Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Seventh Day...Every Day.

There are those whose religious worship, not only includes, but emphasizes Sabbath-keeping as being vital to one's salvation.  I want to begin by honoring the disciplines of these people who keep this law with the utmost of integrity and good intention.   Further, I understand them because I too used to be bound by legalism, only in a different form.  Where mine was based on restrictions of dress, jewelry, sports, television etc, theirs is based on the Sabbath rest.

One cannot deny a large body of evidence concerning the Sabbath found in the Old Testament.  Not only is there a number of references, but they are strict directives from God to absolutely remember and keep the Sabbath Day holy.  One of the Ten Commandments is to keep the Sabbath holy by not doing any work.  (Ex 20:8-11)  Without an understanding of Grace and Jesus Christ's granting us release from the law, one would automatically be inclined to feel constrained to keep the Sabbath.  This is where many get off track.  

We have to remember the Sabbath law is different from the others because it was not duplicated in the New Testament.  There are many civil, judicial, and levitical laws that are not intended to be transfered to the New Covenant.  The laws intended for us today, including all moral laws, are mentioned 'again' in the New Testament.  For example, Jesus Himself re-affirms the moral laws with His own lips.  (See Matthew 19:18-19, etc.)  In no place in the New Testament are we commanded to keep the Sabbath.  This commandment Jesus willfully left out.  What is more, Jesus broke the Sabbath (John 5:9-16) healing and working on the Sabbath day.  He did so with intent - that we may know He is Lord of the Sabbath. (Mk 2:27-28) Jesus came to fulfill the law and not create more of them!  Man couldn't keep the ones he had at the time.  Get this...when you have Christ, you have fulfilled the obligations of the law.  When Jesus died, He in effect nailed the 'ordinances' - or the laws of man (non moral)- to His cross.   (Col 2:14)  Thank God we do not have to kill a lamb for a sacrifice, nor wash at a laver, nor keep the Sabbath, nor build railings on our roof, nor a thousand other laws.  I must mention that we are bound to keep the moral laws (no murder, adultry, idolatry, etc) which are mentioned again by Christ.

The Sabbath is about rest, of course.  But it is more about completion.  When God made the heavens and the earth in six days and then rested on the seventh...it was not because God was tired and needed a break.  It was to signal that creation was complete!  The sabbath is only a type or shadow of things to come.  The anti-type or reality is Christ.  The ceremonial religious law were to lead us to Christ.  They were our school-master to take us by the hand and lead us to Christ.  We are not to worship the School master!  Paul wrote and said, "We are complete in Him...." (Col 2:10) We are not made complete through law-keeping.  All of that revealed how incomplete man was without Christ.  We fulfill the Sabbath when our lives are made whole or complete in Christ.

In Isaiah 28:11-12, we discover a prophecy of the Holy Spirit.  It was prophecied to be accompanied with stammering lips and another (unknown) tongues.  The fulfillment of this at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-) was and continues to be the fulfillment of this prophecy.  Notice what else it says about the Holy Spirit.  "This is the 'rest' wherewith you may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing:"  Wow!  Again we find the fulfillment of the Sabbath rest in Christ and experientially in the Holy Spirit.  Hebrews 4:3 states, "For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, 'As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world."  Verse 8 goes on to bring further light to the coming Holy Spirit.  The rest was ultimately fulfilled in the Holy Spirit.  At last, read the 9th and 10th verses.  We are to cease from works.  Sabbath keeping is a work.  It is something we do.  But when you enter into Grace...you cease from works!  What a revelation!  

Finally, I want to bring Paul's instruction into view.  It does not matter as to which particular day one sets aside for worship.  (Romans 14:5)  Paul admits there are some folks who are bent on worshipping on a particular day.  It may be that he even included those Jews still bound to the O.T. law.  In either case Paul establishes that we shouldn't quarrel with them necessarily.  Leave them alone and let them worship in their own way.  "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."  Certainly Paul is saying, 'It is the worship that is important and not the day.'  God receives it if given on Monday or Friday.  

The problem with Seventh Day believers, like with other legalistic groups, is that they infer, if not outright declare, that you are 'not' saved if you do not adhere to Sabbath worship.  Many Seventh Day Adventist's follow the writings of Ms. White with more tenacity than the words and life of Christ.  This is the rub.  If one wants to exercise certain disciplines of their own accord and as part of their worship, they should have that right.  If some want to refrain from wearing jewelry, watching TV, eating pork pizza, wearing red ties....more power to them!  But just don't attempt to use the Bible and declare that all pizza lovers are going to hell!  Those who worship on Sunday are not violating the Bible.  Born again believers who have Christ are keeping the Sabbath, the rest, each and everyday in their hearts.  It feels so good to be free!!!

PS.   There is a growing number of people leaving Adventism and other legalistic groups.  Let's pray for them as doing so requires much fortitude.  Let me hear your comments.


Pastor Tim

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tribute to Dottie Rambo

Saturday, May 17th, 2008 the memorial service was held in Nashville, Tennessee for one of gospel music's most prolific songwriters.  Her name...Dottie Rambo.  Dottie's earthly life ended when her tour bus was apparently forced off the road by high winds, near Mt. Vernon, Missouri.

I have long appreciated Dottie's music.  It is said that she wrote over 2500 songs.  Each one of her songs had a strong Biblical message, with a twist of country/down-home flavor.  She was mightily anointed and gifted.  Many of her songs are hymnal standards.  The powerful messages set to music, moved me to tears.

As a boy, I remember laying in front of an old, console stereo and listening to long-play albums of the Rambos.  Each song evoked strong feelings inside me.  Even to this day I am moved to hear her sing songs like, "I will glory in the cross", "He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs", "Tears will never stain the streets of that city", "Just build my mansion next door to Jesus" and countless other wonderful songs.

Having written her first song at age eight, Dottie's mother knew that there would be a price to pay for such a gift.  Dottie's life was filled with suffering, both physically and emotionally.  Yet, she persevered and the 'thorns' in her flesh gave birth to the aroma of many 'roses' of life.

I personally respect Dottie as a hero because she broke away from a legalistic denominational affiliation many years ago.  She and her family were virtually crucified for it.  The Rambo's became fodder for many sermon illustrations among the legalists.  Dottie sang about the gospel message and grace...she knew it, loved it and lived it.  In the book entitled, "The Legacy of Buck and Dottie Rambo" you can read where the former General Superintendent of the denominal group they left, called for Buck and Dottie to come to his bedside where he lay dying.  Upon their arrival the man asked the Rambos to forgive him for the way he and the denomination had treated them.  I honor them for staying the course and following their heart, as well as the Word of God.

As long as her songs are sung, Dottie Rambo will continue to influence the lives of people all around the world.  I just want to thank God for flavoring my life with the amazing sounds and sermons found in the songs of Dottie Rambo.  Rest in peace sister, sheltered safe within the arms of God!

Let me know if Dottie's songs influenced you.

Tim Estes

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Requests; Balancing the Big with the Little

Been watching the news lately?  It is like seeing a horror film with the earthquakes and cyclones in the orient, not to mention the tornadoes that have recently ripped through the Midwestern states of our beloved land.  Seeing clips of people trapped beneath rubble, and watching a death toll climb into the ten's of thousands is almost more than a body can stand.  

With all that going on I found myself, actually caught myself, asking God for rather trivial things.  Things like, "Lord help us have a good day today."  Or, "Lord, let us have good weather for my fishing trip."  There perhaps countless prayers such as these that we pray daily which are mostly about our own selfishness.  

This caused me to ponder..."Do I have the right to pray these things when there are so many greater needs in the world."  In other words, I feel some guilt for asking God to bless my corn patch when there are mother's going hungry and sleepless on the other side of the globe, worried sick about their children trapped beneath tons of masonry and steel.  My wants are so small compared to the big needs around the world.  

So, I looked into the Word for some help.  James 4:1-3 states, "What is causing the quarrels and fights among you?  Isn't it the whole army of evil desires at war within you?  You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it.  You are jealous for what others have, and you can't possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them.  And yet the reason you don't have what you want is that you don't ask God for it.  And even when you do ask, you don't get it because your whole motive is wrong - you want only what will give you pleasure." 

The whole idea of motive comes to mind here.  James is writing specifically about our selfish, greedy humanity which is the lust that corrupts all things and ultimately leads to war.  I have to constantly check myself, so that the focus of my prayer is not on my own selfishness.

Now for the balance.  As children of God we are to make our requests and petitions known.  God's Word said, in Psalm 37:4, "Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires."  I think of other texts which invite us to "Ask and we shall receive...", or "If two of you shall agree...you shall have it."  etc.  Well, many consider this an open invite to start asking for a new BMW or a six-figure income, or a new this or that.  I have found when I do the first part of Psalm 37:4 (delight myself in the Lord), my selfish appetites disappear.  I believe our selfish prayers are mostly asked amiss.  (a KJV word)  

At the same time, we should never be afraid to make our most simple requests known to God.  He loves us and wants to bless our lives, even with the things we 'want' rather than 'needing'.  As for me, I am certain God knows my personal want list.  My best option is to pray God's prayer requests (Mt 9:38, John 17), and then at the appropriate time, God will bless me with the things I need as well as with the blessings that I am capable of handling.  Since God is the God of the whole world, (Did you know God is not Democrat or Republican, He is not Asian nor American...He is God) I personally think I should be praying for those suffering in China, than to be concerned with my fishing weather.  If I do my part for others, God always does His part for me.  

Whether or not we get the BMW is immaterial.  God has promised to provide all our needs, according to His riches.  I'm trying to balance the big with the little.  Hope this makes sense to ya. 

Food for thought!

Pastor T  

Monday, May 5, 2008

How Do You Know there is a God?

As a child grows and matures in his thinking, he one day reaches a moment of formulating the most important question he will ever examine within his being.  That question is the topic of this blog.  How do you know there is a God?  In some way the question itself is a proof.  For the created to wonder about its maker is, in a sense, proof of a maker.  Following are some ways to help us know.

First, we must come to an understanding of faith.  Faith is simply knowing and trusting without the tangible facts in hand.  Faith believes what is yet to be seen, but is still known in the spirit and heart of a man.  For instance, one may believe in the wind.  But have you seen the wind?  Nobody has seen the wind but we can see ample results of the wind.  A flag standing straight out on a flagpole is proof of the wind.  The roar in the treetops or the waves on the lake are reasoning for their being wind.  Yet, we can't actually see wind.  God is the same.  He is a spirit (Jn 4:24), and being thus, is not visible to the human eye.  Like the wind, we can see His influence and grand design and know.  (Heb 11:3)

1.  Take a look at the stars on a starry night.  They hang perfectly in place night after night.  Billions of galaxies are out in space and with in each galaxy there are literally billions of stars.  How did they all get there?  What holds them up?  Read: Hebrews 1:2-3  The arrangement of the planets is noteworthy.  If the earth were a bit closer to the sun we would burn up.  If we were a bit further away, we would freeze and life could not exist on this planet.  If you believe this all occurred by coincidence, you are using much more faith to believe there is no God than it takes to believe there is a God.  It is difficult to illustrate how impossible the 'big bang' theory is.  I mean it would be like taking all the components of your computer apart...all the wires, chips, and tiny pieces and then get up on the roof of a ten story building.  Toss all the individual parts at once into the air.  While they are floating (in slow motion) toward the sidewalk let me ask you a question.  What are the chances that those parts will land perfectly assembled as a working computer?  Get it?

2.  Consider the constant cycle of water that serves to provide life for every living thing.  This amazing system was put into place by God.  Water falls in the form of rain, filling the water table, watering the crops etc.  Then, it runs off into the creeks and streams...down to the rivers and finally back to the ocean where, by God's design there is salt (a cleansing agent to kill bacteria) contained in the water.  Next, the water mysteriously evaporates back to the clouds and it just so happens that the atmospheric flows bring it right back over the land and the process begins again.  Now you tell me is that just pure happenstance or is there a Creator, a God who put this all together?

3.  Within the human body are proofs too numerous to mention.  The nervous system recognizes a rock thrown at you and quickly sends a signal to your brain that trouble is coming.  The brain fires a signal back to the body causing the arms to go up, eyes to blink and the torso to duck down in an automatic mechanism of defense.  As your food processes through your intestines the liver washes the food with bile to break it down into a form that can be re-absorbed and used for energy and the remaking of cells.  The human eye is a machine man cannot reproduce.  We initially see upside down but the brain flips the image produced and brought to us by all the intricate parts of the eye.  We inhale air into our lungs.  The oxygen is taken into the blood stream and the carbon dioxide is exhaled as a toxin.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made....not evolved.  Speaking of evolution...if we evolved to this point, why did we stop evolving?  Why haven't we gone on to the next level?  Further, if we evolved where is all the scientific proof?  I mean we have complete skeletons of dinosaurs, but not a single proof of a part man - part amoeba.

4.  Scientific study has proven the Bible to be true.  Archeological digs have unearthed cities, relics, names, etc which have proved the biblical events.  There are over 400 prophecies from the Old Testament which have been proven to be fulfilled.

5.  Jesus is proof there is a God.  All the Old Testament prophets who wrote about Jesus did so thousands or hundreds of years before Christ's birth.  Most of the prophets did not know each other or live in the same time period.  Yet, Jesus fulfilled their prophecies in an exact fashion...including where He would be born, how He would die etc.  One man figured the odds of this happening by pure chance.  He stated, (paraphrased) "Suppose you filled the state of Texas 2 feet deep with silver coins.  (Texas is a big state)  Then you marked one of those coins with a marker.  Next you blind fold a man and ask him to walk anywhere he wants to in Texas covered 2 feet deep in coins, and ask him to pick up the marked coin.  The odds of a man picking up the right coin would be similar to the odds of Jesus randomly fulfilling all of prophecy."

6.  Among many other things, perhaps the greatest proof of God is personal experience.  When man follows the laws of the Bible, his life inherently tracks toward betterment; better life; better health; better rest; better family etc.  The opposite is true as well.  When a person rejects God and His Word, he usually winds his way downward in all areas of life.  To experience peace, love, forgiveness through the power of the Holy Spirit is something words cannot describe.  Through faith you can know!

Through time, study and experiences of life we all should come to acknowledge there is a God and the only way to get to Him is through Jesus Christ.  One day all men will acknowledge and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Hope this helps.

Have a good one...and wear a safety belt if you try the computer experiment!  ha.