Someone jokingly said, “Freedom is being able to do what you please without considering anyone except your wife, the police, boss, life insurance company, State, Federal, and city authorities – and the neighbors.” While that it is a little funny, there is some truth to it when it comes to Christian freedoms or liberties. We know from the teachings of the New Testament that we are free from sin and free from the curse of the Law of Moses. However, there is another area in which Christians enjoy freedom and that is in the areas of the “un-forbidden.” If certain choices, activities, or practices are not forbidden in Scripture, then we are free to do them. Yet the apostle Paul would argue that we are limitedly free in this area. You see not everyone agrees or thinks the same way about these “un-forbidden” activities. Some Christians hold strong convictions against certain practices, while other Christians see no problem with partaking in them. So who is right and who is wrong? Only those who go to seed in legalism or liberalism. We must use caution when stepping into the gray areas of life. Some Christians will condemn others who do the “un-forbidden”, while at the same time other Christians will condemn others who speak out about such activities. Instead we must heed the words of Paul when he says; “So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” – Romans 14:13 NLT. We must each grow in our faith to a point where we would rather abstain from liberty in order not to hinder someone else’s faith in the Lord. If you are convicted about a certain “un-forbidden” activity, don’t make it a practice of calling out other Christians who don’t have a problem with it. At the same time, if you enjoy an activity that is “un-forbidden”, but you are with Christians who have a problem with it, it is your duty in Christ to abstain from it in their presence. Again heed the words of Paul over the matter; “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.” – Roman 14:21 NLT. So enjoy your freedom, but be mindful of how you use it.
A wise man once said, “The tragedy of war is that it uses man’s best to do man’s worst.” While that is defiantly true in today’s world, it is also true in the context of the local church. How tragic it is that men and women of Christ wage war with one another, many times over the foolishness of preference. Yet this is not how it should be. James puts it to us this way: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” – Jam. 4:1 NKJV. The question is “why do we fight?” The answer is “because we give into the desires for pleasure.” I want what pleases me therefore I will go to “war” with anyone who tries to deny me that pleasure…especially at church. What a sad commentary that is on the people who make up the church. This should not be our attitude. If we are true members of the body of Christ, we are born again, changed individuals. We are new people and we now find our identify in Jesus. Thus our preferences should fade to nothing in comparison to Christ’s desires. What does He desire from His people? Love. We are to love one another in the church and outside of the church. But if we truly are living in love we will not have opportunity to wage war. Wars come from anger and division, but harmony and faithfulness are birthed out of love. So dear friends lay down the sword of personal preference and take up the binding banner of love.
It’s been jested that, “A wise man puts aside 10 percent of the money he gets, and 90 percent of the free advice.” Isn’t it interesting how people are quick to share advice even when you didn’t ask for it? Lachelle and I noticed it right away when we first became parents. It seemed that everyone wanted to give us “free advice” when it came to parenting. However the truth is all of us are bombarded with unsolicited advice every day. From commercials, media outlets, political leaders, coworkers, friends, and even religious leaders, messages are constantly trying to be conveyed to us. Some of this is good, but a lot of this is bad. The key for the Christian to maneuver through all this advice is to develop discernment. We do this first by knowing that only God can increase spiritual wisdom. Next we filter everything we are told through the truth learned in God’s word. If free advice doesn’t line up with the message found in the Bible, then is needs to be discarded. Remember, no truth of man will ever defeat or outdo the reliability of the truth of God.
It’s been said, “There are a great many more trap doors to failure than there are short cuts to success. In other words “success” involves risk. This principle is true in business, relationships, and in many other areas of life. However, this principle is true in serving Jesus as well. If you are a Christian, you have been called to lay down your life to follow Christ. We aren’t called to just simply believe and then carry on about life our own merry way. We are told that we must daily die to our desires and do what Jesus tells us to do. When you stop to think about it, from a worldly perspective, that is risky. You see Jesus tells us that we must not hide our light, but live openly as Christians. The risk is that open light could lead to open ridicule and hardships. Jesus also tells us that we are to live honestly in public and in private. The risk is that it is easier and in some circumstances more profitable to be dishonest. Thus, to be honest would mean we would face uncomfortable confrontations and we may not presumably gain as much. Jesus tells us that we are to go and make disciples, hence share the loving truth of Jesus to others. The risk is that we might lose friendships or be labeled a freak. With all honesty, yes these risks may occur, but dear friend, isn’t Jesus worth it? After all Jesus told us it would be this way, but He did so with an awesome promise: “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.” – Matthew 5:11-12a NLT. Yes following Jesus is risky, but the payoff is certain and far greater!
Someone once said, “You seldom hear of a mob rushing across town to support the Golden Rule.” That is so true. We hear a lot in the news lately of people organizing protest and riots over social issues. However, what we don’t see lately being lifted up is Jesus’ great standard of daily living. The Golden Rule comes from our Lord Jesus in Matthew 7:12a which says, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” (NLT). It is so simple, yet so profound. If all mankind treated each other as we would want to be treated in return, there would be a drastic drop in crime, scandals, racism, affairs, and corruption. We cannot control the actions of others, but we can control our own. Thus if we are followers of Jesus, we must take His Golden Rule to heart and watch the transformation that will take place around us.
I read a very humbling statement the other day that said, “If you must publish someone’s faults, publish your own.” Slandering people is common practice in the day we live in. It is easy and even satisfying when we are speaking evil about those who have wronged us. However, slander is very dangerous. It has split churches, crushed marriages, broken friendships, and ruined reputations. Slander is a sin and it has no place in the Christian’s life. Actually we are told to get rid of all such activities, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. ” – 1 Peter 2:1 NIV. Interestingly enough the name “devil” means slanderer. Thus when we practice slandering we are following the ways of the devil. May we strive not to speak as Satan does, but be followers of Jesus even when we are talking about people who have hurt us.
It’s been said, “Fame is chiefly a matter of dying at the right time.” Think about that for a moment. How many people are famous more because of their death, then because of their life? Think about how throughout history those whose lives were cut short seem to shine a little brighter. So, what is the point? Life is unpredictable. You cannot control how long you live, nor can you stop the hand of death. What you can control is what people will remember you for. If you were to die today, how would you be remembered? Would you be remembered as a person of faith and a faithful follower of Christ? Or would you be remembered for selfish actions and foolish decisions? Don’t live in a delusion that you can always start living for Christ tomorrow. You have no certainty tomorrow will come. A true Christian realizes that we are to daily live for God. Listen to the words of Jesus, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” – Luke 9:23 NLT. So don’t delay any more, get in step with Jesus today!
We have had a whirlwind 2017 so far and I just wanted to share with you a little about what has been going on with our family.
Last fall Cory was catapulted by a cow that he was attempting to load into a trailer. That evening he was in a bit of pain and we decided that we needed to get everything checked out to make sure he was ok. It was discovered then that there was a growth on his thyroid. He decided to ask he Dr about it at his next appointment (which happened to be in January) as precaution and his lab work all seemed to show normal thyroid levels. Our doctor did not believe there was any indication of an issue of concern and decided that Cory could follow up with a biopsy just to rule out anything.
Mid January we were greatly anticipating a wonderful trip that would allow us a time of refreshment, encouragement, and re commitment as well as some terrific fellowship with some dear friends. We had been planning this big tripped for months and Cory was insistent that we go ahead and then get everything checked out as precaution because nothing seemed to point to a problem thus far and he was feeling fine. So the biopsy was scheduled to occur after we returned from our trip.
February 1st is the date that was planned for the biopsy of the nodule and when the results returned the news was “highly suspicious”. Our doctors explained that this is usually a strong indicator that cancer is present. They advised us that it would be necessary to go ahead and remove the thyroid and the nodule and send it to pathology to get a final determination. The surgery is scheduled for March 1st, with possible treatment afterward depending on results.
I am calling on you all, our dearest family, friends, loved ones, and prayer warriors to join me in praying for Cory, the surgeon and medical staff, as well as our family at this time. We know God’s goodness and feel an overwhelming amount of love and encouragement as well as a confidence that only He gives. We trust that His outcome is a part of the plan but the unknown and the waiting can sometimes feel nerve-wrecking.
As the Psalmist David reminds us, this has been on my heart the last few days: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies” Psalm 103:1-4
Thank you so much for your love and prayers for us. I will post updates as we know more.
– Lachelle McCaig
Someone once whimsically said, “If the speeches of some men don’t reach posterity, it will not be because they aren’t long enough.” Have you ever known anyone like that? Someone who could talk your ear off? There are some people that we all know that when we have finished a conversation with them it feels like all we have done is wasted a bunch of time. Now there is nothing at all wrong with socializing and spending quality time talking with other folks. After all, Christians should be marked as people who are kind and approachable. However, there is foolishness that can come from talking just to hear one’s own voice. Wise Solomon warns us: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” – Proverbs 10:19 ESV. Having the gift of gab is not really a gift at all. The Scriptures tell us that when we over speak we are playing on the verge of sin and no speech no matter how good is worth that.
It’s been wisely said, “So live that when people speak evil of you, no one will believe it.” Over the years I have observed two extremes in Christian teaching. There is a camp that crosses the line into legalism, harping on people’s lifestyles and conduct. Then there is the other camp that chooses to ignore personal behavior, giving license for people act in anyway desired under the guise of grace. Of these two “Christian” camps the latter group seems to be gaining ground in the church today. In many cases I believe it is unintentional, but the lack to condemn or condone has blurred the lines for biblical morality. Yet such blurring does not absolve the believer from following the teachings of Scripture. How we Christians live and behave is of the upmost importance. Listen to the words of Jesus; “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” – John 8:31b ESV. Thus if we truly are the followers of Jesus, then we must remain consistent to His teachings. Therefore, out of a love for the Lord we will flee that which is evil and cling to that which is holy. So it really does matter what people see when they observe the way we live. May we strive to live above reproach, because truth be told, people are looking and they are talking. What are they saying about you?