Know Your Bible

VOL. 14                                                                                                                         June 19, 2016                                                                                                                            NO. 14



One of the disadvantages of a complex, fast-paced society like ours is that we get entangled in so many different concerns that there's little time or inclination to be deeply involved in any of them. We don't delve deeply; we dabble. But dabblers accomplish very little. Dwight Moody said, "Give me a person who says This one thing I do, and not These fifty things I dabble in." Trying to do too much often keeps us from doing our best at anything. And to make matters worse, the very spirit of our age militates against the making of serious commitments. Modern people are wary of getting into anything they can't easily get out of. We like to keep our options open. So we have two distinct tendencies that, when coupled together, make for a dangerous situation: we are frantically "busy," but at the same time we don't want to get "involved." We suffer at once from a surplus of activity and a shortage of commitment. Our hectic fiddling with this, that, and the other puts us right there next to the fellow who described himself as being "deeply superficial."

It is little wonder that we "get" so little "out of" what we do. We have forgotten the wise advice of our grandparents who told us, "You get out of things what you put into them." They were telling us some-thing that holds true for all of life’s endeavors: commitment and joy are partners. When we stand at a distance from the work and the relationships that ought to be dear to us, we forfeit the fulfillment that is available to us. But when we dig in, get truly involved, and risk the vulnerability of being genuinely committed, we find that life is a storehouse of satisfaction.

Consider three examples. First, our marriages. If, like so many in our day, we eschew any real commitment and treat our marriages as "open," disposable relationships, we ought not to be surprised that they provide little in the way of deep gratification. Do we spend little time nurturing our marriages? If so, they will simply not grow into rich and rewarding relationships. Marriage will never fulfill the expectations of those who only dabble with it.

Second, our involvement in the local congregation. Do we attend only the services that are convenient, and participate only in the work that suits us? Do we criticize what "they" are doing? If so, there will not be any real sense of joy that comes from our membership in the local church. We'll receive little benefit from what God meant to be a rewarding relationship if we refuse to make a commitment to it.

Third, and most important, our devotion to the Lord Himself. Do we pray irregularly, study the Scriptures haphazardly, and reduce religion to grist for purely intellectual debate? Do we limit ourselves to routine, formal expressions of worship and praise? Do we fail to "love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart, with all [our] soul, and with all [our] mind" (Mt. 22:37)? If so, we will surely find spirituality to be the least interesting facet of our lives. But if, on the other hand, we have the courage to pursue God with a risk-it-all commitment, we will discover that "the joy of the Lord is [our] strength" (Neh. 8:10). God says, "You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13).

It is, of course, "dangerous" to care deeply about important matters. When we put our heart into something, we put ourselves in position to be inconvenienced, disappointed, frustrated, and possibly even hurt. But if we take the easy way out and avoid serious commitments in life, we doom ourselves to an impoverished existence. Sooner or later, the person who sows sparingly will find that he also reaps sparingly.

So, my friend, care and care deeply about God. Without delay, do two things: commit yourself passionately to the worship of God, and involve yourself tirelessly in the work of God. It will cost you dearly. In fact, it will cost you everything you ever thought was "yours." But you will be the richer for risking this great investment. Joy will be the reward for your commitment. Having risked all else for the joy of God, you'll be able to say with Paul, "For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (2 Tim. 1:12). 

—Gary Henry

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Eu-phe-mism - the use of a word or phrase that is less expressive or direct but considered less distasteful, less offensive, etc., than another. (Webster's New World College Dictionary)

Is there anything black and white anymore? Is something ever always right and never wrong or something clearly wrong and never right? As we struggle with this as a society, at the heart of the problem lies terminology. Sin is not sin anymore--it is an oversight, an understandable misstep, an expression of humanity ("I'm only human you know!"). While the world marches on in even more graphic (even pornographic) public portrayal and advocacy of sin, Christians are denied the right to label it as sin.

Ever wonder what the works of the flesh of Galatians 5:19-21 would look like if written by someone schooled only by our modern culture? Do you recognize some of the following?

Adultery - fooling around, sleeping around, fling, affair, serial monogamy, open marriage.

Fornication - sexually active, significant other, fooling around, making love, partners in parenting (surrogacy), different sexual preference, different sexual orientation, alternative lifestyle.

Uncleanness (impurity) - man of the world, experienced, going for the gusto.

Lasciviousness (sensuality) - sexy, freedom of expression, artistic expression, stylish, hot.

Idolatry - everyone must find their own way to God, don't judge other religions, new age.

Witchcraft (sorcery) - new age, experimenting in the occult, channeling, psychic, astrology.

Hatred (enmities) - hard feelings, dislike, bias, discrimination, reverse discrimination. 

Variance (strife) - having it my way, disagreement, not seeing eye-to-eye.

Emulations (jealousy) - my needs, spread the wealth, I want a piece of the action.

Wrath (outbursts of anger) - road rage, lose your cool, blowing off steam, expressing frustration over injustices of society.

Strife (disputes) and Seditions (dissensions) - personality clash, just don't get along.

Heresies (factions) - open minded, different perspective, religiously open, innovative idea, free thinking.

Envyings - keeping up with the Jones's, economically successful, upwardly mobile.

Murder - pro choice, terminating a pregnancy, selective reduction, mercy killing, right to die.

Drunkenness - high, feeling good, escaping reality, relaxing, unwinding, had a little too much, victim of society, victim of inherited tendencies, a disease.

Revelries (carousing) - partying, dances.

Such like (and things like these) - what is politically correct.

I am not saying that the above euphemisms always have a fleshly connotation, but they are probably used this way more than you think. Tune your ears to them and you will be surprised how often you hear them on TV, at work, at school, etc. (you should be surprised how often you don't notice them).

Isaiah the prophet warned, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter" (Isa. 5:20). Do even we get sucked in by less offensive words so that evil doesn't seem quite so evil anymore? When we hear about these things, do we think, "That's sin"? When we actually see them in any form do we say, "That's wrong"?

I saw a bumper sticker that said, "If you aren't outraged, you don't know what's going on!" Where is the outrage over sin today? How can we "abhor what is evil" (Rom. 12:9) if we soften and excuse it by the very terms we use to describe it? To be God’s people we must talk like God, not like the world.               

—David Diestelkamp

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