A Conversation with a Martyr

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OK, that could be a very misleading title!

I want to make it clear I have not personally contacted a martyr for the faith. Rather this is a work of fiction. I have always been – at least when it comes to writing – a fiction writer. I love to write fiction, especially science fiction and fantasy. You in fact can read my fiction online as it is currently being serialized. Well I was sitting in my chair reading Voice of the Martyrs and the Lord smacked me on the head with an idea I just couldn’t shake. Well… I think it was the Lord anyway. As I said I just couldn’t shake it I had a visceral need to write it and finish it.

I thought I’d give you all a chance to read it. I’ve been holding it back as it is different from anything else I’ve ever written. The idea is I’ve been praying to God about being the kind of person who is willing to lay their life down for Him. I’ve never thought I was this person. I want to be this person, but never felt like I had the courage to be. This part is not fiction, this part is absolutely true. I have prayed this question many times in my life. Wondered for many years if a great persecution happened here in the USA would I be the person hiding his beliefs to get by or would I stand up and shout God’s good news from the roof tops?

The story is essentially God giving me an answer. Whether this answer is real or fake, I cannot tell. I’ve pondered it and handed the story to wiser men than I. I have nothing more really to say about the story.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Easter Thought – 2017

Well, here, we are in 2017 and standing again before the Lord in worship of His sacrifice for us on the cross. As far as holidays go, Easter really is my favorite. I’m brought to my knees, with tears in my eyes, as I think about how worthless my righteousness is, and yet God thought a relationship with me worth it enough to pay the price to have that relationship. Relationships have been the big-ticket item in my thoughts and Bible stud recently. I recently posted a thought here, and gave a short word on it at the Willamette Bible Chapel, where I spoke on Colossians 1:24–27.

Relationships are important! They are really in a lot of ways, the most important thing. We see this even in the law as the Pharisees ask the Lord Jesus what the greatest commandment was. His responses to this question are both completely relational (Matthew 22:34–40; Mark 12:28–34; Luke 10:25–28). Furthermore, the verse which is singular best known verse in the Bible: John 3:16 gives us a relational statement about why Jesus came to the Earth. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV) For God so loved the world!

Christianity, for some reason has almost become more like an achievement or badge to wear rather than what it’s supposed to be. Christianity should be more like the relationship status we post on Facebook:

“RB is in a relationship with the Eternal Creator of All — God”

This is what Christianity should be. This is what Easter celebrates. We are celebrating God bridging the gap for us so we can have a relationship with Him. If God hadn’t done this we would only be able to view God as one mighty lawgiver. Instead, however, we get to enjoy the benefits of a personal relationship with the most powerful Being which exist. A Being whose very word says He is love (1 John 4:8).

This is what I am remembering this Easter.

Hope you all have a happy Easter.

Thoughts on Friendship – 2017

Willamette Bible Chapel just had their annual Men’s Retreat. I attended and was truly blessed. The subject this year was friendship. I really appreciated this subject as relationships are a strong call in my life. I think everyone has a huge call in their lives toward relationships. I personally feel they are the most important thing in our lives. Jesus said the greatest commandments are to “Love the Lord your God” and “Love your neighbor”. This tells us, even from the time of the law, relationships were primary in the heart of God.

Relationships are our primary view and shining forth of God. John states in his first epistle that we cannot say we love God and hate our brother (fellow believer whether man or woman). So, it is our relationships in which we show how much we love God. Through loving our brothers and sisters (fellow believers) and our other neighbors (those who are not believers as well) we show how much we love God. Through this – loving the people around us (believers or not), and loving God – we fulfill the whole law.

One of my other thoughts on relationships, well friendships really, is our intimate friendships affect our views, attitudes, and everyday choices. If I make intimate friends with a non-believer I need to be careful with this friendship so it does not drag me away from God. Rather, I need to shine the light of God into their lives. If I allow it to pull me away from God, I allow, also, my witness for God to be torn down. So, I need to guard my heart from such things. I need to strive toward God and shine His light.

I’m not trying to say we should cut ties with the world, and those who are unsaved. This would not be loving our neighbor as our own selves. Cutting ties with those who are unsaved, also, tears down our witness. For to whom are we witnessing? Ourselves? No, we are witnessing to non-believers! So, it would be terribly inappropriate to cut ties with the unsaved. Did Jesus do this? No, of course not, He was a friend to sinners.

The difference is Christ is God, perfect, omnipotent; able to not let the world tear Him down and destroy His witness. We are impotent and must depend on the LORD for our strength. So, through all our friendships we need to cleave into God. Our intimate friendships should, however, be with believers. This is because our intimate friendships when with other believers, shall build us up in the Lord. Have friendships, evangelize, shine the light of the Lord as a city on a hill! Relationships are one of the greatest ways to evangelize. Be honest, be loving, be Christ to everyone.

Thoughts on the Election

With the election over people on both side are feeling lost, disenfranchised, and even scared. I’ve personally read social media messages by those on both sides of this political season filled with anger hate, and discrimination. Some of these posts were written by friends of mine whom I know Christians. Now before we go any further I am not one of those people who thinks Christians are any better than non-believers. I had this whole argument lined out about redeemed vs. perfected, but I’m going to skip it. Suffice it to say Paul (who wrote almost half of the New Testament) called himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and said “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19 ESV). So, yes, all Christians are sinners.

But as I was praying the last night (the 8th) before I went to bed and before I knew the outcome of the election. I prayed a specific prayer:

“Lord Jesus, my sovereign Master and King, as the people of my country choose their next leader, I lift up to You the decision. You are king of all and in control, Lord, lead the decision. But, also, help us to know You are in control over this situation. With a political season which has been so divisive in not just our country, but in Your body, help us to come together unified in love and our common faith. Lord Jesus, You are our head, You are our Savior. Help us to turn our eyes away from petty man-made doctrines and institutions and turn our faces back to You.

I love You, Lord!

—Amen.”

We need to be healing the wounds! We need to be coming together unifying. Christians are not called to do what they are doing. We are called to live quiet lives (1Thes 4:11; 1Tim 2:2), be subject to all authorities and human institutions – including paying taxes (1Pet 2:13-17; Rom 13:1-7; Titus 3:1;), and pray for our leaders (1Tim 2:1-2). These things leave no room for us to be making snide remarks or posting angry things on social media. Christians should be those who are gracious enough to be empathetic, for we have a God who knows what we feel, who shared humanity and gives us grace freely.

Finally I will close with my prayer today when I found out the results the election:

Lord Jesus, my Master and my God, with Trump becoming president lead us and how we should go. Lord God, You are the one who really is in control, You direct the steps of all mankind. I will put my trust in you, not in the institutions of this world.

Jesus, You You are my King!

I love You, Lord!

—Amen.”

Pray for his leading in your life, but more than that, go be a sibling, parent, cousin, aunt/uncle, husband/wife, or just a friend, love someone and help them when they need it.

Experiencing Something Better

Believe Better Ministries is proud to announce a new project we are working on. This project is called Experiencing Something Better and it is written by Christians for Christians. The project is a series of books each containing stories of real experiences Christians have had with God. So here is what Believe Better Ministries is looking for: Your Story! We are looking for Christians to write stories to fill the pages of this new project.

We will not turn any story away based on denomination, creed, orthodoxy, or the lack thereof. The goal of this series is encourage Christians of all walks of life from every denomination. The way we are defining experience is anything from an answered prayer to a Christophany (a visitation of Christ). So start writing your story about your experience with God and submit them to us via our e-mail. Subject: ATTN: ESB Story.

We look forward to reading your story.

Epistle to the 21st Century Church

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Epistle to the 21st Century Church

A letter written to the Church sent from a servant of the LORD Jesus Christ; who is His Son.

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

First let me tell you that if any one of you, my Brethren, find any fault, error or wrong thing in this letter discard it immediately for it is not of the LORD. But if you find that my writings are good and in harmony with the Word of God than heed them.

Now, Brethren, we have fallen away from the things that are of Christ and turned to the things of men. If any of you cannot quote to me John 3:16 than you must be a new believer; and for the new believer I will quote it here:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16 (KJV)

Brethren think clearly, there is no qualifier presented, not even in the verses following. Do you believe me? Look it up for yourself. The Apostle Paul knew this and wrote of it in his Epistle to the Church at Ephesus. In this letter Paul told them (and through this letter us) that they were saved by grace alone not by works of the Law (Eph 2:8–9).

Brethren, if in His Word God tells us that no works gain our salvation why have we placed ourselves under the Law again? Such things the Jews tried to do before, and the Apostles spoke very clearly about this. The leaders of the churches – the Priests, Pastors and Elders – are supposed to be knowledgeable of the Word of God, why do they then not lead you to understanding of how you have become saved?

Peter, the Apostle who led the other Apostles, spoke on this when it was brought before him. He rebuked them asking why they were placing a yoke upon the Gentiles that no Jew has ever been able to bear. He then reminded them that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we are saved (Acts 15:7–11).

This rebuke was meant for all men who placed the Law on the believer – the Christian. Brethren if my salvation rested on my own shoulders and I died tomorrow I world go to Hell because I am not worthy. I am a decrepit servant who does not even deserve to work for his Master let alone be given grace by Him, but yet I am saved by the blood of Christ. I pray that my words will be heard by you that you will no longer carry a yoke on your shoulders.

Even Paul, who could count himself perfect, did not count his works as salvation, but counted them as loss for the sake of Christ. In his Epistles to the Philippians he said that if anyone has the ability to have confidence in their flesh Paul does. Then he lists his qualifications but follows this list saying that none of them can help him because these qualities are worthless when compared to knowing Christ Jesus (Phil 3:2–8). Paul’s qualifications are impressive, even amazing, he could count himself blameless before the Law. Again I say to you he still counted these qualities as worthless!

Paul was very clear on this in his exhortations to the churches and men that he had left behind him on his missionary journeys. He preached the gospel of grace and he wanted all men to know that anyone who tried to put the Law over them should not be listened to. He went so far as to curse anyone (including himself and angels) who preached a gospel contrary to what Paul preached (Gal 1:8). Because when it comes down to the end anyone who preaches contrary to Paul is saying God’s way is not good enough. So are you willing to say that God’s plan is not good enough?

God told Paul that His grace was sufficient enough (2Cor 12:9) and if His grace was sufficient enough for Paul who was the foremost (or greatest) of sinners (1Tim 1:15) than why is His grace insufficient for you? But I do exhort you as Paul did that we should not sin against God. For just as Jesus told the Adulterous Woman “Go and sin no more” (Jn 8:11) we must strive to do the same and bear fruit. For what is faith? Faith is not just sitting on your hands doing nothing but faith is believing in something, and belief is a word of action. Just as James said faith without action is dead (Jas 2:26). So in our faith must we have action that goes along with it.

What is this action? It is the love that we are commanded to perform. We are to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt 22:37-39). If you truly love other as yourself than how will you sin against God? This is the truth and heart of the Gospel: Not following the Law (for the Law itself places a curse on the person who does not complete all items in the Law – Deut 27:26; Gal 3:10), but rather following the love. Our example in this is our God, Himself. He gave Himself – all of Himself – so that we could be with Him; offering Himself as sacrifice so that He could give limitless grace to us. That is our example on how to love and how to live.

So do not forget that you are not under the Law, but also don’t forget that this does not allow you to be lawless. So I end this letter to the Body of Christ with Christ’s own words which He sent to Ephesus: “Return to your first love” (Rev 2:4-5).

Finally brothers do not forget to take care of one another in love, not just spiritually but if there is a physical need take care of this need as well. My prayers are with you always and may the Lord Jesus the Son of God and the Christ rain down his peace on your heads.

Quick Update for Newsletter – Prayer Requests

I just have a quick update for the Newsletter. This update is about prayer, more specifically prayer requests. We, at Believe Better Ministries, are always open to praying for you when ever you want us to. That being said we would also like to open it up to the rest of the Community that has started following our Blog and those who have already signed up for the Newsletter.

If you ever have a prayer request feel free to e-mail it to us at BelieveBetter[dot]Ministries[at]gmail[dot]com we will always pray for you! If it is a more of a confidential prayer request, feel free to tell us so. If it is even more confidential but you still would like prayer you can always e-mail me, RB, and I will pray for you. You can e-mail me at BelieveBetter[dot]89[at]gmail[dot]com.

But again we want to open this up to the community and spread the prayer. If you haven’t signed up for the newsletter yet, you can do so by clicking the link on the right at the top of the sidebar. And over the next two months (because our first issue is coming out in January) we will be collecting prayer requests to go out to everyone who subscribes.

Thank You!

__
RB

Thoughts on a Father’s Love

I have been contemplating a father’s love recently because my wife and I just recently welcomed our daughter into the world. It is truly amazing how much I love this little person that has done nothing for me but cried, kept me up at night, made it hard for me to get out of my door, and made a larger financial burden on me. I love her more than words can ever express, and yet this points out to me how much more the Lord loves us.

Verses like John 3:16 point it out in my mind. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 BOGV) God loved us so much he gave up His one and only Son. We didn’t deserve for God to do this. We didn’t deserve it at all. This is the situation my little girl was in when she was born. She didn’t deserve anything from me. She hadn’t earned anything yet, but I loved her still. The emotions that went through me and struck me to the core couldn’t be changed.

It makes me think of the song How Deep the Father’s Love for Us. The words resonate in my spirit. “How deep the Father’s love for us, How vast beyond all measure, That He should give His only Son, To make a wretch His treasure” That is what the Lord thought of us. He loved us so much that He gave His only Son to redeem us. He didn’t do it because we deserved it, or had earned it but because He simply loved us that much. Our Triune God loved us so much that He fully gave His own life on the cross for our eternal destinies. That is what the Lord has been showing me in this brand new experience of becoming a father.

Psalms by RB 4

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PSALM 4

Place your praise on your lips
That you may think of God always
And do not think of the things that are past
But the things that are off a ways

For God has removed your past
He has placed His blood on it
And it has been washed
Clean from all sin and saved from the pit

God’s love is everlasting
There is no way that it can be lost
The LORD loves with no ending
There is no stepping away from Him

Look on the LORD and sing
Lift up your joy with your voice
Show your love for Him with great singing
Praise him with every choice

John: John the Baptist’s Final Testimony (3:22-36)

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Part 8: John the Baptist’s Final Testimony (3:22-36)

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Jesus now leaves Jerusalem and heads out into the “Judean countryside”. Here in this little prelude we see Jesus and John the Baptist being compared to each other. This isn’t the negative comparison that world does, but rather it is a comparison of just the facts. Then we come to verse twenty-four and we get a preview of things to come. It tells us that John wasn’t in jail yet.

From this we shift the scene just to John and his disciples. An argument arises between one of his disciples and the Jews about purification, or the purpose of baptism. It is right here in verse twenty-six where the comparison really starts. This comparison is started or stated in a negative way. “Everyone is going to Him instead of us.” This is almost a complaint on the part of John’s disciple. Can’t you feel the thought going through the man’s head and hear his winy tone of voice? He’s thinking to himself: “If you’re really from God as you say you are then why is everyone going to Jesus rather than coming to us?”

John jumps at this question without even flinching. He starts off telling them that anything that anyone has is directly from God. This really is a call for them to wake up and start thinking. From here John again points out that he is not the Messiah and jumps into a beautiful metaphor for his and Jesus’ ministries and how they complement each other. His metaphor of a groom and best man eloquently articulates this point.

The idea here is that a man will pick his best friend to be his best man at his wedding. This best friend is full of joy for his friend’s wedding. How could he not be? The next statement is because Jesus “has come to His wedding” the best man has to step out of the spotlight and allow the groom to take the spotlight. This is natural in its flow. Of course the best man must step out of the spotlight to allow the wedding to proceed. If the best man stole the spotlight would he really be the best man or rather an opponent?

John the Baptist moves her from his metaphor of marriage, or a wedding, onto telling what he means. John makes a statement about Jesus twice, here, but only makes the statement about himself once. “The one who come from above is above all,” he says about Jesus, but the one from the earth (John, himself) can only speak of earthly things. Then John goes on to restate what he had said about Jesus, but this time pointing toward heaven rather than just “above”. John deals with Jesus’ testimony next.

Here John echoes Jesus’ words from earlier in the chapter (verse 11). He starts moving into a grand statement about not only Jesus’ ministry, but who Jesus is, exactly. “The one who does accept His words,” this person will put all of themselves “on the line for this one thing: that God is truth, completely and totally.” This statement points out what we have to do to really say we believe in Jesus. We have to believe “that God is true.” (ESV) If you stop and truly think about this statement you see: How can it be any other way? How can you believe in something that you think is a lie?

John moves onto material that Jesus, Himself, covers later (Chapter 5). John succinctly gives his explanation of who Jesus is. This is how Chapter 3 closes. It started with grand, eloquent statements made by the Son of God and it is ended with statements of the authority of the Son. “The Father loves the son so much that He put everything under the Son’s control.” The WEB translates this verse “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.”

The final remarks of John the Baptist in this chapter reflect Jesus’ own in verse 18. This allows us to see the unity across teaching. So it comes down to one question at the end of this chapter: Do you believe in the Son of God, Jesus, or not?