Tag Archives: Challenges

Attacks on the Church Make Her Grow

June 23, 2014

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Click to see the full artwork

Crucifixion of Peter – Caravaggio (1571-1610)

The church does most of its growing when her detractors are the loudest.

It was true then:

  • Saul got the persecution ball rolling
  • The Jews were jealous over the attention Christianity received
  • Peter and John were beaten and chased
  • Paul and Silas were beaten and jailed
  • The Roman government made sport out of killing Christians

As we read though Acts, we see the participants tried at every turn for proclaiming the truth. God did not exempt himself from the cause and effect cycle of growth born from challenges. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4) Despite all that, the church grew by leaps while Christians went proudly to their deaths as a statement for God. In fact, the persecutions helped get the church to grow outside Jerusalem.

It takes a lot of discomfort to make nearly anything happen!

Why is that?

Is it because we tend to remember what happened better?

Is it because it helps us own what happened?

It is true now:

  • Evolution vs. Creation is a hot topic
  • Atheist are not only bolder, they are very vocal
  • Homosexuality is being normalized and treated like racism
  • God’s word is second guessed routinely be even those “in” the church

The church is under no less stress now than it was in the first century (or any other time for that matter.) I suspect it will get worse before it gets better.

Like Stephen, Peter, Barnabas, Paul and the rest of the great men that lead the way, we need to be ready for anything.

Prepare to be memorable.

Prepare own it!

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The 10 Insults of Jesus

March 26, 2014

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John Identifies the Christ - ~17th Century - Ottavio Vannini

John Identifies the Christ – ~17th Century – Ottavio Vannini


“John is crazy!”

“Jesus is a drunk!”

The Pharisees rejected God’s righteousness no matter what form it came in. (Luke 7:31-35) John the Baptist was like a hermit and Jesus was very social.


“Those Christians are too exclusive! (or mean!)”

“Those Christians are hypocrites!”

If the Bible proves anything, it proves people need more than 2000 years to change. At least … they haven’t changed yet.

The Challenge:

It has become very difficult to speak negatively about a number of social issues. When one tries to show what the Bible says about a matter, he is called names. Even if we try to silently live a godly lifestyle and lead by example, there is disdain.

“You don’t drink any alcohol?”

“You don’t wear a bikini in public?”

Those trying to live like a Christian should expect to become conspicuous. They should also plan to be insulted when the time comes to take a stand. Even Jesus had to endure it!

Once again, the Master Teacher shows us how to live through his own life. No less than ten times we can read about how he dealt with insults and indignities:

  • He was called a glutton (Luke 7:33-35)
  • He was called a winebibber
  • They said he cast out demons by the prince of demons (Matthew 9:34)
  • They called him Beelzebul (Matthew 10:25)
  • They called him a sinner (John 9:24)
  • They said he had a demon (John 7:20)
  • They said he was a Samaritan (John 8:48).
  • They charged him with violating the Sabbath (Matthew 12:2)
  • They referred to him as a “deceiver” (Matthew 27:63)
  • They accused him of friendship with publicans and sinners (Luke 15:2)

In Luke 7:32, Jesus compared these kind of people to spoiled brats:

“This game is too happy! It’s not realistic.”

“This game is too sad! It’s no fun.”

Children only want what feels good, it takes an adult to want what is right.

What to do?

The bottom line is that people will not change until they want to. The best thing we can do (in fact all we are asked to do) is to show them God’s way and live it for ourselves.

Question: What is the worse confrontation you have had to face trying to live in a godly way? Was there any long term effect on how you live?

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October 11, 2013

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Soldiers that haven’t been to battle do not know how they are going to perform when they are called to duty. The truly great soldiers grew through a continuous cycle of training and action and reflection (They call it debriefing.)

Being challenged is part of life. How we respond is where we grow.

Being challenged is part of life. How we respond is where we grow.

We can go to Romans 5:1-11 for comfort when we face trials and sufferings. Any one of us should be able to look into the past and see how something challenging we had to work through became an experience that was for our own good. We might have even been able to use an experience to help others get through difficult times. That is what Paul was shooting for in this passage – a cycle of growth despite adversity:

Hope – trial – patience – character – hope

When I look at the daily challenges I face and the hurt I feel when I see people disparage Christians, This idea helps me understand what Jesus meant when he said

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account – Matthew 5:11

That word blessed? That means happy or fortunate in a prolonged sense (ref. Strong’s G1307.) This give me a better sense of why the apostles were rejoicing for being persecuted in Acts 5:41.

I’m not suggesting we look for trouble for this purpose – I’m sure that anyone working on getting to heaven will find plenty, but I am suggesting that we remember to stay calm and try to understand how we will be better for it.

  • We will have suggestions for others
  • We will know what solution works (or doesn’t)
  • We will grow more mature in the Lord

And most importantly, we will know what we can take when put to the test.

Daily Bible reading for October 11

Psalm 71
1 Kings 6
Ezekiel 33
Romans 5:1-11

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The Woodshed

June 5, 2013

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My child, do not reject the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t get angry when he corrects you.
The Lord corrects those he loves,
just as parents correct the child they delight in. – Proverbs 3:11-12 NCV

God’s discipline might be one of the most under taught subjects today. Why would God discipline his children? Because he loves them!

The Hebrew writer quotes directly from these verses in Hebrews 12:5-6. He shows us that chastisement comes completely from the love of God. Through Hebrews 5:3-11 we see that God cares enough to:

  • Help us correct our faults
  • Strengthen our faith
  • Promote our welfare

We also see how we should respond:

  • We are not to despise God for it
  • We must submit to it
  • We must be exercised by the purpose of it

Sometimes we get a little too self-dependent and it takes a little shakeup to get right with God again. When we are challenged, we can be joyful for the Christian strength we will gain rather than feel sorry for ourselves. (James 1:2-4) In the end, God simply wants continual growth and service dedicated to him.

Daily Bible reading for May 5

Proverbs 3:1-12
Deuteronomy 6
Hosea 2:2-23
2 Timothy 4:9-22

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Comforting Thoughts

April 9, 2013

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Paul opens 1 Corinthians with some thoughts about the comfort of God. Paul’s attitude was that through our sufferings, we learn patience, we learn how to be thankful for the good times and how to be a comfort to others. (See also Romans 5:3-5)

Comfort is a key topic in the Bible. Here are a few scriptures you can lean on when you need them:

  1. God comforts us (1 Corinthians 1:3-5)
  2. We should carry our load, but look for opportunities to help each other when it is needed. Galatians 6:1-2,5
  3. Jesus has peace to offer in a world of trouble (John 16:29-33)
  4. Work to bear fruit, abide in Christ and his joy will abide in you (John 15:1-11)
  5. How to get the ultimate peace: rejoice, prayer, thinking good things (Philippians 4:4-9)

Daily Bible reading for April 9

God gives Moses instructions for the guilt offering. Isaiah denounces a corrupt Israel. We share in the comfort of Christ as we also share in the sufferings.

Psalm 99
Leviticus 5:14-6:7
Isaiah 3-4
2 Corinthians 1:1-11

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