One of today’s biggest controversies within the Church is over the wearing of tattoos by believers.. Do the same principles apply to tattoos that are of a Christian nature, such as a cross, a Christian slogan, or even a Bible verse? Some Christians have found that having tattoos gives them more credibility, and thereby more possibilities of evangelism, with some groups of people. So what about Christian tattoos?

Obviously, a tattoo of a cross is “better” than a tattoo of a flaming skull, naked woman, or demon. Having a tattoo saying “Jesus saves” could indeed be a conversation starter with some people who would never approach a preacher wearing a suit and tie. Some refer to Revelation 19:16 as an example of Jesus possibly having a tattoo on His thigh (although I find that being a huge stretch), “King of kings and Lord of lords.” The question is not necessarily “is getting a tattoo a sin?” The question is more “is getting a tattoo a good and necessary thing to do?” First Corinthians 10:23 declares, “Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive.” Christian tattoos may be “permissible,” but are they beneficial and constructive?

In 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, Paul exclaims, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel.” Becoming all things to save some is perhaps the only good possible reason for getting a Christian tattoo. If having a tattoo genuinely opens doors for evangelism that would otherwise be closed, getting Christian tattoos would likely “qualify” under Paul’s “becoming all things” qualification. At the same time, it is frankly difficult to envision a scenario in which having a tattoo would enable a greater possibility of evangelism. If a person will not listen to you due to a lack of a tattoo, it is highly unlikely that such a person would genuinely listen due to the presence of a tattoo.

With that said, the biblically based conclusion would seem to be that Christian tattoos are permissible, but it is highly questionable whether they can be considered beneficial and constructive. A Christian considering getting a tattoo should pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and ask the Lord to provide pure motives and discernment.

In conclusion, many people had tattoos before they came to the Lord, and should not let this be a concern. Getting a tattoo after you have come to the Lord will not keep you from the Kingdom of Heaven, but what is the motive? The key question is once again, how will getting a tattoo help me relationship with others and Christ?  But then again, shouldn’t we ask ourselves that question in everything we do? :)

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:8)

There’s a very good reason we refer to other Christians as brothers and sisters. The kinship we experience with our fellow heirs in Christ is more deeply rooted than any physical blood line or familial tie. When God saves an individual, He literally exchanges their dead “heart of stone” for a living “heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19). With this exchange comes transformation! Our greatest desires begin to conform to God’s desires, and ultimately, we want God’s will more than anything else. This change occurs at the core of who we are, it’s a central shift in identity.

Our newfound identity rests in what Jesus has accomplished and won, in His victory, not in any of our own. We delight in worshipping Jesus in all that we do, and we aspire to walk as He walked. While we will never be perfect on this earth we still share that foundational unity with other believers that is only found in Christ. When you gather with your brothers and sisters, dwell upon the things of life with them, and reflect upon how God’s truth and reality can be witnessed everyday. These times of fellowship are sweet and encouraging, so much so, that it is very easy to understand how Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy had become so “affectionately desirous” of the Thessalonians.

Our Christian brothers and sisters should also become “very dear to us”. This week, make time for prayer and fellowship with other Christians, you will savor and grow from these times together.

Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem. And the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem the holy city, while nine out of ten remained in the other towns. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 11:1-2) 

Being a true leader isn’t always glamorous. There are not always hundreds of people lining up, wanting to be just like you. This can be witnessed in the book of Nehemiah. We read that the leaders lived in Jerusalem and the rest drew lots.

Nehemiah is the account of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. During the restoration, enemies threatened to attack it as the wall and gates were rebuilt; it wasn’t necessarily the safest place. That is one reason the average Joe didn’t immediately sign up to live there. Jerusalem living also meant leaving a previous place of residence, which had one’s farm and lively hood.

At this point, Jerusalem was not yet finished and business would have been slow. The leaders made a sacrifice. Someone had to live there and start the process of creating a once again bustling city. Could this be what leadership is often about? Not asking people to take a risk for you, but rather taking one for them? Jesus even said that he came to serve and to not be served (Matthew 20:28). That is what leading is. We learn how to do this in its purest of forms through Jesus and his substitutionary death on the cross. He calls us to lay down our lives for others, because he has laid down his for us (John 15:13).

Have you been a leader lately?

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God– 2 Corinthians 1:4

God gives us comfort in all our tribulation. There is not a sickness, or a loss, or a pain, or a frustration for which God does not provide comfort.

He comforts us in his Word, the Bible. When we read His promises and discover his character, we receive the great comfort that is meant for us in his Word. We are reminded that God is good and that God is sovereign. And we are told that his sovereign goodness is at work in this universe on behalf of believers.

He comforts us with his Spirit. In fact, the Spirit of God is called our Comforter. When no human can understand, when no words can relieve, the Spirit of God is still able to minister to our soul. By pointing us to the finished work of Christ and drawing us to the person of Christ, the Holy Spirit sets our feet on solid ground even when our world is falling apart around us.

But there is another way, Paul tells us, in which God comforts us. The very trials and consolations we have experienced will be used to help others through their personal pains. God’s Word brings comfort to others as we share with others the scriptures that have helped us. The Spirit of God brings comfort as we testify of the sufficiency of Christ even in the midst of our personal agonizing.

Through the very comfort that we ourselves have received, others receive comfort; this, in turn, consoles us that our trial has not been in vain.

Displaying God’s Glory

Posted: June 23, 2015 in Thoughts on God

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 

Moses, the only man who was able to speak to God as though he was face to face (Exodus 33:11). Whenever he did this, his face would start to shine. He would come out of the tent of meeting with his face shining and tell the Israelites what God had spoken to him. Then, he would cover his face (Exodus 34:34-35). Paul says that Moses covered his face because his face would eventually lose it’s shine, or the glory of God would fade (2 Corinthians 3:13).

But, we are not like Moses, who would have periodic encounters with God and experience his glory. No, we are constantly being transformed by the glory of God now that we are followers of Jesus Christ. Our lives should constantly be shiny according to Paul. Do those who you are in constant contact with notice a glow about you? This glow is obviously the glory of God, because you are constantly encountering him throughout your day. James says that God’s word will bring about action in our lives (James 1:22). Let the glory of God shine from every area of your life.

Are you showing God’s glory today?

Who sharpens you?

Posted: June 19, 2015 in Thoughts on God

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17 ESV)

When you are stuck in sin, what are you compelled to do? Are you compelled to engage other believers and prayerfully work through sin’s power in your life? Hopefully that is the case, but for many believers we urge ourselves to withdraw, retract, and disengage from those who would walk through our sin with us. This is the last thing we should do! It can be embarrassing admitting we have messed up.

Let us remember, as Christians, we are called to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16).  This is not an irrational rule meant to shame us into compliance. Contrarily, it is intended for our benefit and building one another up in love and grace.What we seem to forget is that what we struggle with others have or do as well. Our Christian brother or sister has already been through what we have and can be there to help us through it. Don’t let pride keep you in sin!!

We may be grieved by our sin but continue to live in it because we aren’t confessing it and being sharpened in our fight against it. Repentance is much more than feeling sorry about our sin, it is literally turning around and going the opposite direction.  Rather than living in the dark and returning to sin, confess your sin to a brother or sister and stay accountable to him or her. When this happens, you will find you both become sharper, more useful tools for the Lord.

Who sharpens you?

Big picture, small steps

Posted: June 18, 2015 in Thoughts on God

He also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:22-23 ESV)

glimpses

Sometimes we can become overwhelmed by the “BIG PICTURE” of life: big dreams, big opportunities, big decisions, big transitions, and big questions.

One of the biggest questions regarding the big picture that we often ask is “What is God’s plan for my life?” The key to answering this big question is actually found in taking what may seem like small steps. The servant with two talents had no idea what the big picture was, just that he was to take care of what his master had given him at that point in time. We only begin to see the big picture become a reality when we’re faithful with the relationships, opportunities, and obvious needs God has already place right in front of us.

Often we pray for God to give us a big opportunity to share the gospel when we have not been intentional with the existing relationships in our lives. We pray for God to show big ways we can serve Him when we have not taken initiative with opportunities that exist within blocks of our own home. We want to meet big needs and make a big difference yet we often don’t realize this will require small, messy, risky steps of faithfulness with no fanfare- much of what may seem very different initially from the big picture we dreamed. We can easily forget that the big picture begins and continues to develop as we take small steps of faithfulness, following Jesus one step at a time.

What opportunities, relationships, and needs has God placed in front of you today? How can you display faithfulness with these?