Category Archives: Christianity

Come Celebrate CITYFEST: It’s All Free!

If you’re going to be in Grand Rapids this weekend, I’d like to invite you to join in the joy of CITYFEST Saturday and Sunday at Ah-Nab-Awen Park (just across from the Gerald R. Ford Museum at 198 Front Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504). There will be lots of exciting music by award-winning bands like TobyMac and Mac Powell, some thrilling (I hope not too scary) BMX and FMX demos, a “fun zone,” and great gospel presentations by Luis and Andrew Palau.

Here’s the link to CITYFEST’s homepage and a 60-second promo: http://www.cityfestwestmichigan.org/

Check it out, and if you’ve got some time this weekend, I hope you join in and bring a friend!

And he [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).

 

Learning to Focus at Church

Did you enjoy your Labor Day break? Are you ready for all the activities of fall?
I love this super short video! My friend (Jane A.) posted it on her Face Book page a while back, but I want my blog friends who aren’t on FB to be able to see it too. Such good advice! If you don’t have a church home at this point, this fall might be the perfect time to start going again. Growth, healing, and love are done best in community…even though no community is perfect!

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

P.S.—If you don’t have a church home and live in the Grand Rapids area, I’d love to have you visit our church, Calvary (on the Beltline). Let me know, and Alan and I can meet you there and introduce you to our Sunday school class if you have time! In big churches, being part of some smaller group—like a Sunday school class, the choir, or a life group—really helps a person feel a sense of belonging.

The Hermeneutics of the Biblical Writers: Learning to Interpret Scripture from the Prophets and Apostles

The title is a mouth full, but the book is well worth chewing. If you ever wonder how to interpret the Bible, this might be a good study for you. Is the Bible to be taken literally? Did Moses really exist as a person? Is the Bible just a set of untrue stories written to teach moral principles, or did all these things really happen?

Hermeneutics is the study of the methods and principles used to interpret something (in this case, the Bible, although the same techniques could be employed in a study of the U.S. Constitution for those of us who are interested in constitutional law). In short, how do you read the Bible so you can understand what the authors were trying to teach…and who were the authors, anyway? I believe the best hermeneutics require understanding the “author’s intent.” In the case of the Bible, the author is God (who inspired human authors), and our understanding of authorial intention and logic should be derived from studying the normal use of language, facts of history, context, grammar, and ultimately the individual words, guided by the Holy Spirit, who also superintended the original writings.

The book defends the evangelical position, positing that the prophetic hermeneutic of the Old Testament flows seamlessly into the apostolic hermeneutic of the New Testament, and that the intention of the writings are to provide a redemptive history for all people, so that all of us will be redeemed and love God, worshiping Him because of his mercy and good works. A truly biblical hermeneutic will spur us to grow in our faith and trust, respond to life with appropriate moral choices, and develop a worldview based on God’s redemptive works throughout the universe.

There is a wealth of information concerning particular issues in biblical interpretation, but the author also points out that ultimately his book is meant to give evangelicals confidence in embracing a literal, historical interpretation of Scripture. The biblical authors read and responded to Scripture the way they demand us to read it: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). The biblical authors were consistent, and there was no hermeneutic shifting in the Scripture.

I love Abner Chou’s conclusion: “The Bible comes with ‘hermeneutic included.’ We may not always get everything right but that does not mean a standard does not exist. Rather, the biblical writers have set that standard. For a Christian, our hermeneutic then must be one of surrender and obedience, one that bows before how the Author has demanded his children read and seek what he has confluently intended through the human author.” Amen!

Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

What Makes America Exceptional: Ninety-Second Video by a Harvard Professor

Clay Christensen on Religious Freedom (His personal views, not HBS)

I hope you’ll take a minute to listen to what Dr. Christensen has to say, because I think he’s absolutely right. But, if you’re unsure or have never heard of this Harvard economist, let me introduce him, because I think he’s earned the right to one minute of our attention! His pedigree includes being a Rhodes Scholar, studying econometrics at Oxford University (M.Phil.), an MBA and later a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) from Harvard. Christiansen set a record for becoming a “full professor” at Harvard’s Business School in only six years. In 2011 Forbes called him “one of the most influential business theorists of the last 5o years” in their cover story. In both 2011 and 2013 he was ranked #1 in the Thinkers 50, considered “the most prestigious ranking of management thinkers” (Wiki). His seminal work, The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997) received the Global Business Book Award for the best business book of the year. According to Wikipedia (where I garnered this biographical info), “He’s best known for his theory of ‘disruptive innovation,’. . .which has been called the most influential business idea of the early 21st century.”

Now are you willing to listen? https://www.youtube.com/embed/YjntXYDPw44

 “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).

The Royal Wedding Reflects on The Song of Solomon

Did  you watch any of England’s royal wedding over the weekend? England’s Prince Harry of Wales married America’s Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018, but not at Westminster Cathedral, as I assumed. Because Harry is sixth in line to the throne, they were able to avoid inviting political figures (such as Barak Obama or Donald Trump) and instead had a smaller, more intimate ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. I hadn’t really followed this wonderful celebration while it was occurred, but I had several friends urge me to watch, particularly because Prince Harry’s aunt read the scripture lesson from the Song of Solomon, which was also the text for the message given by The Most Reverend Michael Curry.  If you have fourteen minutes to hear the message, it can be found here: http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/2018/may/read-the-powerful-sermon-on-love-bishop-michael-curry-preached-at-the-royal-wedding

Although British royalty don’t often speak of their faith, some of them have a clear and deep testimony to their faith in Christ, particularly the reigning Queen, Elizabeth II, who spoke of her beliefs in the forward to a book published by the Bible Society in time to celebrate the queen’s 90th birthday in 2016, entitled The Servant Queen and the King She Serves. One of the co-authors, Catherine Butcher, reported to Premier.org: “So to have a monarch who talks openly about Jesus in a very relaxed and natural way, we find that a huge encouragement and hope that Christians across the country will take a leaf out of The Queen’s book and learn to talk about Jesus in a natural way with friends, relatives and colleagues, so people can discover more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus.” Amen? Amen!!One of the best parts of the wedding (to me) was the singing of “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” which reportedly moistened Prince Harry’s eyes, perhaps because it was his mother’s favorite song and also sung at her funeral. May the words of this Christian anthem be true for England’s beautiful royal family, as well as for each of us!

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
(— William Williams, 1745)

“Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
Hold me with thy powerful hand:
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me till I want no more.
Feed me till I want no more.

“Open thou the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream shall flow;
Let the fiery, cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer
Be thou still my strength and shield.
Be thou still my strength and shield.

“When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side:
Songs of praises, songs of praises
I will ever give to thee.
I will ever give to thee.”

For thou art my rock and my fortress;
therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me
” (Psalm 31:3).

Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:24).

 

*First photo is one of the official wedding photos; the rest I found on CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network).

Are You a Follower or a Leader?

Are you a leader or follower by nature? Do you think one is better than the other? American culture puts a high premium on being a leader, but this isn’t what Jesus taught, as Joe Stowell reminds us in his book, Following Christ. God calls us first and foremost to be Christ-followers, not leaders! In truth, I don’t think any of us make good leaders until we’ve learned to become good followers.

Joe is the president of Cornerstone University, where six of our seven kids began their college training, and I think this book is spot on! Ever hear of “Wrong Way Reigels”? He was the University of California center who became infamous for scoring a touchdown. . .at the wrong end of the football field during the 1929 Rose Bowl! His team lost to Georgia Tech by one point, and Joe points out that Reigels’s problem was living by “instinct without direction,” which is an issue for each of us.

Perhaps the most crucial of all life’s questions is: Do we want to be the master of our own fate and the captain of our own soul, as the poet William Ernest Henley wrote, or would we rather follow the guidance of a higher being (God!) who is infinite in his knowledge and wisdom, capable of accomplishing his will, loves us more than we love ourselves, and has our good (and that of all people) and his glory as his game plan?

The only hitch is, we have to surrender to Christ, and most of us are either afraid to trust him because we’re not sure he’s really God, or we don’t believe He truly loves us and has our best interests at heart, or we don’t want to share our “glory” with God! By nature, most of us find it hard to believe that God really loves us more than we love ourselves. We are also proud and resent the idea of giving God the glory. We’d rather seize control of our own destiny and bring glory to ourselves, so at strategic crossroads, even Christ-followers often fail to obey, even though we know good and well what we ought to do. If we want to be true Christ-followers, then we need to commit to obeying Christ even when it seems impossibly hard (and probably is, apart from God’s grace and strength).   We’ve each been given one life to live. . .one challenging but glorious adventure. For those who do not believe in God, or have chosen to take a position of being agnostic, they must default either to being their own leader or following some earthly leader, but I would rather be a follower of Christ. Because, as Joe Stowell points out, having “the real, risen, transcendent, ever-present resident Christ to relate to me in the very depths of my being apart from the inherent trappings of visibility is an advantage with which no earthly relationship can compare.”

Amen! There is no Best Friend Forever who was with us at the day of our birth, can abide with us forever, and loves us with an everlasting love. God alone, in the person of Christ’s Holy Spirit, offers to indwell us and provide guidance, purpose, abundance of joy, and life eternal. Besides all this, there’s another wonderful promise attached to being a true Christ-follower: “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make  you free” (John 8:31-32). Being a Christ follower offers us true freedom and can lead us out of the prisons we’ve made for ourselves.

One of my favorite books as a child was Follow My Leader, a story about a teenage boy who is accidentally blinded by a friend’s carelessness and has to find a way out of the hatred that poisons his soul as a result. If you find yourself feeling imprisoned by hatred or embroiled in sin, My Leader (Jesus) can help you find your way out! Don’t believe me? Well, it’s not about me, it’s about God, and He’s the one who made these promises: “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3). Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Will you join me and the multitude of pilgrims who’ve become Christ-followers?

The Greatest Fact of All Time…

Do you ever wonder what Easter is really all about? The following was written by the father of one of my closest friends from college. Mr. Ward traveled widely with Gideons International and spent most of his retired life giving away Bibles and sharing Christ with everyone around him. He lived a full, vibrant life and died suddenly from a heart attack, but Marcy (his daughter) told me that she half expected him to sit up on the stretcher as they were carrying him out, just to share the gospel one last time! Through this tract, he is still sharing the good news about the greatest fact of all time. Do you know what it is?

The Greatest Fact of All Time…

 is found here:  www.greatestfact.com  Please check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s formatted much more clearly on the website above, but if you don’t want to have to click again, Mr. Ward’s daughter has also given me permission to share it here as well:

The Greatest Fact of All Time

…is that Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things.

Where do you learn this fact?

The Bible, in chapter 1 of John’s Gospel, says,

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

We learn here that the Word made all things—and that there was nothing the Word did not make.

But who is the “Word”?

John 1:14 says:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

So the Word had a body of flesh, and John says he saw Him. Again 1 John 1:1 speaks of Him:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life…

So, it’s clear that the Word is a man!

Then who is this man?

The Word is none other than Jesus Christ!

With this in mind, we can read John 1 and substitute the name Jesus Christ!

1 In the beginning was [Jesus Christ], and [Jesus Christ] was with God, and [Jesus Christ] was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Yes, the greatest fact of all time is this: Jesus Christ is the Creator of the entire universe.

But why did Jesus Christ become a man?

Jesus became a man because you and I have a problem. It is the same problem every person has—sin!

The third chapter of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans makes it very clear that we are all sinners.

10None is righteous, no, not one

23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.

Yes, we are all guilty sinners. Then Romans 6:23 warns:

For the wages of sin is death…

Since you and I have sinned, we have wages coming—death. This is both physical death and spiritual death. Spiritual death is eternal separation from God in hell.

About hell Jesus said in Mark 9:48,

…where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.

These wages must be collected!

Is there any hope?

Yes! There is hope! There is good news! Jesus received your wages. He died for your sin. He took your place. But He did something else very wonderful. When He died, He purchased a gift for you. The whole verse in Romans 6:23 reads:

For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus Christ purchased a gift for you—eternal life!

How can I have this gift?

Consider 1 John 5:9–10

9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.

If you don’t believe this testimony, you are actually calling God a liar.

What is this “testimony” I must believe?

The testimony you must believe is found in 1 John 5:11.

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

God has given you eternal life. It is a gift! He wants you to have it!

But do you have it? Not necessarily! A gift must be received, and God’s gift must be received!

Let’s illustrate it like this:

Suppose I offered you some money as a gift. If you don’t receive my gift, you won’t have it. You must receive it. In the same way you must receive God’s gift. If you do not receive His gift, you will never have it.

How can I receive God’s gift?

To illustrate, let’s suppose I put the money in a bank account. The money represents eternal life and the bank account represents Jesus Christ. If I transfer the bank account to you, you get the money. When you receive Jesus Christ, you receive eternal life, because eternal life is in Jesus Christ.

Let’s read 1 John 5:11 again:

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

Eternal life is in Jesus Christ. Therefore, when you receive Jesus Christ, you have eternal life as stated in the next verse (1 John 5:12)

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

How do I receive Jesus Christ?

A very clear answer is found in Romans 10:9-10.

9 …if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 for with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

What does it mean to confess the Lord Jesus with your mouth? Perhaps it could be like this: “I will take Jesus as my Savior and Lord! I will trust Him for my salvation from sin.”

Then believe with your heart (not just your head) that Jesus Christ lived and died for you, that He arose from the dead, and that He is alive forevermore. He is not in a grave, or even on a cross, but alive and with God the Father.

Then what?

You will be saved!

In other words, you will have the Jesus—you will have eternal life.

So why not do this:

  1. Repent and agree with God that you are a sinner.
  2. Confess Jesus Christ with your mouth as your Lord and Savior.
  3. Believe that He lives and that He was resurrected from the dead.

And you will be saved!

And here is the great offer!

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

—Romans 10:13

In other words, if Jesus Christ were here, He might say to you, “If you will ask Me, I will save you from your sins, and I will give you eternal life.”

Since Jesus Christ is God, He is here now!

How can I call on Him? How can I receive Him?

You can call on Him through prayer. You could talk to God like this:

O God, I come to You in Jesus’ name. I believe Your Word. I believe Jesus Christ lived and died for me, that He arose from the dead, that He is alive! And, Lord, I agree with You. I am a sinner; I am lost; I want to be saved. I call on you now with all my heart. Save me. For Jesus’ sake. Thank you, Lord, for saving me. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Now the greatest fact of all time for you is this:

  • You are a new creation of this wonderful Lord (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10)
  • You are a child of God (John 1:11-12; 3:3)
  • You can know you have eternal life (1 John 5:13)
  • You can come to Jesus Christ for forgiveness when you sin (1 John 1:9)
  • He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5b)

Read the Bible daily. Pray daily. Read the Gospel of John first.

If you have asked God to give you eternal life, then you understand the true meaning of Easter—”Resurrection Sunday!” If so, would you be willing to contact me either on this blog or at my email (kathrynwarmstrong@gmail.com) with any other comments so I can pray for you? God bless you!!