Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Axe

The axe swung hard into the trunk of the massive oak tree, and with each consecutive chop the axe thought to itself, “My, how sharp I am, how well balanced, why, I’m even mightier than this great oak! I don’t need this lumberjack at all!” And with that, the axe flew from the lumberjack’s hands far out into the forest, and though the lumberjack searched night and day, he could not find the axe.

The axe remembered fondly the time it spent soaring through the air, not knowing where it might land and all the while pitying whatever tree it would find nearest. The axe was overjoyed upon landing, for next to it, only inches away, was a tree larger than any it had ever encountered in all its swings.

Eager to start the work, the axe prepared for a mighty chop. But, to the axe’s terror, it could not move at all. The axe tried again, hoping that perhaps the first failure was a fluke. Nothing. The axe tried again and again, and with each consecutive failure the axe began to realize that it was not as strong as it had once thought. The axe was not so well balanced that it could swing itself, nor the blade so sharp that it could cut without momentum. And so the axe sat, through rain and snow, silently mourning its foolishness.

You see it was the lumberjack, not the axe, in whom the power resided. Unfortunately for the axe, it realized that truth when it was far too late. Some years later, a small child came across the old broken pieces that were once so mighty and gathered them up, considering them worthless for anything other than firewood.
“Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it? That would be like a club wielding those who lift it, Or like a rod lifting him who is not wood.” -Isaiah 10:15 (NASB95)
We must always remember: We are but tools in the mighty hands of God, and as sharp and well balanced as we may be, we need His strength and wisdom to accomplish anything at all in this life. Oh what a sad day when one of us says to ourselves, “I do not need God!”

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

28 Seconds

Over the past few days a video has gone viral, and at the time of this writing has amassed over 8 million views. The video is only 28 seconds long. What could possibly entrance so many people across the globe, you ask? It’s a tutorial on how to quickly peel a hard-boiled egg. I can’t make this stuff up. I’ll admit, I wasted the 28 seconds and watched the video and rationalized that I might save many minutes because of the investment. But even as I watched the short video (sound off because I had music playing – see, multitasking! I’m saving even more time), I thought to myself, “Why am I watching this? Aren’t there better, more important things to do in life?”

While 28 seconds might not seem like much, there is danger there. Not with the egg, but with the rationalization. “It’s just 30 seconds,” we tell ourselves. Then, before we know it, there have been ten or twenty 30-second videos, and then a few more after that. Each video leads to another, and with a rapidly clicking finger we can spend hours in front of the computer doing absolutely nothing productive, constantly telling ourselves we aren’t wasting any time. I’m reminded of a proverb I heard A LOT growing up (thanks Dad):
“I passed by the field of the sluggard And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction. “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest,” Then your poverty will come as a robber And your want like an armed man.”    -Proverbs 24:30–34
I can’t help but wonder: what was the sluggard doing with his time? Perhaps he had gained much knowledge concerning the proper peeling of an egg. 

Is it a sin to spend 30 seconds watching an instructional video? Of course not. But we must take care that we aren't swept away in the endless tide of time-wasting temptations that the Devil places in our path. If you're going to rationalize 30 seconds away, let’s think of better reasons. 
  • Rationalize an opportunity to share the gospel
  • Rationalize a moment of unexpected kindness
  • Rationalize a compliment
  • Rationalize a listening ear 
  • Rationalize a smile. 

These are much better ways to use 30 seconds, and in the process you might just be a brighter light that points the lost to Jesus.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

They Were Afraid To Ask

Jesus was, among other things, the best teacher to ever walk the earth. His teachings apply to real life and they are deep, but not always the simplest to understand. Often times His disciples asked Him to clarify His teachings for them (Lk. 8:9; Jn. 14:5). In one instance, however, we see a problem that still exists even today: They were afraid to ask the questions that plagued their minds. Look at Luke 9:44-45:
““Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement.” (NASB95, Emphasis mine)
How many times have you sat silently in a Bible class, too afraid to ask the questions rolling around in your brain? Perhaps you think that you are the only one with questions, or that your questions are not important enough to ask. When you feel this way, remember:

  • Bible Classes are for You:
    Your understanding of God’s Word is the point of the class. Bible classes are first and foremost designed for YOU, the student, listener, and studier. Bible classes are intended to teach YOU the Bible. Questions are a natural part of learning. Whether the question is simple or complex, it is what you need answered to learn the Word of God effectively. Ask your questions, because your understanding of God’s Word is the point of the class!
  • Questions Help Your Teacher:
    As a teacher, it helps me know what my class needs when they ask questions. Does my class know who Abraham is? Do they understand why the Law of Moses doesn’t change the practices of the church today? Do they understand what John means when he says, “whoever believes in Him shall…have eternal life”? If a hand is raised in class and a question is asked, it helps me teach exactly what needs to be learned. Questions help your teacher. 
  • Questions Encourage Your Brethren:
    Often times the questions you have are questions someone else also has. When you ask your questions, you may be helping someone else without even knowing it. Even if they don’t have the same question, they may be more courageous to ask a question on their mind because of you. Asking questions is an excellent way to encourage your brethren. 

Sometimes we get this picture in our minds of the church as people who already know everything. There is no greater lie than that. The church is full of people who all have questions, and a congregation who asks questions is a congregation who grows in Christ. Let’s ask questions, study God’s Word together to answer them, and be filled with the fruit of righteousness as we find and apply the answers to our lives.
"And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." -Philippians 1:9–11 (NASB95) 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Display Cases for God's Glory

Matthew 5-7, affectionately known as “The Sermon on the Mount”, is one of the most well-known pieces of Scripture in existence. These chapters teach us about behavior and attitude, and how to please God as we live on earth.We often give these teachings to children as they grow, hoping to instill in them godly values and goals. In the introduction to His sermon, Jesus compares us to salt and light, saying:
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. -Matthew 5:13–16 (NASB95)
The point of these comparisons is clear: we should behave differently than the world. We should always be seen in contrast to worldly values and desires.

We tend to do very well with this teaching when our life is peaceful and easy. All of us have mountaintop experiences in life, when our minds are clear and centered on God and furthering His kingdom. During those times of spiritual security we stand firm in the Scriptures and we may even consider ourselves to be invincible. It feels good when everything is going right.

What about when life gets complicated? What do you do when your mind becomes muddied by pride and emotional distress? Maybe your marriage is on the rocks, maybe your children are making poor life choices. Our natural reaction is to start pointing fingers to blame someone for the difficulty we’re facing. The disciples did that very thing as they came upon a blind man in John 9:2ff:
And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. -John 9:2-3 (NASB95)
Instead of looking for someone to blame, let’s remember to be light in the world. Brothers and sisters, let’s use our difficulties and our struggles as a display case for godly behavior. As you endure pain and hardship, those around you will be watching to see your reaction. Show them the light of Christ. Let the works of God be displayed in you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Do Not Be Unbelieving

A rock found in Israel and currently on display at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art offers new evidence supporting the Bible’s description of the rule of King David, archaeology experts believe. The stone’s inscription, which appears to refer to King David’s dynasty, is believed to have been written in 830 B.C., only 150 years after he reigned (The Blaze). 

Many people still question the inspiration of the Scriptures. Many still wonder if the Bible really is historically accurate, or if it is only fables and fairytales bound together, like Aesop’s Fables.

Evidence like this stone tablet (sorry kiddos, no Angry Birds here!) is important because it is not part of the Scriptures. Because it is completely separated from the Bible it is an excellent witness that the people described in the Bible actually existed, in this case King David who reigned over Israel around 1000 B.C. This particular stone is a record from one of the enemies of Israel and Judah, Hazael.

Many have argued vehemently that David is one in a long line of biblical characters who never existed, and that his non-existence proved the Scriptures are not inspired by God. Many were skeptical because while the Scriptures paint David as a great king over a great nation, there was (until recently) no archaeological evidence proving his existence.

When extra-biblical evidence like this is discovered it serves to bolster the faith of the faithful, and it ought to cause any agnostic to take note and consider what questions are really left unanswered. The more humanity discovers, the more the evidence points in favor of the claims of the Scriptures concerning their own inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16).

When Jesus was raised from the dead, Thomas refused to believe Jesus was alive saying, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). There are many people who identify strongly with Thomas. He demanded evidence, and until it was provided he refused to believe. Eight days later, Jesus appeared to Thomas and the other apostles and said to him,
“Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” -John 20:27-29
Through the Scriptures God has provided us with all the necessary evidence and more, encouraging us “do not be unbelieving, but believing”. So what is stopping you from believing? What evidence do you desire to find? What questions still linger in your mind?

If spiritual questions nag your mind, ASK THEM! Head over to the Mariposa Avenue Church of Christ website and send us an email! We'll answer spiritual questions with Bible verses, rather than opinions. Above all else, we desire to share God's Word with you, and let you see the reasonable evidence which God has provided through it. Come on, what's the worst that could happen?