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.

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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.

New Year’s Thought – 2017

Well 2016 is over… I think it is safe to say it was not necessarily a great year for everyone. My thoughts here have been about my blessing of this year. I committed to a prayer challenge last year and I have come through it. One of the things it taught me was not allowing my relationship with the Lord not be reactive but proactive. What I mean by this is in this prayer challenge it has pushed me to confront issues with the Lord before they come up. I’m not just praying over the problems which have occurred in my life. I’m praying and talking with God over my day to day things and having a good relationship with him.

My thoughts on 2016 is I am just so awed by the blessings the Lord has given me and continues to give me. I am so thankful for the people in my life and how they have helped me grow. I have such a great relationship with my siblings. I’m so blessed by my siblings and how they present the love of God for me.

A lot of people, some pretty famous people, died this year, but you know what, (and this is going to sound callous, but,) it doesn’t really matter, at least not to the most of us. Yes, their families are mourning over them, but for the rest of us their death affects our lives just as the death of the countless thousands dying ever moment. There is only one death which affects our lives and we need to honor. But what’s more it is not just His death which we are honor, it is his resurrection. I bet by now you can guess of whom I am referring: Jesus, our Lord and Savior. He is the only death which matters.

Keep your eyes focused on that and focused on taking care of those around you and maybe we can make 2017 a better year than 2016. This year I will be finishing the latest round of Bible read through and really, I’m rather excited to start from the beginning again.

God bless you all and keep your eyes focused on Him.

Christmas Thought – 2016

Christmas has come upon us again. As people begin the celebration of this season, whether they are celebrating one form or another, many people ask “What’s the reason for the season?” Personally, I don’t celebrate what is traditionally considered “Christmas”, but I typically end up celebrating “Easter” twice a year. To me Christmas is and what it stands for (the birth of Christ) doesn’t have very much meaning.

I do not mean Christ’s birth is meaningless, I only mean His birth only has meaning if He did what the Gospels say He did. This is true across religions even. Muslims believe in the virgin birth, they believe in His miracles, and in fact they ascribe more powers to Jesus then do the Gospels. They do not, however, believe in His death and resurrection, which makes His birth meaningless to them except as a story of mythic proportions. Easter, or the event we celebrate at Easter, is the only thing which brings purpose to Jesus’ birth.

As far as importance goes we also can look at the New Testament for dates. The NT is very clear on the day in which Jesus was crucified, but it doesn’t give the slightest clue as to when He was born (except for it wasn’t winter). This points us to the importance of events. Something else which allows us to see importance is how often are the events repeated across the four Gospels. The traditional Christmas story is only put down in two of the four Gospels, but the death and resurrection is written about in all four Gospels. (By this logic Christ’s ministry and the events which took place during His ministry are more important than His birth.)

So as you celebrate Christmas take a moment to reflect on the reason for the season, and note it is not Christ’s birth which makes it so important, but what He did for us which does so. I hope you all have a merry Christmas this year.

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.

Thoughts on Making Choices

I wrote an blog post for my personal blog about making decisions. As I read it more and more I have come to realize it is on a subject on which I was planning on writing a Thought. So you can go read the post on decision making and get a look at some of the ideas I am working into a Thought for the future. I hope you enjoy it.

Easter Thought – 2016

Every year as we approach Easter I feel a sense of awe filling my heart. For so many Christmas is the “Holiday Season” or the “Season of Joy” but for me (someone who did not grow up celebrating Christmas) Easter was always more special than Christmas. Yes I know of the pagan origins of Easter and how it was moved to coincide with the resurrection, but I also know my Lord was resurrected and tradition tells me it was on this day.

We get so caught up in traditions, though, we forget this simple fact. We forget to celebrate the greatness of the day. Sure many of us go to an Easter service and listen to a sermon about the importance of His resurrection, but do we really take a step back and look at it? Do we really celebrate the wondrous meaning of Jesus’ resurrection? Jesus died for our sin, once and for all. He died for all sin yesterday, today and tomorrow. All the sin of the all the world is blotted it out by Jesus’ blood. That is an amazing and gracious thing He did for us. Now, though, Jesus rose from the dead to go to the Father so we may also go to the Father and live eternally with Him.

Drink this in for a moment.

Jesus not only gave His life for us; He rose so we may have life! Every time I start to think of the events of this time I’m speechless. The scourging, beating, and then being hung on the cross – the worst way to be killed in history – all of this and why? So He could cover our sins with His blood and then rise again to take us home to be with Him forever. Who can say they love you more than this? Who would totally give their lives in the most painful way possible in order to secure your eternal destiny?

When you really look at the end of Jesus earthly life how can you not cry for joy or feel the complete love God feels for you? God came here to earth in the form of Jesus not just to teach us a new law or make a new covenant with us, but to give Himself in our place!

Focus on this during Easter this year, not the traditions or other things we, as humans, have added into celebrating the Lord’s resurrection, but truly celebrating His resurrection.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Christmas Thought – 2015

Today is the day to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Christmas really is a weird time. It was chosen by the Roman Catholic Church to bring in all the pagans who were already practicing a festival on that day. So as we all know Jesus wasn’t really born on Christmas day. It really is as good a day to celebrate as any other, arbitrary, day.

But putting aside all this for a second I look at Christmas for Christmas’ sake. What is the purpose of Christmas? In all honesty I grew up in a household that, although Christian, did not celebrate Christmas. (No, we were not JWs.) So as something that I do celebrate now with my wife and daughter, I have to ask that question. In today’s Christianity what purpose does Christmas have?

Sadly, for a lot of people, it means they go to church (for the first time since Easter) hear all about the virgin birth and (maybe) a gospel message, then they go home. Later on Christmas day they open presents they’ve been worked all year to buy. In this hypothetical person’s life consumerism has obviously taken the lead in Christmas. Is this what Christmas is about? Blatant and unabated consumerism? For others it is all about balancing out their imaginary scales of right and wrong, the scales of karma, if you will. Volunteering, baking, helping others, giving gifts (consumerism again), and spending time (read putting up with) family top the list of things that add positive karma.

Is any of that Christmas? Pastors over the years have come up with many great sermons as to the “Biblical Christmas” or the “Message of Christmas” but I ask you to find in the Bible where it actually talks about Christmas. Yes the “Christmas Story” is there at or near the beginning of three of the four Gospels, but that is missing the point. The Bible is silent on all of our holidays.

Christmas’ purpose? We can read in Matthew of His birth and the visit of the wise men (which was not on the day of His birth). We can read another account of His birth and the visit of the shepherds (which disproves a winter date) in Luke. But these do not readily point out the purpose of Christmas. I think the Gospel that has a “Christmas Story” that points out its purpose the best is John’s Gospel. In the prologue to John’s Gospel (John 1:1–18) John gives a summary of the whole Gospel.

John shows us how God came to earth to take away the sin of the world and allow believers to become children of God. Some have said that the Gospel of John does not have a Christmas story, much like the Gospel of Mark. I, however, think it has one of the most complete Christmas stories, without having to read the whole Gospel through to figure it out. It even mentions His birth (“And the Word became flesh” verse 14).

We briefly touched on its purpose, but really Christmas has no meaning without the cross and resurrection. Jesus could have come all the same way He did and without the cross and resurrection it would mean nothing. That is what I am remembering this Christmas season and I hope you will too. As you spend time with family and give and receive gifts I pray you will remember Christmas’ purpose. That all the sin of the whole world was taken away once and for all and whoever believes in Jesus as their savior will have eternal life.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Upcoming Plans

Hello everyone, from Believe Better Ministries!

As we come up on Thanksgiving (in the United States) and Christmas there are a lot of things that I am currently working on. The first thing that comes to mind is the Christmas Thought for this year. I am planning on making it a tradition that I post a Thought (more information on exactly what that means later) for New Years, Easter and Christmas – at least – any other Thoughts will be posted but those three days will get special thoughts. (Some years they may not be thoughts but full essays, we’ll see.)

I am continuing through my punch list of things that I am working on. This includes Ruth, Jude and all the others on my list. I’ve also got a few new things in the pipes for the upcoming year. The first of which is the Believe Something Better Newsletter. This is the premier newsletter from Believe Better Ministries and will be coming out monthly. It will either be at the end or beginning of the month (that is to be decided later) and it will feature articles that have already been posted or new articles Thoughts as well as poems and other nuggets. One thing that is on my heart is prayer and I am hoping to have a section in the newsletter where we can include prayer requests. I will be praying for them and I hope other readers will be as well. The first issue of this will be coming out in January but you can sign up now by clicking the link over on the right had side of the page.

This links to the second new thing coming down the pipes for 2016 and that is the Believe Something Better Podcast. This will be a monthly podcast that will feature similar content to the Newsletter but will be rolled out more like a radio show. I plan to have as much content being put into your hands as possible. I have ideas going into the recording for the first episode already.

Finally on the agenda for this post is that Believe Better Ministries is looking for volunteers. We are looking for editors for works that will be coming down the pipes in the future, as well as (possibly) producers for the podcast, and we would are looking for someone to take over the formatting and publishing the newsletter. If you feel called to any of these positions – remember that they are volunteer positions – please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Believe Better Ministries through e-mail at BelieveBetter.Ministries@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you. (On a side note as I am connected with Breath of God Ministries I know that they are currently looking for volunteers as well you can e-mail them at TheBOGMinistries@gmail.com to find out more information.)

Finally: What is a Thought? A Thought is what I am calling a short writing (or micro essay) that I have made on any given subject. It could be something that I write a longer piece on later or it could be something that I’ve already written on but have a new idea. Really it is what I am calling my little ramblings and ideas that come to me as I study the word of the Lord.

Thanks!

––
RB May IV
Leader of Believe Better Ministries

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.