"Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." -Jesus Christ (Matthew 12:34)
Feb 29 2012

United Together – Humbly Serving

What you are about to read is a response I wrote concerning the issue of Free Will Baptist unity and service together. This would undoubtedly apply not only to FWBs, but to the universal Body of Christ. I would love to know your thoughts. Feel free to comment below.
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United Together – Humbly Serving

I understand this might seem simplistic, but what our denomination needs—across every sect, state association, district assocation, and local congregation—and certainly what I need, is a strong application of Philippians 2:1-11 and Romans 14.

The Apostle Paul’s exhortation to live in unity and humbly serve with one another indubitably cries out to us as Free Will Baptists. Pride has crippled us at every level. “Selfish ambition” and “conceit” have been barriers to our growth, not just numerically, but in our service to the Kingdom of God.

We all stand guilty. We are guilty in our “sidebar” conversations with others who agree with our positions (right or wrong) that tear down those in opposition. We’re guilty when we, in our private lives and thoughts, tear down those who oppose our views. We’re guilty because we do not consider those who oppose our views as “more significant” than ourselves. We’re guilty when we lose interest in those who oppose us. The call is for unity through humility and our example is Christ alone.

My thoughts take me to Romans 14 where the Apostle Paul calls for unity between the strong and weak. At best, we’ll always have disagreements. We may agree to disagree. But, that’s just what we have to do in order to move forward. I’m not speaking to the fundamentals of the faith, but rather to those issues that are “personal preferences.” It’s those items that would divide the “strong” and the “weak” Christians addressed in Romans 14. In the end, it’s not those things that bind us together, but the fundamentals of the faith. We must endeavor to major on the fundamentals.

I realize there are sects within our denomination that we may consider “weak,” yet they consider themselves as “strong.” That’s ok with me. I can be “weak” for the cause of Christ. I will welcome the “weak” and “walk in love” in order to advance the Kingdom. The Lord will uphold me. And even when the two-way street looks one-way, Philippians 2 and Romans 14 are still my responsibility.

I Need This Too,
Pastor Pusch
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Feb 17 2012

Where’s Cain?

Two in a row? Yup.
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As I continue to tread through Genesis, my thoughts take me to Genesis chapter 4 and the happenings between Cain and Able. You can the full account here.

Here’s a quick run through… Adam “knew” Eve, she had a boy, and named him, Cain. The two “knew” each other again, she conceived another boy, and they named him Able. Able was a shepherd of the sheep. Cain worked the ground (1,2). At some point Cain and Able brought an offering to Lord. Cain brought a portion of his fruit. Able brought the first portion of his flock. God approved of Able’s offering, but not Cain’s. Cain became angry (3-5). The LORD spoke to Cain and told him that if he did well, he would be accepted, but sin also lingers at the door and he must not let it in (6-7). In the next scene we see jealous Cain killing his brother Able (8). The LORD shows up, asks Cain the whereabouts of his brother, and Cain lies to the LORD and says, “I don’t know and I don’t care” (in a round about way) (9). The LORD knew exactly what Cain had done and confronts him (10-11). In the LORD’S confrontation, He punishes Cain and deems him as a “fugitive and wanderer of the earth” (12). After hearing the punishment, Cain fears that those who would find him would kill him (13,14). The LORD assures Cain that wouldn’t happen and places a mark upon him as means of protection. The scene ends with Cain leaving the presence of the LORD (15,16).

(You’re probably better off reading the full story here.)

No doubt, this is a familiar to many. Just like the passage I wrote about yesterday, I’ve read through this several times in my Christian life. However, it was during this reading that two items really jumped out at me.

The first thought is quick and it has to do with the LORD’s response to Cain after his unacceptable offering. The Lord said (in the latter part of verse 7),

“And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

My thought is simple and it’s application reaches outside of this passage. The verse reads as if the LORD was telling Cain that he could still do that which is pleasing to Him, but that he would have to fight the power of sin (or the evil one that crouches at the door). Isn’t this just how the evil one works. Peter describes the evil one as a “roaring lion seeking to devour” (I Peter 5:8). The Christian life is a battle. It’s not a battle against flesh and blood, asPaul says in Ephesians 6:12, but against spiritual darkness and evil forces. For me, I am never safe. It is a constant battle in my life. Why? Because I am mere prey to the roaring lion. Even when I “feel” as though I am on top of my “game”, the roaring lion lurks looking for his chance to leap.

The second thought I had comes to us via verse 15. After Cain learns of his punishment, he fears for his life in that as a wanderer/fugitive, those who found him might kill him. The Lord comforts Cain with these words,

“The the LORD said to him, ‘Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.”

My thought comes in the form of a question. Why? Why does the Lord seek to protect him here? The Lord protects him even to the extent that He would place a mark on Cain to prevent others from attacking him. Where is Cain now? Anytime we read about Cain in scripture after this account, the context is never good. For example, 1 John 3:12 reads,

“We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.”

If Cain was to be forever be a fugitive in the land separated from the Lord, then why the reassurance? I’m not saying that the LORD smote him right then and there, which He could have and will do in other areas of scripture. I see this “protection clause” as an act of mercy on God’s part and that’s His prerogative. How long does this protection or act of mercy last? Perhaps it ends when Cain dies of natural causes. I don’t know. I simply found this to interested.

Side Note: I am thank that God is indeed merciful and full grace. We often throw those terms around loosely and I don’t ever want to be guilty of taking those two attributes of God for granted. As Jeremiah reminds us in Lamentations 3,

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.” 

Again, perhaps my mind is trying to read too much into the passage. I love interacting with the Word! As always, thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below.

Blessings,

Pastor Pusch
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Feb 16 2012

Kicked Out of Eden

Don’t be alarmed! It’s just me.
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Recently, I began reading again in Genesis. I am still amazed at God’s creation and His greatness that made man a living soul. I never want to take the familiar for granted. It’s rich.

Yesterday I landed in Genesis 3. Whole volumes have been dedicated to the content within this chapter. I remember writing a 10 page paper in college regarding “The First Proclamation of the Gospel in Genesis 3:15″. Many of you who are reading this entry are probably familiar with “The Fall of Man” (the heading given to Genesis 3). If not, you can read it here.

Here is Genesis 3 in a nut-shell. The “crafty” serpent deceives the woman(1,4). The woman, full of deception, lusts after the forbidden fruit (6a,b). The now deceived, lustful woman, in her pride (6c) partakes of the fruit (in direct disobedience of what God commanded (2,3)) and shares it with her husband (6d). As a result, both man and woman found themselves to be naked (7). The LORD God shows up and reveals to them their  sin (as if they were’t aware)(8-11). The man blames the woman (12), the woman blames the serpent (13), and God punishes all three (14-24).

There is so much to discover within this passage, but for the sake of time, I’ll not go there. I do, however, want to touch on verses 22-24 where my question to you has do to with verse 22 specifically.

” (22)Then the LORD God sad, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever -’ (23) therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. (24) He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden, he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”

As I’m sure you have heard it explained, God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden because of their disobedience. God said don’t, they did, God punished, and kicked them out of the garden. I got it. In my reading, though, I kept going back to verse 22 and here’s my question to you… What did God mean when He said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil”? Perhaps my mind is trying to make too much out of this statement. In the countless number of times  I’ve read through this passage, I have never stopped at 22. It’s as though I’ve never read it. I understand why God wouldn’t want them to partake of the tree of life  as they would then be forever in their sinful condition. Adam and Eve has to go, I get it. Verse 22 just stopped me for a while.

The first three chapters of Genesis is a theological stockpile. It is the beginning and end of man where in between lies man’s only ray of hope that will eventually come through redemption in Jesus, the Messiah.

Well, perhaps this was a confession of my complete and utter ignorance as I journey through scripture. Regardless, I appreciate you taking the time to read. Feel free to comment below.

Blessings,
Pastor Pusch
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