Tag Archives: Christian

The Bell

I was looking for something in my computer files a little bit ago and found a file from June 2007 simply titled “The Bell.” I opened it and found such encouragement, I just had to share it. Please be aware, I did NOT write this and have no idea who was the original author (or perhaps compiler would be a better term). Feel free to share!
The Bell
“I KNOW WHO I AM”
I am God’s child (John 1:12)
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15)
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I  am  a  personal witness of Christ (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven.  I am significant (Phil.3:20)
I am free from any charge against me ( Rom. 8:31-34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor.5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom.8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God  (2 Cor.1:21-22)
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8: 28)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God’s temple (1 Cor. 3: 16).  I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).  I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God’s co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1).  I am God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil. 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven (Col. 1:14).  I have been adopted as God’s child (Eph 1:5)
I belong to God
Amen

 

Ot

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

COEXIST?

coexistOver the past couple of years I’ve been seeing a lot of bumper stickers with this message that we should all just ‘COEXIST.’

Of course the letters of the word ‘coexist’ are stylized from the icons and symbols of various religions: The ‘C’ is the star and crescent symbol from Islam, the ‘O’ is a peace sign, the ‘E’ (at least in this version) is simply the letter ‘e’ with both male and female symbols, instead of a letter ‘X’ there is a Jewish Star of David, while the ‘I’ has a Wiccan pentagram as the dot on top of the ‘i’. The letter ‘S’ has been replaced by the ‘ying/yang’ symbol to represent Taoism and Confucianism and the ‘T’ is the basic cross of Christianity. (Another version has the letter ‘e’ with ‘=mc2’ inside the letter to symbolize science as an equal of these religions.)

If I haven’t completely missed the point, the idea is that all of these various religious ideas are equal and all lead to God (or inner peace or something like that). (A similar slogan takes the letters of TOLERANCE and ascribes various religious beliefs to each letter for the same effect).

The problem, of course, is that each of those religions teaches that they are exclusively right (thus making the others wrong). You can’t have everyone equal when each group says ‘All ways to God are valid, except for what those others believe.’ Especially when at least one of those religious groups believes part of their way to God is to kill those who don’t believe correctly! And the way the ‘tolerance’ of ‘coexisting’ seems to have been put into practice is that everyone can say whatever they want and it is acceptable UNLESS you have the gumption to say you don’t agree. The ‘tolerance’ movement is extremely intolerant of those that disagree. Hmm…

As Christians though, our beliefs are grounded in what the Bible says… not what’s found on bumper stickers or newspapers or even slick ad campaigns. And in the Bible, in Acts 4:12, Peter, talking about Jesus, states clearly that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” And just in case someone thinks maybe it was just that hick old fisherman from Galilee who came up with that, Paul, the very educated, intellectual, elite Jewish leader turned Christian wrote about the final judgment of the world when believers from all religions and all beliefs are judged by God, and he summed up that event this way in Philippians 2:10-11: “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

“So, preacher,” you may ask, “what’s all this got to do with a Christmas newsletter article?”

As we continue to live in secular America, where ‘coexist’ and ‘tolerance’ are almost treated as sacred moral standards, we in Christianity need to be ready to take a stand that Jesus Christ is our Lord and there is no other way to get to Heaven. We don’t do that by arguing and fighting. We don’t get on YouTube and whine that Starbucks has a war against Christmas because they took the reindeer and snowflakes off of their holiday cups. We don’t battle in the courts about manger scenes or even the Ten Commandments. And we don’t try to shame people into saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” Instead, we live our lives the way Jesus said to live them. We show that Jesus is OUR Lord and has control of our lives and our language and our relationships.

How? As United Methodists, we have always tried to emphasize that if you want to get to know Jesus better and learn more of God’s ways then there are things you can do to help you: get to worship where the rest of the Christians are gathered, talk to God in prayer just like you would talk to anyone else you have a relationship with, start reading the Bible and SEE what He said, and find a Bible study or a Sunday school class where you can learn from other Christians who have already faced some of the things that you will also face. And ultimately, according to John 13:35, you can double check whether you really are being a follower of Jesus by remembering His criteria: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” I like the way the New Living Translation words that verse: “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

This Christmas lets prove to the world that we ARE His disciples… by showing His love through our lives! THAT will bring the light of Christ to the dark world in which we live. THAT is a Christmas gift worthy of giving… and of receiving!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Methodist, Newsletter

Marks of a Methodist

John Wesley wrote the following as a preface to a tract he called THE CHARACTER OF A METHODIST: He wrote “SINCE the name first came abroad into the world, many have been at a loss to know what a Methodist is; what are the principles and the practice of those who are commonly called by that name; and what the distinguishing marks [are] of this sect…”

And with that introduction, he began, in 17 points, to logically argue what one could look for that would help identify what a Methodist was really like.

This, then, in today’s words, was the essence of his response…

  1. THE distinguishing marks of a Methodist are not his opinions of any sort. His agreeing to this doctrine or embracing that belief have nothing to do with it. So anyone who imagines that a Methodist is someone with a certain dogma mistakes the truth completely. Yes, we do believe that “all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God;” and so we are distinguished from Jews, Muslims, and atheists. We believe the written word of God to be the only needed source of guidance for us to live the Christian life; and so there is a fundamental difference between the Roman Catholic Church and us. We believe Jesus Christ to be the eternal, supreme God; and so we are clearly different from groups like the Mormons, the Jehovah Witnesses, and others like them. But as to all of the other disagreements in Christianity, if they aren’t at odds with those basics of the faith, then we think and let think. Our individual beliefs on those things, whatever they are not what makes us Methodists.
  1. Neither are words or phrases of any sort. We don’t get hung up on a particular religious way of talking. We prefer to make our conversations and our preaching as easy to understand for those who are new as well as those who’ve been in the church for years.
  1. Nor do we desire to be distinguished by meaningless practices or habits that try to show how religious we are. Our religion isn’t about what we wear or what we do or don’t do, or eat or wear. Unless instructions are specifically found in the word of God, you won’t find it being a Methodist practice.
  1. Nor can you define a Methodist by how we make our beliefs and practice try to stand up to a particular Scripture passage. We recognize that our faith is a gift God gives us and we grow into clearer understanding as we go to ALL of the Scriptures… not just by setting up tests by which we judge and evaluate each other based on some favorite Scripture. In other words, we don’t look to the Bible as a way to compare ourselves with others. That would be as bad as a woman who decides she is absolutely virtuous just because she isn’t a prostitute; or a man who convinces himself that he is truly honest just because he does not rob or steal. Methodists, and Christians in general, can’t be seen just by trying to compare them to others.
  1. So you might ask: “What then is the mark? Who is a Methodist?” Wesley answers: A Methodist is one who has “the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Spirit;” a Methodist is one who “loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength.” God is the joy of his heart, and the desire of his soul.
  1. A Methodist is happy in God. He has “a well of water springing up into everlasting life,” and overflowing his soul with peace and joy. Having found forgiveness of his sins through Jesus, he can’t help but rejoice, whenever he looks back on the horrible pit out of which he has been delivered. He can’t help but rejoice, whenever he looks on the way his life is now, because he has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  1. A Methodist is one who has hope because of Christ and thus gives thanks to God in all things, for he has learned to be content in whatever situation he finds himself. Whether in ease or pain, whether in sickness or health, whether in life or death, he gives thanks from his heart to God who directs his life; knowing that every good gift comes from above. He therefore can cast all his care on God in all things, making his request known to him with thanksgiving.
  1. In fact, a Methodist is known as one who “prays without ceasing.” Not that a methodist is always in the house of prayer; though he doesn’t miss a chance to go to church when he can. Neither is he always physically on his knees in prayer. But he’s one that offers God his very heart, and in the times of praying or even in the times of silence, his heart is ever lifted up to God. Whether he lie down or rise up, God is in all his thoughts; he walks with God continually.
  1. And while a Methodist can be known by the way they love God, by praying without ceasing, by rejoicing evermore, and in giving thanks in everything, there’s another commandment written in his heart that says, If you love God, then love your fellow humans also. As Jesus said it, a Methodist loves his neighbor as himself; he loves every man as his own soul. His heart is full of love to all. That someone comes along who’s not personally known to him, is no irrelevant. Even if someone comes along that dislikes him or wants to harm him, a Methodist “loves his enemies.” And if it isn’t in his power to “do good to them that hate him,” still he’ll pray for those who “despitefully use him and persecute him.”
  1. For a true Methodist is “pure in heart.” By that we mean that a methodist seeks, and lets, the love of God purify his heart from all revengeful passions, from envy, malice, and wrath, from every unkind temper or malign affection. A Methodist forgives, if he had a quarrel against someone else; in the same way that God through Christ has forgiven him.
  1. In the same way, a Methodist tries to do the will of God. His one intention at all times and in all things is, not to please himself, but to please God. God then reigns alone in his life.
  1. And in the same way that you can tell a tree by the fruit it bears: an apple on a tree reveals that it is an apple tree and oranges hanging from the branches reveals the orange tree, so it is that you’ll be able to tell a Methodist by the fruit of his life… his actions and attitudes, behaviors and choices will show that this is a person who is connected to Jesus Christ. Whatever God has forbidden, he avoids; whatever God hath commanded, he does.
  1. A Methodist seeks to love God by obeying God as much as he can. For his obedience is in proportion to his love, the source from whence it flows. And therefore, loving God with all his heart, he serves him with all his strength. He continually presents his soul and body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God; entirely and without reserve devoting himself, all he has, and all he is, to his glory.
  1. So, by consequence, whatever the Methodist does, it is done for God. His business and entertainment, as well as his prayers, all serve this great end. Whether he sit in his house or walk by the way, whether he lie down or rise up, he is promoting, in all he speaks or does, the one business of his life; whether he put on his clothes, or go to work, or eat and drink, it all is meant to give glory to God. His one invariable rule is this, “Whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
  1. Nor does the Methodist take his cues from the world around him. He knows that sin does not stop being sinful, just because everyone else is doing it. Even his very thought life is directed not by the society in which we live, but by the Scripture passage that says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right.”
  1. Finally, as he has time, he does good to others… whether neighbors or strangers, friends or enemies. A Methodist reaches out physically, emotionally, and spiritually, so that those others that God brings into their path, might meet Jesus through them.
  1. These are the principles and practices of our group; these are the marks of a true Methodist. By these alone do we desire to be distinguished from others.

You might say, But the things you’ve described are only the common fundamental principles of Christianity!”

Yep! You got it!

John Wesley meant that very thing. He said: I would to God that everyone understood this truth that we vehemently refuse to be distinguished from others, by any but the common principles of plain, old Christianity. In fact, we renounce and detest all other marks of distinction.

And that’s who a Methodist is… he is a Christian, not in name only, but in heart and in life. He is inwardly and outwardly conformed to the will of God, as revealed in the written word. He thinks, speaks, and lives, according to the method laid down in the revelation of Jesus Christ. His soul is renewed after the image of God, in righteousness and in all true holiness. And having the mind that was in Christ, he so walks as Christ also walked.

  1. By these marks, by these fruits of a living faith, do we labor to

distinguish ourselves from the unbelieving world, from all those whose minds or lives are not according to the Gospel of Christ. But from real Christians, of whatever denomination they be, we have no real desire to be distinguished at all, not from any who sincerely follow after Christ. Like Jesus said: “Whoever does the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Wesley hoped that Methodists would be known by our Christianity… that there would be no other divisions among ourselves. He paraphrased a Scriptural passage and asked “Is your heart right, as my heart is with yours? If it be, then give me your hand. Do you love and serve God? It is enough. I give you the right hand of fellowship.

Like Paul so long ago, Wesley would ask: “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose.” “Lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace. We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future. There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Methodist, sermons