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Learning to Count Again

December 2nd, 2007

Sometimes people in the hard sciences such as physics have said daring and even spiritually applicable things. Such is the case in the following observation-quote from the great German physicist, Albert Einstein.

Not everything that counts can be counted,
and not everything that can be counted counts.

We think that Einstein was making a statement here, not only about materially quantifiable data (including star-light), but also about a sociology of valuing people above things. As Christians, we trace our religion back to the patriarch Abraham (Romans 4:16). And, the promise of Genesis 22:17 inevitably comes to mind—“I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven…” (see Hebrews 11:12).

The French mathematician Blaise Pascal also said something about the counting of the stars. In his Pensees, he wrote, On Man’s Disproportion to the Universe…
marvel at the fact that Earth is merely a tiny point compared to the stars which roll through the firmament. But if our gaze stops there…it will grow tired…For
finally, what is man in nature? He is nothing in comparison with the infinite, and everything in comparison with nothingness, a middle term between all and nothing…we are something, and we are not everything.
Listen to Pascal’s breathtaking conclusion—“Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed…the universe knows nothing of this.”

Yes, man is immensely disproportionate to the stars! But, man can comprehend the stars; the stars will never reciprocally ponder man! May we learn to count again—to learn; to live; to love—the things which truly matter (John 17:3).

– Robert M. Housby

A Missionary Theology for the Local Church

March 4th, 2007

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father sent me, even so I am sending you.”

(John 20:21)

“…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God
might now be made known…”

(Ephesians 3:10)

Comeback churches and breakout churches are not satisfied with merely doing church for an hour or two a week. Do you as a member of the church see yourself as a missionary? It is easy to be missions minded (in theory), but not missional (in practice) in one’s own hometown. It is easier to send others than to realize that God wants to prepare you for greater service in the kingdom. Consider the following theological points:

A. God is a Missionary God – The Lord is a sending God.

1. He sent Noah on a mission into the new world (Gen. 8:15-19).
2. He sent Moses and Aaron (Ex. 3:9,10, 14,15; 1 Sam. 12:8).
3. He sent the prophets (Jer. 25:4).
4. He sent John the Baptist (John 1:6).
5. He sent Jesus (John 17:3, 18-25; 20:21).

B. The Church is Meant to Be a Missionary Body (Ephesians 3:10)—

A people sent to serve in the name of her Lord Jesus (Gal. 6:7,8; Matt. 25:35ff.).

To reach more for Christ should be your prayer. Do you agree?

– Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, Ephesians, John, missions, New Testament, sent Tags:

Eureka!

December 24th, 2006

(Bring Someone with You to Heaven)

“He [Andrew] first found his own brother Simon and said to
him, We have found the Messiah (which means Christ). He
brought him to Jesus”

(John 1:41,42)

“The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found
Philip and said to him, Follow me… Philip found Nathanael
and said to him, We have found him of whom Moses wrote in
the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Galilee, the
son of Joseph”

(John 1:43-45)

The Greek word for find/found in the New Testament is from the eureka family of words. This eureka experience often involves strong human emotions (see Lk. 15:8-10; 32!). Notice in John chapter 1 how Christianity functions at its evangelistic core— several essential features emerge:

1. People find Christ in their own lives.
2. Then, those people find other people, and bring them to Jesus.

This model is basic and contains certain assumptions: (1) Disciples care enough to tell others (2) These others, in turn, are open enough to be teachable. Jesus certainly had heaven on his mind (John 1:51; 3:13,31; 6:50; 18:36; 20:16-17). Won’t you make heaven your goal too?

– Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, evangelism, John, New Testament Tags:

Are You One of His Disciples?

December 3rd, 2006

(Traits of Nominal Discipleship)

“You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?”

(John 18:17, ESV)

Nominal – 1. being such in name only (see Rom. 2:17-29; 1 Pet. 4:16; compare—
“I’m Church of Christ”)

The story of Peter denying Christ has been told often and taught much. The purpose of this article is to analyze what makes faith nominal—that is, what a denial of Christian discipleship looks like.

1. Instead of closeness to Jesusmaintenance of a distance.

2. Instead of unquestionable commitmentcommitment in question.

3. Instead of personally focused faithdistracted personal faith.

4. Instead of affirmations of faithdenials of faith.

5. Instead of religious participationreligious spectator orientation.

6. Instead of decisions for Christdecisions against Christ.

7. Instead of conflict resolutionflight during conflict.

Nominal Christian discipleship will always be around. But, when the majority of members succumb to this kind of malaise—the local church is in jeopardy. Make every effort to hold high the name of Christ (1 Peter 4:16). Peter had a come-back, as we read in 1 and 2 Peter. May our lives, too, repudiate nominal behavior. Are you one of his disciples?

– Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, disciple, John, New Testament Tags:

The Day Willy-Nilly, Shilly-Shally, and Dilly-Dally Met-Up With Verily, Verily

August 13th, 2006

“Verily, verily, I say unto you”

(John 1:51; 3:3,5,11; 5:19,24,25,26,32,47,53;8:34,51,58;
10:1,7;12:24; 13:16,20,21,38;14:12;16:20,23;21:18)

The “verily, verily” statements of Jesus express certainty in simplicity. Although the older English, “verily” is not conversational any longer, the Greek,“…AMEN, AMEN…” is translated: “Most assuredly” (NKJV); “Truly, truly” (NASB); and, “In truth, in very truth, I tell you” (NEB) (e.g. John 1:51). It appears that the largest concentration of this idiom occurs in the Gospel of John (Matthew – second; Mark – third and Luke – last).

We live in a willy-nilly, shilly-shally, dilly-dally world. From so-called Christian churches (which waffle on the word of God) to humanistic agencies, and societies (which provide transportation to the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah), our times are under-going pervasive indecision, careless and wrong decision-making.

1. Shilly-shally indecision (from a reduplication of shall-I?) = to hesitate.
2. Willy-nilly – (contraction from, will I, nill I.) = either way is okay.
3. Dilly-dally a preoccupation with trifles.

Jesus did not hesitate; was not apathetic; and, was not a trifle with trivia. His way was resolute, purposeful, and significant. Do you live with a “Verily, verily I say unto you” or, do you live with contractions of confusion?

– Robert Housby

Categories: Bible, Jesus Christ, John, living, New Testament Tags:

Honored to Serve

February 12th, 2006

In the World War II military movie, Patton, George C. Scott portrays General George Patton, Commander of the United States 3d Army. Throughout the movie, General Omar Bradley is shown constantly counseling Patton on political decorum. One scene in the movie shows Patton confronting a G.I. in a hospital in Sicily for his apparent mental battle fatigue. Patton started striking him on the head and screaming at the man for alleged cowardice. Then he ordered the soldier out of the hospital to a separate location. He would not have this coward to share the tent with honorably wounded American soldiers.
A warm and sensitive psychologist–Patton was not. Still, there are statements made by the Holy Spirit which lead one to know for certain that God hates cowards among his people.

1. Revelation 21:8 reads: “But as for the cowardly…their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”

2. The opposite of cowardice is courage. Joshua 1:9 reads, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.” And, the way to “courage” is to realize that fear is replaced with the promise of Joshua 1:9b—“Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” The promise of the Lord’s presence with his disciples in a New Testament sense is axiomatic to Christian faith— “…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20; see also 2 Chronicles 32:6-8; Acts 28:15).

3. Honor is conditioned upon service (John 12:26).

For all that you’ve done, and all that you’re going to do in the name of Christ, it will not be forgotten (1 Cor. 15:58). Serve Him today!

-Robert M. Housby

The Holy Spirit—Guide

December 11th, 2005

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…”

(John 16:13)

“Lead me gently home Father, lead me gently home /
In life’s darkest hours, Father, When life’s troubles come /
Keep my feet from wandering, Lest from Thee I’ll roam /
Lest I fall upon the wayside, Lead me gently home.”

(Will L. Thompson, Lead Me Gently Home, Father)

“Guide” is one of the terms used to convey and portray a function of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13). The statement, “…he will guide you,” was made only to the apostles (Jn. 16:1,2,7,4,10,12; Acts 1:21-26; 22:14; 1 Cor. 15:8,9). That is to say, the apostles were to be the primary recipients of “all the truth” (see 1 Cor. 12:28,29). This body of truth would eventually be relayed to all the world as a constant and continuous resource of gospel information.

Ephesians 6:17 indicates that “the sword of the Spirit” is “the word of God.” It is precisely this medium of the word which provides continuity of apostolic doctrine into the 21st century. The apostle John wrote: “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 Jn. 4:6). The guidance of the Spirit is the guidance of the Lord, because—“ the Lord is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:17).

To be led by the Spirit of God is possible today (Gal. 5:18; Rom. 8:14; Lk. 1:79). And, the Holy Spirit’s presence is always with his truth: gospel guided and gospel given.

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, John, New Testament, Spirit, truth Tags:

Why Christian Worship Has Become A Pagan Garage Sale

August 14th, 2005

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”

(John 4:23)

There are central concepts to Christian worship, as indicated on the pages of the Bible. But, these central concepts have been marginalized. In other words, marginal notes and human ideas have become more important than the text of the Bible. For example, in John 4:20-26 we learn just how far moderns have actually strayed from the original will of God regarding Christian worship:

A. Note, the text says, “true worshipers” (Jn. 4:23). But, in modern religious thinking there are only “worshipers.” What happened to the word “true”?! Furthermore, John 4:24 says, “in spirit and truth;” not just in spirit.

B. John 4:24 reads, “… and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (emphasis mine, RMH). But, in modern religious thinking there is no “must.” What happened to the word “must”?

Jesus’ remarks in John 4 should not be surprising; for, they reflect the monotheistic principles of Deuteronomy 12:

1. There is a way to worship, and a way not to worship (Deut. 12:4,5).
2. Privatized and pluralistic religion is not the way to worship (Deut. 12:8).
3. Popular opinion is not the way to worship (Deut. 12:29,30).
4. Worship carries with it these warnings: “Take care…” and “Be careful…” (Deut. 12:13,28,32).

The pagan garage sale is an option, but not for “the true worshipers” of God!

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, John, New Testament, Worship Tags:

“Learning to Lean”

February 6th, 2005

(Judges 16:26; Song of Solomon 8:5; Micah 3:11; John 13:23; 21:20; Hebrews 11:21)

“Learning to lean / learning to lean”

(John Stallings, Learning to Lean, 1977)

We are all learning to lean on the Lord, to some degree and on some level. The Hebrew term, Adonai means, “my Lord.” If ever we’re going to learn to lean on the Lord, it must happen in a personal way. The point is, Adonai is the personal Lord of his people. It is this confidence that enables the believer to say with Psalmist: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (Psalm 103:1).

Learning to lean is a life with characteristics:

1. Adonai (“my Lord”) – Deuteronomy 4:35 read: “…that you might know that the Lord Himself is God; there is none other besides him.” This LORD is a personal God, and faith in this God is monotheistic. This is why it is even possible to lean on the Lord— He is God and He personally cares.
2. Jesus is Lord (John 20:28; Philippians 2:11).


3. This Lorship is the faith for all that would become a “Christian”
(Acts 22:16).

Jacob, when dying, leaned upon his wooded staff in worship (Hebrews 11:21). Jesus, in dying, leaned upon the wooden tree in agony (1 Peter 2:24). The gospel of Christ encourages all men to lean on the Lord.

– Robert M. Housby

Be Somebody Today

August 29th, 2004

“…I in them and you in me…”

(John 17:23)

It would be easy enough to think that we were somebody special if we were selected for the Olympics, some professional sport, or pageant. But, what if (just what if), we were not socially selected first, or genetically engineered for some magnificent success? In his book, The Sensation of Being Somebody, Dr. Maurice Wagner explains three essential components to a healthy self-image:

1. A sense of belongingness which is aware of being wanted, accepted, enjoyed and loved.
2. A personal sense of worth and value.
3. A sense of personal competence.

With all due respect to Dr. Wagner’s work, anyone versed in Jesus’ Sermon On the Mount will not fail to see that these three components are very much expressed there. For example, the Beatitudes, themselves, commence with the English translation of makarios as, “Blessed” (with a view toward personal wellbeing). Such blessedness reinforces the idea that God embraces: “the poor in
spirit,” “those who mourn,” and “the peacemakers” (Mat. 5:2-12). In a word, these find belonging with God. As for a sense of worth and value, Jesus speaks of the birds of the air and says, “Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt. 26,27). And, Jesus, in expecting “fruits” from his disciples, most certainly infers personal competence to produce these fruits (Matt. 7:16-20).

How we view ourselves, then, will determine how we come across to others, to ourselves, and to our God. Not to belong is to experience isolation and rejection; not to have personal worth is to devalue the work of God in Creation and Redemption; and, not to have personal competence is live in doubt and fear. No wonder that God expresses his will for all men: “That you might know that I am the LORD.”

–Robert M. Housby

Categories: John Tags: