Christian “rights” and the lordship of Christ
We hear a lot of talk — a lot of concern — about our rights. As Americans, we are grateful for the rights that have been set forth for us in the Bill of Rights. At the same time, we are constantly looking over our shoulder due to a perceived threat that this or that group will disenfranchise us.
If you lean to the left, a right-wing lobby (or the government) is working aggressively to take away your right to choose…or live where you want…or…
If you lean to the right, a liberal lobby (or the government) is aggressively working to take away your right to own a gun…or to wave a flag…or…
I will admit it. I love my rights. But I don’t want to go into our rights as American citizens. I want to talk about our rights as followers of Christ.
If you are a Christian, you have no rights. No group has taken away your rights. You gave them.
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Jesus told us to count the price to pay to follow him.
Jesus ‘calls the shots’
When we come to Christ, we don’t just come to Him as Savior; we come to Him as Lord. He calls the shots. He owns us. We no longer belong to ourselves, but have been redeemed by Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
We do not make ourselves mats on which to walk anyone and anyone, but we must be attentive to the preferences and desires for the good of others: the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4).
Have you ever heard the name Eleanor of Aquitaine? She was the queen of France in the 12th century and she is considered one of the most powerful women of all time.
When her husband, King Louis VII, returned from the Crusades, he entered the razed castle. Eleanor thought her clean-shaven husband looked hideous and insisted he regrow his beard. Louis refused. Eleanor divorced then turned around and married the King of England.
The feud between Eleanor and Louis led to a conflict between two countries that lasted nearly 120 years, the Hundred Years War. The pettiness over a beard led to political alliances that led to war, which resulted in the deaths of 3.5 million people. If only Louis VII had put aside his preference—and put aside his Bic razor.
A self-centered attitude leads to fighting and division. It is serious.
The greatest harm to the witness of the church in the world is how we treat one another. So let me challenge you, a follower of Christ, to do your part. Stop insisting on having things your way. After all, you have no rights. You have given all your rights to Jesus, who calls us to follow him in grace and love.
Lynn H. Pryor
EDITOR’S NOTE — Lynn H. Pryor is team leader for adult ministry at Lifeway Christian Resources. He blogs at lynnhpryor.com. This message is reproduced with permission.
Letters to the Editor
I have great concern for the church in America today. …
AW Tozer said that 95% of church activities today would continue even without the Holy Spirit, but 95% of early church activities would have stopped without the Holy Spirit.
We are in total war. Do we really believe that hell is real? We go to church, pay our tithes, sing a few praise songs, then try to beat the crowds to the local restaurant.
We justify our actions and sacrifice nothing. To refuse to examine ourselves and see how we are doing the church is arrogance, refusing to be guided by Christ Himself.
As human beings, we are created for more than everyday life. We were created especially by God for God’s pleasure, and with that comes the greatest joy of being found in a specific and close relationship with Him.
“Created with Purpose”
In a conflict situation, speak less, slowly, quietly and last if possible.
“Know this, my beloved brethren, let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to be angry” (James 1:19).
Full circle. Full joy. I love seeing the moments of God’s grace and goodness all around.
Pastor Mark Bethea
First Baptist Church
“The question every child wants to know… ‘Is God in me and how do I know?’ The answer… Jesus. —Bob Goff
“Our job is to make it realistic for them to come to a place where they can feel loved and learn more about God,” said Chris Lomanpastor of Garage Church in Huntington Beach, California.
“Compassion is the hallmark of [Jesus Christ’s] life and ministry. That’s what drew people to Him. That’s what made his preaching different,” said Ed Litton, pastor of Church of Redemption in Saraland, in its president’s speech at the SBC’s 2022 annual meeting.
“I feel like this job was just created for me. The fact that I’ve been where these people have been, I understand them and I understand the situation,” said Kathleen Schuster, program manager for Ministry Village Tender Hearts Caring Hands in Pensacola, Florida.
“We must all take seriously where we stand in this cause to defend precious unborn lives in a culture of death. It will look different…but the call is still there for all of us,” noted Colson Center President John Stonestreet during a seminar on how pro-life supporters should react when Roe v. Wade was canceled.
“Only Jesus can save souls. Juggling doesn’t do that. What juggling does for others is that it brings joy and that alone is a vocation,” said Jesse Joynera professional juggler and disciple of Christ.
“Church 101’s hallmark is Evangelism 101. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. If done correctly, the Holy Spirit can use church branding to reach people who never knew they needed Jesus or the church,” said Marc MacDonald, church branding strategist for BeKnownforSomething.com and executive Director of the Church Communication Center.
“The words of Jesus that must dwell within us have the miraculous ability to awaken the unseen spiritual life deep within you that you desire,” said Julie Busler, author from “Joyful Sorrow”.
“Deep grief over an unbearable loss is not a teaching moment.” Melanie Desimone, Ffrom a blog post on thelifeididntchoose.com
Prayers of a public school teacher
For some reason, there is a negative stigma around public school teachers. But please know that somewhere there is a teacher praying for a classroom full of students she has never met.
She prays, thanking God for each of the babies He has chosen to be with her this year.
She prays for God to guide her to meet each of their individual needs.
She prays that God will show his love to each of these babies through her.
She prays for strength, patience and understanding throughout the days ahead.
She prays that she can provide them with a safe, loving and comfortable environment throughout their time with her.
She prays that over the next year she can make a difference in each of their lives.
She prays to be able to teach them more than just the school curriculum…kindness, love, responsibility and how to be a good person.
She prays that when they go home each day, they know that she cares about them and does what she does for them.
She prays that God guides her on the path he has chosen for her.
She prays for an amazing and successful 2022-2023 school year!
She is me! She is also several of my colleagues. She is the most teachers in our country.
Regardless of your view/opinion on public school teachers, know that teachers are doing this work because we are called to do this work.
We do this work because we want to make a difference and because we want a better future for our children!
Jennifer Kalyn Akins
From the Twitter universe
Every time I preach I am reminded of the incredible calling I have in my life. The older I get, the more precious every opportunity to preach is to me. The older I get, the more I feel the urgency to make sure the gospel is presented. With aging, the weight becomes heavier, not lighter.
“Finding and funding ways for Southern Baptist congregations to work together to fulfill the Great Commission is the function of the cooperative program.” @alsbom
@SBCCP —A Sacred Effort #PartnersForTheGospel
Be brave today. You are stronger than you think. You are safe in the mercy of our great God. He will be with you. Even if you can’t see the whole path ahead, the goodness of trust is in front of you. Just hold on to its truth…and let God light the way step by step.
The ministry is great! The influence is great! Preaching is good! Leading is great! The growth is great! The strategy is awesome! Yet all this makes for terrible gods. Jesus is better. Infinitely better.
“Science and technology cannot change the basic nature of man. No amount of self-improvement or wishful thinking can change the basic nature of man. Only God – the One who created us – can recreate us.
“If your goal is to depend on God, then weakness is to your advantage.” -a big word from @jdgreear in a message to leaders in some extremely difficult places around the world. This is true no matter where you live.
I don’t know what God is doing but I know what God has done! He was faithful then and I know he will be faithful now.
We get glory in our hearts by kneeling down in prayer, putting His words on our lips.
Pursue your children with greater ferocity than you pursue a wage.
We can come to Christ in any condition we find ourselves in, and He will always be merciful. He knows us fully inside and out, but He still loves us unconditionally!