Has Church Doctrine Become Culturally Conditioned? (PART TWO)

PAUL’S STATEMENT STANDS!  (1 Corinthians 14) –


In fact, in many translations, including the Greek rendition available in the Parallel New Testament, part b of verse 33 is connected to verse 34, making the statement even stronger:

[33 b.] As [is the practice] in all the churches of the saints (God’s people),  [34] the women should keep quiet in the churches, for they are not authorized to speak, but should take a secondary and subordinate place, just as the Law also says.  [Gen. 3:16].

“Women” is translated “wives” by some modern translations, though the same word is rendered “women” in other passages.

1 Timothy 5:2 commands  younger “women” (same word) to marry.  Try “wives” there!

But even if it were “wives”, the command is generally disobeyed.

And why the word “your” in verse one?

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly. but exhort him as if he were your father…”

The letter is addressed to the church.  So then, the “your” refers to that church, not to the men of that church only!

Women in Church Should Be “QUIET”.

They are not permitted to speak and permission is denied because… God’s original standard was set down in Genesis, not because of some local restraint placed on them by woman-hater Paul.

In Paul’s mind, the opposite of female authority is female submission; not submission to male dominance but submission (subject to) God’s authority in the relationship (Ephesians 5:21, 27).

1 Corinthians 14:35 mentions a possible incident that may have given rise to Paul’s instruction, but this doesn’t in any way affect the strong language in verse 34.

I think that it is possible, women were shaming their husbands by raising their voice in the assembly; boldly questioning the speakers and ignoring the fact that their own husbands could supply them the knowledge needed.  At least this is the gist of the “myth” that has been created to make this verse understandable to us. Although, I’m not aware of any historical proof-text from which this story is raised.

Paul tells them that such action is not called for, that women are to be SILENT.

He settles the Corinthian issue, but in so doing, it should settle our issue too, if we will hear him.

SILENCE means no more questions!  It follows that this also means…no more TEACHING!

If the simple asking of a question is met with such shock from the man of God, with what spiritual rage would a full-blown lesson be met?

KEEP SILENT.  It’s shameful!  Is this not clear?

Much of the New Testament was written to correct a local issue.  But for the most part, we don’t shrug off the teachings because they were first written to the “early” Christians.  We should assume the eternality of the Word from God.  Why not here?

Paul goes on to ask, (1 Corinthians 14, verse 36, paraphrased)..

‘Are you the originators of Scripture?  Are you in charge here?  Is it to be your feelings and experiences that will determine the practices and doctrine of the church of God?’

More than that!  (verse 37)…‘even if there be among you a “godly” person who basks in his great revelations from Heaven, let him come down out of the clouds long enough to realize that we’re dealing with the Prophet Moses and the Apostle Paul.’

(Verse 38),  ‘Of course, if you’d rather be ignorant, go ahead, but to your own peril.’

But doesn’t Paul contradict himself here?

1 Corinthians 11:5, Paul earlier pointed out the phenomenon of the praying and prophesying woman.

“See, women DID speak out in the assembly!”

It’s good for us that Paul himself wrote both of the passages chapters apart, or men would be pitting Paul against other church leaders.  As it is, we need only to harmonize the thoughts of one man, convinced he didn’t contradict himself.

In the first place, it’s hard to prove that the woman mentioned here is praying or prophesying in a public assembly.  The context is again the man and woman relationship (verse 3), and could be easily seen as the area of the home.

Just a note in passing here, that people coming to this passage may be looking for relief for the poor restricted women, and only find more restriction (vss. 5-6); her liberty in the form of the head covering, another taboo topic to Western preaching.

In Paul’s letter to his traveling companion and young minister in training, Timothy, Paul gives instructions as to the setup of churches governmental structure.

Before stating the qualifications for a man who would be the church official servant, Paul specifically spells out the role of women, or “wives” if you prefer:

1 Timothy 2:9 (AMP):


[9]  Also [I desire] that women should adorn themselves modestly and appropriately and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with [elaborate] hair arrangement or gold or pearls or expensive clothing.

Then being consistent with his word in Corinth and God’s Word to Adam and Eve, he demands silence and submission.

He goes a step further here with the step that’s implied to the Corinthian Church:


1.  teach a man, or…

2.  have authority over a man.

His reasons are not cultural, historical, or temporary.  It is not “wicked Corinth,” as some love to explain.  No, every age is wicked, including our own, as we almost certainly have entered the great apostasy.  

That said,  Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus (1:3), and it is here addressed.  And, his reasons are theological, Scriptural, and based in the origins of ALL things:

#1.  ADAM was formed first.

#2.  WOMAN sinned first, bringing the natural order under the Law.

I realize that these words are painful to the modern ear.  This is a “hard saying” to them.  But those who get their arms around hard sayings should allow it to make hardened soldiers of Christ, and not allow REBELLION to spoil the perfect work of God.

Would this APOSTLE approve of the present set-up of our churches?  Would he favor women on the ruling board of a congregation?  How about women teaching in our adult Bible class?  I think not!

“How about all these women the Bible talks about who were great “religious” leaders?

Probably the most prominent of Old Covenant women that comes to mind is DEBORAH.

If there’s a woman in the Bible that gives any support to “female leadership” advocates, it’s this incredible prophetess.  And yet, with close examination of what the Bible actually records, reveals that theimages entire extent of her work was the receiving of God’s WISDOM miraculously for the people who came to her as she “would sit under the palm tree.” This is how she “JUDGED” the nation through the WISDOM OF GOD, not the arm of fleshly power. Here is not an exalted elder.  Here was a simple handmaiden of the Lord who received His messages and passed them on.  She is never seen TEACHING in an assembly and taking AUTHORITY over men.  At the most, she claims for herself in the battles won, that she was “a mother in Israel”  (Judges 5:7).

There’s a PRINCIPLE established in DEBORAH, not broken:

In all visible ways, MEN must lead the people of God.  But this special woman of God teaches us that women will be used to receive revelation from God through PROPHECY, since gender is not a factor when the fullness of God is present.

This PRINCIPLE helps us understand more fully Paul’s seeming “contradiction” in 1 Corinthians 14.  

There, women are commanded to BE SILENT for all normal functions of the Church.  BUT, when God raises up a woman to speak (chapter 11), when He fulfils the prophecy of Joel to pour out His Spirit on His “handmaidens,” and the prophecy of the Word of the Lord, or pray empowered by that same Spirit, let not any take issue with them!

After Deborah judges, the kings rule Israel.  No women are seen RULING the kingdom except in gross disobedience (Jezebel).


In the life of Jesus Himself, it’s only with the most difficult “stretches” we see any women, even His mother, raised to “AUTHORITY” by His command.

  • Women give money to His ministry.
  • Women support their apostle husbands.
  • Women tell the story of Jesus to their neighbors.
  • Women praise Him and weep for Him and women see His resurrected Body and announce such…

BUT no woman rules or teaches any man in all the Gospels.

In the history of our Church, the Book of Acts, one must prove or lose their case dealing with church “issues.”

If you can’t DISCERN even a single female teacher or leader there, it becomes apparent that current female leadership is being driven, promoted by, another spirit.

We have run out of history!

The godly women of the Bible… ALL submitted to their husbands (Ephesians 5:24). And men, who are reading this…stop grinning at the words “submitted to” [Read Ephesians 5:25].  

The ungodly rebelled and were judged.  Women prophesied, but none ruled in Israel or the Church.  None were called upon to TEACH except by Paul, who asks older women to teach younger women (Titus 2:4).

Women are called to SILENCE in public assemblies except in the area of PROPHECY.

“Are there no other female voices to be raised?  

How about the woman Phoebe in the Bible?”  (Romans 16:1-2)

[1]  NOW I introduce and commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae.  [2] That you may receive her in the Lord [with a Christian welcome], as saints (God’s people) ought to receive one another.  And help her in whatever matter she may require assistance from you, for she has been a helper of many including myself [shielding us from suffering]  (Amplified Bible).

A total of TWO VERSES describe all we know of her.  We learn that she served the church, she needs assistance in that service, she helped many people, and she helped the apostle Paul.

To raise this SERVANT of the Lord to church office and leadership is to once more, ask Paul to contradict Paul!  All we know is that she SERVED!

The Greek “diakonos,” a term here applied to Phoebe, is translated SERVANT, deacon, minister at various times in Paul’s writings.  Paul and Phoebe were both called “diakonos” – SERVANT.  Paul wasn’t an “official” DEACON, nor was Phoebe.

Oh, how we all love to make a big deal out of titles!

Distinct from this general servant-hood, is the call for men to be “official” servants, deacons, chosen by the church as were the original 7 of Acts 6.

For these men, SERVICE was not given as they desired, but as the ELDERS needed. Yes, “deacons” could preach and minister in the miraculous, but their calling was to be “on call.”

There are MANY WOMEN who serve and served Jesus in the Bible, but none in AUTHORITY–NONE!

Paul didn’t allow it.

But wait, the apostle John has a word for us.  Actually, it’s Jesus speaking in him, and He IS mentioning a woman in a leading position in the local church of her day in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-20).


VERSE 20:  “But I have this against you:  that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and who is teaching and leading astray my servants…”

She is teaching, and obviously has quite a following.  She even calls herself a “prophetess”.  Yes, her name is JEZEBEL…the New Testament Jezebel.  And no, I’m not labeling ALL modern day female leaders “Jezebel.”  I refer that only a woman teacher of God’s people in all of Scripture is a “wicked” woman.

Here then is what I believe, the whole counsel on my thesis.  And, of course there will be many who disagree.  


  • They are to stand behind their husbands, serving him as the Lord.
  • They are to pass the faith on to their daughters and grandchildren and other women who need teaching because of a lack of it at home.

But they must keep SILENT when the church assemblies gather for worship, prayer and the Word of God.

Is there a woman in this wicked age who can hear the VOICE of God and keep this hard word?

I truly believe that a special reward will be hers when the Lord, Who sees all, returns to claim His own!




The Interlinear Bible, Hebrew, Greek, English.

** For footnotes, photos, Bible translations used, see PART ONE.

Has Church Doctrine Become Culturally Conditioned? (PART ONE)


I think most reading this blog have a pretty good idea on how to define Biblical Christianity–but just in case, here’s but one definition:

Biblical Christian (Luke 8:15); a person who trusts in Christ alone for salvation.  As a result of a SAVING FAITH, has the desire to be obedient to God’s principles out of the overflow of a grateful heart (see Romans 1:5).  [ See Footnote {i} ]

And then there is the Cultural Christian definition:

Means, pursuing the God we want instead of the God Who is.  It’s the tendency to be shallow in the understanding of God, wanting Him to be more of a gentle grandfather type who spoils and lets them have their own way.  [See Footnote [i] ]

SCRIPTURE 1 Timothy 2:12 (ESV):


Have our Churches today become Culturally Conditioned?  Should women teach men in the Church?  Should women lead men in the Church?

Paul the apostle seemed to say, “No way!”  And in this blog, it is his teaching, empowered by the Spirit upon which I want to focus.

From the Spirit to the Apostle, to the Believers of All Time –

There is a way to find the perfect will of God.  And, there’s a way not to find that will.

There is a way to know exactly what God says and wants–and there’s a way to arrive at a system of guesses.

Many believers, some even known as “scholars”, have fallen into the trap of guesswork, based on culture, history, and semantics.  The statements I make in this blog will be based on the words given by the Spirit, the apostles, and prophets.

God’s Way of searching for answers is even prescribed in the Scriptures:

Psalm 119 for example, says it in 176 different ways: the written Word of God is our source.

eg. V. 2:  “Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are they who keep His testimonies, and who seek, inquire for and of Him and crave Him with the whole heart.”

V. 30:  “…Your ordinances have I set before me.”

V. 31:  “I cleave to your testimonies;…”

V. 42:  “…for I lean on, rely on, and trust in Your Word.”

V. 75:  “I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right and righteous…”

Many such sentiments given by the Psalmist, are then coupled with the wise words of the apostle Paul to his son in the faith, Timothy.

2 Timothy 3:15, 16 (NIV):

[15]  and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  [16]  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”


…and the  strong warning in chapter 4:1-4 (there isn’t a break in the original document):  “I CHARGE you therefore…Preach the Word…for the time will come when they will not endure sound teaching, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears…they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned to fable…”  (NKJV).

Thus, “God’s way” is to see the clear statements of Scripture and find in the Bible, examples and patterns written expressively for us through the men of God.

This discernment of the Spirit will reveal, that the tendency to want more or less than the prophets have spoken, is from the one who appeared in the Garden so long ago, who spoke to our first parents:

“Did God REALLY say that? Oh my,

he actually MEANT this!”

His LIES are so convincing and only a few care to challenge them and cling for dear life to what God has said.

So why is the Church today looking for “explanations” of the passages regarding female leadership?

Are we somehow afraid of political powers that now reign in the World?  What is wrong with the Scriptures as they are and as they have been believed all these many years?

Some folks reading this may feel the questions I bring up are a bit too harsh a way to introduce the subject at hand; which many I’m told, believe to be a topic of relative insignificance.  I stand with the tone of my words based on the following grounds:

#1.  Every Word of God is pure–Proverbs 30:5:  “Every word of God is tried and purified…”

And Jesus, in Matthew 5:19 says “Whoever then breaks or does away with or relaxes one of the least [important] of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least [important] in the kingdom of heaven, but he who practices them and teaches others to do so shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven”  (Amplified Bible).

The Holy Spirit still quickens His Word to the hearts of men.  Whatever He says is PURE and HOLY.  Let no one despise even the smallest of the commandments of God.  And yes, in dealing with the topic at hand…we’re dealing with commandments and not suggestions of true prophets and true apostles.

Let every mouth be silenced as He speaks!

#2.  CONSIDER how important this topic is, even in the Word.

FIRST, there are direct statements in the Genesis Record, she was taken out of man, he shall rule over you.

1 Corinthians,  Let your women keep silenced as the law says (14:34), and 1 Timothy,  I do not allow a woman to teach (2:10).

“That’s it!  just two verses?”

These concepts are backed up with a multitude of examples throughout Scripture which we’ll look at in this Series.

#3.  CONSIDER also the great numbers of women affected by this teaching.

As the spirit of lawlessness continues, especially in the Western Church, more and more women will be drawn into this desire of authority over men.

#4,  CONSIDER the effects of this teaching on men.

A strong woman in a local church will put male leaders in the background.  Many of them will not rise up and take their place in the secular world.

#5.  A feminized church can’t model the marriage of Christ and His Church.  A feminized church cannot picture the Fatherhood of God.

Oh God, give us the men to stand up for Christ!

#6.  Even if this teaching were but a “little truth”, is it not a truism when “little” lies become embedded in a congregation, it will not be long before bigger ones are at home too?

#7.  If any reader still believes this all to be a “minor” issue, let them hear Isaiah’s sadness over backslidden Israel (3:12):

[12]  “Youths oppress my people, women rule over them.  O my people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path”  (NIV).

Let’s CONSIDER now, the Scriptures.  Surely the Lord hasn’t left us without GUIDANCE on such a serious matter.

Let us investigate the Truth by searching the beginning of ALL things.

It was here that JESUS sent His disciples when questions arose concerning MARRIAGE.

He sends us here too, for MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP is the heart of the matter.

To understand MARRIAGE is to understand the role of the WOMAN at home.  And…to be secure in that RELATIONSHIP is to solve the Church issue as well.

Before SIN came into the world, God created FIRST, a man.


Then in response to man’s need, and out of man, God created woman– woman is from man, woman was brought to man.  Woman was to be a HELPER for man.

THAT IS THE DIVINE ORDER.  All else falls short of His glory!

We must remember that this was before the CURSE!  When that CURSE came, the natural submission of women to men became law.

Now in Christ, the CURSE is done away with.  Men are to “rule” in LOVE and WOMEN return to natural and holy submission, as before SIN came into the world.


The error into which women fall in our day is the departing, not only from the days of the CURSE, but from the very order of Creation.  This, the apostle Paul tells us, cannot be in the true Church.

Paul’s Letter to the Corinthian Church lists some straightforward commands.





Few of us would not have a problem with any of the above.

In the middle of all of this, the command giving (Chapter 14), is the command of equal authority (verse 34):  

“The women should keep quiet in the churches, for they are not authorized to speak, but should take a secondary and subordinate place…”

Oh my!  We have a serious problem with that one.

“That was cultural; that was historical; that was temporary.”  I’ve heard all three of those particular explanations.

Oh, a multitude of “reasons” are lifted up to truth status by those who would excuse the woman teacher, for this is not an age when one wants to confront WOMEN’S RIGHTS!

Now that’s a good place to pause and take up the conversation in PART TWO.


Footnote [i] :  Patrick Morley, Charisma News. “Are you a Biblical Christian or a Cultural Christian?

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified bible, except where noted in the text.

The JOY of Blessing AND the Necessity of Diligence

I have been a home gardener since I was a child–vegetables, fruit trees, flowers…you name it, I’ve tried growing it!

But I’m not a child any longer, so a few years ago, I decided to transform my small backyard lawn into a raised bed, natural food garden endeavor.


Natural Food —

Although the size of the vegetable garden is somewhat small, I still have to make time and effort to either grow something or… go to the store and buy the food, then prepare to cook it–to get gas, I must allocate time to make the effort to go to the station to fill of the car–to get clean, I must set aside the time and make the effort to have a shower each and every morning and my wife is thankful on all counts.

But somehow, we want to get God and His BLESSINGS on the fly without any daily effort or commitment of time on our part.  And as a result, we get nothing and we find our spiritual condition begins to start wilting, goes limp and deteriorates, as lack of attention does to the produce in the garden–which it cannot help but do.

We will experience a loss of PEACE, a loss of JOY, and a loss of TRUST in God, and instead, we find increasing doubt, irritability, confusion, anger, criticism of others, worries.

We find ourselves making poor decisions and PRIDE begins to take over as weeds in a garden, which means a fall is on its way.

Also, we become totally unable to bear any spiritual fruit of living words into other people’s lives.

When all this happens, we are prone to complain a lot about where we find ourselves–and indirectly, we are complaining against God, which is music to the ears of our enemy.

All this because we wouldn’t invest adequate time and spiritual effort [work] to seek and find God, to be fed by Him with our essential, daily, spiritual food.

I am referring to the study and reflection on the Word of God; not casually reading a chapter a day in your bible–and that’s not wrong–but that’s not a full meal.  It’s a ‘spiritual snack.’  And, a snack now and then is okay, but a steady diet of “snacks” won’t make you physically fit.  See how long your physical body can be sustained on nothing but snacks each and every day!

The Word of God is the only spiritual nourishment that will sustain and grow our reborn spirits–the real us that will survive our natural bodies.

BLOG’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE – 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (naturally or spiritually).


The JOY of the Blessing and the necessity of DILIGENCE when it comes to connecting with God.


According to the Oxford Universal Dictionary, DILIGENCE is…

“Careful attention, unremitting application, persistent endeavor.”  A “diligent person” ids one who is “industrious, conscientious. thorough; not idle, not negligent, not lazy.”

God takes DILIGENCE seriously! 

I love the writer of Hebrews words of explanation of due diligence–Hebrews 11:6:

[6]  “And without faith it is impossible to please Good, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (NIV)

Even more than our physical endeavors, God EXPECTS us to be spiritually diligent–spiritually fed!

That old belief that God will accept you “as you are” is simply not true.  

God will not accept just anybody into His family–but only those who will respond to His calling and choose to diligently follow Him.

Psalm 77:6:  “I call to remembrance my song in the night; with my heart I meditate and my spirit searches diligently:”

Proverbs 12:27:  “…the diligent man gets precious possessions.” 

To constantly find God requires constantly searching for Him with my heart and not quitting.

Jeremiah 29:13:  “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart (NIV).

1 Chronicles 28:9:  “…If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him and requiring Him as your first and vital necessity] you will find Him…”  (AMP)

Acts 17:27:  “…so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him.  He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us.  He’s not remote; he’s near”  (MSG).

The earlier I SEEK Him and find Him, the sooner I will start my day with the JOY of Blessing of trust.

Psalm 63:1:  “O GOD, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirst for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water (NIV).

Isaiah 26:9:  “My soul yearns for You [O Lord] in the night, yes, my spirit within me seeks you earnestly…”

Hebrews 4:11:  “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest…”  (KJV).

Hebrews 4:11 (AMP):  “Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest…”  


Proverbs 4:20-22:  

[20] “My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings.  [21] Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart.

Consider all of these ACTION WORDS (attend, consent, submit…) God uses that all imply some effort on my part.

[22]  For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh.

If I’m hungry for God, I’ll always find Him and He will always feed me with Himself.


Jeremiah 15:16:  “Your words were found, and I ate them; and Your words were to me a joy and the rejoicing of my heart…”  

Isaiah 1:19:  “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.”

Psalm 34:4:  “I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him [of necessity and on the authority of His Word], and He heard me…”

10cd8e4f7c408c0b6556656dcd665155Matthew 5:6:  “BLESSED are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”  (NIV).

Proverbs 27:7:  “He who is satiated [with sensual pleasures] loathes and treads underfoot a honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”

Psalm 37:3:  “Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.”

Job 23:12:  “I have not gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed and treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”

THE HOLY SPIRIT, when guiding my spirit, always leads me to today’s necessary spiritual food.

There’s a big “IF” here.

IF… I give God adequate, quality time with due diligence in SEEKING Him with ALL my heart, by getting quiet in my thought life, by ceasing from all other activities, and by BELIEVING that, just as He promises, HEAR HIS VOICE–then I can expect to find Him and be fed.

John 16:13:  “But when He, the Spirit of Truth *the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth)…”

Matthew 6:11:  “Give us this day our daily bread…”

Father, by your Spirit, breathe life into your words–so giving us our daily spiritual bread.

John 16:15 –  Jesus–who is the Word of God, speaking about the Holy Spirit, says…  

“He [the Spirit] will take the things that are Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.”

I would love to hear from you in regards to your DILIGENCE to be fed, or the lack thereof,  for the encouragement to others who read this blog.  Leave your comments in the REPLY section.



Photos:  Backyard Vegetable Garden by Mel Thompson; Google Image Search.

Commentary:  Final Expectations Regarding Idleness in the Church (2 Thes. 3:6-18), by J. Hampton Keathley, III @ Bible.org

*The NIV Complete Concordance.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.





We Are Living In A Spiritual Fishbowl



Several days ago, the Lord led me to do a study in 1 Thessalonians.  In His sovereignty, this study comes at a perfect time with the worlds current events.

I Thessalonians speaks about REAL HOPE in the midst of the trials and tribulation that surround us.

Warren Wiersbe written commentary on 1 Thess., “Be Ready” really sums up what we face ahead.

Aquarium/Fishbowl Experience –

What do you do with an aquarium?  What do you do when you visit an aquarium?  I just look.  The fish, for the most part are oblivious–could care less.

I remember when first married and we were as poor as a church mouse.  An aquarium sat on a stand in our duplex style apartment, with not much else in the room.  It was Valentine’s Day, and unable to afford much except exchanging Valentine cards, my wife said,  “Did you notice the aquarium?”  “No,” I replied. “Why?”  “Just go look,” she said.  There on the outside of our aquarium, on the outside of the glass, was a heart drawn in pink lipstick–“I LOVE YOU”.  But there’s more!  For fourteen cents, my wife bought an angel fish.  I must have watch that fish swimming around behind the glass for hours.  Even days later, that angel fish reminded me of my wife’s love for me and it wasn’t the amount spent, but the LOVE behind the gift.  “For God so loved the world that He GAVE…” John 3:16.

As Christians, we live in a spiritual fishbowl.  People are constantly examining us and looking at us, especially in times of stress and discomfort. They let us know when we misspeak or mess up entirely.


There’s another reason why they watch us.  The problem is…we’re often oblivious–like fish in a bowl–we could care less what they see or even read on our social media page; which means they may be viewing the wrong things.  

The Barna Group–“Knowledge to navigate a changing world” says there’s “no difference between believers and unbelievers.”  

That’s tragic–it’s no wonder Christianity as we know it isn’t growing like it should.

This was definitely not the case with the Thessalonians.

Here was a church who realized they were being watched on all sides.  Paul hears about their reputation/testimony, and writes to them.

There’s a LESSON here for us.  Our reputation is at stake and the world is watching us; they need to see a DIFFERENCE is us.

1 Thessalonians 1 BACKGROUND:

This was a fledgling church (Paul was there but 3 weeks).  Paul had been kicked out, riots going on, their pastor was gone.  They were familiar with persecution.  I can imagine it was like being a Christian in Afghanistan or Iraq today.

You would think they wouldn’t be too concerned with their reputation, but the opposite is true.


Here was a CHURCH whose reputation was faultless.  They had an incredible TESTIMONY.


“Your work of faith” – salvation (V. 3)

Philippians 2:12 (NIV)

“Therefore, my dear friends; as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

In our spiritual journey on this earth, FAITH gets us on the started on the right path.  Notice what Paul says about our FAITH:

1 Thessalonians 1:4-6:

[4]  For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,  [5] because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.  You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.  [6]  You became imitators of us and of the Lord, in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

ELECTION makes our FAITH possible — Vs. 4:  “He has chosen us” not vice versa.

John 15:16 (NIV):

[16]  “You did not choose Me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last.  Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”

Somewhere in eternity past, God chose us to believe on Him.  ELECTION makes our FAITH possible, but not automatic.

That takes us to the next step:

CONVERSION makes our FAITH actual “because”– Vs. 5:

“BECAUSE our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.  You know how we lived among you for your sake.”

“Because” shows why Paul is so convinced that God CHOSE them.  He sees their changed life, their “conversion.”

The Gospel isn’t just some fancy speech we mouthe that most don’t understand.

No amount of persuasion can “convince” someone to turn to Christ Jesus.

What makes our FAITH actual is the powerful work of the Holy Spirit exhibited in our lives.

Colossians 2:13 (NIV):  “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.”

Our conversion, the transformation of our OLD dead nature, to our NEW nature in Christ, is what makes our ELECTION sure.

The Thessalonian church didn’t just HEAR the Gospel message, they experienced the Gospel!  It transformed their lives!!

ELECTION makes our FAITH possible while CONVERSION makes it actual.

But there’s even more.  We need to have a WORKING FAITH, a VISIBLE FAITH.

ACTION makes our FAITH visible–Vs. 6 (AMP):

[6]  “…become imitators of us and [through us] of the Lord Himself, for you welcomed our message in [spite of] much persecution, with joy [inspired] by the Holy Spirit.”

THEY, the church, became IMITATORS (of Paul and the Lord).  They acted out their FAITH and they welcomed the message with JOY (in suffering).

A baby learns by imitating/children playing “copy-cat.”  The same is true in our spiritual lives (we learn by imitating).

When someone comes to Christ, they immediately begin looking at other professing believers to see how they behave; how they act.  [ Prayer, church etiquette, sit in the back, express/hold our emotions, worship. ]

Who are you imitating?  Your spiritual parents?  Your Pastor?  Are they truly IMITATING Christ?

1 Corinthians 4:16 (Paul says)  “So I urge and implore you, be imitators of me.”  He could say that because in Galatians 2:20 (NIV):

[20]  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Paul commended the Thessalonians because they had a REAL working FAITH.  In other words, they wore their FAITH on their sleeves, visible to everyone they came in contact with.  There was a great difference between them and their pagan, unbelieving neighbors.  So Paul didn’t need to defend them, he bragged about them!


People often wonder how we can know if someone is SAVED or not.  Paul knew that God chose the Thessalonians for SALVATION because he saw the POWER of the Gospel in their lives.  He also saw their transformation in their working, visible FAITH.


The world should see JESUS in us!

The WORLD should see our LABOR OF LOVE – Vs. 3:  “Your LABOR should be prompted by LOVE”

Whereas FAITH gets us started on the journey, LOVE becomes the vehicle on our way.

Will Rogers once said,  “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

What is the LABOR OF LOVE?

1 John 3:18 (NIV):  

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

John 4:15 (NIV):

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

There are so many opportunities that are missed in our Christian life in reaching out to others with the LOVE of Christ.

  • At WORK:  working for the Lord or your boss?
  • At HOME:  patience?  loving our families as Christ loves us.
  • In SOCIETY:  Lifestyle Evangelism?  integrity?
  • In CHURCH:  seeking to meet others’ needs, rather than our own?

FAITH & LOVE go hand in hand.  You can’t have visible faith without real love!

Galatians 5:6 (AMP):

“For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith activated and energized and expressed and working through love.”

The WORLD is watching us!  Our reputation is framed and hanging on the wall!  

They should see our working FAITH and our labor of LOVE in action.

V. 3…your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ

The WORLD should be able to SEE our everlasting HOPE!

Paul actually uses three qualities as bookends in the closing of this chapter (vs. 9-10 AMP):

[9] For they themselves volunteer testimony concerning us, telling what an entrance we had among you, and how you turned to God from [your] idols to serve a God Who is alive and true and genuine.

[10] And [how you] look forward to and await the coming of His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead–Jesus, Who personally rescues and delivers us out of and from wrath [bringing punishment] which is coming [upon the impenitent] and draws us to Himself [investing us with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ, the Messiah].

FAITH gets us started on the journey, LOVE becomes the vehicle, and HOPE…? HOPE shows us where we’re going.

There’s a difference between HOPE & WISHING.  This HOPE Paul’s referring too, isn’t like dropping pennies into a wishing well.  This HOPE is like saying, “I hope tomorrow is Monday!”

The Thessalonian BELIEVERS had a real, visible, enduring HOPE.

They hoped for 3 things that we too, should hope for (VERSE 10):

#1.  They HOPED for Jesus’ return!  “…look forward to and await the coming of His Son from heaven.”  (v. 10)

#2.  They HOPED in Jesus’ resurrection, who He raised from the dead and because of the RESURRECTION, they knew too,  and they will eventually conquer death and be raised to a new life in Christ.  When Jesus returns, all those who HOPE in His resurrection can have confidence that we will live with Him forever!

#3.  They HOPED in Jesus’ rescue from God’s coming wrath (v. 10).  There’s coming a Day when God will return vengeance and wrath upon this godless and evil world we currently live in.  Those who’ve chosen God, those who’ve been transformed, those who’ve a visible faith and a labor of love…have a heart peace from the HOPE they will be RESCUED from His great wrath.


Do they see CHRIST in us?

Do they see a WORK OF FAITH?  a labor of love?  an enduring, everlasting LOVE?

Do they see a DIFFERENCE in us?

If not, why would they want to become a Christian?

Whether we like it or not, we are LIVING in a public aquarium, where we’re putting on a show for the world to see.  How’s the show going?



We need to be ready for Jesus’ soon return.  

In the meantime, we also need to be busy bringing people to Him by being imitators of Jesus, before it’s too late.



COMMENTARY:  Enduring Word Bible Commentary:  1 Thessalonians 1 – Receivers and Responders.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted.







Maneuvering Your Way Through the Bumps In Life

PSALM 116:7-8:

[7]  Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

[8]  For You have delivered my life from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling and falling.


In 1978-1980, I commuted from home to work every day, over 100 miles each way. To keep me company on the long ride, I would listen to Paul Harvey. a conservative talk show host, true stories he told every morning.  One of my favorites was a lady who went to a local newspaper to report the death of her husband.  She took a glowing four page report to the obituary counter.  Upon seeing it, the counter’s clerk said,  “Ma’am, you should know that it costs $.50 a word to put that in the paper.”  Stunned, the wife took it back and re-wrote it.  It now said “Sam Brown dies.”  The clerk said, “I’m sorry ma’am, but there’s a 7-word minimum.”  The widow took it back and counting on her fingers wrote:  “Sam Brown dies…’88 Ford for sale.”

Somewhere, in between the humorous, quick fix Paul Harvey’s widow and the person today–who for years cannot bring themselves to go on with their life because of GRIEF (a “bump”), believe there’s an equilibrium of emotion that God wants for us.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 (GNT): 

[4]  “He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy, the time for mourning and the time for dancing.”

The author of PSALM 116 went through the process of GRIEF and was able to find comfort in the process.

GRIEF is a natural response to loss.  It is the emotional suffering one feels when something or someone the individual loses is taken away  [See footnote [i] ].

If you have never experienced the emotion of LOSS before, trust me, someday you will.

Since it is an involuntary emotion, it’s not wrong to express GRIEF, in fact it is normal.

The apostle Paul, a man who experienced loss, wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13,  “Now also we would not have you ignorant, brethren, about those who fall asleep [in death], that you may not grieve [for them] as the rest do who have no hope [beyond the grave]” (Amplified Bible-AMP).

He doesn’t say “don’t grieve,” but in your GRIEF, remember to place your HOPE in God.

PSALM 116, most commentators agree, that it’s a “Psalm of Grief.”  They are not sure of the circumstances but looking at some of the words the psalmist uses…

Vs. 3:   “death was around me”; “I suffered anguish and grief’

Vs. 10:  “I am greatly afflicted.”

So the Psalmist has been grieving, and although we’re not sure of the cause of his mourning, we do know that GRIEF can come in a variety of ways.

The most common GRIEF experienced is from the loss of a loved one.

I believe this is behind the Psalmist’s sorrow.

Vs. 15:  “Precious (important and no light matter) in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (His loving ones).”

The loss of a loved one, especially if they are young or the death is sudden, may be the hardest kind of GRIEF to deal with, but it’s not the only source.  The loss of possessions, the loss of health, even the loss of a pet.

Some commentators feel that when the Psalmist says in vs. 3,  “the cords and sorrows of death were around me,” that maybe he was referring to his own health.

A loss of health can certainly cause GRIEF, but it is also not uncommon for a person going through intense GRIEF to have a variance of HEALTH PROBLEMS; insomnia, exhaustion, head aches, anxiety, depression and more.

And GRIEF can come from a loss of RELATIONSHIP too.

Counselors often say that a DIVORCE is tougher to live with than DEATH.  They live with the ever-present loss of the partnership, the loss of companionship, and unfulfilled expectations.

That brings us now, how do we RESPOND to GRIEF.

Since there’s a variety of reasons that we suffer, I wanted to look at how we respond to it.  But as I thought about our responses, I felt the importance of what one trying to HELP the GRIEF STRICKEN should do and not do.

Let’s face it, many have not suffered these kind of losses and it’s crucial that we have some idea how to respond to others when a critical loss happens.

In my Detective investigation of GRIEF, I ran across a survey taken by Bob Russell, a preacher in Louisville, Kentucky, involving people who’ve gone through the GRIEVING PROCESS.

I’m going to borrow and share with you the 10 practical suggestions of the “do’s” & “don’ts” to help us understand how to help someone who’s GRIEVING:

(1)  Don’t avoid the person who MOURNS.

We worry sometimes about “I don’t know what to say.”  “I’ll feel so awkward at the funeral home.”  The worst thing we can do when someone is GRIEVING is to do nothing.

(2)  Don’t think you have to say the “right thing.”

The people in the SURVEY said consistently, the person who helped the most was the close friend who was just there…sitting next tom them, just listening.

(3)  Don’t treat the survivor differently.

For example, if you would have invited the couple to the party, then invite the widow or widower to the party.

(4)  Do understand the GRIEVING PROCESS takes a long time.


(5)  Don’t think it’s necessary to bring it up every time you’re with them.

DON’T say, “How are you REALLY doing?”  DON’T push!

(6)  Do expect their EMOTIONS to fluctuate.

The survivor isn’t always going to feel badly.  Let them be happy, let them be sad, maybe all in a matter of moments.

(7)  Do be willing to reminisce.

Sometimes I think they won’t want to hear something about their love one because it might make them feel bad.

Let them talk about their memories, then you can join in with them by saying “You know one time Frank and I were…” -OR- “I remember how Frank loved to give me a big hug every time we met.”

(8)  Do be personal in your remembrances.

If you know something nice to say, then say it!  “O, your mother was so wonderful to me.”  “Your Dad’s strong faith was such a blessing to me.”

(9)  Do keep your sense of humor.  “A cheerful heart does good like medicine (Proverbs 17:22 LB).


Vance Havner, a famous preacher, when someone would come up to him after the death of his wife and say,  “Sorry you lost your wife.”  He’d smile and say, “Well, don’t be…after all, somethings not lost if you know its location!  And I know right where to find her!”

But remember, Proverbs 14:13 (AMP) also says:  

“Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of mirth us heaviness and grief.”

So, even though we should keep a sense of humor, don’t think the laughter means the PAIN is completely over.

(10)  And Do remember, the time you are needed the most, is not immediately.

Oh, you need to be there from the start but so does everyone else.  But 6-8 weeks or 6 months later, when everyone else is gone…that’s when you’re needed most!



FIRST, know that there is HELP from God.

It’s important that those going through GRIEF–the “bumps in the road”–know that the Lord offers some incredible resources to help HEAL.

The Psalmist here mentions several, starting with Vs. 5:  “Our God is merciful (compassionate)”.

You, or someone you know, when going through the GRIEF process, are not alone.

JESUS knows how you feel because He has been where you are.  Read the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of John sometime, where you’ll find the murder of John the Baptist’s murder.  When Jesus finds out the news of his cousin, his friend, his co-worker John, he wanted to get away from people and be by Himself.  He wanted space to GRIEVE.

Hebrews 4:15 says,  “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all–all but the sin”  (MSG).

God knows exactly how you feel and offers His compassion.

Next, God promises protection – Vs. 6:

[6]  “The Lord protects the simple and the children; I was facing death, and then he saved me.”  (TLB)

Allow the LOSS your going through, whatever it is, draw you into a DEEPER dependence on Him.

God promises DELIVERANCE from GRIEF – Vs. 8:

[8]  For You have delivered my life from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling and falling  (AMP).

Now, it’s going to take time to make progress through the journey.  But God is with you every step of the way.  He will DELIVER you!

You’ll have to experience some depression probably, but not total defeat.  I’ve said to my wife many times when hearing about the GRIEF in a church family,  “I don’t know how people go through this without the Lord; without Christian friends.”

That conversation brought me to Peter’s words to mind.

1 Peter 1:5-6 (AMP):

[5]  Being guarded by God’s power through [your] faith [till you fully inherit that final] salvation that is ready to be revealed [for you] in the last time.

[6]  [You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations.

I love the way The Living Bible (TLB) words Vs. 6:  “There is wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here.”

So, there’s God’s promised help in terms of His promises but He also offers help in terms of His people.

You see, God’s greatest PROMISE is heaven, but His greatest help lies in those who have undergone GRIEF and understand how essential He is to getting us through those “bumps in life.”

The apostle Paul tells us in the 1st chapter of 2 Corinthians about how this works:

[3]  “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  [4] who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God”  (NIV).



I was reading a little devotional commentary that is true to the Word of God.  Dr. George Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas for 50 years, told the following story of a young, unbelieving couple in a sermon.

The young couple, who had just lost their baby, came to Dr. Truett, asking him to conduct the funeral, so he did.

He said later, he had joy of seeing them both come to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Many months later, he said the young mother who had lost her child stepped forward, went to a young girl’s side and said,  “I passed through this and I know what you’re passing through.  God called me and through the darkness I came to Him.  He’s comforted me and He’ll comfort you.”

Dr. Truett said the first mother did more for the second mother than I could have done, maybe in days or months.  For the first young mother had traveled down the same road of GRIEF & SUFFERING  [See footnote [ii] ].

That’s what Paul is talking about in the help of others who are have the same experience in life.

You are never alone in your GRIEF, and know this about our heavenly Father–

“Precious (important and no light matter) in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (His loving ones)”  (Psalm 116:15).



Footnote [i]:  Wikipedia, the Free encyclopedia- the word GRIEF.

Footnote [ii]:  https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/comfort-sometime…th-skin-on-them/

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  The Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.