Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Clearly Seen

There are all kinds of theologies in the world: the Eastern religions, Islam, animism, atheism, agnosticism, and many other. The important question is not which of these is right, but rather which of them, if any, reflects God's eternal power and deity. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).

The rest of this chapter tells us that gross immorality is the result of bad theology.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.... Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Rom. 1:21-24, 26)

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Kinds of People Who Go to Church

It seems to me that there are very real Christians in all Christian denominations. By that I mean that they believe the gospel of Jesus Christ and have the kind of character that results from such belief.

However, whenever there is a real, there are also counterfeits. Counterfeit Christians are called “hypocrites.” The Church is not full of hypocrites, but certainly there are some. In each of these churches, there are also “seekers.” If they seek and don’t find, after a few years they hang it up.

There are other kinds of people in these same churches: sleepers, either spiritually blind or ignorant. They may be agnostic and don’t want to know the truth. They enjoy being religious and sinful at the same time. None of this will fool God.

Which of the two lists below describes you the best?

List 1: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).

List 2: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:22-24).

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tolerance

In my many years on this earth, I have picked up that (at least in this country) “tolerance” is a good word and its practice is commendable. I have also learned that “prejudice” is a bad word and its practice is reprehensible.

As the years went by, I realized that prejudice was based upon ignorance. It was pre-judging without adequate information. It took me a little bit longer to realize that much of the tolerance was also based upon ignorance. It was also pre-judging.

Tolerance has kept its reputation, and prejudice, even when informed, kept its negative definition.

So now we tolerate great evil and are prejudiced against good things. By the use of these definitions alone, we have ended up calling good, evil and evil, good.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dinner Party Reminder

This is for action on the part of Christians and for information for those who are not Christians.

Jesus said: "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous" (Luke 14:12-14).

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Do You Want to Be Pure?

Here is an uncomfortable verse of Scripture. “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:15-16).

This passage describes two types of people: the pure and the defiled/unbelieving. The second group cannot become pure by doing good works, because they are “unfit for any good work.” Someone who is defiled cannot work himself out of defilement. The only way a defiled person can become pure is by being washed.
And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:11 ESV)
Do you want to be pure?

Monday, May 22, 2017

More Favorite Hymns

The Sands of Time Are Sinking is another favorite hymn of mine. The lyrics are taken from the letters of Samuel Rutherford when he was in exile in the mid-1600’s. There are seventeen verses. I only know four of them.

Other favorites:

For All the Saints
O That Will Be Glory
May the Mind of Christ My Savior
Be Thou My Vision
Arise, My Soul, Arise
Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
Jesus, the Name High Over All


I realize now that there are many more favorite hymns. Of these last ones, my three most favorite are The Sands of Time Are Sinking, For All the Saints, and Jesus the Name High Over All.

Friday, May 19, 2017

My Favorite Hymns

A while back, I passed on to you a few favorite verses. I thought I would also tell you my favorite hymns. They are And Can It Be, Amazing Grace, All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name (both tunes), What A Friend We Have In Jesus (both tunes), and O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing.

My most favorite hymn is one I found when I was 8 or 9 years old, a dozen years before I received Christ. I was ready then, but it did not happen. The church was the Church of the Open Door pastored by E.W. Kenyon. You can read one of his messages in the appendix of my book Dead and Alive: Obedience and the New Man. Here is the hymn:
Where the Gates Swing Outward Never

Just a few more days to be filled with praise,
And to tell the old, old story;
Then, when twilight falls, and my Savior calls,
I shall go to Him in glory.

Chorus:
I’ll exchange my cross for a starry crown,
Where the gates swing outward never;
At His feet I’ll lay every burden down,
And with Jesus reign forever.

Just a few more years with their toil and tears,
And the journey will be ended;
Then I’ll be with Him, where the tide of time
With eternity is blended.

Chorus:
I’ll exchange my cross for a starry crown,
Where the gates swing outward never;
At His feet I’ll lay every burden down,
And with Jesus reign forever.

Though the hills be steep and the valleys deep,
With no flowers my way adorning;
Though the night be lone and my rest a stone,
Joy awaits me in the morning.

Chorus:
I’ll exchange my cross for a starry crown,
Where the gates swing outward never;
At His feet I’ll lay every burden down,
And with Jesus reign forever.

What a joy ‘twill be when I wake to see
Him for Whom my heart is burning!
Nevermore to sigh, nevermore to die,
For that day my heart is yearning.

Chorus:
I’ll exchange my cross for a starry crown,
Where the gates swing outward never;
At His feet I’ll lay every burden down,
And with Jesus reign forever.
I do not sing anymore because my voice is too weak. Most of my Christian life I sung all of the time, at work and at home (although I did not sing much on ships in the Navy). it was not singing for or to people who might hear me. It was my own expression of my own joy.

One day a student at Concordia College in Ann Arbor, MI, a Lutheran college where I ran the college bookstore, told me that he and other students listened to me. He commented that they realized that the songs were different from the Lutheran hymns. He said that mine were all about heaven. I had not been conscious of that.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Using God's Name Thoughtlessly

The third commandment: “You shall not use the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who uses His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

“In vain” does not mean maliciously. “In vain” means thoughtlessly or in an empty or common way. People think they are not using God's name in vain because they did not “mean it.” Not meaning it is using His name in vain. That is the definition of “in vain.”

God will not hold you guiltless for this. In other words, He will hold you guilty for "not meaning it.” Your non-motive makes you guilty.

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37).

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

137 Years

Here is the first of the Ten Commandments given to Israel verbally and then in a written form in stone, twice: “I am the LORD your God…you shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3). This was given 1,440 years before Christ. Forty years later, “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one LORD. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:4). Jesus quoted this passage in Matthew 22:37 a few days before He was crucified.

In the Old Testament, idolatry is mentioned about 100 times together with descriptors like polluted, defiled, filthy, abominations, whoring, adultery, and dumb. Idolatry is the greatest sin. It violates the first commandment.

Making idols and worshiping them violates the second commandment. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (Exodus 20:4-6).

In the New Testament, Paul encountered idolatry in Athens in Acts 17 and idol makers in Ephesus in Acts 19. Paul’s message was not anti-idolatry; it was pro-Jesus Christ. The result was that the idol makers’ business suffered, and the sorcerers burned their magic books. The cost of the books burned was 50,000 days' wages, or 137 years’ worth of wages. Preaching Jesus Christ had a major effect on the economy of Ephesus. Another result was a great riot that lasted for hours in the great theater in Ephesus.

Preaching Jesus Christ may have these effects: economic, revival (many new Christians), and riot against the Christians.

In this nation, we are not seeing any of these effects. Maybe it is because Christ is not preached.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Three Kinds of Love

God has given mankind at least three kinds of love. Two of them are mentioned in the New Testament – phileo, the Greek word for friendship, and agape, Greek for selfless, giving love, for the highest good of the person being loved. A third kind is eros, sexual love.

Friendship and sex have been given to the entire human race. Without friendship, everyone would be fighting all of the time (instead of just much of the time). Without sexual love, we would have been long extinct. Let’s thank God for friendship and sex. God has given them to us as a gift, and He made them pleasant sensations. These two kinds of love are not limited to Christians.

God also put restrictions on sex. He did not make it for a plaything. In the beginning, God made one man and one woman. He has been making 50% of each ever since. That means one apiece. He has prohibited fornication, adultery, and homosexual practice.

Selfless love is available to everyone, but it is not natural to everyone like friendship and sex are. It is received as a gift when a person receives Christ. He receives this love because it is the character of God. The Christian is capable and commanded to love his neighbor and his enemies. The normal person is not capable of loving his enemy selflessly, even though he might hold it as an ideal.