The Weekly PowerBreak – “Here I Stand”

With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, stories of Martin Luther have surfaced.  My favorite story includes his response to the demand to recant his writings and his stance to which he is said to reply, “here I stand and can do no other.” Where did Martin Luther get such courage? The same place others in the reformation and all who have ever taken such a stand – the word of God!

Jesus made it known to His disciples that they would be facing fierce persecution, but He promised the help of the Holy Spirit, the Helper. And what would He do? He would bring to mind those things that Jesus taught and the word of God.

John 15:26–27 (ESV) — 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16:13–15 (ESV) — 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

If ever there was a time to call Christians to take a stand it’s today. We live in an age of being politically correct.  It seems that Christians, in an effort to not make waves, try to be as benign as possible. What has happened is a living out of the old adage; “When you fail to stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Look at Paul’s admonition to young Timothy:

1 Timothy 1:3–7 (ESV) — 3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

1 Timothy 1:18–20 (ESV) — 18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

When you fail to take a stand, you’ll find yourself drifting from the truth.

The reformers held to the “Sola Scriptura” or the Scriptures alone. In other words, they were being energized, directed, and given strength and courage from God’s word and nothing but God’s word.

John 8:31–32 (ESV) — 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

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

2 Timothy 4:1–4 (ESV) — 1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

How are you doing at taking a stand? It’s not time to be obnoxious, you don’t have to be.  Jesus said the world will hate you because it hates Him.

John 15:18–21 (ESV) — 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

If you are letting your light shine as Martin Luther did, you will be attacked. You don’t have to look for a fight or try to appear to be a martyr, just live the Christian life to the glory of God. When it comes via insult, shunning, or injury remind yourself that it’s NOT time to compromise but to go back to the word of God and do like Martin Luther, “here I stand, and I can do no other.” Because if you fail to take a stand, you are not only denying the Lord Jesus Christ, you are subjecting yourself to fall for anything that comes along. (It would be a great encouragement to read or re-read Luther’s story.)

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “A Call For Mentors”

The Christian life is one of continual growth, not just in gaining knowledge from book learning but growth in practicing and applying Biblical principles to real life experiences. The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that maturity involves practicing what you learn.

Hebrews 5:11–14 (ESV) — 11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

A true disciple’s growth or maturity is a never-ending process. Even the Apostle Paul was not content where he was in life, but made it his goal to press forward.

Philippians 3:12–14 (ESV) — 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

In our “individualistic” approach to Christianity, we have lost sight of the fact that other Christians may have a desire to grow and mature but feel much like the
Ethiopian:

Acts 8:30–31 (ESV) — 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

We all need to disciple or mentor, and we all need to be discipled or mentored in the faith.  As one old preacher used to say, “we all need a Timothy and a Paul.”

2 Timothy 2:1–2 (ESV) — 1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Discipling another individual is not rocket science, especially if you have been disicipled. It’s simply a matter of applying those things you have been taught, things you have seen, and things you have  heard from others and building into the life of another individual. Wait a minute! Isn’t this what Jesus taught in the great commission?

Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV) — 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus commands us to make disciples. Too many people have been led to Christ and left to grow on their own and too many times they have fallen by the way because they were not discipled. Obviously, the local church provides a means of shepherding and accountability but within that church body, what would happen if every member personally discipled another? Wow! You can’t help another grow spiritually without growing yourself which is exactly why Paul laid out the principle of discipling others who will disciple others.

So, who are you discipling? The logical order of events would be your leading someone to Christ or inviting them to the preaching of the Gospel, then instead of leaving them to grow on their own, guide them, help them, show them, and hold them accountable. The system works when one is discipled and then disciples another. This Biblical principle has been even proven in the world via the “AA program” as well as every successful network marketing model.

Consider the admonition to Jesus stating the reason for choosing was to bring forth fruit and that fruit not exclusively the fruit of another disciple but in keeping with the mandate to be “fruitful” it would only make sense that the way to be fruitful in the kingdom is to bring forth the fruit of another mature disciple who would in turn disciple another person.

John 15:16 (ESV) — 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Genesis 1:27–28 (ESV) — 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

So, who are you mentoring or discipling? It’s a life fulfilling principle but it’s also a command. May you begin today by making yourself available to God and asking Him to lead you to someone to mentor / disciple.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Are you available?”

There is an old saying that the best ability to offer to God is your availability and rightly so because if you offer your availability to God, you are offering all that you are, just as instructed.

Romans 12:1–2 (ESV) — 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The picture is a worshipper bringing a peace offering to the priest as a way of expressing gratitude to God. The peace offering would be consumed upon the altar. I am sure that some would look at the situation and think of how better the lamb could have been used or how the worshipper could have taken a lamb which was of little or no worth. But that would not be worship. In fact, substituting anything that is less than the very best for God is unacceptable. David expressed similar sentiments when he was instructed to offer a sacrifice at the threshing floor of Araunah.

2 Samuel 24:19–24 (ESV) — 19 So David went up at Gad’s word, as the Lord commanded. 20 And when Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming on toward him. And Araunah went out and paid homage to the king with his face to the ground. 21 And Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the Lord, that the plague may be averted from the people.” 22 Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him. Here are the oxen for the burnt offering and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. 23 All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the Lord your God accept you.” 24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

David was available to do as God commanded him. The cost was just part of the availability because God demanded the best. Similarly, Isaiah responded to God’s call by expressing his availability.

Isaiah 6:1–8 (ESV) — 1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Like Isaiah receiving grace in forgiveness, Paul in Romans 12:1 looks back to consider the marvelous grace of God described in the first 11 chapters of Romans that culminated with praise to the sovereign God Who not only designed such a perfect and complete salvation, but carried it out in such a way that only He could get the praise for it.

Romans 11:33–36 (ESV) — 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Now, based upon all that God has done for you, if indeed you are one of His, then what is your response? Availability! Present your body (all of you) to God to be utterly consumed by Him – because that is the only reasonable thing to do.

Are you available? I mean really available? We all like to think we are available until a closer look finds that we like to really hold some things back from presenting it all on the altar to be consumed. Let’s look at our time. Out of the 168 hours in a given week, how much of your time have you made available to God? How about your income? How much of your income do you really give to God? How about your talent (your very being)?  When it comes right down to it we are not all that available, but it need not be that way. Whenever God shows us a place where we fall short, He is graciously giving us the opportunity to repent and get it right.

Consider God saying to you each day, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” to which we reply like Isaiah, “here am I send me.” This means we present ourselves to God daily and we ask for the sensitivity to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to be used by God and the grace to carry out His will. As a matter of fact, in Romans 12 we have the very instructions for following through on making ourselves available to God.

Romans 12:1–2 (ESV) — 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Enlisting The Power Of Habit”

We all live in a series of habits in life, from the way we brush our teeth, to the route we drive to work, even the way we communicate. Understanding what is behind our habits in the cue, the routine, and the reward can give us, says author Charles Duhigg in his book The Habit Loop, the power to take control or enlist the power of habits in our lives.

Since habits begin with a certain cue which tells our brains to kick in what we have learned works best and the reason we enter the realm of a certain routine is because we have found the reward most pleasant which can be as simple as, “job accomplished.” That means if we are seeking to change a habit or establish a new habit we need to make sure we cover these bases.

Psalm 119:9–16 (ESV) — 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! 13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. 14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Let’s say you want to begin the habit of reading your Bible every day. The Scripture above is a motivation to be in the word every day. But if you are not doing this regularly then there is another habit that will need to change, the habit of NOT spending time with God in the word. So, let’s begin with the cue. The cue to spend time in God’s word is awaking in the morning. Secondly, the routine that needs to be established should be drawn out in detail so as to make an easy entry into the routine. In this case, deciding on a place, having your Bible,reading plan, a notebook, and pen in the place so you can get right down to business is all part of the plan. Before you seek to establish the habit, it would be good to cover the anticipated rewards. Rewards in this case would include God’s instrument to keep you out of sin and the blessing of the presence of Christ in your life and all that brings.

John 15:4–7 (ESV) — 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Now you have the cue, the routine, and the rewards in mind so it’s now a matter of execution and the application of discipline. As you begin your new habit, seeking to make it a daily routine, keep in mind it will take you a few days to fight off the interruptions to stay on track which means you keep your focus on the reward.

The added benefit of establishing habits of spiritual disciplines is the power of God, the Holy Spirit in our lives. In other words, you are not left to yourself, you have God on your side to do what is pleasing to Him and beneficial to your walk with Him.

There is power in the application of establishing good habits in your life. It’s not impossible if you cover the bases in preparation, application, discipline, while relying upon the power of God. Of course, that is also the benefit of applying good habits.

1 Corinthians 9:24–27 (ESV) — 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Slow Belly Syndrome”

When the apostle Paul left Titus in Crete to set things in order and establish qualified leaders in the church there, he made the following statement regarding the conditions into which Titus was getting:

Titus 1:10–14 (ESV) — 10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.

The statement in verse 12 regarding the Cretans by one of their own included their own was they are liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons. Wow! That was not an outsider saying that but one of their own. Paul however, must have found that to be the case for he went on to say in verse 13, “this testimony is true.” I wonder how an assessment of our society today would differ, if any. Let’s see how we would match up to some of the details.

  1. They have trouble with telling the truth so in general they are liars.
  2. They are evil beasts so you could say they were sly, hurtful and of a savage nature.
  3. They are lazy gluttons or as the KJV says “slow bellies” so they exemplified a life of laziness, idleness, sloth and sensualit; they were more inclined to eat and enjoy sensual practices than work honestly.

How do you stack up to the Cretans? It could probably be said that the description of the Cretans matches very well with people in general. So how do we avoid falling into this trap and end up like a “slow belly?”

  • Be a person of truth. That is not an option as it is one of the Ten Commandments that God has given us.

Exodus 20:16 (ESV) — 16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Ephesians 4:15 (ESV) — 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

  • Be a person who demonstrates a preference for others, rather than following a natural selfish tendency.

Philippians 2:4 (ESV) — 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

  • Be a person who sees the importance of stewardship of time, talent, and treasure; a person who sees the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit and takes heed to the warning against drunkenness, gluttony, laziness, and sloth.

Romans 12:1–2 (ESV) — 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 Ephesians 5:18 (ESV) — 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

 Proverbs 23:1–3 (ESV) — 1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, 2 and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. 3 Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.

 Proverbs 18:9 (ESV) — 9 Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.

 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 (ESV) — 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

As Paul instructed Titus to rebuke sharply, so does the word of God rebuke every aspect of the “slow belly syndrome.”

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

The teaching of Titus was to teach those who were “slow bellies” to know the grace of God which would lead them on from the dearth of “slow belly” to the praise of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Titus 2:11–14 (ESV) — 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker