices and decisions they are use to making and have now set a goal of a new identity.

They want people to look at them a certain way, and to be known for promoting a certain lifestyle which chooses to go for a run instead of watching a movie. This new identity, this "AFTER" picture becomes their motivator.

Similarly, our motivation for living a godly life with contentment comes from understanding who we are in Christ, and forgetting who we were without Christ.

This understanding and knowledge does not come overnight, just like your "AFTER" picture body doesn't appear over night. Wouldn't that be nice! But alas it does not. That is why we are to study, to come unto the knowledge of the truth, to give ourselves wholly unto the doctrine; else how are we to know who we have become in Christ? And therefore, how are we to expect a transformation without knowledge?

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

We are created in Christ Jesus you see. We are not created in our flesh, we are not created to do as we please, we are not created to find ourselves and our personality, nor to live out the American Dream. (This is where the motivational tough guy comes in for 10 minutes to fuel you up before the big Tough Mudder.) Except God's words have a lot more power. Just imagine a muscle guy on stage shouting these reminders at you.....

We are bought with a price, our body and our spirit are God's - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We are crucified with Christ, never the less we live, yet not us, but Christ liveth in us. - Galatians 2:20
We are Christ's and Christ is God's - 1 Corinthians 3:23
We are ambassadors for Christ - 2 Corinthians 5:20
We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works - Ephesians 2:10
We are dead, our life is hid with Christ in God - Colossians 3:3
We are servants to God (and righteousness being made free from sin), we have our fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life - Romans 6:22
Servant of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart - Ephesians 6:6

Just like getting in shape, it takes endurance, patience, faithfulness to the doctrine, longsuffering, praying without ceasing. There is no end profit of living after the flesh; so much so that Christ took it upon himself to die on the cross, killing our flesh for us so that we can live a life in Him and for Him. Before getting in shape we thought that donuts, ice cream, and fair food was the best thing ever; then we learn the lack of nutrients and that no profit comes from those things. God knows what is great gain: godliness with contentment.

But how do we do that, you may ask. The extent to which we find it hard to live godly and do good works as we are called to do is the extent that we have reckoned our old man dead. How much do you yearn to know what God has to say? Does that lead to you studying what He has said? How much do you want to see men saved and come to the knowledge of the truth? Does that lead you do something to get the truth to people?

We think that this world is life, and how mistaken we are when truth opens our eyes to see the reality of real life in Christ, the reality of real benefit, the reality of real joy that come from being godly and being content. But it is only in Christ that life can be experienced. O, how much life is in Christ! You can only know by studying His Word.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The "BEFORE" Picture

Have you ever been in between needing to get in-shape and looking like you're in shape? For example, my experience is I'm told that I don't need to worry about being in-shape because I already look it. However, secretly I know that I haven't worked out in 2 months and my eating habits consist of Culver's burgers with a free scoop of custard and my favorite Sour Cream N' Onion potato chips. Yikes, I mean my legs can feel it too, just screaming "WORK ME!"

When people around you are saying 'Oh no, you look great! Don't worry so much about it" its harder to act upon what I know is the truth, which is - I've been slacking. I try to push to the side what I know I should be doing because I seem to be doing alright, I mean no one around can tell any different. But I feel sluggish, my muscles ache (and not the sore ache but the sitting around not being used ache), and the worst part is not exercising, it's not beneficial and it's not helpful in getting towards my end goal.

But maybe this isn't you, perhaps you wish you were in between stages but have to do a lot of work just to get there. Part of me is jealous of these people because they have a better appreciation for and motivation to get to their end goal. Sadly, sometimes those who don't lack as much don't know what they have.

Being godly and living a life of contentment is similar to what I've described above. Some of us are not what Galatians 5 and 1 Corinthians 6 describe as our fleshy members: fornication, wickedness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, haters of God, proud, boasters, disobedient, adulterers, thieves, drunkards,wrath, strife, uncleanness...and on and on. Don't be so quick to forget sin is sin no matter how great or how small; if we have broken the least of these (pride, envy, deceit- lying, disobedient) then we are guilty of all.

When we read this list we are quick to exclude ourselves. When we read the list of the works of the flesh we picture some rough looking, mean, scary guy. After all they need saved MORE than us. "I'm not a murderer, adulterer, or fornicator." These are BAD sins right? We don't need as much work as some of those real sinners. We aren't like them. Of course I am being facetious.

It is so easy to 'have a form of godliness.' (2 Timothy 3:5) If you can quote a couple verses, and people know that you read your bible 5 minutes every morning, man, you are looked at as some type of spiritual giant! You are really hardcore about your faith. Are you really? This is the part when people around you are saying "Oh, no, you look great! Don't worry so much about it." But you know the truth. You know your affections are not set on things above (Col 3), you know that you are not reckoning your old man dead (Rom 6) with its deceitful lusts and desires. You and God know if you're a workman that'll be ashamed (2 Tim 3:15)

I heard my brother put it this way: The old man's affections aren't always those bad works of the flesh, but rather seeking our own and minding earthly things. Have you ever heard the phrase 'Follow your heart, whatever your heart desires, go after that.' Normally its directed towards younger people and given as a motivator to those who 'need some time for themselves.'

Jeremiah 17:9 is an excellent cross reference and pretty much tears down the follow your dream concept "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" Romans 6 does a pretty good job at crucifying that old man. Our old man might be a good person in the eyes of the world. Our old man might desire a good thing, a noble thing in the eyes of the world. But what is that thing's end goal, purpose, eternal weight? On what are our affections set?

Are we here to persuade men or God? Are we here to please men? (Galatians 1) We should strive for those things of which we are apprehended. We should act according to truth which is according to our position, who we are in Christ. Not being content with our old man, even if everyone around us is saying we are doing "OK" - according to their standards. Our calling is a higher calling, our standards come from the word of God, and our judge is God himself.

Don't be content with this "BEFORE" picture which is having a form of godliness but denying the power of God's word and its ability to change you and your life. (2 Tim 3:5, 1 Thess 2:13). Set your affections on things above, let grace teach you how to live godly in this present evil world, redeem the time (Col 4, Eph 5), give yourself wholly, take head unto thyself and the doctrine (1 Thess 4). Be a workman, no really, do something!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Body and Life Transformations

We have all been there. The point of "I'm going to do it! No, I'm serious! This time I'm going to stick to this workout and go all out even on the food plan that goes with it."

We Google 'Best, fastest, muscle, fat burning workout.' Tons of results come back and we compare the before and after pictures, the body transformation section, right? Have you seen some of those people? Those defined muscles, super-toned midsection, nice legs. But do you know how extreme their workout regiment is and their diet to get that transformation?

They had to totally transform their mind from how it use to think, they had to go against the norm of other people's lifestyles, ranging from eating habits, to lazy habits, to time priority habits. They surrounded themselves with other people with like-minds of eating healthy, people who are not lazy, They research new exercises and techniques, they obtain more knowledge of how the body works and then they acted accordingly. 

Image that! people can learn and study and make a change. Somehow after reading what all that processed food is doing to your health, after finding out what lack of exercise is doing to your body and the more you hear it and hear it and read it the less appealing and satisfying it becomes to stay in the condition that you are in.

I figure a lot of people can relate to the principles of trying to get fit but we all know the bible states, 'bodily exercise profiteth little...' (1 Timothy)  I would imagine that we can also relate to the second part of that verse '....but godliness with contentment is great gain.'  We try to achieve this as well, godliness with contentment. Both parts are hard, godliness and then contentment with godliness. Its like godliness is the workout and contentment is the extreme food plan that goes with it. So even if we think the workouts aren't too hard we ALSO have to be temperate with our food decisions?...c'mon that's too much. 

Being godly is not very popular, it's not the top 50 searches in Google. In fact, if we studied godliness with contentment as much as we spend studying how to get fit, if we had the same zeal for godliness with contentment as we do about working out and eating healthy, if we were as obsessed with godliness with contentment as we are obsessed with our bodies we will probably be criticized for it, teased about it, people will think we have completely lost it.

You will know that you are close to the end result of godliness with contentment when things that you think are fun become different than things society thinks are fun; things that you enjoy your time doing end up being different than what society enjoys doing. The topics we choose to talk about change, what we watch on television changes, what we choose to listen to changes, perhaps our clothing style changes, and even our jokes might change.

Just like the person in that perfect "After" picture changed their lifestyle, their habits, and probably got teased about being obsessive to get the result they wanted, we also will be looked at as obsessive when our life starts reflecting the zeal for godliness with contentment.

They will think that we are obsessed with something that to them holds little value. If it is turning heads that we wanted by working out, we will probably get a lot more by deciding to live a life that is godly and being content with it.

The truth is, if we are not disciplined in our efforts into getting that result....we will probably not have the transformation that we want. Just like if we are not disciplined (the bible uses the word temperate) in gaining godliness with  contentment, we will probably not get the result that we are called to have.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27, Titus 2:14, Romans 12:1-2, 2 Tim 2:21, 1 Th 4:4

(Clarification: We know that there is nothing in meat or drink, or the clothes we wear, or the the jokes we tell Roman 14:17 and we our salvation does not depend on works of righteousness which we do Titus 3:5 but the word of God effectually works in those that believe 1Th 2:13 and we are to live not as though we had already attained, either were already perfect: but we follow after, if that we may apprehend that for which also we are apprehended of Christ Jesus. Philippians chapter 3 discusses our efforts in transformation in this life.)

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Whole Duty of Man

I've been warned by those with more wisdom and experience in life that when standing for truth you won't have very many people go with you. And now I have also seen that when you stand for higher standards among those who know the truth that you will have even fewer people.

Standing for right division will probably put you in a position between doctrinal truths of the bible and your family/friends. When you stand for higher standards in how your life is lived now that you know the truth will most likely put in you a position between what the bible says is edifying, beneficial, valuable and what you want to do, your desires.

What a big step when you understood right division: that Paul was given the  gospel of the grace of God and that this dispensation is different than what we read in Jesus' earthly ministry and even Peter's ministry after Christ's resurrection. Are you now going to just sit on that step or go to the next one?

Are you able to take that step even further and give yourself wholly to the doctrine as Paul charges Timothy to do? 'Wholly' you know what that means?

Are you willing to do the work of an ambassador, to be laborers together with God as it states in Corinthians? 'Laboring together with God' have you thought about that? Have you ever been in a group project or had to accomplish something with someone who just wouldn't focus, or who wasn't really giving it all they had, or was just plain lazy? Yeah, that's not how I would want God to look at my work for him.

This might be off topic, but I've found that if I do not have any questions to ask or can't think of anything to say about the bible when talking to someone, 99% of the time it comes down to me not studying my bible. For a person to say "I have no questions" simply means that "I haven't been studying my bible."

Who can study their bible and not have any questions or thoughts about what they are learning? There is so much information in that supernaturally inspired, preserved word of God that a life time would not be long enough to know the information. I say that not to intimidate you about studying your bible but to hopefully show you, that like most of us, you are not where you need to be in your personal study. You are not where you need to be in doing the work of the ministry. You are not where you need to be in setting your affections on things above and what time is wasted on pursuing earthly things.

There is no formula for what high standards look like. There is no set way of saying this is what your life should look like specifically. But you do have the Holy Spirit within you who is able to stir up guilt and is able to help examine your life, your affections, your pursuits, your heart, and your mind. When you decide to not do bible study and lower it down on your priority list, I hope the Spirit works within you and makes you feel uncomfortable (and on the other hand strengthens your inner man.)

Prayer helps you know. When you pray scripture, unless you are just disingenuous when you pray, it will work effectually within you as God says it will do in Thessalonians. Remember Solomon, the wisest man "all is vanity" and....Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."

Taken from Israel's program under the law but what a righteous and strong spiritual truth of man's purpose compared to earthly pursuits.

Study what it means to be blameless, to prove yourself, to give yourself wholly, to be found faithful, to be sanctified.....all this to know what is expected of us as part of the Body of Christ, laborers together with God, God's husbandry.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


At the beginning of each year new goals are set, new achievements are striven for. At the beginning of every year we go through a "Pressing On" lesson at bible study to discuss our progress of accomplishing what the bible outlines a proper ministry should be accomplishing. It is also a good lesson to evaluate our own priorities as well as motivate us to do something about our ambassadorship.

It is past the first quarter already! Some of my personal goals:

  • finish the right-division videos I started last year; 
  • become better at identifying what the real issue is behind other's bible questions (specifically so  I can have a bigger impact on those 3 minutes chats at the fair); 
  • help complete some needed secretarial editing work for the ministry that I am involved with; and
  • visit a local college campus to educate the students about right division. 

A new goal came to mind as I was having a discussion with my family the other day, as I often do, and not surprisingly we wound up talking about the bible. We were discussing ministry and how many different ways a believer can minister and how many different "kinds" of ministry there are. Its amazing how the doctrine of 'being part of the same body but different members' plays into this topic. (1 Cor 12:12-27)

The reasoning behind the different ministry is mainly circumstantial and a preference. Some people hate the idea of going to a college campus and starting up discussion by asking a simple question as "What do you believe the gospel is?" Others might not have time to make videos on right division topics to post on YouTube because they have kids. Which is a "full-time" ministry in itself! I understand that having kids leaves little if no time to check off what use to be on your to-do-list. That list has changed and so has your ministry focus. But some great wisdom from my father and his experience. The hard work, time, and what seems like vanity effort being put towards ministering to your kids will hopefully turn out to have a bigger impact for the Body of Christ than what you could have possibly done yourself.

But the part of the discussion that made me add a new goal was

  • ministering to ourselves. 
It was like all the clutter and mess and fog in my head cleared away when I was reminded of this simple beginner doctrine. It was also a relief. Let me explain. We get caught up in knowing the answers, knowing the cross references, knowing how to respond. Or perhaps you are not quite there yet and so your issue is getting caught up in finding out the answers, the cross references, the responses. A lot of times we focus on studying, I mean we drill that verse -2 Tim 2:15 and what an excellent verse. But I think we are a little guilty of being like the Pharisees and just going through the motions. We put on a show (not deceitfully) but because we forget where ministry begins! And ministry begins with ourselves. It is difficult to minister to other people without continually ministering to ourselves. How is our attitude? How is our heart? Our genuineness? Our self-control? Our submission? Our humbleness? Our charity?

There use to be a song that I would request at church when I was a little girl "Fill My Cup Let it Over Flow." My brother made a good relation to that song once saying God's words are so much in you that it overflows to a point that people cannot get you to shut-up about it. And the only way to get that overflow is ministering to yourself. We focus so much on doctrine that we forget application. We don't work on our daily selves because honestly there is not much personal application in drawing out a timeline and showing the difference between Peter and Paul. Application is what makes the doctrine 'real' instead of just the same knowledge that theologians study.

Sometimes us right-dividers study for study sake obtaining knowledge and use it as an excuse for our poor daily attitudes. A genuine heart, mind, and soul will go a long way in making that cup of yours spill over. So next time you see me, ask how my ministry to myself is going and I'll ask the same of you. :)

1 Timothy 4:15 -16 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

CONFESSION: Deciding NOT to Follow Jesus!

I want to make a confession. I have not decided to "follow Jesus." I don't mean that I just haven't made the decision yet. I mean I have purposefully decided not to follow Jesus - though for 18 years I have believed in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for my sins. I cannot follow Jesus. Even if I wanted to, it is not practical for my life and it just wouldn't work! I simply cannot follow Him.

Here are my reasons: 

When I read in Matthew-John Jesus saying "follow me" to his disciples, they left what they were doing (career, family, friends) immediately and literally followed him around. 
“And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.”  Matt 4:20
“And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him." Matt 4:22

Even whole crowds followed Jesus:
“When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.” Matt 8:1

I simply cannot follow Jesus because he is not here. You may be thinking 'I am taking the bible too literally. What a silly excuse to not follow Jesus. Obviously Jesus is not here today, it is not him that we are literally following with our feet but it is his teachings that we are to follow.' Right, after all 1 Peter 2:21 "[Christ] leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." I have thought about this, too.

Reason two:
When I look at what Jesus taught in Matthew through John, I find that it simply is not a practical teaching for my life. In Matt 6:25-34 Jesus teaches 
"Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we  be clothed? ...for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." 

You would be lying (which is a sin) if you said you did not think about these things. I take thought of these things a lot, therefore, I find that I cannot follow Jesus in this teaching. Besides, I do not have faith that Jesus will provide my food or clothing that I need for my life. 

Common sense tells me that if I do not work, I will not eat (nor be able to buy my clothing) - actually the bible tells me that in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 and I find that it is true still today. THIS teaching is what I have faith in.

In Matthew 19:16-30 a man came to Jesus and asked 
"Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?"  
Jesus answered "keep the commandments...and go and sell all that thou hast and give to the poor"

Common sense tells me that if I sell all that I have and give to the poor, I then will become poor myself, thus being a burden or chargeable to those who I may wish to minister to, making them provide for my needs when in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 it is suggested that we labor (Paul being a tent maker - Acts 18:3) for our needs so that we may only be blamed of preaching the gospel to others. 

Besides I do not have faith in Jesus' answer of  getting eternal life by keeping the commandments, or living a good life, or not sinning. But I do have faith in Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace through faith are ye saved and that not of yourselves it is a gift of God not of works least any man should boast." I do have faith in Titus 3 which says "not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to his mercy he saved us."

Let me make myself clear, perhaps I should say that I have decided not to follow Jesus' earthly ministry given to Israel, under the law, at a time when Jesus was leading them to a kingdom where all of their needs would be provided for. So when I read Jesus telling Israel to sell all that they have and give to the poor (especially when their eternal life depended on how much they gave), to give no thought for the morrow (especially when their eternal life depended on their faith in God's provision) I can have confidence that my faith is not in what Jesus said to Israel in Matthew through John, Acts, and Hebrews through Revelation. 

Rather, my faith is in what was revealed to the Apostle Paul, the mystery given to him (Eph 3, Rom 16:25, 1 Cor 11:1). I have decided NOT to follow Jesus in his earthly ministry in which he came concerning his own people, the nation Israel and the law, who are destined to an earthly kingdom. However, I HAVE decided to follow Jesus' heavenly ministry for the church today which is the Body of Christ which is destined for heavenly places. The two being much and very different.

Here are some resources on the differences between following Jesus' instructions given to Israel (which if I could take a guess you have been fooling yourself that they work for you, or have realized it doesn't really work but what else are you to believe) and following Jesus' instructions for the Church today as they are given to the Apostle Paul.

*I believe the entire bible. I believe it to be God's word. I believe that the entire bible is God inspired and that the entire bible is truth. As I read God's word, it teaches and shows me that there were two plans from the beginning and that it would be wrong to follow instructions that God intended for someone else at a different time.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Me, Myself, and I

Going through day to day, sometimes it is difficult to get the support that we hope for, or the motivation that we think we need, or the encouragement, understanding, partnership. We tell ourselves "If only this person would take the lead then I would follow right along with them." or "It would be a lot easier to stay focused if this person would start doing this."

We also blame our laziness or lack of motivation on our circumstances. "If only that would change then I would be more apt to start doing something." or "I'll wait until this happens then it would be easier to get that done or started."

Sure, I  would agree that most things in life are easier when you have someone working at it with you. But the bible says that we give account for ourselves. Romans 14 says that "...for we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ." 14:12 "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." And again in 2 Corinthians 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."

Of course we know that this judgement is not for our salvation. Our life is hid in Christ (Col 3) and we have a seal of salvation by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1) making us part of Christ's body (1 Cor 12), of which nothing can separate us (Rom 8).

But the point still stands, we shall be judged. It is destined for man once to die and then to face judgement (Heb 9) Have you ever thought about the reality of standing before God? The truth of the above verses.

Do you remember in school when the teacher gave an assignment. You were very capable of getting it done and doing well. But you wanted to stay up watching something instead, or you wanted to play videos games instead, or you wanted to go out with your friends instead, or you simply just didn't want to put the effort in. Do you remember facing the teacher and you knew that they knew that you didn't really give it your all, that you put something together last minute because you spent most of your time doing something else. Remember that guilty shameful feeling that you could have done better if you wanted to but you just..........didn't?

The bible tells us to be workmen not to be ashamed (2 Tim 2) You cannot change the people around you, and most often you cannot change your circumstances, but you are 100% in control of changing yourself. Changing your mindset to desire things of eternal importance (Col 3). Changing your attitude from laziness to being one zealous of good works (Titus 2:14) (1 Cor 3 - silver, gold, and precious stones). You are the only one that can reckon your old man dead along with all its lust and desires (Gal 5). And when you face God in judgement and he evaluates the type of work that you invested your time in, he is only looking at YOU and YOUR choices. Not how other's affected you.

I suppose I am trying to create some zeal, some encouragement, some motivation (not just for you but for myself as well) that we are responsible for our own decisions. People and circumstances are not to blame, but rather our own wrong mindset,  our own laziness, and our own lack of proper prioritization.

Are you going to hang your head in shame when you stand before God? I hope not. Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Tim 6) Get started doing some work with eternal value!