“Unchurched?”

Quite honestly, when I saw this term recently, my first thoughts were to get up on my soapbox and tear off in a rant. With a little time and a little thought, I realized two things: to speak out against the common usage of this terminology isn’t “my soapbox” and it certainly isn’t a “rant.” There are several thoughts I have regarding the usage of this terminology and also an explanation of why I will never use it.

From Wikipedia, “Unchurched” (alternatively, “The Unchurched” or “unchurched people“) means, in the broad sense, people who are not connected with a church.[1] In research on religious participation, it refers more specifically to people who do not attend worship services.[2]” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unchurched)

If you’ve known me for very long at all, say the last eighteen years or so, you should understand that I do the best I can to approach everything from a biblical perspective and certainly a biblical foundation. With that thought in mind, having read the Bible quite extensively for many years now, I still have not found that designation anywhere in scripture.

There are several problems that I have with the term, “unchurched.” It honestly goes deeper than the issue of not being found in scripture. Much deeper. A huge part of the problem is that many of the people who are so fond of the term seem also to be fond of other things that I believe at best blur the lines of what we are called as Christians to do. At the worst, it is giving people a false sense of security and even outright teaching false doctrine.

From what I can gather, since I never use the term and rarely associate with people who do, most who use the term are exponentially more focused on getting the numbers of people into the church building rather than equipping the people who are already there (Ephesians 4:11-13). Because of this “seeker sensitive” movement, a part of what I believe is the problem with using the term “unchurched,” (or perhaps vice-versa or even going hand in hand) once people are in the church, there is no further attempt at discipleship or growing them up in Christ. At least, it doesn’t seem to be much of of a focus or necessity.

Unfortunately, the prevailing idea seems to be that the “unchurched” need to be brought into the assembly and once that’s accomplished, the job is done. I honestly don’t intend to paint everyone (every church, pastor, believer) with the same broad brush, but if that’s the case, we will have church buildings and assemblies FULL of unbelievers who think that they’re OK. The reality is, first of all, only God truly knows the heart, but if there is no repentance, brokenness over sin, confession and acceptance of the gift of salvation offered through Jesus Christ alone, according to God’s own word, they are still destined for an eternity in Hell.

Just looking over what passes for “Christian” writings, books, magazines, movies, audio/visual sermons, seminars and more today, is barely watered down, chocolate-flavored milk doctrines. Because “we might offend” an “unchurched” person, there is no stand for the truth of sin, the authority and necessity of the WHOLE word of God, the gift of salvation and the reality of persecution for those who will live godly in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:12). In many cases, whether writings, movie/audio, sermons, seminars and the like, even those who at one time were “unchurched” we “don’t want to offend” because they may leave the assembly (taking their money with them).

According to the scriptures there are only two types of people: believers and unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Galatians 3:27-28 and many, many other references). Because there are ONLY two types of people, this means that there are unbelievers who do go to church regularly. This also means that there are true believers who are not regular attenders of church. Quite honestly, a good look at the reasons or some biblical ideas on this would take too much to put into one single article, in my opinion.

I do have a challenge for those who are truly believers; those who have accepted the gift of salvation, who know that they have been born again into the family of God. If you are not regularly attending and hopefully active in a local assembly, you need to be. In some few cases, I understand that there are extenuating circumstances, but there is a need for mutual fellowship, encouragement, accountability, edification and more. If you can’t find a solid Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church, start one. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done. I’ve been in the shoes of a believer searching diligently for a church that teaches the whole word of God without compromise. I get it.

If you are a believer and a member of or regularly attending a solid Bible teaching church, encourage your leaders and each other. Pray for them regularly. Search the scriptures for yourselves to make sure that they aren’t getting off track (Acts 17:10-11).

If you are not a believer, please accept the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ. He took your place and mine on the cross. He was separated from God the Father so we never have to be. Salvation is a free gift, though it’s only available by trusting that Jesus Christ paid the debt of sin on your behalf. He’s offering that gift to you. Will you accept it? For further reference, pick up a Bible. Look up these verses: John 3:16-17, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9-10 & 13.

 

The Journey Continues

Welcome to 2017! Yes, I know I’m a week late, but it’s been a busy two years or so. With my 29th birthday coming again later this week for the 17th time, I’m ready to move on a bit. My last day working my “second” job, which was in fact my third, then fourth job will come to an end. If you’re a little confused, I’ll explain from my perspective. My “first” job is the primary, full-time job that I use as my primary support for my family. Forty hours a week as a MIL-tec Mechanic at Fort McCoy, where I’ve been for just over eight years. As a requirement for the job, I’m also (still) an enlisted soldier in the Army National Guard. That’s number two, if you’re keeping track. I enjoy it as well, but since I only have to drill once a month and attend our annual training, I’m calling it number two. The “third” job, which became the “fourth” job is working part-time at Wal-Mart. I started there in September of 2014 with the intent to pay off extra debt, which has been accomplished. It became the “fourth” job when I was working there full-time in August of 2015 and was called into the ministry at Bible Baptist Church in Neillsville, Wisconsin. Because I truly believe that the ministry is my true calling, everything else that can takes a back seat, including Wal-Mart.

Despite having so much to do with three jobs and the church, the Lord has granted me the physical stamina as well as the emotional stability (most of the time) to accomplish this. One of my birthday presents (to myself, perhaps) is my last day of work at Wal-Mart. With that chapter behind me, I’m headed back to school, so I’ll still be busy, but doing what I enjoy more. In addition, I’ll be changing my schedule at the “main job” to work longer hours a day, but less days a week. The potential new job opportunity I wrote about in my last post didn’t come out as I had hoped, but did come out exactly as the Lord had planned.

This week will be a busy one, with two job interviews for a different job related to my military duty and my first funeral as a pastor. Overall, the ministry is going well. My family is adjusting to having me around more, and we all have more plans for the future. I’m excited to see what the next year brings. I do hope, that along with more opportunity for ministry, there will be more opportunity to write and share here. I hope to get back to posting once a week, though that may still be a few weeks away. There are still some moving pieces, so to speak, that will need to all come together and settle just a bit before I can commit to a regular weekly offering once again. I’ll see about keeping everyone updated here and hope to encourage and perhaps challenge you as well. For those who have been faithful readers, even through the really, really lean times, I thank you. Stay tuned in 2017, it should be a great year! May God bless, keep and guide you through the coming year!

Beginning a New Chapter

I first need to say that this will be considerably longer than many of my study topic posts. It’s more an update on what’s been going on in my life and (to a lesser degree) that of my family and friends over the last couple of years or so. It really has been the time frame when things really started changing from many things that I had become accustomed to. Mostly this will be long because of the background story that leads to the new chapter. If your’e not totally interested, I understand. It’s just that so many things tie in, that I think I’d rather include all of the intricacies and explanation rather than just give the bare bones story. So much plays into the beginnings of this new chapter, I do not believe there is any way that coincidence, chance or any effort of my own had much to bring this new chapter to where I am now.

The summer of 2014 became more and more difficult as we began to struggle financially due to several factors. Most were beyond our control. With a large family we’ve never really been foolish with finances, but it was apparent that more needed to be done. We all talked and decided for me to look for another job to try to make ends meet and perhaps have a little left over. In addition to working full-time as a military technician, I started working at the local Wal-Mart in a part-time temporary (seasonal) position. I ended up working up through several positions and pay grades and made it to the highest pay grade available as an hourly associate.

Before starting at Wal-Mart, in April of 2014 I sent out letters of introduction and interest to churches I found on the website of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Baptist Churches (WFBC) that were without pastors. I received two responses. One response was to what I considered a larger city than what I would feel comfortable in. In addition, I really feel called to a small-town or rural church. The second church that responded was in Door County I set up a weekend to take the family to preach at Peninsula Baptist Church in Sturgeon Bay. Within about a week of making the commitment to preach at Peninsula Baptist our family vehicle suffered a mechanical failure that was virtually non-repairable. The steering gearbox had broken the frame in half where it was attached. Fortunately, we were not on the highway and the Lord protected our family.

Looking for a van that would fit our family of nine (including my wife and I) was not something I would enjoy doing. I certainly did not want to think about paying for one. To shorten this part of the story (more comes into play later) my wife’s best friend had made some phone calls and located a van for us. I was told that Julie (my wife) was going with her friend to pick one up. A couple near Marshfield had a van that ran, but they no longer needed. A jump start, trip to Wal-Mart and one battery later, she drove it home with the title in hand. Yes, the price was one trip north, one battery and the cost of the title transfer.

With a new-to-us vehicle that would fit us all, our plans to Peninsula Baptist Church to preach were back on. Over the course of the rest of the summer and into the fall, we returned several times. We were always well-received. Everyone seemed to love the family as well as the teaching. Circumstances prevented us from a move to Sturgeon Bay until this summer at the earliest, which was absolutely a part of God’s plan, but not necessarily mine.

Peninsula Baptist Church welcomed an Interim Pastor to fill the position until a full-time Pastor could come. A couple of days before Annual Training the Interim Pastor from Bible Baptist Church in Neillsville called me and told me that the Interim Pastor from Peninsula Baptist in Sturgeon Bay had contacted him and told him that I may be available to fill the pulpit or possibly consider the position as Pastor. We agreed on the date of June 26, 2016 for me to go preach in Neillsville for the first time.

God had his hand in working all of this out too. After agreeing on the date to go to Bible Baptist Church in Neillsville for the first time, it was off to two weeks of Annual Training. During the second week the search committee from Peninsula Baptist Church called me and said that the church had decided to go in a different direction and they would not be considering me further for the position as Pastor. For some reason, (as much as I wanted it) I had a complete sense of peace about it. I’m sure that the scheduled date to preach at Neillsville had at least a little bit to do with it.

Even before we got to Bible Baptist Church in Neillsville for the first time, we received at least two phone calls from people we knew who attend or have attended church there. One of these families was the family who gifted us with the family van last summer! The first Sunday preaching was a huge success. I was told that there were over 50 people there. I had been told to expect 20-25, which is a normal turnout for Sunday morning. (Of course, not including me, eight of those visitors were my family.) One of the oldest members of the church told me that he thought that was a record turnout since the church has been there.

Completing the Pastoral Candidacy process was a bit challenging since I was working with two full-time jobs, the National Guard and my family all needing parts of my time. The challenging part was developing relevant sermons that had practical application to the congregation. I wasn’t there to impress people but to challenge and encourage them in God’s word. The very first sermon was on the sufficiency of scripture. I had to lay the foundation on who I was and what was most important. If you know me at all, I will always emphasize the inerrancy, infallibility and sufficiency of scripture.

According to the established process for a pastoral candidate, I taught adult Sunday School and gave the morning message three times. The third time, with sufficient notice of at least two weeks to the membership, the church voted on whether or not to offer me the position of pastor. The vote was unanimous. The membership (and all I talked to who were not members, but attended) Bible Baptist Church wanted me to accept the position as pastor.

I had already prayed much about the opportunities and kept this one in prayer too. I spent a few days corresponding with friends and family and of course talking with my family at home. The decision was made and last Wednesday, August 3rd, I called to accept the position as pastor at Bible Baptist Church in Neillsville. I signed and sent the letter of understanding the same day.

As the title of this long post says, this is only the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Along with this new responsibility, it appears that the Lord is opening another area of opportunity for employment so that I will be able to fulfill my ministry responsibilities as well as provide better for my family and the future. This job is still in the acquiring stage, but sounds very promising. Bible Baptist Church is small enough to require any pastor to be bi-vocational at least for now. I can see working this potential new job for a year or two along with ministering and reevaluating then.

There will likely be more updates, prayer requests and praises along the way. With these changes, I hope to have more time to regularly post more here too. I’ll do my best to keep you updated. In the meanwhile, continued prayer for guidance and strength would be greatly appreciated.

Do Men Seek After God? What Does the Bible Say? (Part Four: The Meat of the Matter)

As promised, here are my references and study notes. These were compiled using the e-sword Bbile program available from www.e-sword.net.

“Do Men Seek God?”

“Seek Him/seek me”

1Ch 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

2Ch 15:2 And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.

Pro 1:28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:

Pro 8:17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Isa 26:9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

Isa 45:19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

Isa 51:1 Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.

Isa 58:2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

Jer 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Hos 5:15 I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.

Hos 7:10 And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.
Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Amo 5:4 For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:

Mal 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

Joh 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. (Seeking Jesus only as a man?)

Joh 7:34 Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come. (Same as above?)

Joh 7:36 What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come? (Same as above?)

Joh 8:21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. (Again, Jesus as a man?)

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Super very important!)
“Seek the Lord”

Deu 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
2Ch 14:4 And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment.

Deu 12:5 But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:

1Ch 16:10 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.

1Ch 22:19 Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the LORD God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the LORD.

2Ch 11:16 And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.

2Ch 12:14 And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD.

2Ch 14:4 And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment.

2Ch 15:2 And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.

2Ch 15:12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;

2Ch 15:13 That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (Negative)

2Ch 20:3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

2Ch 20:4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.

2Ch 30:18 For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one
2Ch 30:19 That prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.

Ezr 6:21 And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat, (see context – 16-22)

Ezr 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. (implied)

Psa 14:2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. (Negative – see Romans 3:10-11.)

Psa 22:26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.

Psa 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. (Implied)

Psa 34:10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

Psa 40:16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified.

Psa 105:3 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
Psa 105:4 Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.

Pro 28:5 Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.

Isa 9:13 For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts. (Negative)

Isa 31:1 Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD! (Negative)

Isa 45:19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. (Obviously implied.)

Isa 51:1 Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.

Isa 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (Very important! Primary verse – – well-known.)

Jer 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Jer 29:12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
Jer 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
Jer 29:14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. (Very important! Well-known passage, esp. verses 11-13. Context is Children of Israel.)

Jer 50:4 In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.

Dan 9:3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: (Example: Daniel sought the LORD.)

Hos 3:5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.

Hos 5:6 They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them.

Hos 7:10 And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.

Hos 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

Amo 5:4 For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:

Amo 5:6 Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.

Amo 5:8 Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:

Amo 8:12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

Zep 2:3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.

Zec 8:21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.

Zec 8:22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.

Mal 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

Act 15:17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

Act 17:27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: (VERY IMPORTANT – New Testament reference.)
“Sought the Lord”

Exo 33:7 And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.

1Ch 15:13 For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order. (Negative example.)

2Ch 14:7 Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us; because we have sought the LORD our God, we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered.

2Ch 15:4 But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.

2Ch 15:15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about. (See passage: verses 12-15 & cross-reference.)

2Ch 16:12 And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians. (Negative example.)

2Ch 17:3 And the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim;
2Ch 17:4 But sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.

2Ch 22:9 And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (for he was hid in Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him, they buried him: Because, said they, he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart. So the house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom. (Recognition of someone who sought the Lord.)

2Ch 26:5 And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.

Psa 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Psa 77:2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.

Psa 111:2 The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.

Jer 10:21 For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered. (Negative.)

Zep 1:6 And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have not sought the LORD, nor enquired for him. (Negative.)

“Seek God”

2Ch 30:19 That prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.

2Ch 31:21 And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.

2Ch 34:3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.

Ezr 4:2 Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither.

Ezr 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.
Ezr 8:22 For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.

Job 5:8 I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause:

Job 8:5 If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;

Psa 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. (Negative.)

Psa 14:2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. (Very important!! Reference from Romans 3.)

Psa 53:2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. (Very important!! Reference from Romans 3.)

Psa 63:1 A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

Psa 69:6 Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. (Inferred.)

Psa 69:32 The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.

Psa 70:4 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. (Inferred again- “seek thee.”)

Isa 8:19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?

Isa 58:2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. (Inferred in context- “seek me.”)

Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Very important! Jesus telling us to seek the Kingdom of God.)

Luk 12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Very important! Jesus telling us to seek the Kingdom of God.)

Even with these references, I would encourage you to look up the passages for yourself. Check the context. Are there more that I missed? Are there some that you may question? Search and study the scriptures for yourself (Acts 17:10-11, 2 Timothy 2:15, & 3:16-17).

Thanks for reading –

– Blessings

Do Men Seek After God? What Does the Bible Say? (Part Three: Some Observations)

First, a qiuick hit on the necessity of reading from the beginning of part one. Some of the things I want to write about can become quite lengthy. I’m trying to keep up a blog, not write a book, so I understand the need to keep it relatively short. In order to get the full message in any of my mulit-part posts, please read from the beginning. If you wish, when the concluding post is up, maybe go back and read them all together. Thanks for checking out my blog.

This topic has come up in various ways in various places and since I’ve devoted quite a bit of study to it, I thought I’d like to write about it. In my first two posts I wrote about the initial question and arguement and some examples. I do have some observations I’d like to share. I would have to say that some of these are more general in nature and not necessarily specific to this particular topic.

None of us is perfect or has perfect understanding. However, that’s not an excuse for diligent study, either. Even if we approach a theological question with some presuppositions, that doesn’t necessarily mean we are right or wrong. A couple things that I have learned over the years is that God and his word are right. My presuppositions may get me into some trouble. I understand that there are things that I can be taught from God’s word. Maybe it’s just something I haven’t noticed or understood yet. In spite of everything I’ve learned, I must remain teachable. The bottom line is found in Acts 17:10-11 and 2 Timothy 2:15 & 3:16-17. My responsibility is to study God’s word regularly and filter everything, especially teaching through that lens (thanks Tim, Kenny and Joe).

If I approach this question with a predetermined bent on my theology, I’m fitting scripture into my box. If I do my very best to study, be led of the Holy Spirit and view a passage within its immediate context as well as the entire biblical context, I’ll be more likely to get it right. (That’s difficult if you don’t read the whole book, by the way.) Let scripture say what it will say. That’s where I rest.

My last post looked at some specific examples. These passages of scripture are clear to me. Throughout the Bible, many, many examples have been listed where men (and women, of course) have sought after God in one way or another. Unfortunately, many of these examples have occurred when there was a trial to be endured. Once the difficulty was over, God was forgotten. It hasn’t changed at all today.

Psalm 14, referenced by the Apostle Paul in Romans 3 could easily be called the Atheist’s Psalm. Many times and in many ways, the idea is put forth in scripture that fools do not seek after God. (Consider where this is inferred in Jesus parable of the “Rich Fool” in Luke 12:16-21.) To the contrary, wise men do seek after God and they have since the beginning.

I’m honestly not sure what more I could say about the necessity of simply searching, reading, studying and believing God’s word on this or any other topic or question. To rest upon certain portions of scripture while disregarding other passages is not only wrong, it is dangerous. Even where God’s word is clear, there may be contentions. I’ll not speculate on anyone’s motive for perverting the clear teaching of scripture. (Indeed, someone may claim the same about me. I would, and have made the request to open the Bible together to discuss the differences, but more often than not I’m offered a book or such that “more clearly discusses” the differences.)

The scripture references I listed in part two are some of the strongest arguements that men do seek God. I don’t think anything I can say would clarify this more. For the final post on this, I’ll list my study notes, which is mostly just a list of supporting scripture along with a few brief notes included.

Thanks for reading!

Do Men Seek After God? What Does the Bible Say? (Part two: A Few Examples)

This will be a longer post than I’ve put up for quite some time. For your benefit, I’m including quotes of Scripture, but I would encourage you to look up the passages for yourself to examine more closely the contexts surrounding the passages. Most are from the Old Testament, but that does not mean that they do not apply to us today. Some may be grouped together because they are found very close together in the Bible. I will have some comment on several of these.

The verses I selected here are some of the strongest scriptural evidence for the argument that men do, indeed, seek after God. I would disagree that this is “proof-texting,” which I tend to disagree with, because of the volume of verses in agreement throughout scripture. I selected eighteen passages of nearly one hundred that I found which deal with the question. I will say that the nearly one hundred passages do not represent an exhaustive search on the subject. Most, if not all of the passages (which I will share later) that I found deal with the question directly.

Most students of scripture understand that there are principles to be found in scripture that are not explicit in word. For example, the Bible does not say, “Thou shalt not consume alcohol.” However, there are several passages regarding the sin of drunkenness, the folly and effects of consuming alcohol and passages than have a bearing on consuming alcohol. For example: stumbling blocks and liberty in Christ.

I use the example to attempt to show that while my search and most of this series deals with explicit references to men seeking God, there are many, many more examples in principles that may be found in scripture.

For the remainder of this post, I have included references selected from many more that I found and will offer a few (hopefully short) comments on the passages selected. Again, please look up the passages and read for yourself the context. Sometimes this may be several verses or even chapters before and after the passage selected. Remember also, the context of the rest of the Bible and its message as a whole.

“But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” ~ Deuteronomy 4:29 – This is the first passage I came to in my limited search for answers to this question. I believe it is remarkable how this is mentioned in the Pentateuch and in Deuteronomy in particular. The second giving or “re-telling” of the law of God given to the Jewish people through Moses. More specifically, this appears to be a condition of keeping the covenant of the Law.

“Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.” ~ 1 Chronicles 16:10-11 – This passage is part of a psalm (song) of thanksgiving of King David after bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. David says that those who seek the Lord should rejoice. Then he says that men should continually seek the Lord. David is stating (what should be) a condition of men seeking the Lord as well as telling (commanding?) that men should seek the Lord.

 “…And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment.” ~ 2 Chronicles 14:4  

“And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.” ~ 2 Chronicles 15:2

“And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;” ~ 2 Chronicles 15:12 

In the preceding verses we have examples of commandments and conditions of “seeking the Lord,” during Asa, king of Judah’s reign.

“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.” ~ 2 Chronicles 20:3-4 – More examples of another king of Judah and his subjects seeking the Lord.

“I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause…” ~ Job 5:8 

“If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty…” ~ Job 8:5 – Job’s “friends” Eliphaz and Bildad rebuking Job for apparently not seeking after God. If you take the time to read the whole book of Job, you’ll see this is certainly not the case. (By the way, Job’s friends weren’t necessarily wrong in their observations, but certainly were in their applications, especially where Job was concerned.)

“The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.” ~ Psalm 34:10

“Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.” ~ Psalm 105:3-4 – Psalms of David (34, 105 and more) that mention seeking God. Note that Psalm 105:4 tells us not once, but twice to “seek the Lord!”

“Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.” ~ Proverbs 28:5 – Some contrast to Psalm 14:1-3, referenced by the Apostle Paul in Romans 3. “Fools” (Psalm 14) do not seek after God. However, those who do “seek the Lord understand all things” according to this proverb. That does not mean that we understand EVERYTHING. Only God is omniscient (all-knowing). Speaking in generalities, wise men (those who seek the Lord) will have much more understanding of important things than foolish men (those who do not seek the Lord).

“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:6-9 – Please take some time to look up and read this entire chapter. (It’s only 13 verses.) Look at verse one for context, then go to Revelation 22:17, compare and consider the similarities.

The passage(s) referenced above deserve a bit more than just a few lines, but I’ll try to be concise. Consider the quoted scripture in context with Isaiah 55:1 and Revelation 22:17. Who may come? Who may seek the Lord? “Every one that thirsteth,” has the invitation and the opportunity to “take the water of life freely.” Anyone can seek the Lord, but not everyone will. Too often, people are content with their sinful lifestyles and pleasures here and now. They have no thought for eternity. Just the same, ANYONE can seek the Lord. EVERYONE is told to, but not all do. This diminishes neither their responsibility (to accept the free gift of salvation) nor our responsibility (to share the good news that Jesus Christ offers that gift).

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.  And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11-14 – Though this is often a familiar passage, I wanted to draw special attention to the promise in the middle. With respect to context, this is addressed specifically to the Southern Kingdom of Judah who at the time were captives in Babylon. I would say that a parallel application can be seen and understood.

Many people in times of great distress will call upon God. They may bargain with God. I believe that God often allows or causes people to experience difficulties for the purpose of revealing Himself to them or getting their attention. (Whether caused or allowed by God may be debated, though often irrelevant as the result is usually the same.) In the Old Testament we see this over and over.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” ~ Matthew 6:33

“But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” ~ Luke 12:31 – These are different gospel accounts of a part of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.”  A similar passage a little later in the same setting Jesus also said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” ~ Matthew 7:7-8.

While these passages don’t specifically reference “seeking the Lord” or a similar phrase, it seems clear that the implication and application are the same. I would ask, is there anyone more authoritative than Jesus, himself?

“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us…” ~ Acts 17:27 –  IF the Apostle Paul meant that absolutely no one ever would, could or did seek after God (Romans 3:11), is he contradicting himself here? The answer MUST be no! Here in Acts 17, Paul is addressing the Greek philosophers on Mars’ Hill. Only a few believed him and what he was saying here (verse 34).

Looking back to the first post in this series, I believe Paul was speaking in generalities in Romans 3. Obviously not many, and certainly no fools (Psalm 14:1) will seek after God. However, that does not and cannot mean that NO ONE seeks after God in an absolute sense. (Consider Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:13-14, also.)

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” ~ Hebrews 11:6 – It is clear throughout scripture that men do seek after God. Not only do many seek Him, many “diligently” (earnestly, carefully) seek Him. Just as the teaching in scripture is clear that men do seek God, the teaching is also clear that God rewards those who seek.

If you’ve read to the end, thank you for your diligence and patience. I’ll look at some conclusions in the next post and probably list my scriptures, references and personal study notes in a final post.

God bless!

Do Men Seek After God? What Does the Bible Say? (Part One: The Argument)

Here’s the main question: Do men seek after God? Since I need to establish a baseline here, the answer is, yes. Simple. The Bible says so in many, many places. So, why even ask the question in the first place?

There has been a statement, which I have heard in some form or another, from different people regarding this question. The statement usually goes something like this, “Man, left to himself will NEVER seek God.” (The word “never” is usually, but not always emphasized.) My reply has been something to the effect of, “But man has not been left to himself. He has the general revelation of God in creation; the specific revelation of God in the scriptures and through pastors, missionaries, evangelists, parents, friends, neighbors and such as well as through his conscience.

I’m pretty stuck on the concepts of the context of the entirety of scripture and scripture interpreting itself. I do think most people should be able to agree with me on that. I believe that it’s dangerous to use “proof-texts” in many instances, but especially without taking scripture as a whole into consideration.

The proof-text I’m pointed to is found in Romans 3:11, “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”

The verses immediately before and after (verses 10 and 12, specifically) going all the way to verse 18 of Romans 3 is the Apostle Paul quoting scripture. I am not the judge of the Apostle Paul or of scripture, but it seems that he is using parts of the Old Testament to prove his point. It appears to me that instead of a direct quote, Paul is more or less paraphrasing.  Of course I believe that what Paul wrote and the scriptures he quoted was Holy Spirit inspired.

Since the focus is usually on Romans 3:11 and the argument is that “NO ONE seeks after God,” I would point the reader to Psalm 14:1-3 or Psalm 53:1-3, which are at the heart of the question. These passages are almost identical. Take a look at the passage Paul uses from the beginning. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God,” (Psalm 14:1)

Psalm 14 could easily be called “the Atheist’s Psalm.” Here’s a legitimate question: Do fools seek after God? I would say not. If they have already declared that “there is no God,” why would they seek for someone that they claim doesn’t exist? Of course Paul is not writing only to fools, but he used a passage of scripture that specifically addressed them.

Look at the end of Romans 2 and into chapter 3. Paul is writing to the Jewish people, specifically. Of course there is application to others than just Jews. Look at the history of the Jewish people in the Old Testament. When things were going generally good, they forgot God. When circumstances got rough, boy did they ever seek after God! Has anything really changed  today?

I want to try to tie a couple of thoughts together before I move on. First, I really do not think Paul was speaking in absolutes here, but in generalities. Paul knew the scriptures (the Old Testament). He knew the history of the Jewish people. I cannot believe that Paul was trying to make the absolute statement that, “no one, ever would, could or did seek after God.” It seems more like he was speaking in general terms, especially in the light of other scriptures.

Often at this point the argument turns to, “Well, no one seeks after God unless God draws him first,” (John 6:44). Since that’s a rabbit trail argument, I’ll just point out that that verse says that no one can “come” not that no one “seeks.”

I would say that the idea that no one seeks after God is a general one, not an absolute one. It seems pretty clear, even from Paul’s letter to the Romans that man has not been left to himself. He has the general revelation of God in creation, (Romans 1:18-32, esp. v 20); the special revelation of God in his word and through those who proclaim it, (Romans 1:16 & 10:13-15); and their conscience (Romans 2:15). There are many other passages in scripture which support this as well.

Men do seek after God, just as God seeks and calls men. Without going too far down what can easily become another rabbit trail, I’ll say that the more I study this, the more comfortable I become with it. Though it ma y seem like a paradox in the mind of man, there is no inconsistency and no contradiction with God.

I don’t want this to be too long so I decided before beginning that I’d break it up into smaller posts. For the next part I hope to look at some specific scripture passages to support the fact that men DO seek after God.

Blessings ~

Free Will and Election? – Election and Free Will?

Yes!

The key word in the title of this short post is AND!

I have to explain that growing up, my father had what I still consider a tremendous knowledge of Scripture. While I also believe that he had some trouble putting that knowledge into daily practice, his knowledge of what the Bible actually had to say was probably better than mine. I know I have a long way to go, even after studying it for many years.

I believe that in the election/free will question, he leaned considerably more toward the free will side, though he did absolutely believe in the doctrine of “eternal security.” His influence on me began here.

This question is something that I’ve struggled with, as many have. I’ve studied extensively, though not exhaustively and I have reached a conclusion. Every once in a while I will hear or read of a theologian who comes down on one side or another. I’m appreciative of those men who wrestle with these deep doctrines of faith and I do believe that “wrestling” is a mostly appropriate term. Most theologians will come down on one side or another, from my experience in reading, listening to and discussing this question. However, every once in a while, I find someone who is pretty close to where I believe I am.

I believe the answer to this lies in the middle. I know that there are students on both sides who have or will classify me on one side or the other, depending on their personal conclusions. I hadn’t necessarily planned on explaining how or why I’ve come to the conclusion I have, but I have come across an article online that I wanted to share. I don’t think I’ve come across much yet that puts it together so well in such a compact package. Here is the link: http://bibleone.net/print_tbs34.html.

Here is a second article that I also read that is very good: http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/questions/freewillelection.htm This line in this article is VERY important and should not be missed, “I believe that in the free will vs election debate you have to hold both sides… why? Because the Bible teaches both! Going to either extreme is dangerous.”

I understand that articles like this will not end the debate and this wasn’t necessarily my attempt, though it would be nice to see more people who come to this conclusion. Though I don’t often acknowledge people here, I want to thank Tim, Kenny and Joe for their thoughts, prayers, advice and the like over the years. I am truly blessed to have you guys in my life! Thanks also to Jarred, who has encouraged me to keep on writing things like this. You mean more to me than you probably know!

Little Changes

Well, the new year has come and we’re on our way into 2015. Some things changed last year that took me away from writing, though I have some new plans to get back into some posts, I hope.

This isn’t meant to be a full expose’ on what’s been happening, but I have taken some time off from school and picked up an additional job. This year will be a concerted effort to pay off outstanding debt and organize several different areas and things in our lives. It’s possible that as things settle out a bit I may be able to fit school into the picture again.

As far as writing, I do have several ideas to post that will be relatively simple to share, so I’ll see about getting some of them up periodically.

My ultimate goal is to pay off outstanding debt, then focus again on school and perhaps find a church (my sweet wife prefers Wisconsin or perhaps Michigan) that is looking for a pastor. I am prepared to answer the call as a bi-vocational pastor if necessary.

My family and I sure appreciate your prayers especially as we attempt to refocus on God’s will for our lives and try our best to fulfill our role in furthering His kingdom.

God bless!

Practical Christian Living: A Summary

I have truly enjoyed writing out the recent seven-part series on practical Christian living and hope that you have enjoyed reading it. This summary probably won’t reveal anything that I didn’t say in the series. If you ‘read between the lines’ as I often do, none of this should come as a surprise to you. The one thing I will do, a little different, is to include all seven points as well as the supporting scripture together. While this is intended to be a summary, including the lists may seem to make it a little longer than some of the posts. I’ll try not to be too long-winded.

Before my sweet wife, Julie, and I were married (almost 18 years as I write), we lived about six hundred miles apart for several months. We began writing letters and both would read those letters continually. I treasure my relationship with my wife. We still have most of those letters and still write notes to each other.

If a Christian’s relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important relationship they have, (it should be) why do so few read the ‘letter’ he wrote to us? I have ceased being amazed but am tremendously saddened by people who say that they are Christians but don’t regularly read their Bible. How would you expect to know how to live your daily Christian life without it? How can you remain spiritually strong and healthy without it?

Reading your Bible regularly (that should mean daily) is the most important thing you can do to live a practical Christian life. If you don’t know what God says, you won’t know how to apply what he says to your everyday life.

Pray hard, long and often. This is probably neglected even more than daily Bible reading. Asking the blessing at meals or praying before bed regularly is good and should be practiced. How often do you pray for daily wisdom and guidance? I must admit that, though this is improving for me, I feel that I have far to go.

A couple of things to consider here are the content of your prayers and the condition of your heart. What or who are you praying for? Is it a selfish prayer? Are you truly praying for God’s will and if so, will you be content with that? Do you regularly pray for your enemies and those who treat you wrongly? That is incredibly hard, but do you know how it affects your heart and actions back to them? Is there unconfessed sin, especially habitual sin in your life that needs to be dealt with?

Prayer should be much more than just asking God to do things or give things. Prayer is one of the highest forms of individula praise. I believe he delights in our prayers when we delight in Him and his will. I have praised the LORD through prayer in some of the most difficult situations in my life. The potential death of one of my children comes to mind. I praised the LORD for his blessings, wisdom and goodness, acknowledging that He knows best. He did spare their lives, but those prayers helped me through those very difficult times (four different times to date).

Bringing glory to God through our thoughts, speech and actions should be mostly self-explanitory, but I would like to mention that this point was changed from the original.

I first listed, “Does this bring glory to God?” The more I thought about it, I knew it needed to be changed to its current form. I know that I can and have justified, reasoned and explained my way into or out of the original quesiton with a simple, “yes or no” answer. If I have to explain to myself or others “how” this brings God glory, it’s almost impossible to get by with a simple yes or no and rationalize in my human mind what would please or displease God.

Godly advice comes from someone who regularly studies their Bible, spends time in prayer, prays specifically about the advice they should give and loves you enough to tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. These kinds of friends are invaluable, rarely high in number, and friends for life. It doesn’t matter where you or they may move to, what the occupation is, what the issue or time of day or night is. They will pray for you and give you what you need.

I have been tremendously blessed to have three friends like this. I do have several other friends who can offer solid biblical counsel and will pray for me, but these three guys  are special. I’m not discounting my wife, and your spouse should be one of your closest advisors, too. I will say, guys, find a couple of guys like this. Ladies, you do the same. So, for the past, present and future advice and prayers, thanks Tim, Kenny and Joe.

Are you a stumbling block or an encourager? What does your life say? Points five and six are distinct enough to have covered them separately, but in summary, close enough to lump together, I believe. How do you conduct yourself toward others who may be different or outright disagree? I think the wisdom found in Colossians 4:6 applies in both cases.

Are you gracious and loving enough that even if the message may sting a little (truth often does) that the messenger is not offensive? Is the difference something that can be overlooked, at least for the present and possibly addressed in a different way or by a mutual friend later?

Stumbling blocks and bad testimonies, hypocrites and the like are huge issues, but it seems, rarely addressed in the name of ‘tolerance’ today. Along with Bible study, prayer, the desire to glorify God and sound biblical advice we can know when to take a stand on important issues and when to graciously let something go.

If you put into regular practice the first six steps, your consciense will be a tremendous asset. If you neglect some of these, especially willfully and knowing better, you may find yourself in some difficult situations. I have. A clear conscience before God and man is a wonderful, beautiful posession.

Let me conclude this series on a couple of important points that have likely been mentioned before. This ‘checklist’ if you will (I’m not sure what else to call it) works very well for me. As I have used it over the last twelve years or so since I came up with it, studied more and revised it, it benefits me greatly. Whether it has been, is, or will be a benefit to you is more up to you I would say. The scripture references here are not all-inclusive. I did list ones I thought apply in some way or another.

There may have been some great preachers and teachers who have had some input in some way. However, I believe that the development and implementation has been much more the work of the Holy Spirit along with Bible study, prayer and daily life that has done the most in forming the things you have read. I would like to say a great THANK YOU for reading. I hope you have enjoyed it.

May God bless you and keep you as you grow in grace and in the knowledge of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. To him be glory, both now and forever.

Here is the list of all seven points with supporting scripture following:

1. What does the Bible say about __________?

2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Proverbs 30:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; Deuteronomy 11:26-28; Deuteronomy12:32; Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; John 14:15; John 15:14; 1 Peter 1:24-25; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Revelation 22:18-19

2. Have you prayed about __________?

Psalm 37:4; Psalm 66:18-19, Matthew7:7-8; James 1:5-8, James 4:1-3; Psalm 119:18; Proverbs 8:17; James 5:16; Isaiah 55:6; Romans 8:26-27

3. How does __________ glorify God?

1 Corinthians 10:31; Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; Jeremiah 9:23-24; 2 Corinthians 10:17; Hebrews 13:21; Psalm 19:1 

4. Have you sought godly counsel (advice) about __________?

Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 27:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:11-12; Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 13:10; Proverbs 24:6; Proverbs 20:18; 1 Kings 12:1-16

5.Will __________ cause a Christian Brother or Sister to stumble or question their faith (especially a new believer)?

Romans 14:1-23; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 (Both whole chapters.)

6. How will __________ affect your testimony with unbelievers?

Matthew 5:13-16; Matthew 7:15-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; Philippians 2:14-15; 1 Timothy 3:7; 1 Peter 2:11-25; Romans 12:9-21; Proverbs 25:21-22

7. What does your conscience say about __________?

Romans 2:14-15; Romans 14:5; Acts 24:16; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthins4:2; 1 Timothy 3:9; 1 Timothy 4:1-3(esp. v. 2); 1 Peter 3:16; (1 Timothy 1:5)