Solitude is the Fear of the Human Heart

Solitude is the fear of the human heart.

In the midst of celebration, our hearts want someone to hug, sing with, drink with, or even high five.

In mourning, we need everything from the hand that hands us a cloth to wipe our tear to people willing to sit with us in silence.

But what we want is presence.  And in presence, we find love.

When Jesus enjoyed His last meal with His friends, He told them that He was headed off to die. 

He told them that people were going to hate them. 

He told them that people were going to want to kill them.

But…

He promised that they would not be alone. 

Jesus promised them that He would give them that Holy Spirit.  They would never be alone.

This is the story of many people who love God.  In fact, this is the story of all who love God. 

Moses walked with God.

Joshua walked with God just as Moses did.

The disciples walked with Jesus.

And you have the Holy Spirit.

So, today, you are free to love God.  You are free to love others as you love yourself. 

And through the wonderful presence of the Holy Spirit, you are free not to be alone.

Gordon

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5 Steps to Build a Better Legalist

Jesus directed a large percentage of his teachings in the Gospels against the legalism of the Pharisees and other religious teachers of the day. A legalist is a person who thinks they have earned God’s love and affection based upon either how much they know, how many good things they do, or how many bad things they don’t do.

Now, legalism is the human heart’s problem.  Non-Christians can be legalists but unfortunately Christians are the worst legalists.

Despite the definition of a relationship with God as salvation by faith alone, human hearts are always going to be tempted to look at how good they think they are and think that even if God’s not impressed at least, everyone else should be.  The alternative to the life of legalism of course would be making your lone hope for forgiveness the work of Jesus, trusting only His righteousness and His goodness.

Now, when hearing the two side by side (trusting your goodness or trusting Jesus’) you might ask, “Why would anyone trust their goodness when Jesus’ life of love and perfection is so infinitely better?”

Simply:  we don’t see as God sees.  God sees our heart clearly, and we don’t.

He sees our sinful motives clearly, and we don’t.

And He sees Jesus’ work on our behalf constantly, and we don’t.

You would think that the church would fight harder against legalism, especially when Jesus uses such harsh language against legalists, calling them “a brood of vipers” (Matthew 23:33) and “white washed tombs” (Matthew 23:27).

But I’m afraid the church in America is a legalist factory.  We just keep churning them out.  In fact, we are good at it.  Let me show you it’s done.

Here is the 5-point plan for building a better legalist.

One:  Withhold affection when someone sins or makes a mistake.

Two:  Invent rules for Godliness without either the desire to explain your reasoning or explain their benefit.

Three:  Care more about other’s opinion of your performance than you do God’s opinion.

Four:  Assume what you say or what you do gives you a place of superiority or authority.

Five:  Speak often of others who used to be really good but aren’t any more.

We are so prone to these 5 things, we often don’t see that those types of actions actually blind us from grace and inhibit compassion towards other.  We don’t see that those types of actions are traps that lead to self-righteousness, Christian ghettos, and hardness of heart.  Unfortunately, we are all susceptible to these types of thoughts and actions because we just don’t see our hearts and the hearts of others like God does.

1 Samuel 16:7 For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart

Thankfully, God sees differently than you and I see.  That means that God not only knows the things we think and do in secret, but He can also see all the great things that He is going to do in our lives.

So, when we are discouraged or sad, we can trust that God sees things and knows things that we don’t, and that gives us a great hope as we have faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.

 

Should the Church Teach on Creating Revenue?

Why doesn’t the church teach on earning more revenue?  Listen to these statistics:

Today, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18, a total of about 17.4 million, are being raised without a father and nearly half (45 percent) live below the poverty line, according to the Single Mother Guide. For those living with a father only, about 21 percent live in poverty.[i]

These realities surely represent many within the church.  Couple that truth with the fact that the average household carries nearly $16,000 in credit card debt[ii], and there is a crisis at hand in our country.

Yes, the church has made advances in offering financial advice and debt reduction programs, but the church rarely speaks about increasing revenue.  At some point, revenue can only be divided so many ways, and as families grow, cost grows.  The church needs to educate their people on how to grow their revenue if they want to help meet the needs of the people.

The challenge is who can teach it and what should they teach?  Additionally, many will argue that growing revenue is not the church’s business.

However, when 25% of households don’t have a father present, and nearly half of those families live below the poverty line, then helping households grow their revenue is an act of mercy.

Surely, most churches could task their deacons with designing a program or they could ask members in the church in the business realm to speak to the task.  Pastors could address dollars and cents in more areas than just tithing.

No matter the approach, churches must consider the issues and consider how they can best serve their congregations.  If not, specific needs of their people (mainly children) are going to go unmet.

Gospel Rich Books

Our Editor, Gordon Duncan, offers a mentoring program to people who want to improve their skills or gain greater employment.  You can find that information at https://gumroad.com/l/getthejobyouwant

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

[i] http://www.ibtimes.com/national-single-parent-day-2016-facts-quotes-about-14-million-moms-dads-without-2338631

[ii] https://www.statisticbrain.com/credit-card-debt-statistics/

Can You Divorce Because of Physical Abuse? The “This is Gonna Hurt” Podcast

The most recent, “This is Gonna Hurt” podcast takes up the controversy surrounding Paige Patterson’s, the President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, comments about counseling an abused spouse to stay in her relationship.  Some of the questions we answer are:

What are the biblical reasons for divorce?

Is physical abuse biblical cause?

What are the responsibilities of the pastor?

What is Gordon’ opinion?

If you are unfamiliar with Dr. Patterson’s comments you can find them at:  https://baptistnews.com/article/sbc-leader-under-fire-for-comments-about-divorce-abuse/#.Wud7JUxFw2w

Essentially, he tells a story of counseling a wife to stay in an abusive relationship and stating to be “happy” when she comes back abused.  As the furor erupted over his comments, he issued a response.  You can find that below.

Paige Patterson’s Response: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/04/29/southern-baptist-leader-pushes-back-after-comments-leak-urging-abused-women-to-pray-and-avoid-divorce/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9518447f091b

In the podcast, I give my opinion on the issue and discuss the related bible verses: Matthew 19:3-9, 1 Corinthians 7:12-16.

Correction:  I believe at one point I say, “Matthew 7”, but I intended to say, “1 Corinthians 7”.

In reading this or listening to the podcast, I hope these links might be helpful.

Signs of Domestic Abuse:  https://helpguide.org/articles/abuse/domestic-violence-and-abuse.htm

Domestic Abuse Hotline: http://www.thehotline.org/

This is Gonna Hurt can be found on six different platforms.  You can find them all linked at:

https://anchor.fm/thisisgonnahurt

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Gospel Rich Books Blog

 

Thanking God for the Man After God’s Own Heart

A brief mediation on 1 Samuel 13…

1 Samuel 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

I Samuel 13 tells the story of Saul losing his kingship.  In a hasty moment of sin, Saul offered a sacrifice to God that only Samuel the priest should have offered.  Because of this, Samuel tells Saul that God is taking away his kingship and giving it to a man after God’s heart.  We will learn that that man is David.  We can understand it in this way.

Saul lost his kingship, and David took the kingship.

Saul lost his status, and David gained status.

Saul was punished for his sins, and David walked in righteousness.

There is a similar transfer that takes place for those who trust Jesus as He is our man after God’s own heart. Our hope is that Jesus takes our place, but Jesus takes our place in a redemptive fashion.

We didn’t obey, but Jesus obeyed for us.

We earned punishment for our sins, but Jesus was punished for ours.

We deserved death, but Jesus died for us.

We earned the punishment of hell, but Jesus gifts us the reward of Heaven.

Jesus lost his life, so that we might receive eternal life.

Jesus’ obedience gives us hope, so that we can obey and enjoy that hope.

This is all God’s grace to us because we deserve punishment just like Saul did, yet in God’s grace, His has poured grace that gives us hope.

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Monthly Gospel Rich Journal (debuting this week)

Gospel Rich Books Blog

And to enable more writers to publish their works, we offer the BestSeller Template which is a publisher ready resource that authors can cut and paste their works into to make them Amazon ready.

 

 

Smart Phones and Our Need to Feed

Our worlds revolve around our feeds.

Facebook gives you a feed of your friends’ activities mixed with your interest in groups, pages, with some ads tossed in.

LinkedIn provides the same, but the concept is more professional and less personal.

Even workout apps like Strava, and the like, provide the same.

The joy of our feeds is they keep us connected (at least digitally) and they inform us with news and updates that we choose (for the most part).

But we get lost in our feeding as well, don’t we?  One survey says that up to 80% of smart phone users check their feeds within 15 minutes of waking up.[i]  That’s an amazing stat that might very well be convicting as you consider your own patterns.

The true question is, “Are we better or worse off because of this reality?”

If that question is beyond us, we should at least ask, “Are my phone habits and tendencies spiritually and even physically healthy?”  The answers have incredible impact.  Consider these practical considerations in light of our constant need to check the feed.

Physically, am I doing damage to my eyes and even my brain by my “feeding” patterns?  Do I move less because I’m more attached to my phone’s screen?

Spiritually, am I feeling my soul with information that will encourage me and benefit me or am I filling my soul with data that tempts me to frustration and even jealousy?

Cognitively, am I losing connection with real people in real time by my need to feed.

Wherever you find yourself, choose discipline over being disciplined.  Practically, put disciplines in place where you are choosing to check your phone instead of your phone dictating to you.  Don’t let the need to check your phone function like the need to smoke a cigarette.

If you are in a place of authority or encouragement, like a parent or a doctor, be clear with guidelines that will healthfully instruct others to make good choices.

And finally, take a break every now and then.  Choose an evening or a lunch when your phone is not near you or perhaps even in another room.  Recognize your need to check your phone and suffer through the absence until it feels more comfortable.

Who knows?  You might even pick up a book.

Gospel Rich Books

If you would like to learn more about Gospel Rich books, we offer a host of challenging and encouraging resources.  You can find them below:

Gospel Rich Books Amazon Catalog

Monthly Gospel Rich Journal

Gospel Rich Books Blog

And to enable more writers to publish their works, we offer the BestSeller Template which is a publisher ready resource that authors can cut and paste their works into to make them Amazon ready.

 

[i] http://www.adweek.com/digital/smartphones/?red=at

A Practical Resource to Help Men, Women, and the Church Navigate Leadership Issues

Art by Jah Holmes

There are several cultural fires in the church right now:

Politics

Gender Identity

Marital Definitions

The church’s willingness to be clear and truthful without vitriol is key to maintaining a voice in our culture.  Additionaly, another issue of importance is the qualification and structure of biblical leadership.  This issue asks questions like:

Is there a difference between an elder and a deacon?

Must a church have both?

What are the biblical qualifications of each?

Can men and women hold these offices?

Church leadership may very well be the prime one issue presently.  No church can decide its theology, its structure, or engage in the above cultural issues without settling on this one.  Thankfully, 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are gifted to us in the scriptures.  Yet, questions still remain as we look at the book of Acts and the end of Romans. 

Studying these passages is key, even for the layman.  Resting in a biblical conviction enables the believer to rest comfortably in their church’s structure. 

Towards that end, Gospel Rich Books is the proud to present, “Is a Good Man Hard to Find?” by Gordon Duncan.  It is a verse by verse look at the key leadership passages in Paul’s letters.  It is concise, affordable, and a welcome addition to the field of church leadership studies. 

It makes a great gift and is available in both paperback and kindle.  Also, if you would like to explore the Gospel Rich Books catalog further, you can also find them at Amazon 

Get yours today.