Over the last few years, a stunning shift has taken place in church culture. Successful, influential, and powerful pastors are being dismissed from their churches. Not for the typical moral failures or money scandals but for unhealthy leadership practices. Why has this become such an issue? Understanding the problem The simplified version is that decades…The Christian Effectiveness Officer (C.E.O.) (Clayton Pruett) — SBC Voices
Years ago, a friend and I took a backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. It was a short trip via the nation’s premier hiking path. For us, it was a mere three days and two nights. Many others hikers take months to cover the entire 2,200-mile foot path from Georgia to Maine. As we hiked near Damascus, Virginia, when the spring blooms were fresh on the trees, we were awe struck by the beauty God’s handiwork.
Taking a break at the top of a hill, a silver, rock-strewn creek meandered along the bottom. Fresh magnolias bloomed. The colors of the painter’s palette treated our eyes and the smell of the exploding forest surrounded us. Such beauty makes me think of how it must have been at creation.
“God is everywhere. Take a step outside and you will be surrounded by the intricacies and fascinating systematic creation that was created by our God. He is in the mountains, the beaches, jungles, ocean depths, prairies, farmland, deserts, and valleys,” Mandy Smith writes on her website, https://www.ibelieve.com/faith
God’s handiwork is all around us. That’s why Romans 1:20 struck me so.
For His invisible attributes that is eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen since the creation of the world being understood through what He made.
Question: How have we known God’s handiwork and not recognized Him as creator? How can we attribute nature’s awesomeness to the Big Bang Theory or evolution without proof evidence.
A long time ago, I accepted that God created the world. I acknowledged that it was not a random collection of molecules from a primal swamp as the evolutionists claim. Why? Exhibit A is the majesty of the human body. How else could the body come into existence with the merger of two cells, yet grow to–in some cases—more than seven-feet tall and live for more than 100 years? How else is just the right amount of blood run through our veins? How else do a man and a woman come together to produce a child?
Think for a moment about your body and how magnificent it is. The brain is the best computer ever invented. The eyes are unmatched by any optical lens. We–unlike any other animal– can use tools to make marvelous things like airplanes.
How appropriate that we don’t have to search too far for an answer to how this came into being. This question was answered in the first verses of the Bible. As if God positioned it in the first verse of the first chapter for emphasis.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, Genesis 1:1
Application: Have you accepted that God created the world and accepted Jesus Christ as your savior? If not, why not? To become a Christian, pray this simple prayer.
Father, I know that I am a sinner and that distance from you to me is huge. I am sorry for my sins. I’m asking that you forgive them. I accept that Christ died for my sins and the sins of all. Jesus, take over my life and lead me on the right path. I cannot do this alone. Send the Holy Spirit into my life. Amen.
Then, find a Bible-based, local church that can help you grow in your walk with Christ.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Ticket link: https://ticket.wikimedia.org/otrs/index.pl?Action=AgentTicketZoom&TicketNumber=2007042610015988
Although I am not Catholic, I have always appreciated the Pope’s stance on the issues of the day. How we treat the poor, the unborn, and divorce are all issues of the Pope’s leadership for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics and many others, Christian, and non-Christian worldwide.
So when Pope Francis last month reversed the church’s position on capital punishment–stating it is “inadmissible” because it “attacks” the inherent dignity of all humans,” as reported in USA Today, an American newspaper, I listened.
“The Vatican said the pontiff approved a change to the catechism, which gives worshippers a go-to guide for official Catholic Church teachings on subjects ranging from the sacraments to sex. Previously, the catechism said the church didn’t exclude capital punishment “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” says USA Today.
My previous view of capital punishment is that it’s wrong to deprive another of her or his life, except in limited and extreme circumstances. My reason reflected the fact of racial and economic imbalances in those executions and the number of inmates on Death Row found proven innocent by organizations like the Innocence Project. I believed that some people, like terrorists who killed scores of innocents, though, deserved to die. Of course, their deaths would not bring those people back to life, but it gave me some satisfaction.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord,” Romans 6:23
But it wasn’t until a Facebook post on the page of a friend, a retired Methodist pastor in Indiana, that my view radically changed, like a slap in the face, being dunked in cold water, or an electric shock. He wrote simply “Kudos, to Pope Francis,” Then came the surprising words from a woman responding to his post: ” Try to remember that your salvation is the result of the death penalty.”
What? My life being spared? I have never killed anyone, stolen anything, or been arrested. What did she mean?
I had never thought of salvation–deliverance from God’s wrath– in comparison to capital punishment. I had been condemned to die, but by going to the cross, Jesus stepped up and took my place. Yet it seems a good comparison. In one the courts condemn an individual to death. In the other, God sentenced us to die ( the wages of sin, Romans 6:23) but loves us so much that He provides His only Son to die in our place.
Is there any greater love? “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend,” it says in John 15:13. Jesus set an example of this love when He followed the agonizing path to the cross. Without this sacrifice, no one would have eternal life.
Adam and Eve existed in a perfect world, but they chose to sin. As a result, they were forced from Eden to live in a world of hardship and the death of the physical body and the soul. The world we live in today.
How do you feel about capital punishment now? Does Jesus’ sacrifice affect your opinion? Is there a comparison between the two? For me, like the Death Row prisoner who gets a reprieve from the governor, I am so relieved and thankful. And I grant my fellow humans–any and all on them–a reprieve from death, no matter how gruesome, the number murdered, or the circumstances. They deserve punishment, but not death.
And I thank Pope Francis for pointing that out.
“And he (Jesus, at the Last Supper) took the bread, and, when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them,” Luke 22:19
Truth be told, saying grace around our house is a hit or miss proposition. I usually remember if it’s a more formal occassion, like the wife and I at dinner. But eating with the grand kids I may forget. Though when I remember, it’s likely to be monotoned “God is great. God is good. Let’s us thank him for our food. Amen,” from Austin, my six-year-old grandson who usually leads grace at family gatherings.
If I’m by myself, say at McDonald’s, I usually forget to blesss the hamburger and fries. Or for meals with acquaitances–like a business lunch–it’s sometimes ackward to wait for a break in coversation so you can silently pray while your peers may or may not say grace.
If I’m self conscious folding my hands and blessing the food, I push through and say grace any way. How can I let being self conscious stop me, when the Lord again has provided a meal. I’m reminded that many people around the world–including those Americans–are hungry.
A recent survey by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation of 1,686 Americans found that saying grace is a common practice. Eighty percent of African-Americans, sixty percent of Hispanics, and forty percent of whites regularly say grace at least a few times a week, according to the poll. It also found that 74 percent of white Protestants and 52 percent of Catholics say a quick prayer of thanks over their food. The survey is filled with intriguing statistics.
“Saying grace is a widespread practice in the United States. About half of all Americans take a minutes to say a prayer over their food,” according to The Post’s story.
Like threads laced through the fabric of a quilt, the majority of Americans say grace. It is another ritual that makes us Americans, American.