Let us consider…

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. –Hebrews 10:19-25

While working through the above Scripture, I did a study of the key words in the passage. When I got to verse 24, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds,” I looked up the Greek word that had been translated consider, and I read the following definition: “to perceive, remark, observe, understand, to consider attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind upon.” In this verse, the writer is telling his audience of fellow believers that they should take time and carefully contemplate ways in which they can move each other to find deeper and better ways of loving and serving Christ and one another. We are to literally spend our time thinking of ways to agitate one another to love more and work better for the cause and glory of Christ. When I originally read the full definition of the word translated as consider, I was convicted, because I know that I do not spend much intentional time contemplating ways to help my fellow believers have a closer walk with Christ.

I then searched consider to see where else this word was used in Scripture. I found that it has been translated in different ways in different parts of the New Testament, but the meaning is the same. In Matthew 7:3, Jesus uttered this word in a very different context: 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Jesus is speaking here during the Sermon on the Mount, and He tells His listeners that they are spending their time attentively considering and fixing their eyes on the sin in the lives of those around them while ignoring the sin in their own lives.

The comparison of this word in these two passages further proved to me the sharpness of the double edged sword that is the Word of God, because it pierced me, dividing bone and marrow. Just from these two verses, I have a lifetime’s worth of work before me. I realized immediately that most of the time, I have these instructions completely backwards. Not only am I not attentively considering ways that I can spur on my brothers and sisters in Christ to love and good deeds, but I spend a lot of my time attentively considering their sin while ignoring my own.

This week, I am praying that the Lord will break me of my habit of considering the specks in the eyes of my friends and family and will replace that sin with the God-glorifying habit of considering how to spur them on to love and good deeds. I am also praying that I will be more willing to consider the planks in my own eyes so that He is able to remove them and make me a more able servant for Him.

What will you consider this week?

Thank you!

A big thank you to the Couples classes at Morris Hill for helping us bless the ladies who will be heading to Africa for missionary placements! Your gifts allowed us to make bags for 11 ladies who will deploy this year in many different countries, doing many different jobs. These ladies and their families will be doing jobs ranging from church planting to being dorm parents to sports evangelism using basketball as a platform to speak to people about Christ.

I pray that you will all know that you are now have a personal stake in the work of the Kingdom in Africa. Please pray for these ladies as they and their families go and serve. I also pray that this involvement in overseas missions will get you thinking about the possibility of serving as well. These families are just like you and me; one of them made the point today that the only thing that makes them different from other believers is that they heard the call to serve and they obeyed. If you have never done so, please pray and tell the Lord that even if He never calls you to serve Him in another city or country that you would be willing to do so. Sometimes we don’t even know God is calling us until we take the time to listen for that call.

Thanks again for your faithfulness in this project. It makes me proud to be able to tell people here at school that my home church is so faithful to help with things like this! Your gifts were greatly appreciated by everyone!

I have attached some pictures from the event so that you can see some faces to go with your prayers.

Love to you all,

Bekah 🙂

Christians and Culture

I recently was assigned an essay in which I was to answer the question, “How ought Christians react to the shifting moral values of culture?” Here’s my answer…

I have read the assigned book, Reforming the Morality of Usury, in its entirety.

Much like the time of the Reformers, today’s culture is in the midst of a massive shift in moral thinking. As secular culture becomes more permissive concerning topics like abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, genetic research, and even financial responsibility, it is the responsibility of the church to determine the absolute morality of such issues in light of the absolute truth of the Word of God. Often concessions are made in issues of morality by claiming that, since the culture has changed, many laws of the Bible are now outdated. For example, the Old Testament prohibition on tattooing is used to support this argument because tattooing is currently a culturally accepted art form in America. Issues of capital punishment are also used by some to decry the Bible as a moral authority. Because our current culture does not solicit the use of capital punishment for behaviors such as homosexuality, adultery, or dishonoring parents, then it is reasoned that none of the moral laws or consequences should apply any longer. With this view of law in the Bible, the proverbial baby of moral law is thrown out with the bathwater of time bound, theocratic law.

If believers hold to the presupposition that the “all or nothing” view of law in Scripture is incorrect, how should Christians view and apply Scripture to daily life? The ever-changing nature of the world is further proof that the world is diametrically opposed to the immutable God, Creator of the universe. Secular culture is constantly shifting the boundaries of right and wrong, but Scripture contains God’s statement concerning Himself: “I the Lord do not change” (Mal 3:6). While God was speaking of His covenant promise to Israel, this concept of God’s immutability carries through His entire being. Regardless of the behavior of His chosen people Israel, God’s covenant with them was never changing, and neither was His response to them; when they obeyed He blessed them and when they strayed He disciplined them. The Psalmist praises God that His love and faithfulness endures forever (cf. 100:5; 107:1; 117:2; 118:1-4, 29; 136:1-5).

Just as God is unchanging, we are told that His word is unchanging as well. Throughout Scripture, God’s words never change. From Genesis to Revelation, each author, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, traces the consistent story of redemption and salvation. The Lord tells Isaiah to proclaim to the people in Isaiah 40:7-8, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Though men will rise and fall and be blown away like the grass in the wind, the unchanging Word of God will remain forever.

According to these very brief glimpses into the nature of God and of His Word, one can surmise that God is unchanging in His very nature. Just as the Scripture sheds light on the nature of God, it also reveals the nature of man. As mentioned above, God told Isaiah that people are like grass and they fade in glory and fall. The prophet Jeremiah was told that the heart of man is wicked (17:9). Samuel told King Saul that “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind” (1 Sam 15:29). When Paul describes weak-willed women to Timothy, part of that description includes that they are “swayed by all kinds of evil desires” (2 Tim 3:6). Though man is always changing in thought and deed and conviction, God never changes

So according to the Scriptures, which have been shown to be unchanging, God is unchanging, trustworthy, and loving in His eternal nature, but man is changing, swaying, untrustworthy, and wicked. If the story stopped there, it would seem hopeless for the church to react to the changing culture in any other way than to mirror culture itself. There are, however, commands given to the church specifically concerning how we as believers are to interact with the changing culture of the current society. In Romans 12:2, the apostle Paul instructs the believers in Rome: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” As believers, we are not to conform to the changing winds of culture. We are instead to renew our minds so that we are able to test and approve God’s will. By renewing our minds through studying Scripture, we will be able to rightly discern the world around us. Peter also addresses this topic in 1 Pet 1:13-16: “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

Succinctly written in the very words of God, the church is told that as the culture around us changes, we are to nevertheless be holy as God is holy. We are to remain steadfast and unwavering in the beliefs that the precepts in Scripture are right, true, beautiful, restorative, and refreshing. The only way that Scripture will be seen in such a light is for believers to uphold it regardless of the culture around us. Scripture tells us that God is calling unto himself a people from every tongue, tribe, and nation, which assumes that His Gospel supersedes the fluctuating tides of culture. The church’s responsibility is to continue living in such a way that we are not only hearers of the never changing word, but we are also doers of the same.