Advantages of being single

Single & Sad?

One date in high school. One date the first five years in college. You might understand why I thought – at the age of 23 – that I would live as a bachelor. I celebrated my 23rd birthday as I had the previous six – alone. Or at least with friends but not female friends. That was in March. I met Rachel three months later.

While I have not been single for 19 years now, I still remember the feelings you can have when your friends have dates, girlfriends, or wives and you do not. Disappointment. Loneliness. Rejection. When I first asked Rachel out, I said, “Come on. Be original. Say ‘Yes’!” You may even feel anger or a lack of faith in God. “Why can’t you give me someone to love!?”

There are some advantages some find with being single. Married people spend less time with their friends, for example. They have less time to read or watch television. To the degree that researchers can quantify happiness, marriage gives you a “boost” for about two years but after that, happiness returns to “normal.”

For those whom we know who are single, we should be careful that we do not perceive them as having missed out on the best life has to offer. The best life has to offer is Jesus Christ and a relationship with Him and He is available, whether you are married or single. Let us – the married – not assume that singles are lonely, sad, deprived, immature, or perverted in some way.

Single people have time and opportunity to be closer to their brothers and sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews. They tend to stay in closer contact with friends and they usually have friends they have chosen whereas married people often have friends “thrust” upon them by their spouses or other situations due to their lives as married people. Older, single women, for example, can have as many as a dozen friends with whom they have stayed in close contact over the years.

But, what about those singles who prefer not to be single? Jesus Christ has the answer. As I have already suggested, all of us should find fulfillment, not in a spouse, but in Him. Blessedness comes through a close relationship with the Lord. If a single will release himself or herself from the goal of getting married, they can build a full and rich life with Jesus. That does allow one to keep the door open for future possibilities but it also keeps them from staring at the door, waiting for someone to come in.

How can you focus on the good, the possible, the potential, if life (marriage) is not working out the way you hope? In The Myths of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky suggests keeping a journal in which you write (10-20 minutes a day) about your hopes and dreams. You then visualize them as coming true. You describe what you need to do to accomplish those hopes and dreams and visualize how you would feel as you work toward them and fulfill them.

Trust is one of the most important, and fundamental, responses man gives to God. Job illustrates this point so well for us: “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (13:15). If marriage is not in God’s plan for us, we know that He will still provide for our happiness, our growth, and our success.

Christianity, as it is, is adapted to man, as he is.

–Paul Holland

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Rekindling Lost Relationships

There are about 3,000 known species of termites. Termites are known as detritivores because they eat detritus, or waste from decayed organisms. They are not located in the same order as ants; they are in the same order as cockroaches. Termites are important for ecological reasons – they break down and recycle plant matter. Because they eat almost anything derived from plant material, they can cause considerable damage.

The “termites” of a marriage relationship – or any relationship for that matter – is resentment. Resentment is bitterness that results when we feel like we have been mistreated by someone in some way.

If we are not careful in our relationships, resentment will cause us to keep an account of the bad things that our spouse has done to us or against us. Marriage counselors call this “gunny sacking.” You remember all the bad things and you continue to use them against your spouse. He or she makes you upset and you say, “You always…” or “You never…” or “Remember the last time you…”

So, what can you do to get rid of this “termite” in your marriage? How can you rekindle a lost or perhaps near-lost relationship?

FIRST – DO YOU WANT TO REKINDLE THE RELATIONSHIP?

Do you want to seek revenge, or do you want reconciliation? Do you want to forgive? Revenge or forgive? That is the fork-in-the-road that everyone in every close relationship has to deal with at some point in time.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God went looking for them. That is the whole story of God’s approach to man. We are introduced to Abram/Abraham in Genesis 11:26. But we know nothing of Abram spiritually speaking until Genesis 12:1 when God is the first to approach Abram – “Now the Lord said to Abram…”

So, to rekindle a lost relationship, to kill the termite of resentment in your marriage, you have to be the one who seeks continuously reconciliation.

SECOND – TELL YOUR SPOUSE PLAINLY (LOVINGLY) WHAT IS CAUSING THE PROBLEM:

None of us are mind readers. But far to often, we expect our spouse to know what we are thinking. Especially is this true when our spouse has done something that angers us. We think, “He/she KNOWS what he/she did wrong!” But, honestly, maybe they don’t!

Let us look to God, again, as our supreme example. How many times has God punished someone without letting them know what the sin was? Can God ever be accused of not communicating His will to man?

In whatever way your spouse is doing something that is damaging to your relationship, you need to calmly, lovingly, and patiently explain to him or her what it is. What is causing the resentment?

THIRD – RELEASE THE RESENTMENT:

One of the definitions of forgiveness is “release” – Mark 1:4 and 1:18.  Micah said of God (7:19): “He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

Forgiving does not mean that we completely forget. Indeed, it may be hard to forget. But forgiveness does mean that we do not let the sin influence how we respond to or treat the other person.

If you will remove the termite of resentment, intimacy and romance in your relationship can blossom!

–Paul Holland

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

The resurrection of Christ

Walking with the Risen Christ

Some events happen to us and effect our lives drastically. The day we met our future spouses for the first time is an example. Pearl Harbor is an example on the national level. 9/11 is an example from my lifetime.

The resurrection of Christ is also an example. Even though it was about 2,000 years ago, that event still has an impact and repercussions on our lives today.

In Luke 24, Luke gives us five evidences for the resurrection of Christ. Tomorrow, we’ll present five reasons why the resurrection is still relevant for us today.

THE RESURRECTION:

Luke records the resurrection in chapter 24. It happened on the first day of the week. Verse 3 is key: “when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” Where was it? Clearly, the women did not know. They had done nothing with it. The empty tomb is proof #1.

Evidence #2 is the message from the angels. As with everything spiritual, it takes a message from God to get events on earth in their proper perspective. One of the angels tells the women what happened, in verse 6: “He is not here, but He has risen.”

Proof #3 – The apostles did not know how to explain the empty tomb either, verse 11. They thought the news from the women was “non-sense.” Nolland comments: “the later testimony of the Apostles is that much more impressive because they have been so hard to convince” (III:1191).

Evidence #4 – Peter and John even got up and went to the tomb to verify what the women were saying (verse 12 & John 20:2ff). Sure enough, the linen wrappings were lying there, neatly folded by the Man who would not need them anymore. You do not wrap a living body in burial clothes. Jesus did not “resuscitate,” leaving the empty tomb with his clothes left behind! Neither did anyone steal the body, leaving the burial clothes behind.

THE ROAD TO EMMAUS:

Two of those disciples were walking along the road to the village of Emmaus that very Sunday, seven miles from Jerusalem. If the average man walks 3 mph, then we’ve got a two hour walk to Emmaus. The trip back to Jerusalem will assuredly take less time! These two disciples were talking about what had happened. They could not answer the question either – What happened to the body?

Proof #5 – Jesus gives these two a rebuke for not believing the prophets, chief of whom was Jesus Himself, as the angels had reminded the women back in verse 7 (9:22; 17:25; 18:32f). “It was necessary for the Christ to suffer and enter into His glory” (vs 26). The final proof given of the resurrection is fulfilled prophecy.

–Paul Holland

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

Sermon on Jesus, the Lamb of God

Jesus, the Lamb of God

1)    Prov. 27:26 – lambs being used for clothing.
2)    Job 31:20 – “warmed by the fleece of sheep.”
3)    2 Sam. 12:1-4 – lambs provide food.
4)    Lev. 9:3 – lambs were used for sacrifices.
5)    There was going to be an “ultimate lamb” which was killed and this sacrifice would be very important.
6)    As Israel worshipped with this tabernacle and temple they used lambs – a lot of lambs.
a)    Ex. 29:38-42 – READ
b)    In Isa. 53 the image of a lamb is not only used, it is applied to two different things.
c)    This image is first used to refer to mankind.
d)    Then Isaiah used this creature to talk about man’s savior.
7)    Isa. 53 – verses 1-6 – READ
8)    Notice verse 7 – READ
a)    Verse 11 – READ

LET’S NOW TURN OUR ATTENTION TO THE NEW TESTAMENT.

1)    Jn. 1:29 – READ
2)    Verse 36 – READ
3)    Jn. 2:13 – READ
a)    The temple (Jesus and Jn. 2) was where people went for these sacrifices.
b)    In Jn. 1 Jesus is identified as the “Lamb of God.
c)    Jesus was in the temple area at the time when Lambs were killed (the “Passover feast”).
d)    Acts 8:32-35.  The preacher (Acts 8:35) “began with this Scripture and preached Jesus.”
4)    Ex. 29:41 + In Eph.5:1 Paul told some Christians to be “imitators of God, as beloved children.”
5)    The first part of verse 2 tells them to “walk in love” as Jesus loved humanity.
6)    “Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell.”
7)    Eph. 5:2 is the ultimate fulfillment of Ex. 29:41?
8)    About 30 times in the book of Revelation we find the word “lamb.”
a)    In the book of Revelation Jesus is pictured as a “slain Lamb.”
b)    As the Lamb of God the book of Revelation says He is “worthy.”
c)    Followers of the Lamb fall down before Him because of what He has done.
9)    As the Lamb Jesus “sits on His throne” and rules NOW instead of later.
10)    By the shed blood of the Lamb we can have forgiveness (white robes), Rev. 7:14.
11)    The Lamb of God has purchased a special body of people (the church) and He leads this body of people.

12)    The ultimate Lamb laid down our life for us.
13)    What are we giving to Him in appreciation?
14)    If the Lord would return today, would He be our Lamb – the redeemer of our sins – or a lion?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

How many people read the Bible?

Notes on Bible Reading

This weekend, many Americans will focus on the resurrection of Christ. As we know, the New Testament teaches that the resurrection is the center of our Sunday worship service and the center of our lives as Christians. We worship on Sunday in order to remember the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 11:20; 16:2). The Bible is the primary source of our knowledge about the resurrection.

So, how do Americans feel about the Bible? You might think that it is at the bottom of the list when it comes to respect for books. But, the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture gives us reason to hope.

Roughly 66% of people who hardly read the Bible still believe that the Scriptures are inspired and/or inerrant. Roughly half of Americans read some type of religious book during the year and about half do not read any. But for those who do read religious material, the Bible is the preferred text, by far (95%).

If I were to ask you what the preferred translation is of most Bible-reading Americans, you would probably say the NIV. But, according to this study, 55% cite the King James Version as their preferred translation, far surpassing the NIV (19%). The rest of the plethora of translations come in at 8%.

On the other hand, those who read other translations generally read more frequently, even weekly. Those who read daily are only 9% of the respondents. Since I graduated from Freed-Hardeman in 1996, I have read the Bible in its entirety at least once every year (19 times through the OT and 23 times through the NT, to be exact). You can do it too – in about 15 minutes a day. Is God worth 15 minutes of your day? Is it worth 15 minutes less sleep each day to listen to your Heavenly Father?

One-third of Americans access the internet to read the Bible while 22% use a portable electronic device. Among the “professional” age group, 45-59, 40% use a Bible based on the internet.

Those are some thoughts about Americans’ Bible-reading habits. While God does not call us to spend 24 hours each day reading the Bible, let each of us “give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13). Let us be among the 9% who read God’s word daily.

Finally, I believe it was Hugo McCord who said the best translation is the one you live out in your life (cf. 2 Cor. 3:2). Make it so.

–Paul Holland

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

Unified Code of Military Justice, article 134

The Crime of Passion

Jeffrey Sinclair was a brigadier general in the US army, having served for 27 years. He is married (at least in late March he still was). He was accused of sexual assault but pled guilty to lesser crimes in his deal. He admitted to committing adultery, which is a crime in the military. I pray that Mr. Sinclair can and will restore his relationship with his wife. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).

A crime in the military. I certainly do not know if adultery among active duty soldiers is any higher than among the civilian population. But, I did want to know why the military considers it a crime and can prosecute with a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay, and imprisonment up to a year (according to the Unified Code of Military Justice, article 134).

Why? The bottom line is one of trust. Think about King David. When he committed adultery with Bathsheba, he sent her husband, one of his own leading commanders, to the front lines, to his death. How can you trust a man who is not faithful to his own spouse?

Without trying to make any political statement, President Clinton disqualified himself, it is my conviction, from being President of the United States when he admitted to being unfaithful to Hillary. If he lies to his own wife (presuming she did not know about the relationship), how can I ever be sure he is not lying to me? How can I trust his leadership as President if his wife can’t trust him?

Any group of people, in any social relationship, cannot exist peacefully without a foundation of trust. If I shake your hand, how do I know that when I turn my back, you won’t plunge a dagger into me? Trust.

Driving down the road, we put our trust in other drivers. That they will reasonably obey the speed limit. That they will reasonably respect distances between cars. That they will reasonably respect the limits of the lanes. When people fail to respect those limits – when they become untrustworthy – accidents happen and death results.

Trust. The military outlaws adultery because it is not conducive to good order and discipline. It destroys the trust factor, the foundation on which social relationships can grow and thrive.

Fundamentally, it strikes at the very nature of God. If God is anything, He is trustworthy. In 2 Timothy 2:13, Paul says that God is “faithful.” That is, trustworthy. The Scriptures are full of references to God’s words being trustworthy: Psalm 93:5; 111:7; 1 Timothy 1:15; Revelation 21:5. God says, “I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).

Let each of us be trustworthy in all of our relationships – including marriage. It is the glue that holds relationships together.

–Paul Holland

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

he Myths of Happiness, psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky

Where are the Children?

    In The Myths of Happiness, psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky discusses our expectations and how we sometimes expect long-term happiness in unrealistic ways. In chapter three, she discusses how people have unrealistic expectations of happiness, once you have children.

“Having children is costly, exhausting, stressful, and emotionally draining… Furthermore, marital satisfaction soars after the last child leaves the home. …parents are less happy. For example, in one oft-cited study, working mothers… judged taking care of their children as only slightly more enjoyable than commuting and housework” (pg 85).

Okay, so some people (women, primarily) do not find parenthood particularly enjoyable. But – that statement comes with an asterisk. Actually, if you are: female, young, unmarried, and unemployed and if your children are “very young or adolescent, step, or troubled” – parenthood makes you less happy and less satisfied with your life and your partner.

That is a “duh” moment. Einstein said, “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking” (unfortunately, too often at tax payer expense!). Everyone knows that God designed children to be produced through the union of both a man and a woman. But it is also true that children need to be trained and disciplined by both a man and a woman. The father’s psyche is different from the mother’s psyche and both contribute to the overall health and growth and mental development of both the son and the daughter.

But parenthood does require sacrifice and far too many parents bring children into the world without first counting that cost. If someone does not like getting up at 3:00 AM to feed or change a diaper, he better hope his wife gives birth to a five-year old!

Lyubomirsky writes that the down-side of parenthood is that “you must say goodbye to risky adventures, spontaneous intimacies, and spur-of-the moment opportunities” (86). I suspect that most of us Christian parents would argue with that to some degree. Children change the situation at home, it is true. But the tradeoffs – with disciplined children – far exceed what you have to give up. The Bible teaches us how to discipline our children so that they are not a headache to rear.

Lyubomirsky writes, “we may benefit by focusing on what our children impart to us that may not be captured by the question, ‘Are you happy?’” The bottom line is that parents who spend time with their children – both teaching and having fun – find greater meaning in life. “Indeed, 94 percent agree that, despite the heavy costs, the rewards of being a parent are worth it” (87). At the same time, “the regret of not having had children, or not having had more children, is a prevalent one.”

So, the Bible – Christianity – teaches us how to be parents and how to be good parents. Christian parents are not surprised that parenting takes a lot of time and they do not grudgingly give up their own time because they realize they are blessed by God to have children, that children are a gift from God (Psa. 127:3).

Paul’s words in Philippians 2:3 apply to parents as much as any relationship: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”

Christianity, as it is, is adapted to man, as he is.

–Paul Holland

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments Off

Remove the dross of our sin

Trial by Fire – Malachi 3:1-3

Malachi preached around the time, if not contemporaneous with, Nehemiah. The temple worship had been restored. But, many Jews had married non-believers, in clear violation of the law of Moses. Many Jews were also not giving as they should have. So, Malachi is supporting through his preaching the reforms of Nehemiah.

Some of the Jews were skeptical that God really cared for them. They had spent 70 years in exile. Many of them had died in Babylon. Now they were questioning God’s nature – “Where is the God of justice?” (2:17). God answers that question by predicting that someone would come who would “purify” the nation of Israel. A messenger would be sent who would prepare the nation for Him. The messenger, of course, was John the baptizer and the one whom they would seek was the Messiah.

But the one whom they desired would not come as they would expect. He would not tickle their ears and flatter with his lips. But, he would put their practices to the test, a test of truth (Matt. 3:10-12).

Let us take a closer look at this passage and, as always, ask ourselves what message is there for us today in 21st century America.

THE WORK OF A REFINER:

Refining is the process of heating metal until it is purified of dross.    The refiner is pictured as sitting before the crucible, with his eye on the metal, regulating the heat to the appropriate temperature. Sometimes, he needs to increase the heat. But, he will not use any more heat than is necessary.

CHRIST AS THE PURIFIER:

Jesus is the Great Purifier. His mission is to separate the righteous from the unrighteous. To put it in other words, he came to save people from their sins (Matt. 1:21; Luke 19:10).

Man is made in the image of God and, therefore, is worth saving. But sin is the dross that must be removed. We must be cleansed from our lives (Matt. 16:26; Rom. 3:10, 23).

What Malachi has in mind is that God would bring affliction on his people until their sinful impurities disappeared and the Divine image is reflected on their soul (2 Cor. 3:18; Job 23:10; Gala. 4:19).

THE LORD’S PROCESS AT WORK:

Christ’s work of purifying removes the dross of our sin, makes us holy, and prepares us for service to Him while we are on earth and makes us fit for the eternal inheritance in heaven – Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 4:12, 13.

We often do not like this process of purifying because we misunderstand the nature of the fire. Fire does not destroy the gold. It destroys the dross. James 1:2-8; Hebrews 12:4-13.

Christ has provided for our cleansing – 1 Peter 1:22-25. What remains yet is for us to submit to His teaching and “purify ourselves even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).

–Paul Holland

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

Psalm 9:1

Passion for God

A young man was on his way home late one night when he decided to take a short cut through the cemetery. He fell into an open grave. He called and tried to climb out but it was no use. No one was around to hear him or help. So, he settled down for the night in a corner of the dark grave to wait until morning.

A little while later, another person came the same route through the cemetery and fell into the same open grave. He also tried clawing and shouting, trying to get out. Suddenly, this fellow heard a voice out of the corner – “You can’t get out of here – “ but he did!

PASSION NEEDS TO BE DIRECTED TOWARD GOD:

Numbers 25. God commanded the death penalty for those who were engaged in this idolatrous worship (vs 4). There is a clear example of defiance in verse 6 when an Israelite brings a Midianite woman into his tent even as the rest of Israel is weeping over the death of their family and friends. Phineas, a son of Aaron, took a spear and went into the man’s tent and pierced them through, both the man and the woman.

God commends Phineas for, what we would call “zeal” – God calls it “jealousy” in verse 11.

We need to be passionate, zealous for our service to God. In Romans 12:11, Paul says we should “not be lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”

Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” “Heartily” translates the phrase, “from the soul.”

PASSION NEEDS TO BE ACCORDING TO KNOWLEDGE:

Zeal without knowledge. The word “diligence” in Romans 12:11 is “spoude.” Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:15: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

So we need to be passionate, but guided by knowledge of God’s word. That was both the strength and the weakness of brother Apollos, in Acts 18. Ultimately, it was a serious problem for the Jews as a whole (Romans 10:2).

HOW TO LIVE PASSIONATELY FOR GOD:

1. Know God, first. Meditate on the nature of God.

2. Know God’s will (Exodus 15:26).

3. Perform your work with devotion and energy (Proverbs 10:4; 12:27; Ecclesiastes 9:10; James 2:26).

4. Find support and encouragement in friends. Galatians 6:2. Hebrews 10:25.

5. Realize that God designed you in His image. You have a unique set of skills, personality traits, and interests. You have within you the power to accomplish what God designed you to do.

Serve God with passion.

–Paul Holland

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off

Errors about baptism

“Ritualistic and Old Age Baptism”

1.    Acts 2:41; 8:12, 36; end of Acts 10; Acts 16:33; 18:8; 19:5.
2.    In the first century, people did not wait to be baptized!
a)    If we look at church history, this is not what we find.
b)    Close to the first century two fairly errors emerged.
2)    One of these errors involved what might be called a ritualistic ceremony.
3)    Bishops and their assistants would hold special baptismal ceremonies twice a year.
4)    These “special baptismal ceremonies” this apostasy led to some other errors.
a)    People thought the water used for baptism had some type of magical power.
b)    Today “holy water” may be used.
5)    In Rom. 6 Paul pointed out how Jesus died on the cross and we must “die to sin”(repent).
6)    Jesus was “buried” after He died and Rom. 6 says we are “buried” in baptism (this is why baptism is an immersion).
7)    Jesus was raised from the dead.
8)    Paul said those who are properly baptized are also “raised” (they have “newness of life,” Rom. 6:4).
9)    In addition to claiming the water had magical power, people had to go through a long process before being baptized.
a)    Rev. 21-22 – “gates.”
b)    What need will there be for “gates” in heaven?
c)    When it comes to the church, the image of a “gate” is fitting.
d)    People “enter the gate” by coming through Christ.
10)    John described the New Testament church (Rev. 21:25) as having “gates do not shut.”
11)    Before being baptized people would “renounce the devil.”  Col. 1:12-13.

THERE IS ALMOST NO END TO THE DEPARTURES FROM GOD’S WORD THAT WE READ ABOUT IN THE PAST AND STILL FIND IN OUR TIME.

a)    Tertullian – a strong advocate for delaying baptism.
b)    This man argued baptism should be delayed – wait to right before death.

2)    We should ask “How are sins forgiven after a person has been baptized”?
a)    Acts 8:13 – READ
b)    Verses 18-21 – READ
c)    Verse 22 – READ
3)    Tertullian may have had good intentions about delaying baptism, but he was wrong.
4)    Tertullian was also wrong on another point.
a)    He thought obedience to God should be delayed.
b)    Many want to love and serve God, but their desire is based on “some day” rather than today (now).

5)    The devil tells us “some day” will be a good time to obey God.
6)    The Bible says  NOW is the “day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
a)    Heb. 3:7
b)    Heb. 3:13
c)    Heb. 3:15
d)    Jas. 4:14

Are we delaying our obedience to God in some way?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off