JESUS: BELIEVE ME, FOLLOW ME
Unless you’ve given yourself early in life to God and became a monk, we’ve all been blessed by parents who wanted a better life for us, so we haven’t really gone without.
Consumerism and being materialistic is who we are, not to mention being bombarded by media to keep the economy rolling by purchasing more and more. By our parents trying to do better for us, has drawn us into vicious circle in man’s covetous world.
What was that? Man’s world? Blinded by greedy lifestyle? Surrounded by immoral examples? Everyone can speak without accountability? Hollow leaders from all walks of life? And a label we do not want to become – an overexcited Christian hypocrite? Life can be pretty crazy. Too bad we don’t have a reset button for life. Remember the fairly high standards at the beginning?
Today’s world is amazingly fast and it is easy to make mistakes, especially with every form of advertisement and temptation in your face. Jesus is always near us and can hear us anytime: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30).
God will intervene for your benefit and His, you just need to ask. If you’ve never really let the Holy Trinity into your lives, you have never felt the awesome power of Yahweh! If you’re a football fan like I am, I’ve pictured the Holy Trinity with God as my lead blocker, Jesus to the right and the Holy Spirit to the left. Touchdown!
If you’ve touched base with Jesus, or are just getting reacquainted, Jesus will ask you “believe in me”. If you really believe in Christ with all your heart, He will turn your world upside down for the better. Jesus' invitation is not only good for today, it is good everyday and including eternal life!! How is that for a bumper to bumper warranty?
Only God can make an offer to stand with you for eternity. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Once you’ve believed in the Holy Trinity with your heart, Jesus will ask you “follow me.”
There are many references in the NT for people to “follow” Jesus, but nowhere is this summarized accurately then Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Whoa! Now there is a serious request. Talk about serious faith and humility. Does Jesus understand what is he asking?
Of course He does. Jesus realizes man can lose his focus quickly when earthly desires and self preservation guide our lives. Once you’ve committed to carry the cross every day, you cannot store up your treasures for a later date. From John 3:30 “He must increase and I must decrease”.
Our focal point must be on the Will of God and less on ourselves. With our every day Christians, this is difficult. As Templars, Ministers, Lay Servants and all church leaders, this is almost impossible. Our focus on Jesus will have a direct reflection on all the ministries we are involved with.
As church leaders, we will face many, many distractions that can make following Christ challenging. Satan is already on our heels trying to distract us; we cannot lose our concentration on Christ. Satan knows our weaknesses and will try and create new weaknesses.
Social media, porn, greed are just a few temptations. Satan is currently using politics as a chain around our necks. It is dividing our communities and is a serious distraction on clergy.
Remember Jesus, “Follow me”? Politics is a poison, let it go. Politics are being weaponized and hurting others, let it go. Politics are dividing our congregations and church, let it go. Ask yourself a question; would Jesus poison anyone, purposely hurt anyone or divide His church? Don’t even say yes to any of these questions. If you did, you’re not following Jesus.
Politics; let it go.
We’ve come a long way to be trusted the Holy Trinity. Baptism, Sunday school, confirmation/catechism, college and maybe seminary. Now we are leading His church, a focal point in our communities and Knights Templars. If Jesus asked you if you truly believe in Him, and follow Him, what would you say?
Reverend Tim Cluney
Staff Writer / The Lords Corner
Staff Writer / Domine
Our place in life
We all want to know our place in life. Some of us have traveled the world in search of what it is that God wants of us.
“Where should I go Lord?”
“What is it that you require of me?”
I have counseled many people over the years with just this sort of question. Many of them have been everyday church folks, some have been ministers and clergy. We must not forget that even our ministers have struggles much the same as we do. We often get starry-eyed when we see people doing remarkable things. We think of all the Biblical characters—prophets, apostles, martyrs, etc., and then we look at our own lives. Why don’t our lives look like their lives? Is there something wrong with me? Am I failing God because my name isn’t great and well known?
We often miss the answer to these questions because it is deceptively simple:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 ESV)
Our place in this life is not to have the most titles, or the most notoriety. It is to live a life of purity and righteousness before the Lord. Fathers, be the best fathers that you can be with God’s help. Mothers, be the best mothers that you can be with God’s help. Brothers, sisters, grandparents etc., whatever your lot in life, strive to live justly, being kind—loving God with your whole being.
Let us not become discouraged with the life that we have been given. We can please God wherever we may be, and truly know what He has for us to do while we live on this side of heaven.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matt 7:12 ESV)
Almighty God, bless us and lead us in the paths of righteousness. Let us remember, that whatever we do in life, as long as we walk in love and purity, loving You above all things, that you accept us, and that we are fulfilling Your plans for us in this world. Amen!
Fr. Daniel Beach
Staff Writer / The Lords Corner
Staff Writer / Domine
Asking the Right Question
For many years, I have counseled people about how they should serve the Lord or what they should do with their lives, marriages, jobs, etc. I know in my own life, it’s a really tough call trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.
So many times I get frustrated because I can’t quite figure out how to do something or what even to do to begin with. For countless months, I have struggled even reading my Bible – trying to figure out how to be more effective in my study, what to preach on, and how to be a better minister to both my church and my community.
Countless times in my life, I was forced to consider what I was doing and how I was doing it. I wasn’t trying to avoid being genuine in my answers, nor was I trying to be incredibly technical…I just didn’t know how else to answer these questions that confronted me.
I didn’t – and many times, I still don’t – know how to properly address the issues of life that I now had to face. Honestly, as a pastor, I haven’t the slightest idea how to help people answer their questions either. I couldn’t figure out what I was missing.
I once heard about a professor who stood silently before his advanced math students, looking into the eyes of each one. Being the first day of class, the students were a bit unnerved by this and the direct eye contact went on for about 5 minutes – but nobody dared to speak or leave, mostly out of pure curiosity. After staring at his students, he wrote this equation above:
Once the equation was written, the professor turned around and said, “Well?” For a few very brief moments, nobody spoke…then someone called out a potential solution to the problem. Then another student corrected them, and said, “No, here’s the answer!” Then another student, and then another, and yet another until the whole class was in an uproar over the solution.
Finally, one student said, “What’s the solution, professor?” The professor looked at the students, and then back to his writing on the board. While looking at the equation he said, “All of you have tried to issue solutions to this problem…but not one of you has told me what the problem actually is.” He then turned to his students, “Until you are willing to ask the right question, you will never arrive at the right conclusions – in this class, or in life.”
In Christianity, so many times we are trying to give all the answers to people searching for them. To some extent, that’s not a problem, as people really do need answers. The problem for many is that we are trying to give answers and solutions to the wrong questions. The question is not, “What am I doing?” or even, “How should I do this?” The real question is, “Why am I doing this?”
Once I can answer the question “why,” I am then able to put the how and the what into their proper places. Until I answer the question of, “Why am I doing this?” what and how are completely irrelevant. How people coach is irrelevant if they don’t know why they are coaching. The methods pastors use in their church would be completely irrelevant when they don’t understand why they are pastoring the church in the first place. Christians who are unwilling or unable to answer the question of “WHY” they serve are Christians who will never be able to figure out what they should do to serve and even less likely to figure out how they should serve.
Are you struggling in figuring out where to serve? Perhaps you should ask why you would even serve to start with. Are you weary because your service to Christ doesn’t quite seem to be working out the way you’d hoped it would? Perhaps you would be better served in asking why you serve in the way you’ve chosen.
Everyone knows the song, “Amazing Grace.” Everyone has sung it at least once in his or her life, and probably heard it a hundred times at least. Few of those who have sung the song know its history – or the history of the man who wrote it.
John Newton was a slave trader, a good one at that. He was very well known in the industry as being effective in his sales and heartless in his delivery. He was NOT a Christian, and according to his own words, he had no desire to consider Christ. It was not until he became a slave himself that he realized his need of a Saviour – in both the physical sense and the spiritual sense. By his own admission, however, it was not until “several years later” that he truly became a follower of Christ.
Several years later, after a plethora of events that forever changed his life and mind, he completely left the slave trade, calling it “a business at which my heart now shudders.” (Newton, John. Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade. London, 1788. p. 2). Mr. Newton wrote the words to “Amazing Grace,” not knowing how to write this song of confession or what would become of it if he did; he knew only why he had to write it.
The how and the why of writing this hymn, by their very nature, fell directly into place once he understood the importance of why he was writing it to start with. He once told the famed William Wilberforce, “I know only these two things: that I am a great sinner, but Christ is a greater Saviour.”
I wonder: Knowing just this little bit of Mr. Newton’s sins, and knowing the extent of your own guilt in the eyes of a holy God, would it change the way you sing “Amazing Grace” if you were to focus on WHY you repeat those famous words? Knowing the truly amazing grace of Christ, and having experienced it for yourself, would asking “Why is God’s grace so amazing?” change the way you think about the song and sing it? I would reckon, if we would be honest, not only would the way we sing that song change, but also the way we live in that amazing grace would change.
Staff Writer / The Lord's Corner
Staff Writer / Domine
Conquering the Fear of Death
There are two sure things in life. I would say that there is actually one surer thing in life that is far more powerful than death or the IRS but we will discover that in a bit.
Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to
the fear of dying.
First, I want us to understand that death is something we all experience. It comes in a myriad of ways; natural, accident, illness.
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 9:27 that every man has an appointment with death and then the judgment.
Every one of us will die and we will stand before almighty God and give an account of what we have done with the lives he provided to us. And when we get to that point, there is only one thing that matters. Did you accept the payment for your sin?
Since every one of us will die, I submit to you that none of us can fully be prepared to live until we have settled the issue of our death. Until we have talked about and prepared for our passing from this life, we are living in a state of denial.
Third century church leader, Tertullian said, “It is a poor thing to fear that which is inevitable.”
Why is it, for so many in our culture, we fear death? For Christians, we are the ones who have the most to gain at our passing. Perhaps it is not death itself that we fear but we fear the way we will die.
Jesus took on the same flesh that we have. He came down to us so that he could bring us up to him. And he sets us free by the death he experienced. We no longer have to live in fear of death. Or as scripture says, “Slaves to the fear of dying.”
Understand that Jesus suffered death as well. But he does not want you to fear death.
Second, we have a blessed hope in death. It is not something to be feared, it is not the end, it is only the beginning!
Death is not extinguishing the light from the Christian; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.
Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – One of my favorite passages in all of scripture.
13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves.
17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.
18 So encourage each other with these words.
I love that. As Christians, WE have hope! Not hope as an unsure thing. Hope as in a reason for living!
When my mom died of brain cancer, this hope is how I could sing, “Oh victory, in Jesus, my savior, forever. He sought me and bought me with his redeeming blood. He loved me ere I knew him, and all my love is do him. He plunged me, to victory, beneath the cleansing flood.”
I cried the whole way through that song. Not because I didn’t believe my mother had victory in Christ but because I mourned the loss of her on this earth.
One of the things I tell Christian who are struggling with death….. “We focus so much on living that we think that death is all there is. But you have NEVER been more alive than you are the moment you see your savior face to face. When you see him, you have literally passed from death into life! Not life into death.
There is a third thing we will look at today. Remember this sign? There are 2 sure things in life – death and taxes. Well there are many more sure things, but the most sure thing that I can possibly tell you about today is this.
God loves you!
You may say, Richard I have been in church for years, I know that God loves me. Do you?
We talk about heaven like it is a glorious reunion with our loved ones and it absolutely is. We will get to see all of those that died in Christ. And from our earthly perspective that sounds wonderful.
But remember I said earlier that we are never more alive than when we see Jesus face to face?
All of the fear you have ever had in your life. All of the struggle. All of the sin, all of the pain. All of the regret. All of the guilt. All of the sadness, all of everything in your life that is undesirable completely melt away in that instance that you see Jesus face to face. That is, if you know Him. No words can express how much he truly loves you.
I heard it said that There is nothing you can to do make God love you more! There is nothing you can do to make God love you less! His love is Unconditional, Impartial, Everlasting, Infinite, Perfect! Amen?
There are so many scriptures and books and illustrations I could site about God’s love, but as I thought about it, this is what came to me.
He loved you enough to have a plan for you before the foundation of the world and He created you. He knows you by name and is “mindful” of you. He knows the number of hairs on your head – before your shower and after. He knows your innermost thoughts and fears, habits and hang-ups and despite it all loves you.
He loves you enough to leave his home in heaven to walk along this earth in our flesh, to experience the sorrows and to suffer the pain. He loves you enough to suffer an agonizing death. He loves you enough to raise from the dead. He loves you enough to prepare a place in heaven for you so that where he is you can be forever. He loves you enough to forgive your wrongs if you surrender your life to him. He loves you enough and more than enough and more than anyone ever could.
Oh my friend, we conquer the fear of death by knowing and understanding the one who gives us life. He made us and sustains us. He longs to be reunited with us.
Reverend Richard DeFord
Staff Writer / The Lord's Corner
Staff Writer / Domine