Perfecting the Broken

Paul wrote to the Galatian congregations that if they encountered a person who had failed, whether intentionally or just through weakness, by implication of the word used to describe the error, the spiritual among them should restore the person, being humbled by their own weaknesses and iniquities:

Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted also.
(Galatians 6:1 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

The word translated “restore” in that place is also used in a blessing near the end of Hebrews. There, it is translated, “equip,” (or “perfect” according to footnote)”: Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip [perfect] you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

I infer from that context that restoring failures means a bit more than letting people keep coming to our meetings…

A Gossipless Life

I have talked with many people who think that gossiping is lying about people. That activity is better described as lying, though. Gossip’s meaning  may be understood through a couple of several proverbs that mention it.

A gossip goes around revealing a secret,
but the trustworthy keeps a confidence.
(Proverbs 11:13 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

A contrary man spreads conflict,
and a gossip separates friends.
(Proverbs 16:28 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

The one who reveals secrets is a constant gossip;
avoid someone with a big mouth.
(Proverbs 20:19 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

The power that is required to be able to control my tongue is great. When I refuse to speak secrets just because I know them, covering someone’s weakness or failure, I will be blessed. Never forget that Canaan was thrown out of the land by Israel as a fulfillment of Noah’s curse of Ham for uncovering his nakedness. (Genesis 9:20-27)

Proper Boasting

This is what the Lord says:

The wise must not boast in his wisdom;
the mighty must not boast in his might;
the rich must not boast in his riches.
But the one who boasts should boast in this,
that he understands and knows Me—
that I am the Lord, showing faithful love,
justice, and righteousness on the earth,
for I delight in these things.
                                          This is the Lord’s declaration.
(Jeremiah 9:23,24 Holman Christian Standard Bible®)

Having a Right Heart

“No household slave can be the slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t be slaves to both God and money.”

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and scoffing at Him. And He told them: “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight.
(Luke 16:13-15 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

Some people are getting great reviews in the minds of men and women they do good works in front of. Real heroes and profoundly generous benefactors. Even religious people give us assignments to give to certain ministries, and pour blessing and accolades on us when we obey.

If we are doing our good works to be rewarded by men, we may well receive that reward we seek. Immeasurably better, though, would be to be praised by Yahweh for having allowed Him to work in our hearts, giving us good works to do that please Him. Doing things because we sense our Lord is leading us will have reward in this life and in the one to come (Luke 18:24-30).

 

Is Baptism Required?

Here are a few denominational descriptions of baptism:

Baptist: It is not entirely necessary for salvation. By immersion only. Baptisms of other churches accepted if done by immersion. Infants are not baptized. Candidates must first believe.

Roman: By pouring, sprinkling or immersion. Baptisms of other churches accepted when performed as Catholic Church prescribes. Necessary for salvation. Infants are baptized.

Eastern: By immersion for the remission of sins and entrance into church. Essential to salvation. Must be performed by one holding proper priesthood authority. Required of all 8 years & older. Infants are not baptized.

Methodist: By sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. Is only an outward sign of one’s entrance into the church.  Baptisms of other churches accepted. Not necessary to salvation. Infants are baptized.

A few questions I have:

  • If baptism is symbolic, what does being baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire by Jesus really accomplish?
  • If it has to be done by ordained clergy, who was doing it before there were any ordained clergy?
  • If it really does change something to be baptized as a believer, what does it change?

An extensive study on baptism is on Page 2 of my website: Being Baptized.

Created Again

Being “born again” has been talked about quite a bit in the last few decades. Being “created again” – maybe that’s worth talking about a bit…

Rest is built into the design Yahweh revealed to Israel when He gave them laws to make them a nation. Over 14% of their lives should be spent resting, according to Him: one day every week, and extra days beyond that at times.

Some religious people have wanted to control what everybody else did during their rest time through the years. No fishing, no football, no golf, for example. Even the public departments of parks and recreation have better ideas than that, I think. They call what you do in their environments, “re-creation.” In the 14th century, the term was originally used to describe bringing sick people back to health.

REcreation can include lots of very different activities, I think; from taking a nap to camping to competing in games. Resting from responsibility and labor is good for us at many levels. Yahweh knew.

Testing Your Faith

Paul brought up the idea of testing ourselves to be sure we are “in the faith.” John was very clear in his statement in what we call his first epistle: “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death.
(1 John 3:14,15 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)

It is easier to tell if children get saved than it is when adults do, sometimes. The easiest way to check it out is to observe the new lives for the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23).

Children become willing servants when they become believers. Adults should, but they have usually built up enough pride to keep them from showing their salvation with the evidence of becoming humble and serving people. Adults who are already humble, and those who know that they had to be forgiven much are usually exceptions that are easy to spot.

Go to Church

What is your interaction with other believers like in your congregation? When I worked on the front counter of the local post office, I frequently encountered cliche’ questions like, “How are you doing?” With rare exception, the questions were simply fulfillment of social responsibilities of being polite. We were instructed in our cultural education to greet each other with a pleasant pretense of concern for each others’ welfare.

The rare exceptions were in the cases of people asking how I was doing because they cared. The others were simply using a fancier version of “Hello.” The question, “How are you?” had a question mark at the end of it, but was not really a question. If you really answered it, the person didn’t know what to do next.

The really unconscious people asked the question the second time if I responded with, “I am fine. How are you?” That went, “Hi. How are you?” “Fine, thanks, how are you?” “Fine. How are you?”

Being an unbearably sarcastic type, I would lean over to them and make the fourth pointless entry in the dialog: “Fine! How about you??” which usually was worse than answering the question with a real answer in terms of the response it produced…

Somewhere between a hypochondriac’s 30 minute list of ailments and the lie, “OK,” is the type of real answer that might sound like, “I am struggling with how I am going to pay the light bill,” or “I am worried about my daughter’s lack of faith,” or “I am discouraged at work.” Real answers are reserved for real relationships.

The actual Church is made up of real relationships. It is not made of congregations that have government authorized clergy and buildings that are impressive or services that have beautiful music and moving speeches. Those are places that the Church might in fact be found, but not on the basis of anything other than the real relationships you may have there.

The encounters that you have with believers who you know love you are the place where you can expect to work together to reveal to the earth what the culture of Heaven is like. Invest heavily in those relationships and that work. Continue to meet with the cliche’ crowd if the Spirit leads you to, but don’t expect the Life that you need to arise from that environment. The Life comes in the relationships.

Being More Awesome

He went to His hometown and began to teach them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “How did this wisdom and these miracles come to Him? Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother called Mary, and His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, aren’t they all with us? So where does He get all these things?” And they were offended by Him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his household.” And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
(Matthew 13:54-58 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)

If you want to take your ministry to another level, start spending time with real believers who don’t know you well yet. Let them pour faith over your redeemed and faith-filled identity.

They may be in another congregation, or in a ministry group that you haven’t been around. When people pour faith over our true identities, they help us become who our God says we are. When people think they know us well enough not to expect much from us, they can prevent us from greatness in the Spirit.

Healing Death’s Sting

The earth has been wounded with an injury to the death. It is floundering in the pain of being both poisoned and neglected. It groans for relief.

It is not, however, looking to its Creator for redemption from death. It is looking to you and I. Not with hopes that we will become better stewards, or with hopes that our greenhouse gasses will show improvement, but that we would make visible and effective our relationships with the King.

I am convinced that most of the trash on the roads around me was tossed there by people who have never owned anything. Some renters have little respect for or commitment toward the protection of things that do not belong to them. If the current rental property becomes ruined, they move on to the next property owner to attend to their needs.

When we manifest our family connections with the Owner of the cosmos, the earth will of course begin to experience His influence through us as her managers. Spiritual and physical improvements will bear righteous fruit, like the presence of the ark of the covenant blessed Obed-Edom’s property.

Click to read Romans 8:14-25.