Keep Your Promises, Oaths, & Vows!

 “If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin.” ~Deuteronomy 23:21

There is an old adage, true to its basis, which says:

bond2

While this meme could have been smaller and taken up less space…these few words truly fill that space. It use to be that when someone spoke and made a promise, gave an oath, or made a vow…you needed no more. You did not need a bond security, nor any contract to make the other person do what he said he would do! Your name and your word speak much about you before you ever arrive at any meeting or appointment.  Your reputation precedes you in every instance. Both the good & bad…whatever you have made of it.

Now-a-days, we are steeped in a litigious society because everyone is sue happy. Everyone wants the almighty dollar without actually having to work for it. Instead, they seek the help of a morally flexible legal expert who, like you, believes you deserve to get paid because someone made you feel bad by pronouncing you a man when you actually feel like a woman inside, or vice versa, or some other politically incorrect crime against mankind.

integrity

[in-teg-ri-tee]
noun
1.adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2.the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished:

to preserve the integrity of the empire.
3.a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition:

the integrity of a ship’s hull.

Put simply integrity is…

integrity

Regardless, if anyone is there to watch you, or not, should not matter to YOU. You know God is watching and your fulfilling your vow, promise, oath, or word is quite irrelevant for YOU know in your heart of hearts that God will bring to light every matter, including every secret thing…both good and bad!

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.           ~Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NKJV

The funny thing is the fact that God leaves us to make all our mistakes and decisions on our own. He provided us with life’s user manual, via numerous authors all in one binding…the Holy Bible. It is not something you can master in a day, but it takes a lifetime worth of hard work in order to learn that you didn’t understand, apply, or even recognize something, or several things for that matter!

God desires each one of us to believe, follow, learn, and eventually understand His word. He desires us to apply the teachings within our lives and when we trip and fall by doing things our own way; He wants us to pick ourselves up, dust off our knees, swallow our pride, seek His way and apply it for the rest of the journey through our life. God knows that we will trip, fall, walk away, and many of us will tend to return. Unfortunately, not all of us will return to Him, but many will of their own volition. Because God is the God of second chances, this was paramount throughout many of the writings of the Bible.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time ~Jonah 3:1 NKJV

Jonah was God’s prophet and minister, he was a wayward prophet who wanted to see the Ninevites judged by God and destroyed. But that was not what God wanted, God desired them to change their ways and follow Him (by their own decision.) But the Ninevites needed to receive a warning and that task fell to Jonah. Jonah was both obstinate and wanted his way. That was where the big fish came in. Apparently, this was a miraculous work of God that was to turn the wayward prophet around. Wouldn’t you? God is willing to give us all the chances we need to turn our lives around. Even if it is on our deathbed. But there is a catch…to change your heart you must still be breathing and alive.

God gives each of us one human life to turn around our lives. All too many think they can wait until that last moment, but when that final moment comes especially after a lifetime of not thinking about God and seeking self aggrandizement and pleasure…will you truly place any effort on during your final moment(s) toward your creator? My personal hypothesis is that you will not, under the same circumstances…neither would I. I would tend to think I would be thinking of all I missed out on.

While this was a long drawn out path to get to this point, the ultimate message is that we need to keep the promises, vows, oaths, and words we give to others (including to God.) Because in the very end we will be remembered by others of how we treated people.

These two memes pretty much state what is needed here. Keeping your word is much like standing for what is right, because if you do not stand up for what is right…there might not be anyone else to stand up against those who oppose that which is right! YOU MAY BE IT!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy, PhD, DD

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Marriage…til death do us part…

Marriage…til death do us part…or til we get tired of one another?

In just about every household there is an on-going joke, as morbid as it may be, “UNTIL DEATH DO WE PART…OR UNTIL ONE OF YOU KILLS THE OTHER FIRST!” Like I said, a rather morbid sense of humor but that is me. The sad truth is this, husbands and wives were single men and women before marriage; just in case you did not realize this. Also, just because you got married neither of you got rid of all your old thoughts, decision processes, or positions on life in general. In some cases, you didn’t do so completely and emphatically when you were saved, either. But you may have tried and fell back into those thoughts. And I am not saying that your thoughts, etc. were wrong either. But when we get married, we do not always go over our beliefs and thoughts on life with a fine toothed comb prior to tying the knot.

Jesus inferred that we were meant to live with each other until our final breath. Here is Jesus’ discussion on the topic:

The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” ~Matthew 19:3-10 NKJV

Think about this for a moment…we will spend more time, figuratively speaking, to find a closer parking spot at a market, sports arena, or a concert rather than spending much needed time deciding what we desire or seek in a spouse. And to go just a bit further, we almost never seek what God wants of us, or has in store for us, because we are too busy thinking about the opposite sex due to our raging hormones. Parents have all but given up the guidance of their children in choosing a mate. And most children would probably not listen because they are too busy with their friends listening to some of their stories about how good they are in bed or how good someone else must be in bed because of the way they look or act or because  they are busy looking at porn. And, by the way, that is adultery…because Jesus said so…

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.~Matthew 5:27-28 NKJV

God has a plan for each and everyone of us, but we do need to listen and pay attention. We need to talk, to pray, and to seek out His will within His word…as single people and as married couples. We should be taking up the gauntlet to bring our children up in His ways, what He wants us to have in the way of a spouse. We need to take up the obligation, the task of speaking to our children about what constitutes a good spouse and act that way with our own spouses, especially in front of them and in secret from them. Because while in secret, we tend to act differently…sad to say but it is true.

According to The Witherspoon Institute, Public Discourse, a 2014 study produced the following (Stanton, 2015):

  1. The age-adjusted crude divorce rate is currently thirteen divorces for every 1,000 people age fifteen and older.
  2. This is the percentage of ever-divorced adults in a population. This, of course, is not an annual rate. Currently, 22 percent of women and 21 percent of men have ever been divorced.
  3. In 2011, nineteen out of every 1,000 marriages ended in divorce.
  4. This is the “40-50 percent” number that most people cite. It is not a hard, objective number, but an educated projection.

Now am I talking about taking the lead  as Abraham did for Isaac as depicted in Genesis 24? No, but I am saying we as parents need to spend more time teaching our children in the things of life than we actually do. Our American society has handed over all teaching of our children to the public schools. Guess what, they do not prepare them with marriage. Although, they have taught our children that they can have sex and how to make babies and that they do not need to ask our permission. Is this all true? By inference, yes it is. We as parents need to teach our kids how to create a loving long lasting relationship with their spouse by living it and blatantly teaching them on such subjects. It is our obligation to them, as our children, as a gift from God, and it is an obligation to God…because we are answerable to God for all of our actions, deeds, decisions, and words. How else can we train our children up in the statutes of the Lord, and His ways, if we do not teach them how to live with their spouse?

We as parents need to take a much larger role in our children’s lives, because if we do not people of the likes of Axl Rose, John Belushi, Janis Joplin, Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain, as well as others, including their peers who know nothing about life, will be glad to take up such a challenge!

If you truly believe your child is precious cargo…then treat them s such and teach them for God’s sake, your sake and their own future’s sake!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy, PhD, DD

Christians and their Differences of Opinion

Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. ~Acts 15:37-40 NKJV

paul-barnabas-markWe all have our differences of opinion among ourselves. Sadly, though, we tend to cut off those from our friendship list when there is a great difference of opinion or a grand argument where there is no resolution. This, also, is what causes many of the needless splits within the church families throughout the world. Quite honestly most of the disagreements between members are based upon “I’m right and you are wrong!” mentalities. This is quite an anti-biblical teaching. Sadly, we are willing to tear apart the church family in order to get our way and quite potentially destroy the church in the process.

differing-opinions

We are willing to scream and shout at our brothers and sisters in Christ to be heard. And if that doesn’t get us our way, we will stomp our feet, hold our breath, and walk out the door…along with several other members and start another church.

Personally, I believe it stirs up a healthy dialogue when you raise such questions of foundations, tenets, doctrine and dogma. It allow us a venue to share our beliefs, our understanding of the scripture, and generally help us grow and people and as children of Christ. We MUST be willing to stand up for what we believe is right, especially for the word of God and get things clarified. I also believe at times it is healthy for a church to split. Splitting does two things: 1. makes room for more people (new congregants) and 2. it has a tendency to shake up the church leadership a little. Sometimes, not quite enough.

Let us get something straight (this being my opinion and my understanding), and this is one of those things that is a bit twisted, the church is the people, the Pastor is the shepherd over the flock (or teacher), and the deacons, as well as, others are to help serve the people in order to free up that time the pastors use to use serving the people in between teaching the congregation. (The Book of Acts was written about 63 A.D. or later.)

Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”~Acts 6:2-4 NKJV

However, in corporate America…the Deacon Board is the CEO board and the Pastor is an employee who is hired by the Deacon board. It may not seem that way, but in reality…that is the corporate structure under any particular state’s laws. But I digress…anyhoo…

Differences of opinion can be healthy if approached correctly. Sometimes as a congregation grows things need to be revisited, reassessed, revised, and possibly re-explained. After all, God wants us to be of one mind.

Be of the same mind toward one another. ~Romans 12:16 NKJV

And if we are of a similar mind, our guidance remains the same, despite our personal understandings and interpretations of the tenets and doctrines of the bible, or church for that matter. However, in my humble opinion, the church doctrine should directly correlate to the Biblical Doctrines taught. And personal spins on such should be met with challenges from the people. If either the church is wrong or if the challenging member(s) is/are wrong…each one should be able to argue their point and position.

Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. ~2 Timothy 4:11

Although, at some point in time, Paul settled his disagreement with John Mark.  (The Book of 2 Timothy was written between 66-67 A.D.) It only took 4 years or less to do so. But this is what must be done. We as the body of Christ and as the church, as a whole, are to be reconciled to one another through Jesus Christ! We are one body, whether you like it or not; unfortunately, we do not act as such! Reconciliation is a gift of God in order for us to act according to God’s will and that we may, and should, act as ambassadors for Christ.

When you see someone from another congregation or another church…do you see a brother or sister in Christ, or do you see a heathen or sinner? Which do you see? What runs through your mind? Are they only saved if they go to your church? Are they only saved if they believe as you believe? Now, don’t get me wrong – there are “churches” that claim to be of God and Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, but do teach some things that do not coincide with what the scriptures blatantly state.

Even the lost, in a manner of speaking, are brothers and sisters. Because if you get right down to it we can all be traced back to the survivors of the flood (Noah) and by him back to Adam and Eve. Remember that we all need to be good ambassadors for Christ and the Kingdom of God! Therefore, we do need to act accordingly and we need to steer those we come in contact with toward Christ as their Savior. In so doing we increase to numbers for the Kingdom of God. In so doing, that becomes another opportunity for the Holy Spirit to act upon the hearts of other men and women in order to change their lives. It is the Spirit of God who actually makes all the changes in the lives of others for their Salvation.

Remember You Are An Ambassador for Christ! You can help guide them to salvation or you can aid them and build them up in the body of Christ!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy, PhD, DD