Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Who Is God & What Does He Want?

Who is God?

He is the Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1).  

He is the Lawmaker and Judge of the universe (James 4:12).

He is absolutely and indivisibly One (Deuteronomy 6:4). 

He is the only One and there is no God other than Him (Isaiah 45:5). 

He is the only Savior (Isaiah 43:11).  

He is the Lord Jesus Christ (John 10:30).  

What Does He Want?

He wants to make an agreement with you (Jeremiah 31:31).  

He wants to do for you what the Law of Moses couldn't do (Romans 8:3).  

He demonstrated it by coming in flesh as the only Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19).

He proved the power of the agreement by rising from the dead (1 Corinthians 5:3-4).  

He wants you to accept the agreement by being "born again" (John 3:1-5).  

What Does Being "Born Again" Mean?

He wants you to believe on Him (John 8:24).  

He wants you to turn away from our sins in repentance (2 Peter 3:9). 

He wants you to be born of water and Spirit (John 3:5).

He wants you to be baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:48).  

He wants you to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).  

He wants you to confess Christ before men (Romans 10:9).  

What Happens After I Am "Born Again?"

He will give you power to be a witness and tell others about Him (Acts 1:8).

He will live inside of you as a Comforter for the rest of your life (John 14:18).

He promises never to abandon you (Matthew 28:20).

He will make sure that you will live forever in eternity (1 John 2:25).

He will give you abundant life in the present world (John 10:10).

He will satisfy the longings and desires of your soul (John 4:14).

He will take your burdens upon Himself and give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

We Would Like To Help You In Your Search For God.

Would you like to be born again today and accept this wonderful agreement that God wants to make with you?  Or would you like more information on any of the subjects and Scriptures given above?  We would love to help you in your search for God.  Please click HERE and send us a message including an email address where you may be contacted.  You will only receive as many emails as you want to receive and may end the conversation at any time with no pressure from us.

Reach out today.  We'd love to help you find your way to the gift of eternal life that the Lord Jesus Christ desires for you to have.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hymspirational Moment #9


Come ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love, and pow'r.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come and welcome,
God's free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Ev'ry grace that brings you nigh.

Come ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you're better,
You will never come at all.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

"I am a sinner."  These words are far more easily said than meant.  They often come from the mouth of an individual who, in reality, desires carnal justification rather than spiritual reconciliation.  It is the catchphrase of those who are caught in wrongdoing and are often followed with the alibi, "but so are you."  Yet they are four of the most powerful words in the English language when spoken in sincerity framed in the understanding of one's own nature and real standing before a Righteous and Holy God.

Sinners.  Yes, all of us.  We are sinners, lost and needy.  And because of our sinful nature we stand weak, wounded, sick and sore before our Creator.  It is this same Creator who condescended to the form of man, manifested Himself in flesh and died on a Cross for the salvation of all mankind.  Jesus Christ, God incarnate, suffering the full cruelty of betrayal, abuse and death, did so that He might stand before all humanity with outstretched arms bidding them to come to Him and be saved.  He alone is full of sufficient mercy, love and power to forgive all of all.

He calls for the thirsty; the hungry.  Those who have and realize their need are called to come to Him.  The grounds on which they must come are uncomfortable for they are grounds of faith and repentance - believing entirely in Him and turning completely from their own will and sinful way.  There is no salvation without faith nor is faith sincere without repentance.  By the grace of God and that alone are these means available to us.  Salvation begins with our turning to Christ by faith and turning from sin by resolve recognizing both are possibly only by Divine grace.  

He calls for the heaven laden; the burdened.  Those who have inherited a sinful nature as a result of the original Fall of Man and have yielded themselves to it through free will are called to come to Christ Jesus.  It is not those who are already righteous who need that great Reconciler of the world unto Himself but those who are lost and ruined.  "I'll come to God when I get things right."  What a foolish and deceptive thought!  If you wait that long you will never come at all.  

He calls for the undeserving; the misfit.  Those who don't feel like they are worthy are called to the grace of a merciful Saviour.  Do not wait until you feel that you are deserving of the blood of Jesus Christ.  No one ever reaches a point where the sacrifice of the Lamb of God is merited.  This is the very nature of grace - unmerited access to atonement.  If you feel as though you're not good enough to come to God you are, at that moment, in the perfect position to approach Him.  He resists the proud and receives the humble.  Run to Jesus at that moment recognizing your need of Him; nothing more or less.  

Arise!  Get up!  Go to Jesus!  He is waiting to embrace you and draw you near to His side.  There you will find a refuge, peace and safety.  Go to Him now.  Do not wait!  He stands ready to save.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Unsung Heroes

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." - Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

One of the more difficult things I had to endure as a Foreign Missionary was not the living conditions, the occasional odd foods or the inhospitable climate.  It was returning to the United States, visiting Churches and hearing the word "hero" applied to me.  Of all people, why would someone apply that word to me?  There neither was nor is anything heroic about me or anything I have done.  I've done my duty; nothing more or less.  It was hard to hear myself being called a hero because the comparison seems so absurd.

The reason behind the appellation was because I was doing a work that a lot of people never have the opportunity to do even if they have the desire.  But I can assure you that, among the other Foreign Missionaries I have known, none of us ever considered ourselves to be heroes.  We look at ourselves as servants working out a sometimes difficult calling.  However, the great reality was that there were far more individuals back in the United States doing great, heroic things in the Kingdom of God than we were.

Consider the work of a Home Missionary.  Here you have an individual who, quite often, is working no less than three full time jobs.  He is trying to build a Church (Job #1) while also working a secular job often to pay both his bills and those of the Church (Job #2) and juggling being a faithful husband and father (Job #3).  It's no wonder that so many Home Missionaries burn out!  In all their labor, struggle, sacrifice and pain they remain faithful to the calling God has placed upon their lives.  In this way, they are perhaps more heroic than a Foreign Missionary.  After all, the Foreign Missionary is usually exempt from secular labor because of American support.  The trade off is the peril of living abroad.  Home Missionaries are heroes.

Consider the work of a local Pastor.  Even if the Church has been established for years, that doesn't always mean the local Pastor has the opportunity to lay back and take it easy.  Often times a Church is able to support itself but not a full-time Pastor resulting in the Pastor taking on a secular job - be it part or full time - and making him not too dissimilar from the Home Missionary.  Furthermore, the more Saints the more responsibility and the more time that must be invested in individuals and in the congregation.  This takes away from the Minister's time with his family but, in all, he remains faithful to the calling God has placed upon him.  Local Pastors are heroes.

Consider the plight of Ministers' Wives, Lay Ministers, Deacons, Evangelists, Sunday School Teachers - the list could go on and on.  Each of them working out their callings for the edifying of the Body of Christ and the working of the Ministry so that the Church and Kingdom will continue to operate efficiently and in accordance with God's will.  And, all the while, trying to balance the eternal juggling game of Work, Church, Family, Self and Et cetera.  These all are heroes.

Consider those Biblical characters written in Hebrews 11.  There you find the names of many great and noble individuals such as Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, Gideon, David and Samuel.  You will also hear of the many mighty acts which were witnessed as a result of faith.      

"...who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection..." - Hebrews 11:33-35a (NASB)

Truly we must say that these individuals are heroes.

And while some of my heroes are among them, permit me to say that if they are in any of the above categories it is not for the reason you might think.  Great feats of faith have never impressed me, quite honestly, because I recognize that Hebrews 11 continues with a list of those for whom faith did not provide the more carnally preferred way of escape.

 "...and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground."  - Hebrews 11:35b-38 (NASB)

Some might say that they were unsuccessful in their faith, especially considering the way we normally judge heroes.

Consider also, from the above list, individuals like Noah who, after the flood, almost immediately fell asleep in a drunken stupor.  Or Abraham who lied about his wife being his sister.  Or Sarah who laughed right in God's face, insisted on her husband committing adultery and then getting mad at the servant girl she gave to her husband in the first place.  Or Moses and his temper.  Or David and his fornicating, murdering ways.  The list of faults and failures goes on and on.  Some might, in light of this, think them less deserving of the title of heroes.

Coming back out of the Bible and into the modern time, what about the individuals we started this list with?  Well, I hate to be the one to destroy anyone's illusions, but Ministers are human beings as are their wives and children.  Ministers, whether they be Foreign Missionaries, Home Missionaries, local Pastors, Evangelists or whatever else, are subject to the same fits of anger, outbursts of temper, momentary losses of self control, bad decisions, lapses of ethic, overreactions, irrationality and overall general manifestations of humanity as anyone else.  Now, some might say that, in light of this, they don't qualify to be heroes.

So what is it that makes a hero in the Kingdom of God?  Apparently - faithfulness.

What impresses me is not when someone is suddenly bold, suddenly brave or suddenly anything.  Consistency impresses me.  Faithfulness.  Stability.  That's not to say that I don't admire those who might fall or struggle as they overwhelmingly win my admiration when they rise again and turn, in faith and faithfulness, to the Lord who loves them and, once again, start the daily walk with Him.  What catches my attention are those who are there year after year and continue to faithfully do whatever they can in God's Kingdom.

I'm thankful for the runners, but the faithful walkers have always been my example.

My heroes?  Well, they might be the most unsung heroes in the Kingdom.  They are the individuals who clean the Church, cut the grass, change light bulbs and dust the ceiling fans.  They are the ones who give inconspicuously, work unassumingly and love unconditionally.  They are the ones who don't get much attention or praise but continue to work for their Lord faithfully.  Yes, I'm speaking of those in Ministry but, most directly, the Laity - the Saints of God.

For me a Minister who is a hero is, first and foremost, a faithful Saint.  Their faithfulness in being a Saint of God and doing that which must be done by all Christians impresses me.  It demonstrates to me that there is no respect of persons with God and that, even though burdened with the responsibility of the calling to teach and lead God's People, a Minister still recognizes his most basic and fundamental duty as a sheep.  Yes, a shepherd but first a sheep.  Watching a Minister who prays fervently, worships sincerely, works steadily and walks faithfully and THEN opens his mouth to speak as an oracle of God makes that individual a hero to me.

The Saints of God who walk faithfully are my heroes.  Those who face adversity but keep standing.  Those who are going to serve God whether they are ever stood before a congregation and praised for doing so.  Those who have burned all their bridges, set their focus on Eternity and determined to hold out until the end.  Those who walk with God by putting one foot in front of another.  Those who are daily ministering to the Lord of their substance.  Those are the ones who will hear Christ say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  Those are the ones who I would be proud to stand beside in Eternity.

My heroes.  You probably don't know their names and they would most likely never consider themselves to be anything at all.  They're the ones I want to watch.  They're the ones who'll make it to Heaven some day.  They leave giant footprints of faith even if we fail to recognize them.  And shame on us if we do.  My heroes are the faithful and I'm thankful to have known them.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ode To My Wife - And The Ministers' Wives Like Her

"Every man who is high up likes to think he has done it all himself; and the wife smiles, and lets it go at that.  It's our only joke.  Every woman knows that."  -  Sir James Matthew Barrie

A lot of times my wife goes undeservedly unnoticed. I'm the one in the pulpit. I'm the one preaching, teaching, so forth and so on. I'm the one who will have his name on the revival flyer. It becomes very easy for anyone in that position to begin to feel like their role is somehow less important.

For me, there's a reason I always try to honor my wife when I step into a pulpit or in my conversations with other Ministers. It's not that I couldn't preach without her. I've Pastored a Church as a single man, I've traveled alone and I've even managed to cook a few meals without either burning the meat or leaving it so raw as to give myself food poisoning.

Could a man survive with only one hand? Certainly. But what kind of a pianist would he make? Oh, yes it's possible...but it sure isn't the preferred method. In fact, that's part of the reason why God, in the beginning, said, "It's not good that man should be alone." Because of this, God created woman - a helpmeet; a wife - and said that each man was created to have one.

My wife prays for me daily. She prays for our life together, our ministry (yes, "our" ministry) and, quite frankly, all of the little things that I forget to pray about. She fills in the gaps of my personal deficiencies while bringing to the table her own wisdom, knowledge and experience in even the most complex situations. She acts as a ballast, a sounding board, a confidante, a father confessor.

Beyond that, she stands on her own two feet fully competent and capable of existing without me while maintaining an undeniable resolve to continue to the end of life with me. By her own choice she walks with me through life and, by her own merits, stands perfectly able to walk alone if she had wanted to. A helpmeet - not a vestigial appendage.

What is not seen in the ministry of my wife is her ministry to me. No, she doesn't preach or sing special songs. No, she doesn't walk about casting devils out of church kids (though she absolutely could and probably should). Yet God seldom gives me a message to deliver to His people without also speaking to me through her commentary on the thoughts I present to her. And, when the message is through, she's there to pick up the pieces of the broken Messenger who realizes his own frailty and fears it has gotten in the way of the Message.

Sometimes in public she comes across as very composed, very proper and, at times, starchy and stiff. That's because of a fear that she won't be liked and accepted or that she will do something that would make me look bad along with trying to compensate for self-consciousness. It's also a side effect of being a former public school teacher and an extremely intelligent person. And this is not unique to my wife. I've watched many Ministers' wives face the same thing.

As a result, making friends isn't easy and loneliness is a constant. And, again, I'm speaking about Minister's wives in general and my wife in particular. It's hard to understand unless you've been there. It's even harder to understand when you consider that, by in large, some of the most wonderful people in the Kingdom of God are the wives - both in laity and Ministry.

I honor my wife. I honor all our Ministers' wives. They have to put up with the Preacher they're married to all the time. Saints, count your blessings. You only have to deal with us part time. And don't be afraid to reach out to a Minister's wife and offer a hand of friendship. You might think she's too busy or wouldn't have time for you. You might be surprised.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Dead Rabbits & Dumb Questions

"Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels."
- 2 Timothy 2:23 (ESV)  

Once there were two rabbits hopping carefree through the forest when, suddenly, two dogs came running after them.  The dogs were ferociously barking, their lips curled and their teeth snarled with every beat of their paws on the ground.  The rabbits, knowing the forest very well immediately took shelter in a thicket of trees where they were confident of safety.  There between the trees the two rabbits begin to converse.

"My, wasn't that an adventure!  I never expected to be chased by two such vicious English Coonhounds," said one.

"It was quite an adventure," replied the other, "but I must correct you.  Those dogs were American Foxhounds.  In fact, I have never been so sure of anything as I am that we were chased by a pair of American Foxhounds."

Puzzled by this statement the first rabbit protested, "You are quite mistaken!  We were most certainly chased by a pair of English Coonhounds; two of the most splendid specimens of that breed I have ever seen!  A finer example of English Coonhounds could not be found."

The argument continued for some minutes.  All the while, the dogs had ceased their feverish search as their ears perked with the sound of two small voices coming from a remote corner of the forest.  Slowly they inched their way toward the point of emanation until they could not only hear the argument clearly but could also see the form of the two rabbits among the trees.  As the rabbits continued their preoccupied chatter they were ignorant of the presence of the two dogs.  In a flash the dogs burst through the underbrush and there inside the very spot the rabbits had believed to be the safest in the forest the dogs enjoyed a very tasty rabbit dinner.

It should be noted that the two rabbits were both rabbits.  That is to say, they were each rabbits.  The story is not that of a rabbit and a chipmunk or a rabbit and a squirrel.  The two animals were of the same species; equal in nature and characteristics.  The only difference between the two was a matter of perspective and opinion.  For the one the specific identity of the dogs was absolutely certain: they were English Coonhounds.  It was unquestionable.  Furthermore, there was no way the first rabbit was going to recant his established belief that the dogs were English Coonhounds.  For the other rabbit, it was unthinkable that anyone could make such a grievously incorrect identification of the dogs in question.  They were obviously American Foxhounds and any other opinion was fundamentally wrong.

In this, the two rabbits were all the more identical.  While each held to a contrary opinion in regard to the identity of their pursuers, their attitude about their individual opinions was identical.  Neither was willing to entertain the possibility that their identification of the dogs was errant.  They were equally self-assured of their own absolute correctness.  All the while they became blind to the fact that the vicious, growling dogs were still on the hunt and within earshot of their argument.  Their difference of opinion was causing enough noise so as to alert their common enemy of their location resulting in their mutual destruction.  Certainly a few obvious parallels are already being drawn in your mind.

The Apostle Paul frequently found himself in the middle of great debates in regard to Christian living.  This was only natural considering the bridge the Holy Spirit was using him to build between the "two arms" of the Church - Jew and Gentile.  As difficult as it has been for some to realize and embrace, there is no such thing as Jew or Gentile in the eyes of God anymore in regard to salvation.  Everyone must pass through Jesus Christ, the Door of the Sheepfold, if they intend to have eternal life.  The book of Galatians is written to help Christians understand that all, physical Jew and physical Gentile, are now Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise because of their position in Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 2:15 tells us very clearly that God has torn down the middle wall dividing Jew and Gentile and created one new man in Christ Jesus.

But there were still cultural and societal differences between Jew and Gentile.  Their way of looking at serving Jesus Christ was absolutely different because of their social conditioning and natural predisposition.  This shouldn't surprise us.  Take any two people from two completely different parts of the world and ask them to explain the proper way to do a certain thing and you'll find that, more than likely, their answers will differ along cultural lines.  What is more, take any two Americans, one from New York and one from Mississippi, and ask them what the proper third person plural pronoun is and you'll not only get two different answers but one really heated argument.

Which one is right?  Is the Yankee right in saying "you's" or the Southerner right in saying "y'all?"  The answer is a reluctant "yes."  Both are correct inasmuch as both are addressing the same crowd of people for the same purpose and, for all practical purposes, in the same way with the exception being their personal preference on how the pronoun should sound.  This is equally true for those poor, misguided souls in the Midwest using "you'n's."  The difference is only one of opinion and culture.

Take a look at Romans 14, for example, and you see the same sort of problem arising between Christians.  The Christians with a Jewish heritage were still convinced that they needed to keep parts of the Law of Moses.  As a result, some developed a self-righteousness and considered those who ate certain types of meat to be sinners.  The Gentiles were no different in looking at those Jews who refused to eat meat with them as transgressors.  One side said meat was wrong while the other side said meat was right.  Two rabbits arguing in the brush about a dumb issue.  Yes, dumb.  One person defined being dumb as "a thickheaded imperviousness to ideas."  In this case, whether or not eating a certain meat would send someone to hell was really very dumb.

The Apostle Paul made the case for leaving matters like this to personal opinion and being satisfied with differences between Christians.  He begins Romans 14 by saying to receive those who are weak in the faith but not for "doubtful disputations" (KJV).  In other words, don't start picking fights over differences of opinion.  Throughout the chapter the issues of dietary restrictions and observing days is addressed with the argument being made by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul that Christians should leave each other alone in regard to their personal convictions and to "follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" (Romans 14:19).  The Apostolic Doctrine in regard to matters of differences of opinion is given clearly in verse 22:

"Your personal convictions [on such matters] - exercise [them] as in God's presence, keeping them to yourself [striving only to know the truth and obey His will]..."  - Romans 14:22 (Amplified)

So where do we draw the line?  That's simple - THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD.  To do less than what is written is lawlessness and unacceptable in the eyes of God.  To do more than what is written is acceptable BUT no Christian has the right to demand another Christian do above that which is written.  In other words, if the Spirit of God convicts a certain individual of a particular thing which is not found explicitly or in principle in the written Word of God, that individual has absolutely no right to condemn another Christian for not sharing that conviction.  Furthermore, the one who is not convicted of a particular thing which is not found explicitly or in principle in the written Word of God has absolutely no right to condemn another Christian for not sharing that liberty.  The Spirit of God knows what an individual needs to live a victorious Christian life.  The Word of God forms the "bottom-line" of that need; the Spirit of God supplies the rest individually.

The Corinthian Church of the first century must have been an "entertaining" congregation.  In the very least, they kept the Holy Spirit troubled enough to inspire the Apostle Paul in writing two letters in an attempt to help them sort things out.  First Corinthians is filled especially with exhortations and rebukes directed toward the problems within the local Assembly which, let's face it, are not different in any way from issues continuing to plague the modern Church.

One of the issues addressed very early on is the subject of division.  The Corinthians began dividing over the issue of who baptized them.  Some felt superior because they had been baptized by Peter.  Some because they had been baptized by Paul.  Others understood that they were baptized into Christ (in the name of Jesus Christ) but developed a perverse attitude about their baptism as though others who were also baptized in the name of Jesus Christ somehow weren't their equals.  The Apostle Paul begged for the cessation of such lunacy in terms too clear to be misunderstood:

"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and there there be no divisions among you..."  - 1 Corinthians 1:10  (KJV)

Their divisions were well known to Paul because of the ill report from those of the household of Chloe (vs. 11).  The underlying rebuke was as clear as the plea.  His words could be translated in our modern vernacular: "My Brothers, I'm begging you in the very name of God - stop your petty arguing over such dumb things and return to unity!"  It is a rebuke that would be echoed again in 1 Corinthians 3:3, "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"  In this passage, "walk as men" could be translated "according to man."  In other words, the Corinthians were guilty of dividing because of themselves and not because of true godliness.  There was nothing holy about their holiness.  They were claiming division in the name of righteousness when, in reality, they were only satisfying their own flesh.

Carnality.  Indulging the will of the flesh.  Many times division is encouraged in the name of doctrine when, in reality, it's nothing but the flesh of the individual seeking to divide with no real spiritual purpose.  Things like pride and ego.  It's easier to divide than forgive.  It's easier to divide than admit you're wrong.  It's easier to divide than peacefully co-exist with someone who doesn't necessarily agree with your every opinion.  It's easier, but it's also the two-fold hellish spirit named Pride and Haughtiness.  We who are of Christ have NO reason to divide.  Not now; not ever.  It simply isn't God's will.

How shameful it is for Brethren of like precious Faith who, in 99 points, agree with one another and yet for lack of 1 point (that one matter of personal conviction or opinion) cannot even speak to one another when passing in the store.  What does this tell the world?  What does this say of the Church?  Worst of all, what might this be telling the world of the Church's regard for the teachings of Christ and His Apostles?

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." - John 13:34-35 (KJV)

Later on the Apostle Paul developed his argument against division further by appealing to the comparison of the Church to a single human body.

"That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another."  - 1 Corinthians 12:25 (KJV)

A Minister once declared very boldly that it was every Christian's duty to "cut out cancers" from the Body of Christ.  The context of the sermon from which this quote is derived was that anyone with the Holy Spirit was qualified to drive out those among us who were not "toeing the line" so to speak or, in other words, held to contrary personal convictions.  Now, while that's not how the Minister in question said it nor is it likely that he would agree with that interpretation, that was, in all reality, the crux of the matter.  He had interpreted personal convictions as universal doctrine and, in doing so, had not only violated the Apostle's Doctrine on the subject as found in Romans 14 but had also encouraged that which the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tried so vehemently to stop in the Corinthian Church.

The fact of the matter is that no one on earth is qualified to do surgery on the Body of Christ.  Absolutely no one.  It's God's body and no one in their right mind would lift the blade of a knife against it.  When we divide from other Christians over personal opinions, what are we doing if not presuming ourselves to be qualified to operate on the Body?  Does the fact that another individual doesn't share our personal conviction mean they are not part of the Body of Christ?  Absolutely not!  Why would you cut off one hand just because it isn't exactly like the other?  Some individuals are left handed and others right handed.  Would a left handed person be wise to cut off their right hand because it was less dexterous than their left or a right handed person their left because of the same condition?  Not at all!  Each is fundamentally similar (four fingers, one thumb and a palm) while different in some regards (dexterity, size, blemishes).

Cutting away a member of the Body does nothing to help the Body in general nor does it help the members in particular.  Yes, a blind man generally develops better hearing, but does that justify removing one's functioning eyes?  The Apostle Paul used the most basic element of human existence, the human body proper, to undergird his logic and, in doing so, left a most damning argument against those who seek division.

An epitaph dating from the early 1900's can be found in an English Cemetery on the grave of one Michael O'Day.  It reads:

This is the grave of Mike O'Day,

Who died maintaining his right of way.

His right was clear, his will was strong,

But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.

Is a person wrong to hold to a personal conviction?  Absolutely not as long as that conviction does not contradict the written Word of God.  But there comes a point when an opinion can become fatal.  That is when one becomes so convinced that their opinion is absolutely and universally right that they demand it of others.  Is a personal opinion really worth disobeying God's command for love and unity?

The two rabbits in our opening paragraphs are dead.  They got caught up in a matter of opinion which each though was an issue of absolute truth.  "But the dogs were of a definite breed," some would object.  Certainly they were.  But was that the important point?  Or was the important thing realizing that the dogs had murder in their eyes, death in their mouths and were going to consume both rabbits regardless of their breed?  Whatever the rabbits thought about the dogs, they would have been wiser to have kept their mouths shut, watched for one another, loved one another and kept their opinions to themselves.

And if that sounds like familiar advice, it should be.  That's the very advice God has given to the Christian in matters of opinion.

"Your personal convictions [on such matters] - exercise [them] as in God's presence, keeping them to yourself [striving only to know the truth and obey His will]..."  - Romans 14:22 (Amplified)

The rabbits are dead for lack of wisdom.  How many souls must die at our hands due to our negligence before we take the right steps to rectify our carnal ways?  Or it could be asked this way: How long before our dumb questions make us all a bunch of dead rabbits?