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Top 10 Reasons We Know God Loves Us To Be AND Not to Be 104 New Testament Commandments 7 Actually Useful Apps
Managing Dual Citizenship
Kingdom and Nation
A publication of On My Own Now Ministries, Inc.
GENUINE MOTIVATION Young Christian Man Feb 2012, Vol. 3 On My Own Now Ministries, Inc., Publisher Rob Beames, Editor Donna Lee Schillinger with Daniela Bermudez, Page Design Kimberly M. Schluterman Editorial Support Contributors Jeffrey Bridgman, Will Dole, Randy Kosloski , Thomas Mollohan, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. Except where noted, content is copyright 2012 On My Own Now Ministries. Articles may be reprinted with credit to author, Genuine Motivation and www.OnMyOwnNow.com. On My Own Now Ministries, Inc. is a nonprofit organization with a 501 (c) (3) determination. Your donations aid in our mission to encourage faith, wise life choices and Christ-likeness in young adults during their transition to living on their own. We welcome submissions of original or repurposed articles that are contributed without expectation of compensation. May God repay you. Visit us at www.OnMyOwnNow.com.
in this issue...
To Be AND Not to Be 104 New Testament Commands
.3 .6 .8 .10 .14 .18
Death: It’s Just Not Natural
Can you relate
A Good Set of Lenses
Managing Dual Citizenship: Kingdom and Nation
an eleCtion year
naThaniel P. scoTT
Top 10 Reasons You Know God Loves You
Actually Useful Apps
To Be AND Not To Be -- No Question about It
104 New Testament Commands
74 Be’s 1. Be exceeding glad (Matthew 5:12) 2. Be reconciled to a brother (Matthew 5:24) 3. Be perfect (Matthew 5:48; 2 Cor. 13:11) 4. Be wise as serpents (Matthew 10:16) 5. Be harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16) 6. Be ready for Christ’s coming (Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40) 7. Be content with your wages (Luke 3:14) 8. Be merciful as God (Luke 6:36)
f you thought the Ten Commandments were a handful, you better brace yourself for the commands of the New Testament (KJV) - over 1,500 in all! Oh, but don’t worry, when combined for repetition, there are only 800 (gulp). Find the entire list here, published online by Puritan Books, a collection of scanned, downloadable books and essays of hundreds of classic Christian writers and theologians – an awesome resource for serious seekers. Now, BE a sport and read them all.
"Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. ... Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching." John 14:21, 23
9. Be like faithful servants (Luke 12:36) 10. Be thankful (Col. 3:15) 11. Be at peace among selves (1 Thes. 5:13) 12. Be patient toward all people (1 Thes. 5:14; 2 Tim. 2:24) 13. Be no partaker of sin (1 Tim. 5:22) 14. Be sober and hope (1 Peter 1:13) 15. Be sober and pray (1 Peter 4:7) 16. Be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, charity and patience (aged men, Titus 2:2) 17. Be sober, love husbands and children (young women, Titus 2:4) 18. Be sober minded (young men, Titus 2:6) 19. Be in behavior as becoming to saints (aged women, Titus 2:3) 20. Be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient (young women, Titus 2:5) 21. Be ready to give an answer of the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15) 22. Be of good cheer (John 16:33) 23. Be baptized (Acts 2:38) 24. Be converted (Acts 3:19) 25. Be transformed (Romans 12:2) 26. Be kind of brotherly love one to another (Romans 12:10; Ephes. 4:32) 27. Be fervent in spirit (Romans 12:11) 28. Be patient in tribulation (Romans 12:12) 29. Be given to hospitality (Romans 12:13) 30. Be afraid, if lawless (Romans 13:4) 31. Be no idolater (1 Cor. 10:7) 32. Be followers of Paul as he followed Christ (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17) 33. Be followers of God (Ephes. 5:1) 34. Be followers of the faithful and patient (Hebrews 6:12) 35. Be children in malice (1 Cor. 14:20) 36. Be men in understanding (1 Cor. 14:20) 37. Be steadfast (1 Cor. 15:58) 38. Be unmovable (1 Cor. 15:58) 39. Be always abounding in God’s work (1 Cor. 15:58) 40. Be strong in the Lord (1 Cor. 16:13; Ephes. 6:10; 2 Tim. 2:1) 41. Be of good comfort (2 Cor. 13:11) 42. Be of one mind (Romans 12:16; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 2:2; 1 Peter 3:8) 43. Be separate from the unclean (2 Cor. 6:17) 44. Be renewed in spirit (Ephes. 4:23) 45. Be angry and sin not (Ephes. 4:26) 46. Be tenderhearted one to another (Ephes. 4:32) 47. Be filled with the Spirit (Ephes. 5:18) 48. Be likeminded (Phil. 2:2) 49. Be of one accord (Phil. 2:2) 50. Be anxious for nothing (Phil. 4:6)
51. Be an example to believers in word, conversation, charity, spirit, faith and purity (1 Tim. 4:12) 52. Be a partaker of Christian sufferings (2 Tim. 1:8; cp. 1 Peter 4:1) 53. Be gentle to all people (2 Tim. 2:24) 54. Be apt to teach (2 Tim. 2:24) 55. Be instant in season, out of season (2 Tim. 4:2) 56. Be careful to maintain good works (Titus 3:8,14; cp. Matthew 5:16) 57. Be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5) 58. Be doers of the Word (James 1:22) 59. Be afflicted and mourn (James 4:9) 60. Be patient till Christ comes (James 5:7-8) 61. Be holy in conversation (behavior) (1 Peter 1:1516) 62. Be pitiful (1 Peter 3:8) 63. Be courteous (1 Peter 3:8) 64. Be examples of the flock of God, not lord over it (1 Peter 5:3) 65. Be subject one to another (1 Peter 5:5) 66. Be clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5) 67. Be sober (1 Peter 5:8) 68. Be vigilant (1 Peter 5:8) 69. Be mindful of prophecies and commandments (2 Peter 3:2) 70. Be diligent to be found in peace (2 Peter 3:14) 71. Be diligent to be without spot, and blameless (2 Peter 3:14) 72. Be faithful to death (Rev. 2:10) 73. Be watchful, strengthen self (Rev. 3:2) 74. Be zealous and repent (Rev. 3:19) 30 Be Not’s 1. Be not like the hypocrites in prayer (Matthew 6:5) 2. Be not like the heathen in prayer (Matthew 6:8) 3. Be not as hypocrites in fasting (Matthew 6:16) 4. Be not called “Rabbi” (Matthew 23:8) 5. Be not called “Master” (Matthew 23:9) 6. Be not afraid of man (Luke 12:4) 7. Be not of doubtful mind (Luke 12:29) 8. Be not many teachers (James 3:1) 9. Be not afraid of terror (1 Peter 3:14) 10. Be not troubled (1 Peter 3:14) 11. Be not ignorant of time with God (2 Peter 3:8; cp.
Isaiah 57:15) 12. Be not deceived: 10 classes not to inherit the kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9-10) 13. Be not conformed to world (Romans 12:2) 14. Be not slothful in business (Romans 12:11) 15. Be not conceited (Romans 12:16) 16. Be not overcome of evil (Romans 12:21) 17. Be not mere servants of men (1 Cor. 7:23) 18. Be not children in understanding (1 Cor. 14:20) 19. Be not deceived by evil companions (1 Cor. 15:33) 20. Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14-15) 21. Be not entangled again with keeping the law (Galatians 5:1) 22. Be not deceived: man will reap what he sows (Galatians 6:7-8) 23. Be not partakers with sinners (Ephes. 5:7) 24. Be not unwise about God’s will (Ephes. 5:17) 25. Be not drunk with wine (Ephes. 5:18) 26. Be not weary in well doing (2 Thes. 3:13) 27. Be not ashamed of God (2 Tim. 1:8) 28. Be not slothful (Hebrews 6:12) 29. Be not forgetful of strangers (Hebrews 13:2) 30. Be not carried about with different strange doctrines (Hebrews 13:9)
"In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome..." I John 5:3
It’s just not natural
It wouldn’t be entirely unfair to group the majority of the human race into two categories. There are those who seem to accept death as a natural process and roll with it. Then there are those who apparently find it strange, scary and altogether unnatural. Actually, neither of these views of death is biblical. Consider what King Solomon said on the matter: It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4) Solomon explains that it is more profitable for our souls to be at funerals than weddings and happy feasts because at funerals we are faced with the reality that one day it will be our funeral. One day, we too will vanish from this earth, and this fact forces us to deal with God. We all should discard our foolish pursuit of earthly pleasure and deal more directly with God, our Creator. Let’s look closer at the first general approach to death: those who accept that death is normal. (I can easily relate to this group because I’ve spent a good bit of time living with this assumption myself.) Since we know that death comes to all men, why then would we not see it as normal? Why does it disturb us when someone dies? Why are we wrought with remorse over the death of those close to us? Why does the death of those still in their youth sting us so deeply, even if we did not know them at all? Since we know that everyone dies eventually, why can’t we just accept it and move on with life? It’s because death is not natural. As much as it pacifies us to think so, we know it is not. Genesis 3 explains that sin came into the world because of sin. We know from Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death.” We also know that we are all going to pay this costly price. “Therefore, just as sin entered the
his article may make you think I’m a morbid character; after all, death is not a popular topic. On the one hand, we glory and revel in it as long as it is confined to our video games, TV shows and movies. We embrace the idea in our entertainment because we know it is unavoidable; and our entertainment mediums give us a false sense of control over it. Yet, this same reality is something from which we are constantly running. We don’t want to have real conversations about it, nor do we want to delve into the reason it exists, how it affects us or what happens afterwards. In fact, there is no end to the number of ways we try to extend our lives, make our later years more painless or eliminate the appearance of age. Most of us want nothing to do with the reality that one day our life here on earth will be over. Even those daring enough to entertain the notion of death from time to time will only halfheartedly ponder the fact that it is truly imminent for everyone. This is in bold contrast with how Scripture handles life and death. The Psalmist says, “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath” (Psalm 39:5). The majority of us are not very familiar with measurements used in biblical times, so an explanation of a handbreadth is in order. It literally means the breadth, or width, of your hand. This would be roughly three inches on average. That is what the psalmist says our life is like. And he’s right. It is a short, passing vapor. James 4:14 puts it this way, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Obviously, these two verses are not exhaustive of the biblical teaching on life and death, but they are good examples of a consistent biblical theme: life is short. For all of us death is near, perhaps nearer than we like to think. Even for those of us blessed with a full earthly life, our lives are but a vapor in the larger picture of eternity.
world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). We have all sinned, and therefore, we all die. But wait—if we die as a result of sin, does that not mean that without sin we would not die? That is it exactly! God did not create us for death. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). God is the God of life. He is the only life-giver and is the Creator of all life. Jesus is not like the devil that is described as the thief. Jesus gives full life. The thief takes it away. While it is true that death comes to us all because we all sin and rebel against God, it is not the desire that God has for us. God cannot tolerate this rebellious affront to His holy nature and must justly punish it. We are therefore subject to death and eternal damnation. God didn’t create us for this purpose but we have, in a sense, volunteered for it or asked for it. Death is not natural. It is the consequence of rebellion against a righteous God. There is nothing more unnatural than death. However, God has dealt with this rebellion, which leads us to the way the second group of people view death. There are those whom the subject of death seems to absolutely petrify. They avoid all talk on the subject and simply would rather think about happy things. We discussed how Solomon, in his wisdom, said this is a flawed response to death. We know everything dies, yet we have determined that it is not natural. The pain and separation it causes are the result of our fallen state. How does it help to understand this? It should produce within us a true fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10). It is good to know our place in this universe. We are a rebellious people deserving of eternal punishment. Physical death is how we would transition from this temporary life into an eternal death apart from the grace of God. But those last six words are vital! God did not simply say, “To hell with you all!” Instead, while we were still His enemies, He sent His Son to earth to die for us (Romans 5:8). We deserve unending punishment for our rebellion, and yet, God has laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). My sin deserves a death that never ends. But Jesus absorbed all of that. He died in my place for my sins. To believe that, repent of my sins and follow Jesus is to receive eternal life (John 3:16, 36). Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, I can die to my sins rather than for my sins (1 Peter 2:24). He has made me a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20), allowing me to echo with Paul that “to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Instead of fearing the grave, I can know that the ultimate pain of eternal separation from God is removed
and the sin that broke my relationship with God is covered (1 Corinthians 15:57). So where does this leave us? It leaves the one who does not believe in Jesus in a very bad place. Death for them brings even a worse death. It brings a death which is forever and is without relief (Luke 16:19-31). Those who reject the claims of Christ are under condemnation (John 3:18). Their sin separates them from God and because of it, they stand condemned already. They do not have the relationship with God for which they were created. Yet, the words of Jesus are simple to understand. If we repent or agree with God about our sin (Mark 1:15), and quit making excuses trying to justify our wicked rebellion, we can be free. If we agree with God that we are sinners and place our trust in Jesus Christ, we will find salvation. Those who believe Him are given the right to be called the children of God (John 1:12). Jesus died for our rebellion, in order to reconcile us to God (Romans 5:10). We must believe this or we stand condemned for eternity because of our rejection of Him (Hebrews 10:26-27). Happily, Christians can embrace death as the time we will meet our Savior face-to-face. It truly is the gain of which Paul speaks. For us death means the cares of this life are no more, and we are in the presence of our Savior. But this does not mean we ignore the very real pain that exists in and around death. The death of our physical body is a reminder that while our souls have been redeemed, our bodies are still perishing, and creation is still groaning waiting for its redemption (Romans 8). We must face the reality that many we love and cherish are perishing without the hope of the eternity with Christ which we have. These things are real. They are still real even with Jesus as our Savior. To ignore them is to ignore the urgency of Jesus’ message of repentance. We must preach Christ to a dying world, because without Him there is no reconciliation to God. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. There will be none with the Father who did not come through Jesus (John 14:6). Here are a few questions we all must answer. Where is your citizenship? Are you living as a slave to sin or a bondservant of Jesus Christ? Sure you ready to die? Have you valued Jesus above all else, taken up your cross and followed Him? How have you viewed this world around you? Do you see a world full of inconveniences for you which make you just want to die so you can be rid of the hassles? Or, do you see a lost world desperately in need of the Gospel? John Piper used some powerful words for the title of his book, “Don’t Waste Your Life.” Someday we will all die, and we are guaranteed no second chances.
Can you relate
A good set of Lenses
ne of the things that fascinated my children when they were much younger was my eyeglasses. They would grab my metal frames, sometimes nearly taking off one of my ears with them, and then put them onto their own faces to try them on for size. “What’s the deal with these, Dad?” they seemed to be asking. They would clumsily slide them onto their faces, poking themselves in the eye as often as not., While trying to fit the earpieces over their ears, they wound up getting them tangled in their hair. Then, when they finally succeeded (with a little help from their father), they would take a look at the world around them through my lenses. Because my eyeglasses were prescription lenses designed for my particular eye problem—nearsightedness with astigmatism—they naturally could not see very well through my glasses. Yet, they thought it was fun to look at the odd things they could see with them. The lenses would bend the light rays passing through in such a way that, to my children’s eyes, the people and things around them were distorted into strange and bewildering shapes. Of course, it only took a little while of looking through my glasses to make them laugh. I imagine that if they had continued to look through them for too long, however, their giddiness would turn into nausea and leave them feeling like they had gone a few times too many on an amusement park ride. I am glad to say that we never came to that unhappy conclusion, at least not with my glasses. I find that a lot of people are a lot like my kids were with my lenses. Not that people are lining up to try on my glasses (that would be awkward), but folks like to try on different
perspectives. In some ways that’s not a bad thing. It’s great to try to look at things from the point of view of another person, in order that we might appreciate their unique insights, or obtain an understanding of them that cultivates compassion within us. On the other hand, it can be a dreadful thing for us to take upon ourselves a perspective which entices us to live a life which isn’t prescribed for us by the One who created us! Before a person comes to Christ, he or she has such an acute spiritual nearsightedness that they are effectively rendered blind. Such a person cannot genuinely see life, neither the temporal world of the here and now, nor the eternal one that awaits him after this physical life is over. But when a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, blindness begins to melt away and a new set of glasses are prescribed for that child of God! In other words, as Christians, we are given true sight, which is a perspective that is not bound to the mere circumstantial evidence of what our physical eyes perceive, nor the erroneous conclusions our mortal minds reach. We are permitted through His Word to see reality as it truly is, which is neither a selfgratifying denial of the evils of the world, nor the gloom and despair of hopelessness. With this new set of glasses, we can see through the eyes of faith the hand of God moving in and through our lives! Spiritually speaking, as we permit the Holy Spirit of God to open our minds, our eyesight gets better and better, as we become more and more accustomed to using the prescription lenses of the Bible. How strange then, if we try to slip them off and replace them with the old glasses we once wore, or those that someone else wears who hasn’t yet been healed of their spiritual blindness! An occasion which finds us trying out or trusting a perspective that is alien to the promises of God may give us a momentary feeling of giddiness but ultimately will make us spiritually sick! What about you? What glasses are on your
face right now? By whose perspective are you living life? Is it a perspective being influenced by the common assumptions of society? Is it a philosophy that is built upon human wisdom? Does it puff up your ego? Does it deny your God-given worth? Is it something others share but which stands in stark contrast to the Word of God? Is it something you’ve put together from your limited experiences which you’ve decided just feels right? Be careful! Wearing the wrong lenses can damage your vision. The lenses through which you view life will dramatically affect the way you spend your life! Not only does your eternal life depend on it, but also the fruitfulness of your life that may lead others to a future forever with God. Get into God’s Word! Prayerfully turn your heart and mind over to His inspiration as He speaks to you through the Bible! Let Him make changing your mind an ongoing process—not that you flip back and forth from one conclusion to another—but that you allow Him to lead you further into His life-changing truth. By doing so, even those things you think you know will become new as He applies His principles into new areas of your mind, heart and actions! “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).
Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 16 years and is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables. He is the pastor of Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at email@example.com.
an eleCtion year
Managing Dual Citizenship: Kingdom and Nation
naThaniel P. scoTT
y Bible tells me my citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). My birth certificate makes me a citizen of the United States of America. How can we bring harmony to this “dual citizenship”? Simple: we must honor God in our responsibilities to our earthly government. But that is not so simple… this issue has been a point of contention for many Christians in many eras. I believe that errant ideas, teachings and movements on this subject have been a major stumbling block for “evangelical Christianity” in the last several generations, have led to much hypocrisy, and hindered our ability to demonstrate the gospel of Christ. I suggest we reconsider our goals in our participation in government in light of our responsibilities before God as taught in the New Testament, primarily in the following two passages.
Romans 13:1-7: Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render
to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. The teaching in these two passages can be summarized by two commands: • Be in subjection to authorities • Pray for authorities These commands are motivated by four goals: • Avoid wrath • Keep a clear conscience • Lead a tranquil and quiet life • Live in godliness and dignity Note first of all that there is no command in either of these passages for the Christian to vote or even to participate in his government. This is doubtlessly because when these passages were written, governments were rarely set up to encourage participation (as has been the case in many times and places throughout history and across the world). However, in a number of countries today, Christians have the special privilege of being involved in the authority structures, the governments of their countries. This involvement is not a Christian duty, but is an opportunity that many Christians eagerly volunteer for when they register to vote, when they support a campaign or when they protest the actions of their governments. Do you participate in your earthly government in these or in other ways? If so, what are your goals? Think very carefully here: are the goals that you set for this extra-biblical arena consistent with the responsibilities God has given you? Unfortunately, history generally shows that when Christians ascend to power in the government, our God-given goals fall by the
wayside. Our often unconscious attempts to bring heaven on earth result in the following anti-biblical goals: • Bring wrath on those who do not conform to our conscience • Lead a power-driven and meddlesome life • Force others artificially into our religion and moral structures Our motives are often pure: we despise sin as God does, we want to protect the innocence of our children, and we grieve when we see others reaping the consequences of their sinful behavior. And we are especially concerned at the aggressive ways in which the legal systems are manipulated and ungodly behaviors are pushed into our governments, our societies, our neighborhoods and our homes. So we borrow the tactics of those we oppose. We manipulate the legal systems. The entire premise of the Moral Majority of the ‘80s and its unofficial continuation into the present is a reaction to the secular activism that has waged an all-out war on any Christian foundation of our culture. Unfortunately, this Christian movement has oft forgotten that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Having God’s truth, as one author put it recently, “we put secular powers in charge of spiritual wars.” The “culture war” will not be won by threatening imprisonment to everyone who disagrees with us. It will not be won by banning the desires of sinful hearts. It will not be won by making Christianity the unofficial religion of our country. We often try to justify these tactics by the argument that we are not making up our own rules for people’s lives, but enforcing God’s absolute definitions of right and wrong. I would agree that God’s definitions of right and wrong are absolute, but definitions don’t change men’s hearts. Not even God’s Laws change men’s hearts. God’s Spirit changes hearts.
an eleCtion year
The epistle to the Romans makes it clear that keeping laws, even God’s Laws, cannot save us. The more laws we have, the more our rebellious hearts will break them. But “what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin…” (Romans 8:3-4). For this fundamental reason, there is absolutely not the slightest precedent in the scripture for a “Christian government.” Many point to the Old Testament Law and the strict standards of morality that were enforced. But if you read the history in the Old Testament you find these strict standards did very little to ensure godliness in the nation of Israel. Even with God’s holy laws, they quickly slipped into forms of idolatry, wickedness, and immorality that make our sinful society look tame. If God’s Laws did nothing to change sinful hearts and “save the culture,” why do we think that our laws will do any better? Our culture can only be saved through the propitiatory work of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men. This is the age-old conflict between Law and Grace, and the actions of many Christians involved in politics fall on the wrong side of the argument. This is a dangerous mistake to make for a number of reasons: 1. History shows us that when Christians attempt to change or save their culture through the strong arm of the law, that eventually other
Christians become victims of this powergrabbing meddling. Those godly believers who don’t fit in with this utopian culture defined by their “Christian” rulers have been burnt at the stake, imprisoned for preaching without a license, forced to flee their homelands and experienced countless other governmentimposed tragedies. Galatians 5:13-15 warns, “If you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.” If we set the stage for forcing our views on other people, it is only a matter of time before someone will be forcing their views on us, and often in the name of “Christianity.” 2. No human deserves this kind of power. Even if you can find a man that can be trusted with authority over other men’s consciences and lives, you are only paving the way for another man to take his place—one who cannot be trusted. “Christian” dictators will be followed by godless tyrants. 3. Using the law to enforce the dictates of our consciences on others puts us in grave danger of violating the Golden Rule (Luke 6:27-36). Through most of the world and most of church history, Christians have been the minority in their societies. This is again becoming the case, even in countries once dominated by “Christians.” The way we choose to treat the Muslims and the secularists who intimidate us by their attempts to subjugate us to their worldviews may soon be the way they treat us. If we wage legislative warfare against them, we make them hungry for our power so that they can turn the tables on us. If you
panic and pursue a blatantly unbiblical “final solution,” killing everyone who may be a threat, then you had better not leave even one dissident alive… or else. The proper application of the Golden Rule is to defend equal liberty under the law for all, even for those with whom you disagree. Perhaps one day they will return the favor and defend your liberty. So if these mistaken tactics are inconsistent with the gospel of grace in Christ Jesus, then what should our participation look like to further our Godgiven goals? Once again, the principles are simple: Avoid Wrath: We should labor to prevent the government from prohibiting things that are necessary for our obedience to God. Keep a Clear Conscience: We should labor to prevent the government from mandating things that would force us to violate our consciences. Achieving the above will help us to avoid a “we must obey God rather than men” scenario (Acts 5:29). Lead a Tranquil and Quiet Life: We should labor to promote justice for all, thereby protecting ourselves and others from all who would do evil against us. Live in Godliness and Dignity: We should labor for the freedom and simplicity to live out our faith without accusations of false or selfserving motives. We cannot show up on someone’s doorstep with the gospel of God’s forgiveness of sins, and threaten to show up the next day with the cops. It is true our society is in bad shape. It is
true that laws have been enacted and are being enacted that are damaging to the cause of Christ. We want to see people changed, to see society become more godly. The solution is not more laws, but rather a revival that can only come through the Holy Spirit’s work. I don’t believe in a values-neutral society, but let us not confuse government with society. Neither let us confuse our civil government with the Kingdom of God. Jesus didn’t come to save our culture, our society. He “came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15). The best laws in the world can’t do what Jesus has done, and is doing. So keep them out of the way, relegate the government to the basics of justice: defending the life, liberty and property of its citizens. Then “go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15).
Nathaniel Scott is looking for a heavenly country while currently residing in Tulsa, Okla., where he works as an electrical engineer. As a husband of less than 5 years, a father of less than 3 boys, and a writer who only exercises his craft during alignments of the planets Time and Motivation, he is decidedly an expert on nothing. He wishes he could better reconcile his youthful idealism with the harsh realities of boring adult life, but is supremely delighted when he sees believers living in the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
Top 10 Reasons You Know God Loves You
t’s probably a bit presumptuous for any of us to say, “I know God loves me.” That’s because we typically tend to consider love as something earned or given only to those worthy of it. Thankfully, God doesn’t love this way. He has shown His love to us in many ways because He wants us to know His love and not to doubt. There are many reasons we can trust that God’s love for us is true, even if sometimes we don’t feel like it. Here are the top 10 reasons you can know that God loves you.
#10: God doesn’t hate you.
It’s often difficult for us to think God completely loves us without hesitation because we know we’ve done some awful things and that we’ll probably do some more bad things before long. We know we have wicked thoughts at times and we realize even our apparent good deeds are often linked to selfish motivations. How do we believe God loves us when we know what we are often like? Well, the trick doesn’t lie with our behavior. The answer is found in understanding the character of God. Fortunately for us, He is either for us or against us. Either He shows favor or He doesn’t. He hates or He loves. There is no grey, convoluted mass of uncertainty with God. As Paul explains, His intentions are perfect, “Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I
loved, but Esau I hated.’ What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:13-16). If we have trouble wrapping our brain around God’s overwhelming love, at least we should believe that God doesn’t hate us, if only at a cognitive level. We don’t always feel His love, but we see His loving acts in our lives often enough to know he doesn’t despise us. Humility is a good thing especially before God but we should be careful not to take it too far. As the Psalmist says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise,” (Psalm 51:17), and again, “He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea” (Psalm 102:17). You know in your heart He doesn’t despise you either.
#9: God loves Jesus.
There’s a strong bond between us and God because of the union between Jesus and the Father. It’s not like the way we often feel forced to love someone due to their relationship with a friend or family member. God loves Jesus a great deal, “The
Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands,” (John 3:35). It’s an extremely powerful statement when Jesus later tells us, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (John 15:9). In fact, there could not be any stronger expression of love by Jesus, “that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). We are God’s close friends because we are intimate friends with Jesus due to His voluntary death which made us so.
#8: You can’t earn it.
We are saved by grace alone. Paul says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). How this demonstrates that God loves us may not be entirely obvious, but it’s really quite simple. There are many ways to express our insufficiency. We could say that there’s no way we could ever bridge the enormous chasm which exists between us and God, or that His holiness is a brilliant diamond against the dark, velvet backdrop of our sin, or that He is a bright light and we are darkness, or that He is life and we are spiritually dead in our sin. The comparisons go on and on, but no matter how our lack of ability or unworthiness is described, one fact remains: we have God’s favor. What we could have never obtained on our own has been lovingly given to us, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). We could have never become good enough to have a place at His table, but because it is His desire, we are loved as much as His own Son, Jesus. That’s much better than earning our own keep!
19, 20, 23). The extent God goes to in order to express His love for His church is remarkable. We’d probably never cognitively think that God would lie or fake such strong emotion, but we are so used to deceit in each other that we sometimes attribute these flawed, sinful behaviors to our loving Father. Throughout the Bible, God often uses the strongest image we can grasp—the intimate bond of marriage—in order to communicate His great love for us. Ask any wife if a husband can fake that? God is nothing but sincere when He talks to us this way. Go ahead, let your guard down. You can believe Him!
#6: God said so.
#7: God’s no phony!
Notice the sincerity as God talks about His people: “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master,’…I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD… I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God’” (Hosea 2:16,
Many of the most brilliant minds in history, along with the most meticulous of biblical scholars, after having devoted much of their lives wrestling with God’s revealed Word attempting to mine out His truths, come to the same conclusion Karl Barth did in 1962 when asked how he would summarize all that he had previously written on theology. His answer was, “Jesus love me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Yes, it seems childish and just too simple for us. But we know the kingdom of God belongs to those with a such a childlike faith, (Mark 10:14, 15), and if we can read the Bible and not come away with the understanding that all those pages were written out of an unimaginable love directed toward them, we just weren’t paying attention. John tells us why he wrote a good portion of the New Testament, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). After John had been personally shown so much love by Jesus, he wasn’t writing only to give others peace of mind. What is eternal life if it isn’t eternal love from the only One Who really knows how to love? Clearly the Bible is God’s message of love to us all. His love powerfully changes hearts and lives. It’s so pure and forceful that it demands a humble response. Those who experience His love are never the same again.
#5: It has always been God’s plan to love you.
Much has happened since the first humans dis-
#4: God has a short memory for some things.
obeyed God and tainted our universe with sin. Consequently many of the big events in our history have been horrible, at least those are the ones we remember. When we think about all the bad things, like a world-wide flood, countless bloody battles, civil wars, world wars, and repeated attempts at genocide—obviously I’m only scratching the surface, but you get the picture. In the midst of these evil events, it’s easy to think things have spun out of the control of God. But then we remember that immediately after sin entered the world, God clearly communicated that He would weave mankind’s sin into His grand plan. Speaking to the snake, who was the devil and the catalyst for the most insane rebellion of all time, God said, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). This statement prophesied when Christ, Eve’s ultimate offspring, would unleash the final blow on the devil and his plans to destroy God’s pinnacle of creation. Satan would only be allowed to inflict the damage God permits. God has always, and will continue to frustrate His enemies by turning their evil into good while saving His own eternally out of the jaws of imminent physical destruction. Nothing takes God by surprise. Our selfishness and sin become part of a spiritual, romantic comedy happily ending with the reunion of two lovers. Nothing can separate us from the love He has determined to show us. Paul puts it beautifully, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39).
We are good at remembering our past failures. Fortunately for us, God doesn’t continue to punish us, because He did that once and for all when Jesus was nailed to a cross. God says, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more,” (Isaiah 43:25). Of course, God’s primary concern is His glory, but He doesn’t remove our sin only for His own sake. He does it out of an intense love for us, as well. The Psalmist explains, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him,” (Psalm 103:11-13). Even though we remember the pain of our sin, and we cringe at the damage we’ve done to others in the past, unlike us, God doesn’t keep record against us. No, instead He remembers nothing bad about us. He counts no strike against us…ever. He sees no blemish on us of any kind. He sees only the righteousness of Jesus when He looks at us and so, He loves us without reservation. He sets no condition to His offer of love because we believe in His Son. Forget about your past sin—God has!
#3: God continues to say so, repeatedly!
(Okay, so we already used this as a reason previously, but just like the Bible handles important matters, this is worth repeating.) I’m sure someone somewhere has counted the times God coveys His love for His children in Scripture. All I know is that it happens too many times to measure. From the first page to the last, it’s clear that God wants the world to know His intent: to glorify Himself and to love His people. When we stop to think about everything that’s happened in the history of mankind’s redemption, it’s even more amazing when we realize it was done in a effort to reach us, “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” (John 3:16, 17). When God says something over and over to us, not only in His Word, but every day through His Spirit, in His creation, and by divinely interrupting our lives,
He wants to make sure we believe it. We can trust God because He is Love and, “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8). How would your life be different if you believed without a doubt that God’s love and favor rests on you never to be taken away? It’s true. Keep reading His Word until all doubt is melted away. Then, go live as one deeply and forever loved by God.
#2: He adopted you.
A father once asked his little girl, “If I was somehow able to go through all the little girls in the entire world and pick out just one to be my very own, do you know who I would pick?” “No, Daddy, who?” was the girls honest reply. “I would pick you!” What a summary of adoption: a parent chooses to love a child because they want to do so. There’s no previous obligation to that child, but only a voluntary entrance into a loving relationship. In a similar way, we have been brought into God’s family—not by birth for we had no rights—but because He wanted to show love to us, “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:5). Of course, a good father naturally loves those who are born to him, but to decide to love someone without a prior obligation of any kind is very powerful form of love. God is not obligated to love us or to make us part of His family, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4). We were not only undeserving of His love and namesake, but we were as good as dead. Yet, He did as He decided to do before the foundations of the earth were laid. He adopted us and made us heirs with His own Son, Jesus Christ. Now that’s love!
to chose the right path, God doesn’t leave us to inevitably choose destruction, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit— fruit that will last” (John 15:16). Speaking of knowing that God loves you, Paul said of the believers at Thessalonica, “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you” (1 Thessalonians 1:4). And Peter says even more about the elect who were scattered across many regions, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2: 9, 10). We know that God loves us for many reasons, but primarily because it was His desire. There was nothing within us which forced Him to love us. He was not remotely attracted us. He loves us because He wants to love us. Who knows why? Don’t try to figure it out. Just trust His word and His powerful love for you which will not be denied.
…and the number one reason you know that God loves you is: He chose to love you.
This is a kindred idea to the concept of adoption. In fact, it’s covered together with adoption in the passage above, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Ephesians 1:4). There’s a reason for God to make us holy and blameless. It wasn’t only because we were made helpless by sin—if you call being dead helpless. His purpose was also to make us objects of His love, not wrath. Just as the disciples of Jesus were unable
few nights ago I sat in a restaurant with a group of friends. After we ate, we spent some time updating our Facebook statuses, showing off a cool new photo app, playing Words with Friends and sharing photos of cute dogs. Much like my friends and me, it seems that anyone who has one is attached to their smartphone and all the cool things these electronic marvels can do. They have become integrated into nearly every minute of our daily lives. There’s nothing inherently wrong with our affection to these phones; in fact, they can actually come in quite handy. They can make our lives easier in a variety of ways, including saving us tons of money if we can find actually useful apps to assist.
Actually Useful Apps
You can save yourself the hassle and potential paper cuts of clipping coupons by downloading coupon apps. Typically these apps will either pinpoint your location and show you available coupons within your close proximity or allow you to search a database of retailers and/or products. Sometimes you may have to print the coupon on paper, but others will allow you to download the coupon to a loyalty card. Some of these apps will even track how much you have saved by using coupons.
features, but in general they allow you to set a budget per category and then track your expenditures. Specific features can include photo tracking, the ability to add notes, the ability to roll over excess funds into the next month, and online backup or exporting into a PDF or spreadsheet. You might even find this helpful when tax time rolls around. If you don’t track your budget, this might be a good option to use to get started. If you find yourself incurring late fees for tardy bills, then you should consider downloading a bill pay reminder app. You can opt for a general reminder app (and use it for meetings, birthdays, appointments, etc., as well) or you can download an app specific to bill paying. There are even a few apps that combine budget tracking and bill reminders.
Entertainment, Fitness, Fun
Can’t afford that personal trainer or gym membership? There are plenty of apps that will motivate you to do 100 push-ups, log the miles and times for your latest run, or track your daily caloric intake. Do you like to read? Download a free e-reader app (such as Amazon’s Kindle app) and then download free book titles or check out e-books from your local library. Planning a trip or are already on the road? There are apps that search out the lowest airfare, help you learn the basics of a foreign language, find free Wi-Fi access, recommend local cuisine based on price, or in a foreign country convert your currency. And of course, there is always Angry Birds for all your entertainment needs. Most of these apps are free but some may cost you a couple of bucks. If they are free, download and give them a trial run. If you have to shell out some cash for the app, be sure to read reviews from other users and remember that even though you are paying for the app, it may save you money in the long run. If you are unsure where to begin, browse your phone’s app store or run an Internet search for the “top free” apps for your desired category. This said, don’t let your phone become your best friend. Keep it in perspective – it’s an electronic! And at some point, we all need to turn off those phones and just enjoy dinner with our friends.
Price Comparison Apps
Some of the most-used apps on my personal phone are price comparison apps. Usually these apps will allow you to scan a product’s bar code (or search by product name) and it will give you the price for the same item at other stores in the area or online. When purchasing higher dollar items, such as electronics, this can be especially helpful. No more running from store to store, wasting precious gasoline, to find the best price on an item! Speaking of precious gasoline, my other favorite price comparison app, GasBuddy, allows me to search for gas stations within the proximity of my location for the cheapest price. This is especially helpful when I’m in an unfamiliar location and am unsure of the stations with the best prices.
Budget Tracking and Bill Reminders
Budget tracking apps vary greatly as far as specific