What a Shame – Pastor Greg

Jeremiah 6:15  Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord.

Romans 1:32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Edgar Allen Poe. Ever read any of his short stories? One that stands out is called the “Tell Tale Heart” – a story of a man who kills his roommate and buries him under the floorboards. The crime is perfect and he is sure to get away with it, but for one thing. He begins to hallucinate that he can hear the man’s heart beating and it drives him to confess! The point of the story is how one’s conscience, even a crazy one, will motivate people to change behavior. I am sure that all of us can remember when we did something wrong and were miserable until we confessed. That is our conscience working as it should. It is something that God has given to us. We see the first example of this when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and immediately realized they were naked and ashamed. They tried to cover and hide. 

The conscience is an immaterial part of all people that either excuses or accuses the correctness of our behavior. Its function is like that of an umpire in a game. The umpire does not determine what is wrong or right, but takes his cues from an outside source such as the rule book. So if the rules are changed, so will the umpire’s response, based on what is acceptable or not. So it is with our conscience. It takes its cues from an outside source, be that society, legislation or God’s word. If any of those codes of conduct change then the conscience will adapt to what is now acceptable or not. Paul describes the conscience this way in Romans 2:15: “For when Gentiles who do not have the law do instinctively the things of the Law these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.” Even unbelievers who do not have the clear declaration of God’s law understand the concept of right and wrong, even if those definitions are twisted.

Going back to Poe’s story, the crime of murder was clearly understood to be a wrong thing to do. In 1843 when the story was written, murder was a capital offense and was a shocking event when it took place. Not only was it a crime legally, but it was also understood from God’s word that only God or designated human authority had the right to take a life. This clear declaration both legally and morally had been absorbed by the conscience of the murder and manifested itself in the sound of a beating heart that drove him to confess to his heinous crime! 

But our conscience can be adjusted or seared. The more sin is redefined as less than sinful, the more that good is declared to be wrong our conscience will adjust to the new input and accuse or defend accordingly. Paul shares in I Tim. 4 that in the later times some will fall away from the faith by believing deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons and that by saying one thing but doing another their consciences are seared. Ever sear meat? It’s done to seal in the juices, it creates a barrier on the outside. So it is with our conscience, we can say one thing and then live another way, and by doing so we slowly sear our conscience and make it less sensitive to the truth. Our culture does not know how to blush anymore. It is hardened to the truth of God’s word and rejects it outright. So the things that once caused us as a society to blush no longer have an effect and in reality are applauded.

What about you and me? Are there things that we used to be bothered by, but now we don’t really notice? Can we say we are more sensitive to the things that God cares about or less sensitive? As the world becomes harder and harder are we allowing the tenderizing of the Word to influence our hearts? I have to say that I need the reminder to keep faith and a good conscience (I Tim 1:19a). It takes effort and I need to adjust my thinking to the truth rather than allow the culture to adjust my thinking to it. So, does our conscience bother us? Do some things cause you to blush? Good. Ask why and seek the truth.

Drink Deeply of Truth – Pastor John

“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:1-7

Early in our Sunday services, I’ve been sharing a highlight or two from our daily chronological Bible readings. The purpose is to help us to connect what we’re reading with our own lives, our family, and those around us in church or the world. It’s good for us to be “on the same page” with that priority for learning and applying the Word of God.

Amid us today, the culture is dictating what the individual, the family, and even the church should be. We at Cornerstone believe it is our duty to discover and live the Culture of Christ. This will often find us with opposite views and values from what this culture champions. Much of the division could well be traced to one overriding question: “What is the source of your ‘Truth’?”

For an unbelieving world, the source of truth is mankind. This results in a worship of man’s philosophies, “inerrant” science, self-enlightenment, and the resultant mélange of worldviews. In this “truth,” man is the sole authority, and truth must necessarily shift as man continuously evolves upward; ever more wise, informed, and assured.

For one who has new life through Christ Jesus, the Word of God made flesh is not just the source of Truth, but is Truth. There can be no melding of “some” of Jesus’ teachings with a culture’s “more accurate” truth. The Bible – the very Word of God – is received as Truth. It is not received as an opinion to weigh, or of “some” light value, or (worst) simply a collection of sayings and legends to draw from allegorically. No, this is bedrock, unchanging Truth; the assayer’s scale for testing all thoughts and reasoning that issue from the heart of man.

So here we are, looking through Proverbs in our chronological reading. This is a book full of practical instruction for all, but particularly for youth. The introduction to Proverbs (above) is a treasure in its clarity and statement of purpose. In effect, God says, “I am your source. I give you the True definitions of righteousness, justice, and equity. Drink deeply of Truth. Let me form your character, shape your thoughts, create in you the True culture of mankind made in the image of Me.”

I’ve shared the importance of slowing down with your kids and chewing on select proverbs with them. Put these proverbs in your own words. Illustrate them from life all around us. Show the sharp contrasts between the culture of this world, and the culture of Christ. Talk about practical ways of living out these precepts, then do that.

You will be letting God’s Spirit teach you more and more about meditating on His Word, thinking on profitable things, and putting real-time evidences of faith into practice. Be clear with motivations, both for you and your children. Practicing these truths are not to “earn” salvation, but to live out our salvation before an Awesome God, letting our lights shine in a world that needs some pure illumination!

Blessings on your continual journey in God’s Word. I am sure you will reflexively visit the book of Proverbs, again and again. It is a well of refreshing, continuously providing us with living water.

Weirdo – Pastor Greg

Usually, we don’t like to be known as the weirdo. A weirdo is someone who seems strange or eccentric. They just don’t fit in. If we remember back to our days in Junior High, we all tried desperately to not stand out. We all have this innate desire to belong. Sure, there are those who like to buck the system, but even those who are considered on the fringe are usually part of a “fringe” group, so they still belong to something!

This desire to fit in can be a good thing, but it also can be a hinderance to our spiritual life and the life of those around us. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, addresses the issue of partnering up with the world. “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Like it or not, we are weird. We don’t fit in. This is by design, since as believers we are new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17). We have been made new, and that means our whole worldview, purposes, goals and priorities are to be different.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians, was dealing with a church that had become quite friendly and accommodating with the culture around them. They were still practicing the idolatry that was expected of good citizens at that time. Paul quotes an Old Testament passage from Deuteronomy 22:10 which would have been familiar, especially to the Jewish believers – don’t mix with the surrounding nations. Here, Paul applies it to the whole world system that is opposed to the things of God.

Peter continues this thought in 1 Peter 2:12 – “Keep your behavior excellent among the gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation (judgement).” If that isn’t applicable for today, I don’t know what is! How often have we, as Christians, been accused of being narrow-minded, unloving, hateful and judgmental as we hold to God’s truth. Maybe some of the charges have been earned, but most of the time it’s due to an unsaved world that doesn’t want their deeds exposed. Expect this to get worse. The more we hold to the faith, the more we will stand out (2 Tim. 3:12). Yet we are exhorted to stand firm, continue to do the good deeds we have been doing in Christ Jesus, knowing we will get blow-back. But God also promises that we will be exonerated in the end as we stand before Him, and those who slandered us will have to give glory to God for the good deeds we have done.

Paul exhorts Timothy, in 2 Timothy 2:14a, to “continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of.” We, too, are to continue to live such lives that others will notice. As we continue to live like this, the culture will continue it’s downward slide. As the differences grow, we will stand out more and more. We can expect to be slandered, sidelined and hated (of course, they hated Christ first). Living in this country, we are often taught not to take guff from others, but that isn’t what following Christ requires. We are told to be different in our responses. Our natural response when attacked is to retaliate in turn, but we are told to leave that to God (Romans 12:18-19).

Talk about being weird. Standing firm, not taking revenge, and looking forward to our Savior’s words of “well done!” is most unusual in this world. But that is what it takes as we journey forward to that country that will be home. So stay weird my friends.