The bad news is time flies…

…the good news is you’re the pilot.

The bad news is that time flies and sometimes it seems to move quickly, while at other times it seems to move more slowly. But, the good news is we are the pilots and that means we can choose how we spend our time.

This is a guest post by Beth Harris. She is a wife, mother, Bible study leader and volunteer editor for markalanwilliams.net.

This quote reminds me of when I was in my teens and 20’s and how I piloted my own life. I was in control, charting my own course and spending my time chasing selfish pursuits. I lived a self-directed life and as a result, I spent time doing things I now regret. But, God in His mercy, changed my life when I accepted Christ at the age of 27.

I remember my Pastor giving me a short essay called: A Tandem Ride With God, to explain how God wants control of our lives when we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior. It’s an analogy that describes new believers and at first, they are usually the ones pedaling and sitting up front on a tandem bicycle with Jesus sitting on the back seat. But, then Jesus suggests that they switch places and let Him be the driver. As a result, life becomes a thrilling adventure with Him in control and leading the way.

3 Shocking Biblical Statements About Your Tongue

Why your words are one of the most important things about you.

The Bible talks about the tongue as a symbol for the words we speak. Our words and the way we use them can make a lifetime impression for good or evil. I can still remember saying words in high school that I regret over 40 years later!

Over the decades since then, I’ve said many more regrettable words. Sometimes I’m shocked at what’s come out of my mouth! It’s no wonder the Bible book of James has some strong things to say about our tongues and the words we say.

Here are 3 shocking statements about the tongue from James 3:

Shocker #1. Your tongue is the most powerful part of your body.

Our tongues are small, but what a powerful punch they pack!

Here’s what James says:

Why 500 Years of Catholic & Protestant Church Separation?

5 Solas of the Reformation and why they are essential.

Times of church separation can be awful, such as when the church I was raised in went through a split during my senior year of high school. It was devastating. But sometimes a separation is necessary to reform an unhealthy situation. Such was the case with the Reformation, which is often considered to have launched on October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. The theses were tenants of change needed to reform the Roman Catholic Church (RCC).

This is our son Danny in front of the building in downtown Copenhagen. Can you read the inscription: “Soli Deo Gloria?”

Luther was not the only reformer, nor necessarily the best. Other reformers included John Calvin, John Hus, Huldrych Zwingli, Peter Waldo, John Knox and John Wycliffe. In fact, later in life Luther himself made mistakes and said things that Christians must repudiate. However, in general, the Reformation of the church was necessary and included reforms that we need to learn from today.

The Roman Catholic Church has accomplished remarkable good, while at the same time has needed immense reform. Here are some of the things I admire about the Roman Catholic Church:

  1. Remarkable acts of charity over the centuries and continuing until today.
  2. The sense of history and tradition.
  3. An officially consistent pro-life
  4. Missionary outreaches over the centuries.

But there were and are some issues of great concern. These issues resulted in the Reformation and church separation into many denominations such as the Lutherans, Presbyterians, Reformed, Anglican, and so on.

I recently wrote about the importance of not majoring on minors. But the issues of the Reformation were definitely not minor and deserve a review on this 500th anniversary.

So, in this article I’d like to cover 5 of the most essential reforms, which have come to be known as the 5 solas.

Here are the five solas of the reformation and why they necessitated a church separation:

Let’s Stop Majoring on Minors in the Christian Life

The difference between biblical essentials and nonessentials.

Recently a friend related how he was nearly kicked out of his friend’s house for apparently majoring on minors of the Christian life. It seems that he was insisting on what seem to be relatively minor theological points. Later when relating the encounter, he explained that this was a fairly normal experience for him. He said that he has a “prophetic” gifting that compels him to confront.

(this is not the friend referred to in this article)

The issue, it seems to me, is not a prophetic gifting, so much as it is majoring on minors and doing so insistently and ungraciously. But my friend isn’t the only Christian doing this. Many Christians bicker and sometimes separate over minor issues of difference, majoring on minors in the Christian life.

So, what’s the answer? The best way I’ve heard the solution expressed is in the maxim:

“In essentials, unity, in nonessentials, liberty, in all things, charity.”

This guideline is biblical and can be quite helpful to guide us to keep from majoring on minors and yet stand firm on what is vital.

Let’s consider the three parts of this statement about majoring on minors:

1. In essentials, unity…

This means that when there are beliefs integral to the Christian faith, Christians should affirm their agreement with Scripture.

Why Scripture? Because it is our only unshifting, reliable source of God’s Truth.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

In the Bible, we find two kinds of essentials:

  • Beliefs that are central to the Gospel.

How to Balance Content and Discontent in the Christian Life

We need some of both.

Recently I woke up feeling discontent. It didn’t take me long to figure out why. Interestingly, last week my good friend and DJJ Board member Steve Foster recommended a book titled The Magic of Thinking BigIt’s a classic about how so many people are content with small things because they don’t think big. A great message, but the problem is it can have some unintended consequences, at least for people like me.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I started reading the book not long before I went to bed. Consequently, I’m sure that the book and its theme was the root of my discontent:

  • Have I settled for less than the best?
  • Could I have done more if I’d just have thought bigger?
  • What can I do to shift my thinking to create bigger outcomes?
  • I’d better hurry up and get going or I’ll miss the bus!

So, after wakening with discontent, all this got me to thinking about what the Bible says: Is thinking big God honoring? Can discontent be godly, or does God want us to be perpetually content, no matter what?

Here’s my answer to these questions:

1. Discontent is godly when…

  • …we want to see God’s Kingdom expand and all people to hear the Gospel.

3 Reasons You Need a Strategy for Spiritual Growth

Spiritual growth doesn’t just happen.

You and I need a strategy for spiritual growth. But some Christians act like planning, strategizing and systems are ungodly. They seem to think that if we’re led by the Spirit, there will be no plan or system. We’ll just “flow in the Spirit” without any thought to where we’re going and how we’ll get there.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Indeed, the Bible says the Spirit is like a wind, and we don’t know where it’s going:

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8 NIV)

What’s misunderstood is that Jesus was not saying we shouldn’t have strategies and plans. He was saying that we should allow planning to be Spirit-directed. Then we must also allow the Spirit to alter our plans when He desires.

But since many don’t plan, what often seems to happen is people don’t mature in their faith. This is a problem needing to be overcome and described by another depiction of wind: “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” (Ephesians 4:14 NIV)

Here are 3 reasons you and I need a strategy for spiritual growth:

1. Strategies answer the question: what’s next?

3 Ways to Win When You’re Sidelined

When cast aside, we can still overcome.

When I was sidelined in Jr. Hi School in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, it was a most humiliating experience. In 7th grade, I was a wiry 13-year-old. I decided to play (American) football for our school. The coach had a “no cuts” policy, so everyone stayed on the team. But I had never played organized football before. Everybody else seemed to know what to do. I had no clue.

Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash

When our first game rolled around, I was scared that the coach would put me in the game. The problem was, I didn’t have know what I would do if I was in the game. It would have been a disaster. He never did put me in the game—I was sidelined from the start.

To make matters worse, my father came and watched the entire game. Afterwards he lamented that I never got in the game. I never admitted how relieved I was that I didn’t!

Other times I’ve been sidelined in other ways and for other reasons. Sometimes it has been awful. I wanted desperately to be in the game, but wasn’t allowed. Perhaps you have had similar experiences. It might be an illness, a family challenge, a decision at work, or something else that keeps us sidelined.

Recently while studying the life of the Apostle Paul, I thought about how he was sidelined by unjust imprisonment for years and what he did to make the best of it.

Here are 3 ways to win when you’re sidelined:

1. Refuse resentment.

How to Receive Biblical Correction and Guidance

It’s hard to do.

It is usually hard to receive biblical correction and guidance. While we should be happy and thankful to receive it, most usually aren’t. Why is that? Probably because of our pride and wounded ego. When a student at Talbot Seminary, I was interviewed by a reporter from our school newspaper. He wanted to learn and report on my time as an intern with speaker and author Josh McDowell.

But by the end of the interview he proclaimed, “You know what. You have a problem.” I didn’t want to hear what he had to say, because I was pretty sure he was telling me I was prideful and arrogant. He never ran the story. It was embarrassing.

A few years before that I was confronted about the way I was talking. I was saying “Hallelujah” in a flippant way. A fellow student confronted me with the fact that the word hallelujah is derived from two Hebrew words: praise and Yahweh or God. I was, in effect, using God’s name in vain and therefore breaking one of the 10 Commandments.

In both of these cases I was not happy to receive biblical correction. But in retrospect, both were doing me a service.

On the other hand, sometimes I’ve been confronted with accusations that were off-base and even unbiblical. Some people just want to cast aspersions, put others down or start an argument.

In a recent article, I shared about How to Share Biblical Correction and Guidance.

In this article, I’d like to share about the other side of the coin.

Here are three ways to receive biblical correction and guidance:

1. Be thankful for it.

Honoring Those Who “Fight the Good Fight of the Faith”

It’s tough to stand up for God’s Truth.

Every country thankfully remembers those who battled for their freedom and protection. In the USA, we celebrate Memorial Day to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. We are deeply grateful for their sacrifice. As Christians, we should do something similar regarding those who died for our faith. We should remember those who “Fight the good fight of the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:12a ESV)

Image by Dr Michael D Evans via www.flickr.com with modification.

Fighting isn’t fun. By nature, I’m not a fighter. Most people aren’t. Most prefer peace and harmony. But while standing up for truth isn’t easy, it’s vitally important. We are to “fight the good fight of the faith.”

But what does that mean?

Here’s what I found when I studied how we’re to “fight the good fight of the faith.”

1. Christians are to live in peace, but peace is not always attainable.

How Can and Should a Christian Apologize?

It’s hard for many to do, and even harder to do well.

I hate to mess up! Even worse, I hate to apologize. Am I unusual? I don’t think so. I recently asked a group of Christians how many believe an apology is the mark of a good Christian and a good leader. They were in almost unanimous agreement that it is.

Dale Carnegie wrote in his fabulous bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People: “When we are wrong—and that will be surprisingly often, if we are honest with ourselves—let’s admit our mistakes quickly and with enthusiasm. It is a lot more fun, under the circumstances, than trying to defend one’s self.”[1]

To apologize is not a sign of weakness, bad character or bad leadership. It’s a sign of strength, good character and good leadership.

But how should we apologize? You can probably think of examples of poorly done apologies. Here’s how to do it right.

Here are seven steps to apologize, from a biblical Christian viewpoint:

1. State your wrong behavior and call it what it is.