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Snake Oil Salesmen Did it Right

Back in the day, and I mean BACK, small towns would sometimes be graced with the presence of the traveling salesman. Sometimes what was sold would be “snake oil” or something pretty good! These guys made their way across the country, working hard.snake-oil-salesmen Today, we could equate this work to a talented inventor working diligently to get his idea out there to make a difference in their realm of influence. And, on a larger scale, a company advertising hard to let the world know about their products so they could grow and make a living for their employees.

It’s funny to me how snake oil salesman was the first thing I thought of for this post. After all, many people have equated this profession to the world of religion. There is a huge distinction that I will make though and it will make complete sense if you stick with me. First, let’s take a look at the Great Commission again (see last post).

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit… (Matt 28:19)

In today’s church culture, it seems that we stick to our church buildings. We might talk to a neighbor, or do some meaningful work in the city, but for the most part we are not sharing the gospel are we? Think about that. If you are a born again Christian, true Catholic or committed to your denomination, meaning that you have stepped off the podium of life and placed Jesus on it, then how many people have you honestly shared the gospel with this past week, month, year(s)? I have to ask this question of myself too.

Let’s think back to the salesman, or the inventor, or the company looking to sell their goods and ideas. How successful would they have been if they just talked about helping people and served some food, but never talked about the real product they were invested in? What would it look like if they rode into town proclaiming they were a salesman but never explained what they were selling? WOW. Let’s read that again in a slightly different way.

What would it look like to proclaim to be a Christian, but never explain to anyone what that meant?

Hi, I’m a Christian! Yep, my calling is to proclaim the gospel to all nations! Here’s $10, I’ll pray for you! Here, have a meal, the potatoes are great tonight! Oh, you have questions? Here’s my church address…and my pastor’s phone number…

Are you uncomfortable yet? I hope so, since this is the church for the most part in the USA today with a few exceptions. Go and make disciples…this takes effort, commitment and time…of all nations…this means leaving your town, your country and getting the word out if you are able…baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…this means taking the next step, coming alongside a new believer and bringing them into the Kingdom.

It’s not just the pastor’s job, it’s every Christians’ job. Be like the snake oil salesman, not in the product that they sell, but in the effort in which the work was done. Have you ever considered why God has blessed the USA with so much money? Maybe it was so we would have the means to be able to fulfill the Great Commission, not so we could go out and buy one more thing that we don’t truly need.

Next up: Materialism and why the USA has already lost. Oh, this should be good!

Run away, now!

satanTemptation.  You know, Snickers bars, buttery popcorn, ignoring speed limits, yelling first asking questions later, even pretty ladies.  We all deal with temptation in our own way.  How do we overcome it?

Here we go!  Let’s look at a guy named Joseph.  He gets sold into slavery and bought by a rich family.  He’s a really smart guy and the man of the house sees it.  Joseph is given incredible responsibility to run the household because he does it so well.  The family prospers.  You must also know that good ole Joe is a pretty handsome guy too.  His owner’s wife notices this fact.  Uh Oh.  She wants Joe to pay attention to her if you know what I mean.  Joe isn’t into that at all, and he runs away from her repeatedly because he was taught to not mess around with another man’s wife!  Eventually, this lady is so fed up she traps Joe and he gets away, but he has to leave his coat because she is holding on to it.  Talk about a prima donna who must have always gotten her way!

Well, this lady goes on to tell a lie to her hubby.  She says Joesph tried to rape her. This leads to Joseph getting tossed into jail.  Fun, right?  Well, this all ends well.  Joe is so smart he is given a high place in running the jail, he helps others in jail and eventually is noticed by the King.  In the end Joseph is 2nd in command of the entire land and he helps everyone survive a severe famine.

Here’s the moral of this story.  No matter what evil temptations are coming your way, run from them.  You may have guessed this is a paraphrased version of the Biblical account of Joseph in Genesis 39-42.  God blesses Joseph in all that he does and even the bad circumstances lead to even better situations.

Do we trust God that much?

 

One Sin

 must admit, at times I feel that it seems harsh that one lie would keep me out of heaven.  It’s true, but at the same time, hard to swallow at times.  So, like I usually try and do, I went to my trusty bible to try and make even more sense of this truth I have known for many years.  AND… I got my answer.

I’ve read the book of Romans a ton of times, but WOW, these verses in Chapter 5 hit home and really made this whole sin issue make a lot more sense.  If we read Romans 5:16-19, we see several references to the “one sin”.   This being the actions of Adam and Eve in the garden.  Adam was right there with Eve, but allowed the “one sin” to occur when they ate from the tree God told them not to eat of.  Paul wrote clearly about this history as recorded in Genesis.  Paul is also clear that this “one sin” is why we all have a problem with disobedience, lying, stealing, lusting, hating, sin, sin, sin.

So, to clear up my original confusion in paragraph one, I came to the realization (again) that God is completely Holy, Perfect and Sinless.  To God, having sin around is kind of like throwing hot oil into water.   BOOM!  THEY CANNOT MIX.  So, no matter how I may perceive sin, or how bad “one lie” really is, God sees it ALL as hot oil that can be thown into that pan of water.  No amount of it is good, or okay, or just a white lie.  It is ALL worthy of hell.  Can you imagine trying to coax the water into not reacting to the hot oil being spilled into the pan?  This is the same as imagining God dealing with sin, any amount of it.

So, to sum up, “one sin” will keep you out of heaven just like water will explode with even a drop of hot oil.  That’s why we need a Savior that was meant to wash us of that sin, or in this context, remove that hot oil so the water will be pure and calm.  Pretty cool.

Blessings,

Jeff

-Original posting was June 5, 2008-

Solo Chess

You know what?  It’s frankly a lot easier to do life on your own.  You don’t have to worry about anyone else’s needs.  No issues with what color to paint a room.  Backseat (or front seat) drivers are a thing of the past.  Where to eat out tonight?  Who likes THAT discussion?  Just go where you want!

After saying all that (and I didn’t even mention selecting a TV show or a movie to watch) I want to set the record straight.  If you choose to live alone, with minimal interaction with other people you are missing out on real life.  You see, everything I listed is related to either convenience or selfishness.  Who in the world ever said life was supposed to be convenient?  I think convenience has ruined our society in many ways.  I won’t go into that subject too deeply now, but think about it.

In our society interactions with people are minimized.  Think of banks.  They REALLY dislike having to deal with you in person or live on a phone.  The texting phenomenon, no matter how convenient, has arguably destroyed the idea of an intimate conversation.  I used the convenient word again, didn’t I?

I challenge the idea that we are better off not having to talk to people.  Order a pizza online or actually talk to a real person on the phone?  Do you know what you miss?  You miss the opportunity to say, THANKS…the opportunity to hear a voice that is burdened or stressed and then doing something about it…like saying a simple word of encouragement.

If you see your neighbor outside, do you rush to also go out to be able to say Hi, or do you slow down hoping they don’t see you?  Why?  What happened to meeting at the mailbox for a quick update on the family or some sociable small talk?

Do you bolt out of church at the end of service to avoid conversation?  To get to lunch faster?  Why?  Really?  Your stomach is more important than a relationship?  Waiting in a line of cars for an extra five minutes is really that big of a deal?  Really?

How about your relationship with God?  Can’t text Him, so no relationship exists, right?  As we eliminate doing life with others, we naturally push God away too!  In the Christian faith, it’s all about a relationship with Jesus Christ.  If we can’t even have a solid, meaningful relationship with a family member or a neighbor, then how do we expect to build one with the Son of God?  Really?  Are you thinking about this yet?  The Bible says that we are the Church.  Every believer is a part of the Body of Believers.  We are all different parts of the body!  What’s an ear to do all alone?

Yes, doing certain things in life alone may be more convenient, even easier, but in the end we need to practice dong life with those around us!  You will be more fulfilled.  We will find joy and you will learn interesting things about the people around you.  You might even learn about why all these “strangers” have those weird habits that gnaw at you.  Best of all, you may even learn to meet Jesus and talk to him.  You may better hear the Holy Spirit speaking into your life.  Or, you can just go on doing it all alone.

One final thought.  If we are supposed to do life alone, why in the world are we all so freaking mad when we can’t talk to a live person on the phone when we need help?  Hmmm, got ya…

Two Minute Bible Study: Vol. 1, Issue 2

Ezekiel, Manure & Questioning God:

Ezekiel, Ezekiel, where shall we find another prophet willing to go through what you went through?  Ezekiel definitely had a unique ministry.  In Ezekiel 3:16 – 5:17 I found two good points to write a quick study about.

1. Warn the lost

2. Question God (if you are willing)

Warn the lost means we are to do just that, “Hey, you got Jesus?!  If not, you are heading in the wrong direction!”…  Ezzy (my affectionate name for Ezekiel) is given the words to speak and they entail, “WARN THE LOST, IF NOT, THEN THEIR BLOOD IS ON YOUR HANDS TOO!”  Now, we must recall this directive is during the time of the Old covenant with God, before Jesus’ time.  BUT… it’s still a relevant teaching, after all, if you call yourself a Christian, then our directive is to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt 28:19 NIV)  Yes, in essence, get your rear in gear, and work on the hearts of the lost!

Ezzy also details to us that we are to warn a righteous man before he does something unrighteous.  I would like to warn myself more often, but, alas, I tend to be deaf to my own screams!  Of note, if you fail to warn this man, he will die for his sin and ALL of his good deeds will be forgotten.  Boy, doesn’t that hit the nail on the head!  I’m thinking of OJ Simpson, MANY politicians, etc.  People mess up big, and their past doesn’t matter any longer it seems.

Now, Question God…. you may be thinking I have a screw loose…. I’M NOT SAYING QUESTION GOD ABOUT EVERYTHING!  Here is why I say this….  Yes, Ezzy did it.  I love passing the buck (not really but it sounded funny to say that).  In Ezekiel 4:12+ God has told Ezzy to bake his bread using “human excrement”, ahhhh gross, man.  If God told me to do that, and I was glowing like Moses and on a spiritual high after talking with the big man himself… I would say, SURE!  But NOT Ezzy, oh no, he goes nuts talking about how he has never eaten anything impure, unclean or smelling like poop (I added that last one).  Yep, he back talked to God in a way I suppose, but he was heard!  God noted his passion for the LAW (God’s law by the way) and allowed Ezzy to use cow manure instead.  That sure helped I’m sure.

Was it a test?  I think so…. but who knows!  Either way, I thought it was interesting.  If you ever feel God is calling you to do something that may not be quite right (like burn down an abortion clinic, or beat up an atheist), MAYBE you should question it a bit!  No harm in that, right!  I AM being a bit facetious, if you know me I have my moments of insanity.  One other moment of insanity may have been expecting you to have read this in two minutes.

Acknowledgements: Image: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Image: Tim Beach / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Commandments I-IV

A somewhat updated blast from the past, I’ve linked to my articles on the first four of the Ten Commandments.  Commandments 1-4 have to do with our relationship with God.  Commandments 4-6 are about our relationships with others.  Here are the first four!

The 1st Commandment

The 2nd Commandment

The 3rd Commandment

The 4th Commandment

Our Purpose

As a family man and the spiritual leader of my household, I’ve often sought out my purpose.  Actually, there are quite a few “purposes”, but today I’m going to look at a very important one.  It comes from the book of Malachi.

In Malachi there is some question as to why God isn’t paying attention to or listening to the Israelites and the priests.  Throughout the book many issues are discussed, and I highly recommend reading the entire book!  Let’s look into chapter 2 where divorce is discussed, and more specifically, one of the reasons God wants us in marriage in the first place.

Here is another thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings, and he doesn’t accept them with pleasure.

Available Commentaries for Malachi 2:13

You cry out, “Why has the LORD abandoned us?” I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made to each other on your wedding day when you were young. But you have been disloyal to her, though she remained your faithful companion, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his.  And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. (Malachi 2:13-15 NLT, Emphasis added)

Now, in reading the entire book, we know there are other problems, tithing, questioning God’s sovereignty, etc, but when it comes to marriage, it’s apparent that the kids aren’t being brought up right, or maybe they aren’t even having kids.  Could that be relevant today?  I think so, don’t you?

  1. Are our kids being brought up right today?
  2. Are we even having kids?

I know I have to look hard in the mirror.  We have one wonderful boy.  Just one child…We could have easily had more.  Now, I pray I’m raising him right.  I do care and I do try and my wife and I are fully on board.  We have a lot going for us I would say.  How about you?  Could you be doing more?

I think it’s time to take an inventory with regards to how we are raising our children.  Here’s an idea that shouldn’t take too long, but may open up some great discussions in the family.

  1. Write down how much time you spend with your child(ren) during the day.  Break it out if you have to, but keep it simple.
  2. Are there areas of your life that are taking up time that aren’t as important as your child(ren)?
  3. Are there areas of your life that you could intentionally have your child(ren) help you to work, do, accomplish?  You know, doing more things as a family?  It may be more of a challenge and it may take longer, but would it be worth it?
  4. Talk with your spouse about what you write down.  Engage your child(ren), don’t just make your child(ren) an item on a To Do list to be checked off.
  5. If you do not have children and you know you are able, why?

God seeks godly offspring.  What are you specifically doing to produce godly offspring?  Please don’t let SpongeBob be the spiritual leader of your child, you will be gravely disappointed!  Just being a little silly, I know, but really have you thought about it?  You are the parent, and you have to make the decision!