Wearing the “I’m Into JESUS, But I’m Not Legalistic” Badge

image_computer_virus

COMPUTER Specialist (Didier Stevens) placed a humorous Ad campaign on Google+.  

The Ad read,  “Is your PC (Personal Computer) virus-free? Get it infected here!”

A VIRUS is NOT your friend for they hurt your computers, and you don’t want to be “infected” by them.

Steven’s Ad wasn’t serious, it was something of a joke.  Clicking the Ad didn’t result in a VIRUS infecting your computer.  But some people actually clicked on to this Ad!

Actually, 400 people signed up to have a VIRUS infect/damage their computer.

(Patrick D. Dolum, Heartright.org 07/26/07).

Why would people do that???  It makes no sense.  A VIRUS would hurt their Computer.

The Bible Mentions A Different Kind Of VIRUS–SIN

EPHESIANS 5:3-5 (The MESSAGE bible):

[3] Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed.

[4] Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, Christians have better uses for language that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. Thanksgiving is our dialect.

[5] You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them–the usual variations of idolatry–will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.

DO CHRISTIANS HAVE A UNIQUE CALL TO AVOID STRONG LANGUAGE?

Other than WORDS associated with deity, most PROFANITY involves…the God-related curses are right off the table, if one takes the third commandment seriously at all.

But what is a Christian to do with the remaining “strong language” written and shared on social media today?

Don’t misunderstand my reasons of concern with “strong language”–I personally use FACEBOOK for social contact and…publishing my weekly Blog with other groups and I witness others comments and the effect they might and will have on people.

Ephesians 5, talks about several VIRUSES (“sins”)…

My FOCUS for this post is on three of them:

  • OBSCENITY
  • FOOLISH TALK
  • AND COARSE JESTING

Colossians 3:8 says,

“But now rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and FILTHY LANGUAGE from your lips”  (NIV Bible).   [I capitalized “filthy language” for emphasis only]

AND, JESUS condemned the Pharisees with these words:

“You offspring of vipers!  How can you speak good things when you are evil–wicked? For out of the fullness–the overflow, the superabundance–of the HEART the mouth speaks.  

The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things”  (Matthew  12:34-35 Amp. bible).

The “OVERFLOW OF THE HEART” going on daily in Social Media…

There may not be “speaking”…but they ARE writing in their thought process of what’s in their hearts.

And a lot of that “writing” deals with…anger, rage, bad feelings toward others, curses and slander, and FILTHY LANGUAGE–“unwholesome” communication stuff going on there.

 SOCIAL MEDIA Can Be A Great Place To Talk With Your Friends…

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At the same time, social media can also be a terrible place filled with evil and bitterness and darkness.  A place where JESUS and His Church can be attacked and cursed.

Although FACEBOOK can be a fun place to chat, Christians need to be as careful there…as the world is watching.

So, how do we deal with this problem?

And perhaps, you don’t think there is a “problem” to deal with.

BUT besides myself, if you find there is a problem, how should we stop ourselves from being involved?

FIRST off–we need to realize that this isn’t an “internet” problem.

This problem existed long before Mark Zuckerberg’s idea became a reality, or even computers were ever thought of.

JAMES writes in his letter to Jewish Christians–

James 3:6-8 (AMP):

[6] And the tongue [is] a fire. [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depriving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of truth–the cycle of man’s nature–being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna).

[7] For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea animal, can be tamed and has been tamed by human genius (nature).

[8] But the human tongue can be tamed by no man. It is (an undisciplined, irreconcilable) restless evil, full of death-bringing poison.

Our Church’s Responsibility…

tongue-on-fireFIRST, I believe the church needs to realize its part in dealing with the “human tongue”.

Not dealing with the content on social media only spreads the “fire” and because refusing to step up…a bad situation can only get worse.

ILLUS:  Recently, I heard one youth minister who found a novel way to confront immoral Facebook postings…he said “I’ve read some of my youth group members posts in front of my Youth Group. That put a stop to it!”

When the church does its part of confronting SIN…sin backs off.

Ephesians 5:11-14 (NIV):

[11]  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 

[12]  For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.

[13]  But everything exposed by the light becomes visible,  [14] for it is light that makes everything visible.  

That is why it is said:

“Wake up, O sleeper,

rise from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you.”

A good Godly leadership and good Godly friends will lovingly confront their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus who DON’T do what they should be doing.

POLICING OURSELVES FIRST!!!

Good Christian friends should be able to remind us now and then, when we step over the line with our words; spoken or written.

If necessary, the church leadership should do this, as the Bible commands.

Ideally, it should never get that far.  As Bible believing Christians, we really should police ourselves.

We should be so in LOVE with JESUS, we realize how badly we can hurt our Savior, when we say and write things that are obscene or hurtful.

How do we do that?

JESUS SAID  “The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things” ~ Matt. 12:35 AMP).

So, it’s very simple.  The EVIL THINGS that come out of us are from the EVIL THINGS stored up inside of us.  They didn’t just “slip out’–they were already “stored” in the heart.

Computer geeks have a very scientific phrase to describe this process:  “Garbage in…garbage out.”

If you don’t want bad words coming out of your mouth, then don’t surround yourself with that kind of language.

Don’t spend your time with influences that will fill your hearts and minds with mean-spirited and nasty language and attitudes.

The WORKPLACE…

My last place of employment before I retired, PONOGRAPHY, ‘Filty Mouths’, was a daily filled routine by male and female employees alike.

My boss knew that I was a Christian, and trying to irritate me, would call me into his office …and there on his computer screen…PONOGRAHY.  He never turned around when I entered, but intuitively, he knew I was standing in the doorway.

“Mel, come over here.  I need to show you something.”

I would stand outside the door in the hallway, and say, “John, if it’s that important…call me on the inner office speaker phone.”  He never would.

Areas of Influence…

There are certain TV programs, movies in the local theaters, I won’t watch.  And adding, magazines on display at the check-out stands in stores I intentionally turn my head from–although tempted to read the headlines anyway.

It takes steadfastness and discipline on my part to stay away from certain outside influences; I just don’t want anything planted in my thoughts that will affect my testimony as a Christian witness.

You can’t totally isolate yourself from all outside influences–

We are surrounded by lots of people who curse and speak nasty things.

The apostle Paul told the church in Corinth–they had to realize that they lived in a pagan world:

1 Corinthians 5:9-10 (NET Bible):

[9] “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people.  [10] In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of this world.”

FINDING & USING THE “EMPTY BUCKET” THEOLOGY:

It is important to be careful what you allow to be stored up in your heart.  JESUS said, “the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things (Matt. 12:35b.).  

So we don’t want to go there.

The Old EMPTY Bucket Story

But too often–that’s all people think a HOLY LIFE is like.  They live by the “empty bucket” theology. They think that if they can empty out all the nasty influences of life and become pure and holy, and that all the words they say and write will be nice and kind.

But if that’s all they do…(if all they do is “EMPTY THE BUCKET”), they really miss the real purpose.  All they wind up with is an OLD EMPTY BUCKET.

And, as I have learned by experience, an empty bucket, eventually gets refilled with something.  Sometimes it gets filled with things that are even worse than what we emptied of before.

Look again at what JESUS said in Matt. 12:35a.:

“The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things”

It is not enough to just EMPTY the bucket of BAD STUFF.  You’ve got to FILL the bucket with good stuff.

JESUS said a GOOD MAN “flings forth” (AMP) good things in his heart.

THE “GOOD THINGS” TO STORE UP IN THE BUCKET –

“Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; BUT INSTEAD voice your THANKFULNESS [to God]”  (Ephesians 5:4).

“And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him”  (Colossians 3:17).

We NEED to FILL OUR BUCKET with such an attitude of Gratitude to God…no room for anything else.  We might not be able to leave this world & all its influences upon us, but we can become so FILLED with our RELATIONSHIP with God that the world just can’t force its way in.

The Present Age of the Computer–

It is hard to go on the internet without encountering VIRUSES.

And all because of mean spiritual, hateful people who try to hurt others by damaging someone else’s computer.

Because of these ‘virus makers,’ you can’t get on the INTERNET without exposing your computer to these sources.

AVG, NORTON, MCAFEE, BARRACUDA NET-WORKS TO THE RESCUE!

Depending on how much protection you’ve stored up & purchased from these companies, their PROTECTION supposedly, prevents the VIRUSES on the internet.

WHAT GOD’S WORD IS TELLING US…

A Heart Filled With Thanks Is The VIRUS PROTECTOR We Need…

How to SHIELD ourselves from storing up evil thoughts and words in our hearts.  

The more filled our hearts are with the thoughts of God and His kindness to us, the lest prone we are to spout off with foul language and nasty things you share on whatever SOCIAL MEDIA you are currently participating in.

David Steindl-Rast once said,

“…in our English language there is no such thing as being half full of thanks or gratitude; we are either thankFUL or grateFUL.”

 VIRUSES INFECT…

Viruses infect our PCs (Personal Computers), while SIN infects our PLs (Personal Lives).

FACEBOOK and the like, have become one place where we can see certain VIRUSES/SINS that INFECT the language used and the attitudes we try to conceal.

You might not think you’re “cursing” — but in retrospect, you probably not aware of malware/viruses on your computer until… the screen goes black.  But then, it’s too late to do anything about it.

The “Mean-spiritedness” and “Cursing” Virus Exposed –

The way to cut down on cursing and mean-spiritedness starts with AWARENESS–focusing on Christ and His Kindness–where there isn’t room left for the thoughts of this world.

And, when we do that–people see something different in our life–a consistency–something that is so satisfying that this is what they want too.

So lets WATCH our words and what we SHARE with others on social media.

Our attitude and our language can be infectious–good or bad.


CREDITS:

PHOTOS USED:

Google Image & Photo Pin

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:

Amplified Bible, except where noted in the text.

Discipleship Is Character Development!

God’s Spirit was speaking so strong to my spirit over the last two days, regarding DISCIPLESHIP in the churches.  So I was prompted to begin my investigation with the Letter of Paul to the Philippian Church:  “Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]”  (Philippians 2:5 AMP).

As I prepared my WORD investigation on discipleship, I thought about things that I needed to hear.  So what I am about to uncover is just as much for me as it is for you.

I certainly agree with one preacher who said:  ‘God is more concerned with our CHARACTER than our comfort.  He is more concerned with our HOLINESS than our happiness.  And He is more interested in us as a PERSON than our possessions.’

Before I get started in the discussion regarding DISCIPLESHIP training in your particular church setting [my church setting], there has to be a test to take for each one of us individually:

* THERE IS AN I.Q. TEST TO TAKE:

Before getting your Driver’s License, you had to go first to the State Department of Motor Vehicles (the D.M.V.), taking a written test first and passing the questions on general road safety: road sign identification, local speed limits, auto safety, etc.  This State requirement is not only for first time drivers but new residents in that particular area of the country–each state has their own requirements.

I remember taken this written test back…let’s just say I was 16 years old.  I received a study brochure, read the sample questions, and thought I was ready.  Well, evidently I wasn’t ready because the D.M.V. employee, after checking my answers, informed me that I had NOT PASSED the written test.  She underlined my wrong answers and said, ‘you can come back in a week and try again.’  “ONE WEEK?” I asked.  “But I have to get my ‘learners permit’ to drive,” raising my voice in sheer panic!  What are my friends going to say?

Well, after really studying the DRIVING INSTRUCTION booklet, coming back exactly one week later, I PASSED the test;  I was much better prepared to begin my journey as a California State approved…a learner and authorized vehicle operator.

NO CHEATING ALLOWED!

Believe it or not, I found a CHEAT SHEET on taking a Department of Motor Vehicles written test before becoming a licensed driver on- line: dmvcheatsheets.com/   Sorry folks, CHEAT SHEETS won’t help you in becoming a DISCIPLE!

–“DISCIPLESHIP” INSTRUCTIONS – Passing the 4-I.Q. Questions of DISCIPLESHIP–(PHILIPPIANS 2:19-30 NAS).

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE:

verse 19:  “But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.”

verse 20:  “For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.”

verse 21:  “For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.”

verse 22:  “But you know of his proven worth that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.”

verses 23-24:  “Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me;  and I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall be coming shortly.”

verses 25-26:  “But I thought it necessary to send you Ephaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need;  because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard he was sick.”

verse 27:  “For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”

verse 28:  “Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly in order that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you.”

verses 29-30:  “Therefore receive him in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard;  because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.”

 

# 1.  The Test of COMMITMENT (INVOLVEMENT):

The Greek word for commitment, I found quite interesting:

(1) The verb; In the sense of “doing or practicing.”  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary continues the definition of COMMITMENT by using the Greek word, prasso (STRONG, 4238), “to do, work, practice,” is said of continuous action, or action not yet completed.

* Timothy and Epaphroditus have something in common.

Their willingness to go whenever their leader sends them to go:

“But I hope and trust in Lord Jesus soon to send Timothy to you” ~ Php. 2:19

“I thought it necessary to send Epaphroditus [back] to you” ~ Php. 2:25

We are living in a generation that hates responsibilities and ignores commitments  People do not want to be personally involved anymore.  They can attend church if…they have the ‘mood’; offer their help sometimes.  But if it involves personal commitment, they find it difficult to do.

* In the contrary, JESUS said the mark of DISCIPLESHIP is LOVE.

We cannot LOVE without INVOLVEMENT:  “By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves]” ~ John 13:35 AMP.

The Author of our salvation already commissioned us to go (Mark 16:15).

* COMMITMENT is a question of INVOLVEMENT.

Now I’m not just talking about stripping the wallpaper off the women’s Restroom at church–and that IS important.  You cannot be committed unless you become involved:

“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,  Whom shall I send?  And who will go for Us?  Then said I, Here am I; send me.  And He said, Go tell this people, Hear and hear continually, but understand not: and see and see continually, but do not apprehend with your mind”  (Isaiah 6:8-9).

I believe that God has a personal calling for each and every one of us and obedience to His call becomes the evidence of our maturity and discipleship.

Sometimes God may lead us to a place that we didn’t want to go.  As mature Christians, we defy all hardships; ignore personal risks; jump and say goodbye to our comfort to follow Jesus our Lord.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Why?

Because we are followers of One who left the comfort of heaven-sent by His Father to join us in battle to commit His life for ours.

Now there is a pattern to follow in our character development.

# 2.  THE TEST OF COMPASSION (INTEREST?):

–Timothy stands head and shoulders compared to others. 

Paul has a very exceptional comment about him here in Philippians.  It’s as if he examines all other believers, that he alreadyknows, then concludes that he has no student like him.

So, how did Timothy become different from the other followers?  It’s not because of his intellectual knowledge or his abilities.  Here is the answer:

“For I have no one like him who will be so genuinely interested in your welfare and devoted to your interests” (Php. 2:20).

–Paul then admonishes the believers in Philippi–Honor men like Epaphroditus.

What makes him so special, a man of honor?  It wasn’t because of his special ability but because he’s a man who has COMPASSION; a genuine interest for the people who are in need of his help.

Philippians 2:25 says, “…who you sent to take care of my needs.”

Epaphroditus had a great excuse to forget the welfare of others around him because he was ill, deathly sick.  Others would have probably thought about his situation because of how lousy they have felt.  BUT not Epaphroditus.  He was more concerned with the anxiety; that the news of his illness made to the brethren in the church at Philippi rather than his own condition.  That’s COMPASSION!

# 3.  TEST OF CONSISTENCY (INTEGRITY?)

I published a blog not too long ago entitled:  INTEGRITY in a World of Changes.  If you haven’t already read it after reading this particular topic of DISCIPLESHIP development, you might go there afterword.

* Paul’s Description of Timothy.

Paul describes Timothy as the one who has proven integrity:

“Timothy’s tested worth…he has toiled with me zealously in [serving and helping to advance] the good news (the Gospel)”  (Php. 2:22 AMP).

It means that he is CONSISTENT–“tested worth” in his faith and ministry in sharing the Gospel with others.  Timothy accompanied Paul almost his entire missionary journey.  He suffered the same persecution that Paul experienced.  Yet, he didn’t give up!

And when the time came to stand on his own two feet, far from his mentor, he continued his ministry without any hesitation.  Timothy is an example of consistency and integrity in the service for Christ Jesus.

#4.  THE TEST OF COOPERATION (IDENTIFICATION?):

Timothy’s sharing with Paul through thick and thin; through joys and sorrows; through riches and poverty; through sickness and health (Php. 2:22).

Next, Epaphroditus sharing with Paul in all kinds of situations:

–in the house.

–in the work.

–in the battle.

–even in fulfilling their responsibilities of bringing the GOOD NEWS of Christ to his gospel ministry:

“[He has been] my brother and companion in labor and my fellow soldier, as well as [having come as] your special messenger (apostle) and minister to my need”  (Php. 2:25 AMP).

–Epaphroditus:  MY BROTHER – (PARTNER in Care).  The words imply his personal care and compassion; as a member in the family picturing what a brother in Christ should be during times of persecution, trouble and need.

*  He risks his own life to defy his own health for the sake of his brother Paul and the Philippian brethren.

–Epaphroditus:  MY FELLOW-WORKER – (PARTNER in Work). The implication here is about his TEAMWORK.

*  With other believers by sharing in the same task; with humble submission.

*  SUBMITTING himself to the decision of the brethren who sent him to assist and help Paul in prison.  Then…sent him back again by Paul to Philippi.

*  He obeys without any complaint because he always did his part in the task assigned for the Lord.  Empowered by his own love for the Philippian Church.

–Epaphroditus:  FELLOW-SOLDIER – (PARTNER in Battle).  Implies his WILLINGNESS to fight for the cause of God’s kingdom.

*  A true soldier of Christ who is willing to die for the sake of God’s glory!

–Epaphroditus:YOUR MESSENGER – (PARTNER in Responsibility).  Implying his single-mindedness of fulfilling his task to carry God’s message; the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

“KOINONIA” – (A PARTNERSHIP, SHARING CHRIST IN THE FELLOWSHIP):

DISCIPLESHIP involves SHARING in a partnership with the Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  In turn, DISCIPLESHIP involves SHARING with people whether they are believers or non-believers.

We’ve learned our CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT requires our commitment to the task at hand.  We will need to “prasso” or to “practice” what we’ve learned from Timothy and Epaphroditus as DISCIPLES:

*  To be involved in community SHARING our LOVE.

*  To be committed to Christ !

*  To have compassion for others (coming from our LOVE for Jesus).

*  Being consistent in our character; our INTEGRITY.

*  Identifying with others in SHARING in their needs; their comfort; their joy and sorrows.

*  Being obedient to God’s Word in partnering with Him in the tasks at hand.

*  SHARING the message, the Gospel of Christ.

LOVE Is Like A “CURTAIN ROD”.

Everything that you practice in DISCIPLESHIP hangs on the ‘curtain rod’ of LOVE.  If one end of the curtain rod falls from its place, everything hanging on the rod slips off on the floor.

Your CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT hangs on that principle.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you keep the LOVE ROD in place.