“US Cent Coin” by http://www.elbpresse.de – Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
A few days ago, my daughter wanted to surprise me by buying me a bakery treat with her own money. As we were getting ready to go, she sat down, opened up her little change purse, and removed a dollar bill and some coins. My wife asked her what she was doing. My daughter’s response was, “I’m taking this money out so I don’t use it on accident. It’s for Bible class.”
We were both floored. We’ve let her put money in the contribution plate since she was very little. My wife used to just let our daughter choose some coins to put in out of her wallet, and that eventually transitioned to our girl choosing coins from her own change purse. She takes it very seriously too — carefully choosing the shiniest coins or crispest bills and then meticulously arranging them in the plate. I just didn’t know how much value she placed on giving.
It’s easy for any aspect of our Christian lives to go on the back burner when we aren’t physically in the church building. My daughter’s actions really brought home Colossians 3:17 that says we should do all in the name of the Lord and Romans 12:1, where Paul calls us to be living sacrifices. Passages like these remind us that we should be putting Christ first all of the time.
Contribution can seem like such an insignificant act of worship, but it’s still important. A child putting money in the plate from her little change purse may seem like a small act, but it makes a difference. In that moment of setting some of her own money aside for “Bible class,” she taught us volumes about spiritual priorities. She was a light. She wanted to do something nice for me with her money — that was selfless by itself — but then she took that next step. She remembered God first.
New Book: A History of Churches of Christ in Cuba
My buddy Tim Archer has co-authored a book about the church’s development and growth in Cuba. This has been a multi-year project, and I know he’s excited to have completed it. Go check it out.
A Christian Nation? Since When?
…For all our talk about separation of church and state, religious language has been written into our political culture in countless ways. It is inscribed in our pledge of patriotism, marked on our money, carved into the walls of our courts and our Capitol. Perhaps because it is everywhere, we assume it has been from the beginning.
But the founding fathers didn’t create the ceremonies and slogans that come to mind when we consider whether this is a Christian nation. Our grandfathers did.
Back in the 1930s, business leaders found themselves on the defensive. Their public prestige had plummeted with the Great Crash; their private businesses were under attack by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal from above and labor from below. To regain the upper hand, corporate leaders fought back on all fronts. They waged a figurative war in statehouses and, occasionally, a literal one in the streets; their campaigns extended from courts of law to the court of public opinion. But nothing worked particularly well until they began an inspired public relations offensive that cast capitalism as the handmaiden of Christianity.
I find it so interesting that this mindset is so compelling. There is nothing in the New Testament about any sort of Christian nation, except for Christ’s church being a nation of priests. And that nation has no discrimination based on politics, geography, social class, gender, or ethnicity.
This Christian nation rhetoric is firmly rooted in trying to carry over elements of the Old Testament — a law nailed to the cross — into the New, and it’s no more scriptural than those who tried to teach circumcision to the Gentiles in Paul’s day.
On the Internet, You Never Know Who’s Reading
Rummaging through my zillions of articles saved to pocket, I came across this gem. Mind you, some of the language in the post is a little stronger than I would usually link, but there is fantastic lesson contained in this author’s experience.
The thing is, we forget sometimes that when there’s a website we don’t like, for whatever reason, that there are people behind it. People who are proud of their work, and who work hard.
We can be rather glib (to steal Jesse’s phrasing) about our feelings and toss off insults without really thinking about what — or who — we might be insulting.
Alternately, when people insult us, we also tend to take things way too personally and lash out. Or, potentially, ignore it completely. We don’t want to “feed the trolls,” after all.
It seems we have a harder time seasoning our words with salt on the Internet than anywhere, but God’s word is true in all places. We can’t be founts of blessings and be founts of cursing at the same time — even when we are hiding behind the Internet’s supposed wall of anonymity.
“I’m fed up with the Church of Christ”
Let’s talk about what we ought to be fed up with. I’m not fed up with churches of Christ. I am fed up with division. I am fed up with churches five miles apart who will not have anything to do with one another because of some breakup 30 years ago that had to do with personalities or even a doctrinal difference that did not affect the practice of the church. I’m fed up with brethren who will not love, and I’m especially fed up with myself when I do not love. I’ve had it. I’m done with it. I will always stand for truth as best I can understand it, but if I have not love, I am nothing. If you are going to be fed up, be fed up with the right things.
by Berry Kercheville
What freedom do you most hold dear? I would guess most would defer to freedom of speech or freedom of religion. The thing is, despite the wording found in the preamble to our constitution, God does not guarantee such rights. He never promises that we will have the physical freedoms we have come to take for granted in this country. Surely, Paul and the other apostles in the book of Acts were not being granted freedoms of speech and religion. Nor did Jesus come to forcibly change Roman or Jewish law to allow His followers those freedoms. Instead, our Savior expects us to assemble and to teach regardless of the secular freedom to do so.
No, Jesus came for a better freedom. John 8:32 records Jesus simply stating that His truth makes us free. The religious leaders present understandably mistake Jesus’ meaning and begin to talk about physical freedoms, even claiming that they had never been in bondage as children of Abraham. (I’d like to know how they were characterizing Babylonian captivity and Roman occupation, but that’s another discussion entirely.) Jesus redirects them to focus on something bigger.
Starting in verse 34, Jesus speaks of slavery to sin. The very presence of sin in our lives takes away a freedom that we can never reclaim, but Jesus came to release us from those chains. Paul, in Romans 6, makes the case that Jesus’ sacrifice pays the debts accrued by sin and releases us from them, transforming us from servants of darkness to servants of light. Paul reiterates in Galatians 5 that, now being free, we should be wary of willingly submitting to the chains of sin once more.
I am grateful to live in a nation that allows me to believe and teach as I will. Some may fear those freedoms are coming to an end (a fear, I believe, that is unjustified and fueled by factions that seek to gain power through such fears). Even if they are, the loss of physical freedoms cannot touch those that are spiritual, as Paul makes clear in Romans 8:38 – 39. It’s good to have physical freedoms, but they are nothing compared those from above.
And defending those better freedoms is far simpler than our physical ones. Our battles are spiritual instead of physical. Instead of seeking to take lives to preserve our perceived rights, we seek to preserve life and save souls. Instead of facing down world powers, we instead face the powers within us. Instead of looking to a paper and a piece of cloth for our ideals, we look to the Prince of Peace and the perfect law of liberty. These provide a freedom above all others, and we can celebrate them every day by walking in our Savior’s footsteps and telling others about His love.