FTYC

by Eric Burd

FTYC…strange title for an article? What is FTYC anyway? Well, of course – it is an acronym! It is four letters which convey an important message. After all, issuing an acronymic quip is as American as TV. It has become a prevailing way of communicating in our ever-changing world; and, after all, we have an acronym for almost everything:
AKA
DBA
GIGO
ASAP
FYI
AWOL

Or, how about government agencies:
NASA
USMC
USPS
FBI and CIA
…and we wouldn’t want to leave out the IRS

What about company names?
IBM
the BBB
the B of A
and even TCBY – which only the courts could decide whether that means “The Country’s Best Yogurt” or “This Can’t Be Yogurt.”

But where is FTYC?

We have acronyms for the military, the sciences, mathematics, aviation, business, computers, medicine, private industries, plus nearly every other conceivable field you can imagine. We can even mix numbers into our acronyms:
3D
4WD
2LT
Q4U

Aside from the many long-standing acronyms that we have enjoyed for generations, a new “language” seems to be emerging around our electronic and social media, with common expressions such as:
W8AM (Wait a minute)
?4U (Question for you)
LOL (Laughing out loud, or Lots of love, or Lots of luck)

But there is still no FTYC?

While in the Army we had very crowded schedules and were often slammed with intense pressure. We had a menagerie of expressions to articulate our see-saw emotions:
OBE (Overcome by events)
MEGO (My eyes are glazed over)
BBR (Burnt beyond repair)

And all of this is aside from what I understand to be the most universal phrases on the entire planet, and in nearly every prominent language: “O.K.”

Yes, we use initials for the simplest and most-meaningless expressions – but there is no FTYC. We absolutely need one more acronym – at least one more to keep a crucial principle before our eyes and hearts. We need FTYC – “Fathers, Teach Your Children.”

Why do we need FTYC? Because we need to be reminded of our roles as nurturing sons-daughter-kids-695640-oChristian parents. Our culture offers so many ways to outsource parenthood. We have invented a boatload of kiddo-geeks to help raise and disciple our kids, allowing us to be off doing something “more productive” while they are being “safely” entertained. This is a modern American “parent trap” and let us not, as believers, fall into it!

Deuteronomy 6:4-8 says: “…and these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

This seems to imply that it is wise and godly, even obedient, to keep our children with us as much as we can. Oh, it can be a drain on our efficiency, or a strain on our emotions; but the long-term windfall is incredible. Do we see the potential of spending each moment that we can invested in our children? Do we see the value of hauling our kids around, engaging them in the daily affairs of the home and involving them in the most mundane adult activities? Kids love to be with mom and dad, to do “adult things.” And this kind of participation with mom and dad both disciples them to future responsibility and knits their hearts to the hearts of their parents.

Of course, we are busy. Maybe we feel OBE, or MEGO, or maybe we feel BBR and it seems we will never be able to be the discipler that God intended for us to be.

Don’t think that way! God is faithful. Follow His Word! Just keep them with you as much as you can. Take them to the store. Take them on errands. Teach them the importance of the various things you are doing. Speak to them about biblical principles as you drive by the way. Laugh a lot – make the day fun. You will win their hearts!

How important is FTYC? Well, God commands it. Is that important enough?

FYI, we should all stop being AWOL on FTYC ASAP!

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The Coming Celebration

by Eric Burd

All across America pulpits rang this past Sunday with messages that turned our thoughts toward the spirit of thanksgiving. But go back thirty-five hundred years with me to Israel immediately after its Exodus from Egypt. There God established a legal system that transformed them from being an extended family to one nation under God. Giving them many instructions that forged out a God-led government with detailed statutes, God also provided them with a sophisticated structure for worship.

An important part of the worship for Israel was the observance of seven holy feasts which God had ordained to be sprinkled throughout the Jew’s annual calendar. These prophetic holy days introduced specific seasons of great celebration for all the people to enjoy. Each of the feasts was given as an actual Sabbath, to be treated like the weekly Sabbath that the Jews have always observed. As such, they were not only times of celebration but mandatory periods of rest. Families were expected to break from their regular routines to meditate, and to rehearse in their hearts, various aspects of their salvation that God had given in the present and had promised to send to them in the future. And though prophecies seemed sketchy and were not clearly understood by many Jews, the celebrations were for the entire nation to mark the goodness and faithfulness of God. Of course, this was many centuries in advance of their fulfillment but the promises remained as an opportunity for the nation to account God faithful in advance of His sending them a deliverer. Today, in hindsight, we know that God was faithful. He kept His promise and sent the Jews their Messiah – Jesus the Christ – who is the Savior of the world.

Though Israel celebrated as commanded, the people of that day were “seeing through a glass darkly.” There were so many things about their coming King they could not understand and they often did not even know what they were celebrating. Part of God’s purpose in the feasts was the emphasis upon the blessings of both physical rest and the conscious meditation upon God and His promises. Rest is important. Our bodies must have it. We need it for the restoration of our bodies. But the source of weariness is often more than physical. Mental and emotional fatigue can weary us as well, sometimes more than hard labor. And God has designed us so that the act of reflecting upon His faithfulness actually stimulates the refreshing of the soul – the rejuvenation of our minds and emotions. And this refreshment we need every bit a much as physical rest.

The difference between believers today and ancient Israel is that while they looked forward to Calvary with a dim uncertainty, we can look back with absolute clarity. We may be in difficult times. We may experience seasons of disappointment. But for us, we are not looking toward an uncertain hope but a finished work. Our clear understanding of what Christ has accomplished frees us to look confidently toward a guaranteed outcome. A sure hope! So while Israel celebrated in the obscurity of the dawn, we celebrate in the magnificent light of the noonday sun!

Praying Hands with Holy Bible

Let then the rest and reflection go on. What a great tradition, using our holy day to retire from labor and to call corporate attention to the faithfulness and goodness of our God. He was pleased to give rest and reflection to His people then; He is pleased when we exercise it now. Let us use the holiday season to rest our weary bodies, and may our weary hearts be revived by the promises of God. Are we struggling? This, too, shall pass! Let us account Him faithful. Let us remind ourselves and our families of His faithfulness. Let us not be moved! If ancient Israel could walk in the night, can we not run in the day?

As the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah: … but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isa 40:31

Yes, the One who was promised has come, and has gone before to guarantee us an eternal celebration!

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Facing Up to Political Correctness – the Greatest Threat to Religious Freedom in America

Col 2:8

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

by Eric Burd

all the kings horses and all the kings men could not put Humpty-Dumpty back together again. Why? Because some things, when altered from their natural state, cannot be restored to their original properties.

For example, pop up a bag of popcorn. Now try putting all the kernels back into the package. Not likely! So with religious freedom in America: freedom that is daily being modified both on the streets and at the highest levels of our government. America is moving swiftly from “one nation under God” to philosophy and vain deceit…the tradition of men… the rudiments of the world.  The “new and improved” version of religious freedom in America will come as some “culturally sensitive” version of Political Correctness (PC), and will be no freedom at all. While PC is relatively new on the horizon, I perceive that we have not begun to see it in its full fury. Sweeping across the land, washing away holiness and evangelical fervor, PC will come upon the church with the shocking force of a great tsunami.

This will surprise many as PC is offered up in such an innocent package. Tolerant, kind and gentle, PC seems a logical and unbiased societal guide. But in reality it is an uncontrollable monster that will blur the lines of morality like nothing we have ever seen. To boot, PC is neither political nor correct.

PC Is Spiritual.

It has its roots in the benign philosophy that we need a standard that keeps society civil. It boasts that it does not offend. But this is a ruse. PC is born of hell, and will emerge as an untouchable bastion of amorality. Its end will be to virtually relieve our culture of any moral compass.

PC Is Incorrect.

Oh, it has sold itself nearly-universally as the voice of the good guys. Not so! It is in fact a sinister “seed” that will blossom into a mighty tyrant which will be used to justify the greatest persecution of righteousness since the dawn of the church.

Why do I call PC a tyrant? Well, it is one of Satan’s most ingenious inventions. It is a unique force that, independent from its inventors and adherents, has taken on a life of its own. It answers to no man as it delightfully and indiscriminately ruins anyone in its path. Much like a snowball rolling downhill it is becoming increasingly unmanageable. It has been “let out of the box.” It is set on fire by hell. It has been dispatched by the enemy of our souls and its ultimate target is the Lord’s Church! Yes, PC has been sent to destroy discernment, to undermine a biblical worldview, and to place holiness in societal disfavor. And I believe it will be embraced by our society as legitimate “cause” to stamp out Christianity.

Child SilencedPC strikes fear in the hearts of the good-hearted. It undermines the faith of vulnerable young believers. PC is patient. It can wait. It does not care whether today’s moms and dads believe its forked-tongued eloquence – it is waiting for your children and grandchildren. PC fears no one. School teachers, doctors, policemen, CEOs, generals, judges, congressmen – the President of the United States, all cringe at the name of Political Correctness; which has no mercy on those who violate its severe, yet ill-defined, boundaries.

PC dominates the halls of education, entertainment, media, government, and the workplace, and is becoming the law of the land. And, while like Humpty-Dumpty we may never again piece our religious freedom back together, we are not left helpless. Our freedom is given by God. We can still exercise it to prepare our children to face the tyrannical powers of PC!

1) We must not be overcome by fear. God has allowed the challenges of this age. His will is fixed upon displaying the glory of His Son – and we must see ourselves as His bold partners in that endeavor.

2) We must persist in prayer. More than our will, our families are dependent upon God’s light and grace in order to not be swept into a whirlpool of ignorance, indifference and amorality.

3) We must blow the “smoke” away from our children’s minds. Since we are not deceived by Satan’s devices, we must be diligent in carving out a lifestyle of moment-by-moment discipleship of our children. 

4) We must model hope, courage, love of the truth and an evangelical spirit. Bend your children like tender shoots toward a biblical worldview by your joy in the gospel lived!

5) Prepare your children for the days to come. Harden them to peer pressure. Enlist them as soldiers in the spiritual battle. Be assumptive about their faith and their calling to advance the kingdom of God. Paint for them a “mural” of the opportunities for the gospel that await in a postmodern America.

Okay, so we cannot put the popcorn back into the package. But we can be confident that it is the Lord that has handed us the contemporary challenges brought through Political Correctness. We are the Lord’s Church – His kingdom partners – and it is with His confidence that we can say: …thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2 Cor 2:14-15).

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Hope Made Me Do It

by Brad McMurray

When we take our kids somewhere fun—the beach, camping, Disneyland—there’s something about the anticipation that makes getting ready to go so much more enjoyable than a day without a special event.

Skiing

I remember waking up early one morning to take my family skiing. We had a long drive ahead of us but everyone pitched in and got ready at that wee dark hour, getting dressed, packing the car, eating breakfast. There was a distinct absence of quarreling—a noticeable air of cooperation and kindness, even forbearance. The kids helped each other, grace ruled. But we weren’t skiing; we were just getting ready to go skiing.

Hope is like that. It makes you deal with stuff that would make you cranky or reluctant if something good wasn’t coming your way.

Sometimes it can even work long distance. When you’re expecting a family vacation in a few weeks, the daily hassles don’t seem so powerful. The hope of the vacation makes us cheerful, loving—more flexible. I confess I have taken advantage of this principle by mentioning Christmas is coming as early as September to stimulate the kind of cheer and compliance that usually waits until December.

So what about heaven? Is that something we hope for? Of course! It’s the best promise of the best future with the best Being, forever. And we are told repeatedly in scripture to be filled with such a hope:

Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

We’re not commanded to try to stir ourselves into some sort of abstract feeling or imaginary euphoria. The God of hope fills us with joy and peace, in believing and we overflow with hope by the power of the Spirit.

In 1 Peter, we’re told to consider the reason for the hope, even to be able to defend that reason.

1 Peter 3:13-15 “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

That hope we have is irrespective of the harm or the suffering or the potential for fear or trouble. The testimony of our hope in such trial is powerful. Our hope is a witness to the greatness of God and to the thing for which we hope, enabling us to exhibit gentleness and respect for the very ones assailing us.

As Paul commends and exhorts the church in Colossae, he shows them that their hope is the motivation for a kind of love that the whole world can see.

Faith Hope Love

Colossians 1:3-6 “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,”

The church at Colossae is full of hope—the hope of heaven—and they show it in love, bearing fruit and increasing.

But it’s hard to keep the focus on the eternal, while living in the now. Hope can wither when we spend our days looking at this world, thinking, “It’s all about here and it’s all about now.” Don’t fall for it. Fix it by fixing your eyes on Jesus. Contemplate your eternal destiny, often and deeply alone and with the family of God.

A preacher once warned his congregation of “being so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good.” Looking at the Colossians and their mark on the world, I prefer to say, “If the saints of God were more heavenly minded, the world would see more of God’s goodness.”

I certainly hope so.

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Do You Have the Witness of God In Yourself?

by Gregg Harris

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:9-12)

Why are so many people in the evangelical churches struggling with intellectual doubts raised by the critics of our day? How is it that questions like “Where did Cain get his wife?” can raise such alarm in the minds of so many concerning the truth of the gospel and the dependability of the Bible? The answer is found in what John is telling us in this passage.

“The witness of men” that John refers to is all the evidence that this world and the efforts Witnessingof believers can muster. It may come to us through the salvation testimonies of believers, the pulpit ministry of our pastors, the discipleship training of our parents and others, the best of the many Christian books that have been published, and of course, the Christian worldview and apologetics instruction of our better evangelists and Bible teachers. This “witness of men” has tremendous value. But it is no substitute for “the witness of God” which “is eternal life.” As John writes elsewhere, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3).  Peter tells us that,

If, when we examine ourselves, we find we do not have this “witness of God in ourselves,” it is probably because Christ is not in us.  We do not have the new heart and the Holy Spirit which God has promised. We have not yet been born again. We have never really repented of our sins and trusted in Jesus enough to actually obey Him as Lord. We are, to use Paul’s language in Ephesians 2, still “dead in trespasses and sins.” Or, to use Jesus own metaphor, we are still “a bad tree” and therefore unable to bear good fruit. As wonderful as the church’s teaching ministry may be, it can never be an alternative to regeneration. Jesus’ statement, “You must be born again” is still true.

All of the training that the witness of men can offer is futile apart from the new birth. It is like spraying, pruning and fertilizing a crab apple tree. It can only bear bigger, more numerous crab apples. It is like putting cosmetics on a corpse. It can only make the dead look better for a while, but it cannot last. The witness of men is like the noonday sun shining on a living tree. It makes the living tree grow faster. But the same hot sun shining on a dead tree can only cause the dead tree to dry out faster, making it all the more combustible for the fires of God’s judgment.

The witness of men is not a substitute for the witness of God, it is a supplement. All this wonderful training nurtures the eternal life that God has granted through the believer’s faith in Jesus, but it does not produce that eternal life. This is why John told us in his gospel, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13). All such believing is a gift of God’s grace, not a result of any man’s bloodline, or work, or will.

The new birth is the witness of God in the one who truly believes in Jesus. All the questions of unbelieving critics roll off the mind of the born-again believer like water off a duck’s back. The believer has eternal life and it is noticeable. So, rather than tremble at a question and run for cover, the one who has eternal life can responds calmly,  “Those are very good questions. I will have to ask God about them when I see Him in heaven. I do hope you will be there with me to hear His answers.”

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Can You Believe In Whom You Believe?

by Eric Burd

The fourth chapter of John tells the story of a nobleman who came to Jesus that his son might be healed. The ESV goes on:Help my unbelief

Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. (John 4:50-54)

Notice the man believed – then believed again. This phenomenon in that man’s life can be exposited may ways, but one lesson for us in this is we can have what we might call “levels” of faith. We cannot discard the man’s first believing, it drove him to action. But it had certainly not risen to the level of saving of his whole household as did his second believing. The point is that it is normal for believers to have a constantly-unfolding revelation of the person of Jesus Christ, and what He is to us. Or, said differently, as believers, faith in Christ grows increasingly deeper as we come to know Him more and more intimately. The important thing is that we follow the nobleman’s example of following Christ’s instructions.

Jesus loves us infinitely, and hovers over us in love. He says in Mathew 6:34,  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Jesus has our backs. He has said this! Do you believe it?

Now, if you are like me, it is often difficult to walk in this reality. I am anxious from time to time, which is an obvious manifestation of fear – or more bluntly – a simple lack of practical trust in Christ. Why don’t I trust Him? Because I don’t know Him well enough! I have emotions that steer me wrong and get me tied up on knots over my fear and anxiety. I pursue the knowledge of Him, but still have these emotions! And I have learned that they are often fueled by what we believe to be reality – but what is certainly not yet reality. We can create our own anxieties!

I remember as a youth attending our hometown theater, from which I was to make a short walk to a scout meeting. Leaving the theater and walking alone, suddenly I had this strong intuition, a warning. I had walked this path many times before, but today I sensed a sinister presence lurking in the darkness of the alley just ahead. My heart began to race. Jay-walking to the other side of the street, I kept my eyes fastened upon the dark abyss of that alley. It unfolded to me with each step. With accelerated heart beats I sidestepped my way forward, ready to sprint to safety at the uncovering of the villain that was surely hidden away. Finally, as the alley came into full view I realized nothing was there. I was clear of danger. Then it dawned on me that as I had been preoccupied with the suspicious alley before me, that in my inching my way forward my back was completely exposed to the opposite alley that was directly behind. Had there been a boogeyman there, I would have most certainly been unprepared to react. Interestingly enough at that young age, I also realized the silliness of this intuition. I had so fixated my view on one imaginary danger, which left me completely exposed to another.

The Lord told the nobleman, “Go, your son will live.” He believed – he went. Though He did not fully believe, his belief was made whole as he boldly walked out the instructions he was given. And like him, we have been given marching orders: . . .do not be anxious about tomorrow. Believe it; believe Jesus! Act on what the Lord has said. Do not be anxious. Do not imagine the evil that tomorrow holds. He is hovering over you. Cast down imaginations that derail your confidence. It is Christ who has spoken. You believe in Him…can you believe in whom you believe?

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In View of the Recent Supreme Court Decision…

By Steve Ewards

A pastor friend of mine posted this comment on his Facebook page and it started me thinking, so I wanted to jumpstart my article with this:

“A reminder – in light of the Supreme Court decision concerning DOMA and Prop 8 – Jesus did not send us into the world armed with political activism or a Judeo-Christian value system. He called us to share the foolish message of the cross and through that message, He will make all things new.”    Cast in Stone

I would have to agree. We have had several decades of political activism by the church trying to change the culture through aggressively trying to change legislation. It hasn’t worked from my perspective. What we have accomplished is to change the message of the Church to be that of social change and moral engineering.

We have had the Christian Reconstructionists try to recreate the climate and laws of the early years of America, only to disagree and disintegrate within their own ranks. This has resulted in a judgmental and legalistic interpretation of Christianity.

We have had the Moral Majority try to get more Christians elected to office. Instead of giving us some Christian statesmen, we have been handed more spineless politicians not wanting to rock the boat. Of course this is not true in every case. Some leaders have merely been shut down by the media with lies and accusations.

We have basically morphed the church’s reputation as a bastion of soul winners and spiritual healers into a hotbed of “right-wingers.”

We have leaned on the horse and the chariot. Is. 31:1, “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!” We must stop leaning on the power and strength of our fleshly horses and looking to our churches as Christian armies to get things done in the government. That short cut to power, by passing seeking the Lord and following His methods, will not work today any more than it did for the Israelites of Old Testament days. We must learn again how to fight God’s battles God’s way. We must regain the moral superiority by being a people who listen to and follow God.

We, as leaders or members of today’s church, must reclaim the confidence our forefathers had in the power of the Gospel to change society one person at a time – or, in the case of a city-shaking revival, the entire town at once. But His change will come from Heaven, not Congress or a political platform.

I remind you that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation – not social upheaval, to the Jew first and also the American. When we can change hearts to be obedient to the Gospel of Grace, we will not need to change laws or the political systems.

This is not to say that in America we should not vote and express our opinion and endorse candidates; it is to remind us that we should not have a misplaced hope.

As Leonard Ravenhill was famous for saying, “The answer is not in the White House, it is in God’s house.”

Judgment, and right thinking, must begin in the church. We must become the prophetic church which speaks God’s word into the world. We must renounce sin while extending forgiveness through the grace of the Gospel for change or recovery.

The church must rise up to call black black and white white. We must be done with the politically-correct speak and use biblical language in love, calling people everywhere to repent.

We must have answers for the hope within us, answers that are relevant not to the culture but to the Scriptures. We need to shun any other Gospel which we feel would reach people better or easier than the cross will. We must preach as dying men to dying men. We must not strive to be political movers and shakers, We are called to be pastors of the flock God has placed us in preparing them to be ambassadors of a heavenly kingdom that suffers for Christ at the hand of the world.

As Paul reminded his young apprentice, Timothy, “Preach the Word.” We are not preaching the Word when we are merely trying to change a law for the betterment of society. Change the laws if you can, but don’t put your hope in that arm of flesh to save society. The lawbreakers will continue to exist, and the unbelieving will still perish.

Share the foolish-to-the-world message. For those you save, it will be not foolishness but wisdom, the wisdom of God unto salvation. Let’s boast in nothing else but the cross of Christ!

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