Compassion International

Compassion International
This blogger is a proud supporter of Compassion International.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Are Tattoos Taboo?

    Over on a forum set aside for Christian singles, someone claimed that Christians are required to conform to Mosaic Law as it is stated in Leviticus 19:28. That verse says, "You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord."

     The validity of the aforementioned claim is not supported by scriptural evidence.

     Here is a statement about Leviticus 19:28 made by Dr. David Capes, a Professor in Christianity at Houston Baptist University: 

It is true and undeniable that Leviticus instructs the people of God not to cut their bodies or get tattoos. But we must ask what function those laws had. 
There are 613 laws in the Old Testament that make up—and this is key—God’s covenant-agreement with the people known as Israel. Some laws are universal (no murder, no stealing, no adultery), but the majority are specific to that people. 
Christians today, for example, don’t remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy by doing no work on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the 7th day of the week, Saturday, not Sunday. Christian women today don’t follow the laws of what to do during their menstrual cycles. The majority of Christians eat pork, shrimp and catfish despite God’s clear instruction to Israel not to eat these things (Leviticus 11). Christians today don’t celebrate Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. 
Now why don’t Christians follow these laws? They are part of the Bible. True, they are, but these are laws God gave to establish the people we know today as Israel. These laws set them apart from their pagan neighbors. They are written, according to Paul, for our instruction but they do not apply to us. 
Paul, you remember, did not insist that Gentile men be circumcised in order to follow Christ even though circumcision was central to the Abrahamic covenant. Circumcision is the mark/cutting of the body that set the men of Israel apart from their pagan neighbors. Today many Jews still follow these laws and practices. 
Informed by the Old Testament, Christians are to be formed by a different set of teachings (the Sermon on the Mount, law of Christ—Galatians 6), practices (Sunday worship, Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, hospitality), and beliefs (incarnation, trinity, resurrection, etc).

     In the 15th chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, we read about a council held in Jerusalem by the Apostles and elders of the Church at that time. The topic of their discussion was whether or not Gentile followers of the Messiah were required to conform to the Laws of Moses as spelled out in the Tanak (a.k.a. Old Testament). 

     The members of the Council decided that Gentiles were not required to conform to the Laws of Moses. The Council drafted a letter that was sent to the Messiah's Gentile followers living in other cities. This is what the letter said: 
The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.

     In short, the claim that Gentiles must conform to the Mosaic Law stated in Leviticus 19:28 is a claim that contradicts the teachings of the Apostles.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Time to leave the Pulpit

1. On Pastor Appreciation Day the congregation gives you a trip to the Orient, but it's for one way only.
2. The Deacon Board forgets to include your salary in next year's church budget.
3. The last time you preached a funeral, people mistook you for the deceased.
4. The congregation is given No Doze tablets instead of communion wafers.
5. The church bulletins have crossword puzzles where sermon notes are supposed to go.
6. The local ministers association notifies you that your lifetime membership has expired.
7. Doctors prescribe recordings of your sermons as a cure for insomnia.
8. Your children tell their friends that you work for the Mafia because they are too embarrassed to say what you really do.
9. Your wife attends another church because nobody there knows who her husband is.
10. Rodney Dangerfield gets more respect than you do.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Judge Not

     In 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 the Apostle Paul states, “What have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.”

     In his commentary about Paul’s statement, William Barclay writes, “It is Paul’s principle that we are not to judge those outside the Church. “Those outside” was a Jewish phrase used to describe people outside the Chosen People. We must leave their judgment to God who alone knows the hearts of men.”

     The idea that Christians are not to judge non-Christians isn’t an idea that every member of the Christian community accepts. All too often, Christian adults in the USA will get on their soap boxes and lecture non-Christian adults on how to live their lives. The ones doing such lecturing may feel pleased with themselves, but all that the lecturing does is to cause the non-Christian adults to put up their defenses.

     Christians who engage in such lecturing fail to grasp one of the realities of life: It is foolish to expect spiritual fruit from one who is spiritually dead. If Christians behave in a way that pleases God, then they do so because the Holy Spirit dwells within them and gives them the ability to behave in a way that pleases God. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians are no more able to live a godly life than non-Christians are able to.

     In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Godly living isn’t something that is self-generated.  So, one does not make others clean by getting on one’s soap box.

Quote Sources:

William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians, The Daily Study Bible Series (The Westminster Press: 1975), p. 48.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

In Another Land

“Dear Sponsor, I am shivering for it’s cold outside.

The scary things in my world make me want to hide.

I know you love me, but just why I do not understand.

I’m glad to be your little child in another land.”

She was only six years old when she came into my life,

Born into a cold, cruel world full of poverty and strife.

She needed someone to love her and to point the way to God.

That is when she touched my heart and became my child of love.

“Dear Sponsor, I’m not hungry now. You gave me food to eat.

It’s easier to walk to school with new shoes on my feet.

I know you love me, but just why I do not understand.

I’m glad to be your little child in another land.”

Sickness left her. She grew strong – a miracle in her world!

It was plain for all to see that God was working in this girl.

Then one day there came the time that I had been praying for.

My little child gave her life to the Savior Christ the Lord.

“Dear Sponsor, I’m a new girl now. Jesus gave me a brand new heart.

Even though you’re far away, we won’t always be apart.

I always knew you loved me, and now I understand.

God made you love this little child in another land.”

Other children in the world need special friends to care,

Ones willing to touch their lives and the love of God to share.

Will you be one of those to lend a helping hand?

Will you share Christ’s love with a child in another land?

“As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

- Jesus,
Matthew 25:40 (ESV)

Image Source ]

Songs and Tears: How I became a Compassion sponsor

     One Saturday during the summer of 1986, I bought a recording of a concert performed by Petra.  Most of the songs were up-beat, but one song in particular wasn't.  It was a song titled Hollow Eyes, and its lyrics were as follows:

"Another day in Nigeria the children beg for bread. The crops failed, the well went dry when they lost the watershed. A baby dies. Its mother cries. The children gather around. They are wondering what the day will bring. Will they be the next one found?  Do you dare to gaze into their hollow eyes?

Beneath the crowded sheds the children lay their heads to escape the Haitian heat.  Their hunger pain drives them to the street to see if today they'll eat.  Some find food in the refuge heap.  Others find disease.  Some find it harder just to live when they could die with ease.  Do you dare to gaze into their hollow eyes?"

     I was crying like a baby by the time the song ended.  I cried because I knew that the song was describing something real – children being killed by poverty, and I believed that I could do nothing to stop what was happening.  Afterwards, I cried whenever I heard that song, whether it was on the recording or on the radio.

     One day during the summer of 1987 while listening to the radio, I heard another song about poverty.  It was titled Do Something Now, and it was performed by a collection of the most popular U.S. Christian recording artists of that time.  The song began like this:

"Do we see Jesus in their hungry eyes? Are we so numb that we can't sympathize? Maybe we're too willing just to eulogize instead of rolling up our sleeves and trying to resurrect a world that's dying. We got a world that's dying."

     The chorus went like this:

"Do something now. See their broken lives. Pick up the pieces. Do something now. Open up your heart. Share the love of Jesus."

     As it turned out, I was listening to a special program that promoted an organization that I had never before heard of – Compassion International. The program contained testimonies by the recording artists featured in the song.  Through their testimonies I learned that there was something that I could do to rescue a child from poverty.  All that I had to do was sponsor a child through Compassion International.  I did not hesitate to call the toll-free number given during the radio program.  I stopped crying and became a Compassion sponsor.

     Since that day in 1987 my involvement with Compassion International has given me many reasons to smile. However, there was one occasion during which my involvement resulted in me crying. It happened one day when I received a letter from the young girl whom I was sponsoring. She began her letter with the following statement:

"Dear Sponsor, I am very happy because in a far place called Oklahoma lives a person who loves me."

     Upon reading that statement, I cried tears of joy because I knew for certain that the young girl had taken the first step out of poverty. She had discovered that she was loved, and as a result of her discovery, she began to have hope for a better future.

     Child sponsorship works.

The photo above is from the Associated Press, and it was taken in the Philippines. The photo shows children in the Philippines lined up to receive a meal. The Philippines is one of the nations in which Compassion International is working to rescue children from poverty.

Statement of Faith

I adhere to the Statement of Faith of the World Evangelical Alliance. It says the following:
"We believe the Holy Scriptures as originally given by God, divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy; and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct...

One God, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit...

Our Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, His virgin birth, His sinless human life, His divine miracles, His vicarious and atoning death, His bodily resurrection, His ascension, His mediatorial work, and His Personal return in power and glory...

The Salvation of lost and sinful man through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ by faith apart from works, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit...

The Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the believer is enabled to live a holy life, to witness and work for the Lord Jesus Christ...

The Unity of the Spirit of all true believers, the Church, the Body of Christ...

The Resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life, they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation."

Blog Reboot

 Today, I am re-booting this blog. All previous posts have been deleted. Some previous posts may be re-posted after review and editing.