Monday, November 30, 2015

Your Worthy Walk

"No, I can't dance, I can't talk
Only thing about me is the way I walk"
Genesis, "I Can't Dance"

Whether or not we can dance, talk, or sing, or anything else we can or cannot do, the only thing about the Christian is the way he/she walks. Our walk speaks volumes. The world, whether Christian or non-Christian, is watching. If our walk does not match our talk, they will know it and they will call us out on it. No amount of excuses will let you off the hook. Even the non-Christians know how Christians are supposed to behave. Christians cannot be and should not be hypocrites.

Galatians 2:11-14 teaches us to (1) watch our lifestyle and not to act hypocritically, and to (2) act in a manner that is worthy of the truth of the gospel. "As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him" (Col. 2:6). In other words, walk as if you have truly received Him. "Bear fruits in keeping with repentance" (Luke 3:8). If you truly belong to Christ, you will be marked with an undeniable difference in your way of life. We are in this world, not of it.

Walk worthy of...
  • "...walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called," Ephesians 4:1
  • "...conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ;" Philippians. 1:27
  • "...walk in a manner worthy of the Lord..." Colossians 1:10
  • "...walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory." 1 Thessalonians 2:12
Ephesians 4:1 has nothing to do with vocation. Compare it with 1 Thessalonians 2:12. You were called to be sons and daughters of the Most High. Ergo, walk in a manner that is worthy of that calling, a manner that proves you were truly called and set apart. If you are not sons and daughters, then you are illegitimate children and have no part with Christ. Many professors of Christ try to make excuses for the sin they live in, the way they walk or talk, but if they were of Christ, rather than try to make excuses for being caught in their sin and called out on it, they would hate those aspects of themselves and continually pray for the Lord to remove it from them. Prayer and the Word are our weapons against besetting sins that hold us back and trip us up. If we are not doing battle, then we need to re-examine our claim of faith.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Experiential Interpretation of Romans 7

"The Apostle Paul says, 'There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,' and he says that on the heels of the remarkable testimony of his battle with sin in Romans chapter 7, where he says he has this inner turmoil not doing what he wants to do and doing what he hates and when he would do good evil would be present with him."
Dr. Rick Horne, "Take Ten Looks" from Timothy Brindle's album The Restoration
Dr. Rick Horne, along with a great number of Christians out there, is sadly mistaken. In fact, he is outright wrong, and, unlike most of our post-modern society, I am not afraid to say it. Romans 7 is not a testimony of Paul's battle with sin. People seriously need to learn what it means to conduct exegesis. There is no room for, and no excuse for, experiential interpretation. Our experiences do not interpret the text. In fact, our day and age, with its individualism and rampant acceptance of sin, offers absolutely nothing into the interpretation of Scripture in the least. Scripture, like many parts of the world still today, functioned on the base of familial units. If you want to understand Scripture correctly, you need to understand familial units. Many places in the world today still operate thus, where the children reside with the parents until they get married, and later in the parents' life are looked after by their children, even contributing to the family while living at home. The familial unit often extended beyond just immediate family and would include extended family. Everyone looked out for everyone else, something our Western society and culture lost following the Renaissance. But that is neither the here nor there of this article.

Paul did not ask if Christians would continue to sin or even struggle with sin. So what was the question he asked? For that answer, we need to examine the preceding verse to the section frequently ripped out of context—verse 13. Verses 14-25 are cited in isolation of the immediate context 99% of the time. The rhetorical question Paul asked in verse 13 was, "Did that which is good [the Law] become a cause of death for me?" He provides a strong denial to his question and then proceeds to give an answer. Paul did not finish answering his question with the remainder of verse 13 only to shift gears into a completely unrelated issue for the rest of the chapter.

In order to understand precisely what Paul is getting at with Romans 7:13-25, we still need to keep it in context with Romans 7:7-12. The entire chapter is dealing with the Law and man's relation therewith. In Romans 7:7-12, Paul, using the historical-present 'I', says, "I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, 'You shall not covet.'" Because of the Law, he noticed all sorts of covetousness within. The good he wanted to do (Do not covet), he did not do, but what he did not want to do (covet), he did. In both Romans 7:15 and 7:19, there are two Greek words used, and they are used in the reverse of each other to paint an undeniable picture that those who falsely misinterpret Romans 7 refuse to address. These words are prasso (πρασσω), meaning "to perform repeatedly or habitually," and poieo (ποιεω), meaning "to purpose." So, continuing to speak using the historical-present 'I', these two verses read thus:
15: For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I do not repeatedly or habitually practice [prasso] what I would like to do, but I purpose to do [poieo] the very thing I hate.
19: For the good that I want, I do not purpose to do [poieo], but I repeatedly or habtiually practice [prasso] the very evil that I do not want.
Putting the two verses together, he is saying, "I do not repeatedly or habitually practice what I would like to do, but I repeatedly or habitually practice the very evil that I do not want" and "For the good that I want, I do not purpose to do, but I purpose to do the very thing I hate." Does that sound like a Christian?!? Not in the least! Interestingly enough, 1 John 3:4-10 also uses both of these Greek words, and this passage clearly tells us that a person who purposes to sin and repeatedly or habitually practices sin is not of God. He/she is of the devil!

For you preachers and teachers out there who continue to lie about Romans 7 and deal with it from an experiential interpretive standpoint, rather than an exegetical interpretive standpoint, if you are not going to give the Word of God the due treatment and respect it deserves, then might I suggest you step down from your position. The church needs leaders appointed by God who hold His Word in the highest regard and do their work diligently. There can be no haphazard work. In preaching the Bible verse by verse, we need to do so exegetically and we need to be comparing Scripture with Scripture so as to give the most accurate interpretation of the text—as a whole.

Romans 8 is the normal Christian life. "As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him" (Col. 2:6).

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Love Thy Selfie

by Jerry Sheppard

"For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy." (2 Timothy 3:2, ESV)

It is no secret that "self love" is on the rise today. So much so that the present generation is three times more "self-centered" than the previous generations. It is one thing to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31, ESV), but it is quite another thing when you have an unhealthy view of yourself. For another Scripture says, "I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he [or she] ought to think" (Rom. 12:3, NASB). It is hard to focus on others if our focus is too much on ourselves. The Apostle Paul instructs, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." (Phil. 2:3-4, NASB).

At present, there is much in music, the social media, magazines, movies, and so on, in our society that promotes the "self" life. Modern technology is boasted to help make our lives easier, but instead it has fed our egos and inflated our self-esteem in such a way that we think too highly of ourselves. Many people from various age groups have become narcissistic, self-entitled, and privileged. Such people get easily offended if you don't feed into their over-inflated perception of themselves. Such social websites as Facebook is chock-full of profiles of young people who have numerous "selfie" photos. It's like they are obsessed with themselves and addicted to the attention they get from the number of "Likes" and complimenting comments they get.

I have personally come across this type of behaviour myself in my interactions with some women on Facebook. Look, I'm not against people taking pictures of themselves, but when you see their photo page littered with selfies, or their conversations with you peppered with little selfie shots, then it's obvious there is a deep underlying problem in their life. It's a cry for attention, insecurity, or, as mentioned earlier, an unhealthy obsession with one's self. For example, one 40-something lady on Facebook titled her photo section, "LOVE THY SELFIE." She had over 200+ selfies. Or as one guest, Iyanla Vanzant, on Oprah Winfrey put it, "It is Self-full to put yourself first." This lady on Oprah's show was exalting self as an actual virtue! Imagine that! Even more disturbing was when she cited this quote from A Course on Miracles: "When you give to others to the degree that you sacrifice yourself, you make the other person a thief." Then she concluded, "They are stealing from you what you need, and they don't even know it." This of course is in complete opposition to Jesus' words, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13, NASB). Again, Jesus says, "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt. 16:25, NASB). Noted author, Ayn Rand, in his very telling book, The Virtue of Selfishness, made this self-exalting statement: "To hold one's own life as one's ultimate value, and one's own happiness as one's highest purpose, are two aspects of the same achievement." With such comments, is it any wonder people today are so self-centered and narcissistic? Whether people realize it or not, this unhealthy act of self-love is a form of "self" worship. It is idolatry (see Ex. 20:3-5). Actually, the practice of self-love and the worship of self is known among Satanists as one of their most revered practices.

The wonderful news is, it doesn't have to be that way. You don't need to post a hundred selfies to get validation from others. Put away your video cameras, cell phones, iPhones, and other computerized gadgets and go out and talk to people; really make an effort to socialize with people without whipping out your cell phone every few minutes to check your messages and updates. Really make an effort to focus your interest on other people, and never seek validation from others. If you really want validation from other people, then give them a reason to do so by focusing your attention on them and not yourself. Put your focus on Christ, and not yourself; put your focus on your neighbor, and not yourself. Make this a daily habit, and soon you will reap the positive benefits from it. I challenge you with this thought provoking quote from Jim Elliot: "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose."

I came across this quote from a friend on Facebook. The quote reads:

"So many years of education, yet nobody ever taught us how to love ourselves, and why it's so important." -Spirit Science.

I would not say education is the problem, but rather the issue is, they don't know how to love themselves appropriately. For most people don't have a problem loving themselves. People are usually full of self-love, so much so that many are narcissistic, in love with themselves. It is a self-centered kind of love that fails to reach beyond one's self in love towards others. For the Scripture says, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31, ESV). You see, it is too much self-love that is the real problem here, not a lack of it. People need to be taught to not love themselves too much to the exclusion of others. Why is this so important? Because without a healthy balance between loving our self properly and loving others appropriately, we get off balance and fall victim to such inappropriate behaviours as self-entitlement and narcissism.

Notice the host of sinful problems that follow right after Paul's phrase, "For people will be lovers of self." The list goes beyond just the verse in today's text. The complete list reads as follows: "lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God," (2 Tim. 3:3-4, ESV). This of course is akin to the works of the flesh (see Gal. 5:19-21). If focusing on loving our self amounts to producing such bad fruit that is mentioned in the list of bad behaviours by Paul in the verses above, I will gladly pass. I would rather have the fruits of the Spirit produced in my life, which are as follows: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Gal. 5:22-23, ESV). You see, as I stated earlier, it is not a lack of loving our self that is the real problem here, but rather it is "self-love" that is at the root of our problem. If we are to be taught how to love, it should be in how to love others. For we selfishly love ourselves naturally. With that said, I concluded with Jesus' words here: "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13, ESV).

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Church-going Atheists

by Frank Hall

"The fool says in his heart: There is no God!" Psalm 14:1

To deny the existence of God is to be an atheist--and all atheists are silly fools. However, those who profess to be atheists, and live according to their profession, are more honorable fools than the millions of painted hypocrites who profess faith in Christ and yet live like infidels! At least professing atheists are consistent fools! Atheists say that there is no God, and being true to their profession, they live as if there were no God. But there are untold multitudes of church goers who, in their pretentious religiosity, denounce atheism as an abomination--and yet they live just like atheists! These church-going atheists are pathetic because they lack the honesty and courage to speak what they say with their lives and in their hearts every single day--that there is no God!

Men and women who say that they believe in God, and yet live like Hell, are atheists at heart--and that makes them the most foolish of all fools!
"I'm a drunk, but I believe in God.
 I'm a profane worldling, but I believe in God.
 I'm a vile, filthy fornicator, but I believe in God.
 I live like Hell, but I'm going to Heaven.
 I don't worship God, but I believe in God.
 I don't read the Bible or practice its teachings, but I love the God who wrote it."

Such stupid gibberish betrays the atheism that is bound up in the hearts of religious hypocrites around the world! If you want to know what someone believes, look past what they say, and just consider how they live. All who say that there is a God in the heavens, and yet refuse to honor God's Son, are nothing more than atheists masquerading as Christians.

I wonder, what does your life say? Does it prove your profession to be true--or blast it to pieces?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Three Attitudes A Christian Should Avoid

by Jerry Shepperd

The problem I see with the church and with many fellow Christians in general today is indifference to their own faith. I'm sure there are a number of reasons for that. Personally, I think there are three primary reasons why a lot of Christians will not make a stand for Christ and the principles we hold to, because such believers are too much like the world.
  1. The Compromising Christian: Their reasoning is, we need to be like the world in order to win unbelievers out of the world. Such misguided believers misinterpret Paul's words: “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some" (1 Cor. 9:22, NASB). The question this raises is, what difference does Christ make, then, in a sinner's life? If we are to behave like those in the world, then how can we show those in the world the difference Christ has made in our lives? The fact is, Paul became "all things," whether a Jew, Gentile, Roman, slave, or free, in order to win them to Christ. By no means does this imply he practiced the various corruptions and sins in order to be like a pagan, Roman, or any other person who he was trying to win to Christ. He could behave according to the custom and behavior expected of a Roman citizen, or as a Jewish citizen for that matter, without adopting their questionable, sinful practices. However, the saint is called to be like Christ. Paul puts it this way, and instructs us to: "put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" (Rom. 13:14, NASB).
  2. The Christian who will not submit to the Cost: There are those who call themselves Christians, who are not willing to suffer the cost of being associated with Christ or fellow saints. Such "Christians" love it when things are going great, but quickly bail at the first sign of persecution. They want to follow Christ on their terms, not God's. Paul knew this all too well, for one of his fellow workers, “Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica” (2 Tim. 4:10, NASB). Demas did not want to share in the Apostle Paul’s suffering and persecution, let alone share in the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. He was too much a companion of this world to be a true companion to the Apostle. Of such, James writes: “You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4, NASB). How can any Christian truly be at peace and friends with a world that has the blood of Christ on their hands? The Apostle John’s words are clear: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15, NASB). So what should our attitude be to the world? Again, Paul writes: “And those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31, NKJV). The fact is, to the child of God, this present world is not their home. We are travelers, not settlers, here in this world. To the believer the world has been crucified to him/her, and the believer to the world (see Gal. 6:14; 2:20).
  3. The Condemning Christian: This type of Christian is highly critical of both Christians and non-Christians. The moment he learns a particular Christian or unbeliever falls short of the condemning Christian's unreasonable expectations and standards, he or she, like the Pharisee of old, will harshly judge and condemn that person. First, to the fellow saint, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1, NASB). If Christ does not condemn our brother or sister in Christ for their faults, neither should we. Second, the Lord Jesus was not an isolationist, for He often sat and ate with sinners. The Lord Jesus' attitude towards the condemning was "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32, NASB). Self-righteousness is not a virtue; Christ's righteousness is! Let us adopt His righteous attitude, and stop condemning our fellow brother in the Lord.
As believers in Christ, let's avoid being compromising, Christ denying, condemning Christians. Let's glorify Christ by lips, by love, and by our life!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

LGBT: Choice Or Genes?

 by Mark Escalera

The science aspect of this question is rather simple. There is no “gay” gene. There never has been a “gay” gene. There never will be a “gay” gene. Modern scientists will strive in vain to find that which undermines and countermands the Word of God. The reason is because modern culture hates everything about God. It hates the Bible with a passion because it points out the sin nature that is found in every man, woman, and child who has ever lived. Modern culture wants to think that man is getting better and better. Because of this thought process, it demands that all must conform equally to whatever is considered to be the acceptable norm.

Enter the LGBT community along with their open and unashamed agenda for the total destruction of all that is right and wholesome. How have we come so far in such a short time?

There was a time when acts such as lesbianism and homosexuality were punishable as crimes, and we do not have to go all the way back to the Old Testament to find that such behavior has long been considered an abomination. However, if the only guide we had to what is acceptable behavior, we can go all the way back to creation to find that God made them male and female. Ultimately, the final authority belongs to God. He created marriage to be between one man and one woman, but sin has destroyed all of that. God created marriage to produce and populate the earth and to care for His creation, but sin has destroyed all of that.

The wickedness of the earth continues to grow as it rises in rebellion against God.

The advent of television and movies is probably one of the greatest contributors to the open acceptance of the perversions that run rampant in our societies over the last century. We found out that certain movie stars were womanizers, adulterers, fornicators, or living a life as a homosexual or lesbian, and we excused it because, “That’s just Hollywood.”

People acting in an effeminate manner were mocked but only for a short time. The so-called wholesome family shows soon began mocking the family unit. The role played by the husband was denigrated and they were made to look like bumbling fools. The beautiful picture of a lady quickly faded into obscurity as women were paraded into more and more masculine roles.

Bedroom scenes quickly moved from a man and woman sleeping in separate beds to the actors being filmed in risqué and questionable situations. Before long, that was not enough for audiences and the movies began to include partial nudity. Then, it became more open as the cameras relished in the depraved scenes mocking all that God created to be holy within the bonds of matrimony.

But that was never enough! Movies began to flirt with lustful relationships between two men or two women, then proceeded to make films and tv episodes where homosexuality and lesbianism was fully acceptable. Those who cried against these perversions were mocked as being prudes and as those “Christian types who really don’t understand that God is love and that He loves everybody just like they are and that He even created some men to love other men or some women to love other women.”

Do we wonder why there are so many who have chosen lifestyles that are opposed to God? It is because culture has made it seem innocent. It has taken all that is good and holy before God and destroyed it a little bit at a time. What is acceptable now brings little more than a yawn to many, even to some who claim to be followers of Christ. Such portrayals on the screen 20, 30, or 50 years ago would have brought the wrath of much of America down on the heads of movie studios.

However, the movie producers were smart. Test the waters enough and before long, what is sin and wickedness will be acceptable. Now, social media like Twitter and Facebook has allowed those who live in open rebellion against God and His Word to parade their sin. Gay parades and the accompanying perversions of those who prey against our children is no longer headline news. Those who make the news are the “bigots” who stand in the way of cultural evolution as “the earth moves towards a utopian society.”

In just a few short decades, the LGBT community went from only wanting to be free to do whatever they wanted in the privacy of their homes to demanding that their perversions must be taught to impressionable young boys and girls. Believers got a little squeamish with the idea but began hearing from the pulpit that “God loves people just like they are. He wants us to accept people for who they are. Whatever they do in the privacy of their own homes is none of our business.” And we bought the lies. Churches began to accept the depravity a bit at a time.

Public schools were the breeding ground for the introduction of sexual freedom of all kinds to children. Children went home and the things not acceptable in homes was openly allowed to be portrayed on the televisions when they got home from school. The sexual revolution opened the door and now pregnancy out of wedlock and people openly living together with no commitment and no marriage is totally acceptable. To question a person living in such a lifestyle is to be a bigot.

Is it any wonder that once society accepted the perversions, and the family allowed the perversions on the screen, and then the church accepted the perversions – is it really any wonder that boys and girls are growing up in confusion as to what they were created to be? Today, judges are passing laws that demand equal rights for those who want to live in a fantasy world while demanding that those with any morals left be held in contempt of court.

Churches stopped taking a stand for truth. Pastors failed to prepare the hearts of the believers to stand for the truth because there were no more absolutes. Absolutes were only for bigots. Churches went from preaching the truth to accepting all lifestyles that were opposed to all that is holy to God. Pastors stopped preaching against sin because it was not popular and would cause a decline in the offerings every Sunday.

What sane person finds it acceptable for a man to walk into a woman’s bathroom because he thinks he is a woman? What sane person finds it believable that through the use of medicine and genital mutilation a person can actually change themselves from a man to a woman or from a woman to a man? Sorry, but Bruce Jenner will always be a man and he is no hero. He is a man who needs to seek forgiveness from the Most High God that he has offended and against Who he lives in outright rebellion.

What is next? Polygamy? Many false religions already allow for this and it will not be long before they will demand equal protection for their lifestyle. The polygamists of Utah and Colorado used to be a very quiet group who worked diligently to stay under the radar of the authorities. Now, television and movies have promoted this lifestyle as being acceptable. Judges are already throwing out cases that involve polygamy and it will not be long before polygamy will no longer be a crime, but will be openly acceptable behavior from any who choose to have more than one husband or one wife.

What else is coming? Bestiality? Lowering the age of consent to accommodate the agenda of the LGBT community? Yep, all of the above and even worse will be coming because our societies in the west are on a cliff-face headed straight for hell. If you doubt that the LGBT community has an agenda, then you are living like an ostrich with your head in the sand.

The Roman Empire was destroyed from within by its debauchery. Rome became a place where biblical Christianity was mocked while allowing polygamy, slavery, and the selling of boys and girls for whatever perversions were needed to satisfy a person’s lust was on offer. Our society will also soon be there because it hates God, but God will not be mocked. Neither will His judgment be withheld forever.

However, there is hope that is found in Jesus Christ alone. You will never find hope inside of a pill, or drugs, or a bottle, or illicit sex, or lust-filled relationships. The emptiness that is within the heart of each person can only be filled by Jesus Christ. When a person comes to the end of themselves and realizes that they are lost in the depravity of their sin, only then will they be able to understand the joy that belongs to true believers. Repent from your sin while there is yet time.

If you claim to know Christ, you cannot remain in your sin or your perversions otherwise the Bible makes it clear that you are not a true believer. If you are called to be a minister, you must take a stand for truth regardless of what it will cost you.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Disciple's Prayer

"Pray, then, in this manner: 'Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.'" Matthew 6:9-13
This prayer is frequently and erroneously referred to as "The Lord's Prayer." However, not once did Jesus pray this. In fact, He had no need to; He was perfect, without sin. The Lord's Prayer is found in John 17. The prayer found here is The Disciple's Prayer. Jesus was teaching His disciples how to pray—not what to pray. Notice that He did not tell them this was the prayer they were to habitually pray, but rather they were to pray "in this manner." We need to examine the structure Jesus provides for us, because this is how our prayers out to be patterned after. The structure of The Disciple's Prayer is:
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.
We should begin our prayers by acknowledging that God is our Father in heaven and that we honour Him. This is an important step in humbling ourselves before Him and telling Him that He is our God and that we trust His Word and wisdom.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
We should let Him know that we understand that He is in control and in charge of all things, that His kingdom will continue, and that it is His will and not our own that we are to listen to and obey. His authority governs both Heaven and Earth.

At this point, we should acknowledge all that He has done for us, all the bountiful blessings He has provided for our good, all the trials He has blessed us with in order to learn what we need to learn, and every good thing in our lives.

Give us this day our daily bread.
We should then petition Him for our needs and the righteous desires of our hearts—not our whims or worldly desires. The righteous desires of our hearts will conform to His will. "Our daily bread" is not merely food, but all the daily necessities for our growth and salvation.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
We should lay before Him our sins and transgressions, asking forgiveness and for the strength to forgive those who have sinned against us. If we remember that we have something against a brother, or a brother has something against us, we need to rectify it. This is our opportunity for repentance, for our weaknesses, for our thoughtlessness, for our disobedience, for our sins of commission or omission.

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
We should pray for His guidance in our walk and the power to overcome sin. We need to have self-mastery, or self-control, so as to conquer the adversary. Remember, Romans 6:11 tells us to "consider yourselves to be dead to sin." In other words, reckon it to be true.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
We should close by once again acknowledging that this is His kingdom and that He has all the power. The glory of what we do belongs to Him for all that He provides for us. We should close in the holy name of Christ Jesus our Saviour and Redeemer.

7 Biblical Tests For Christians and Music

by Ed Stetzer

Christians disagree about music style as much as any other issue in the body of Christ. More than likely, you've experienced this firsthand. As I've already written, conflicts over music have been common through out church history. Christians have listened to and enjoyed all of kinds of music. But should they?

In seeking to determine what is the right music for a church, it's important that we use biblical principles in our evaluation. That's not always easy—the Bible doesn't contain music notes. God never gives us His musical preferences.

While it may be difficult, I do believe it's possible to evaluate musical preferences using God's word. The following seven tests each relate to biblical principles that we can apply to our music to determine its suitability.

1. Message Test
This may be the simplest of all the tests. Examine the words of the song and consider its message. Does this song communicate the Word of God? Does the message appeal to our higher nature, or do the words appeal to our lower nature? If we seek to glorify God, it's important that the message of the songs be consistent with what God has already told us in Scripture.

2. Purpose Test
All music was written with a purpose in mind. Here we ask, "For what purpose was this song written?" or "What is this trying to promote or encourage?" Determine whether the music is sad, joyful, uplifting or soothing. Music that may be appropriate at one time may not be appropriate at another. Some music may even be intended to promote sinful choices or ways of thinking. When we apply the purpose test to our music, we choose songs whose purpose lines up with our own as Christians and the values of our local church.

3. Association Test
No music exists in a vacuum. An otherwise good song may be rejected because of its associations. The key question for this test is, "What does the music bring to mind in the heart of the worshipper?" Don't confuse the question. It's not what does it inspire in myheart, but what does it inspire in the heart of the worshipper.

This will depend on the context. When I spoke to a group of pastors, some of whom were Jamaican, they agreed that a variety of musical styles could be appropriate for their churches, but not reggae. For them, that style of music was about drugs. I then asked if it would be OK to use reggae music in my church where it does not have the same connotation. They agreed. The music was not the problem, the association was.

For example, many believe rap music connected to violence and misogyny. To others, however, it can simply be a vehicle to rage against sin and "the world powers of darkness" (Eph. 6:12 HCSB). Lecrae, epitomizes this in the intro track to his album Rebel:
And I rap the bread of life cause they dyin' to eat
I'm a rebel you know the kind that die in the street
Cause you refuse to conform,
won't eat the king's meat yeah

Christ rebelled by shunning the culture
He eatin' with sinners givin' Pharisees ulcers
He never got married, He was broke plus homeless
Yeah, that's the God I roll wit
What Lecrae has done in "Rebel Intro" is to take a form and to use it for a different meaning. The form of rap is no less godly than the form in most of our hymns. It is a canvas waiting for a picture. The target of the rebellion by Lecrae and others like him is the prevailing cultural attitudes that are contrary to Christ.

4. Memory Test
Memories and past experiences are often associated with significant songs. This can be positive or negative. The memory test asks, "Does the music bring back things in your past that you have left?" Remember, repentance is a significant step in conversion. If you have left the darkness, don't sing songs that make you want to return. This is often a personal issue, as some may struggle with memories associated with a song that can be enjoyed free of those thoughts by other Christians.

This means no one can claim a style of music they don't enjoy violates some policy of "offending our brother." That's not scriptural. What the Bible does teach is that we ought to avoid a practice if it causes people to sin. Listening to contemporary music does not cause a senior adult to sin, though it may offend. There is a distinct difference between the two.

5. Emotions Test
Music stirs our emotions—both negative and positive ones. The emotions test asks, "Does the music stir our negative or sinful feelings?" Christian music should stir our passion for godliness, prayer and righteous living. If music causes you to crave sin, it is wrong; no matter how innocent it may appear. We should always evaluate how music affects us emotionally.

6. Understanding Test
This seeks to determine which type of music we understand the best. Some people enjoy and understand classical music, while some don't. Others enjoy and understand country/western (though I'm not sure why). Other people—also known as "those who are right"—hate it. Those who appreciate classical music would find it easier to worship God listening to a recording of Handel's Messiah than a southern gospel quartet. This will depend on the person, their tastes and what it is that best encourages their worship.

7. Music Test
This test, like many of the others, is a "cultural" test that will differ from place to place. It looks at the song to determine its merits based on hymnology. Is the song singable? Does it make your heart join in the song? A song may have Christian words and be sung by a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ, but the music can be flat and leave the audience empty. That particular song will probably pass out of existence because it fails the music test.

These tests lead us to one simple fact: God can use any form of music. He has no musical style or preference. With the exception of the message and purpose test, the biblical tests listed here are all really about reflecting a biblical grid.

When you or your church is choosing music, it is important that you think through these issues. You may have the freedom to choose, but use discernment to choose wisely. Any musical style can pass the test in the right context, but it takes wisdom and a biblical perspective to determine whether that is the case. Hopefully, these seven tests can help you in that process.