Reference vs. Reverence

RefVSREv

Thomas Jefferson wrote one of the most pivotal documents in all of American History, if not human history. The Declaration of Independence is viewed by many as almost a sacred mandate upon all humanity. Even as I read the words Jefferson penned in 1776, I still get goose-bumps, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

What you may not realize however is that Jefferson created another not-so inspirational document called the “Jefferson Bible.” In this unofficial bible, Jefferson edited the Holy Bible, specifically the New Testament, to remove the parts of Christ’s Life that he felt were not necessary, namely the miracles of Christ. He literally went through and physically cut those portions of scripture he disagreed with, and kept others like the teachings of Christ for reference purposes only.

Entitled, “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth,” was completed in 1820 by cutting and pasting with a razor and glue numerous sections from the New Testament as extractions of the doctrine of Jesus. Jefferson’s condensed composition is especially notable for its exclusion of all miracles by Jesus and most mentions of the supernatural, including sections of the four gospels that contain the Resurrection and most other miracles, and passages that portray Jesus as divine. (Wikipedia citations [2][3][4][5])

For obvious reasons this has disturbing implications, to say the least, but sometimes one letter and its placement can make all of the difference in a word. The words “Reference” and “Reverence” are great examples of this principle. As it turns out, one letter, an F or a V has the potential to be an effective barometer in our walk with Christ.

Our lives can be lived in “reference” to Christ i.e. His teachings, His principles, His ideas, His values, and incredible insight. Much of the world has a “reference only” view of Christ’s earthly life and teachings. While admirable and even inspirational, this narrow view lacks a vital component. A view of the Life of Christ as merely a good reference for living our lives places a dangerous distinction between the characteristics of Christ versus the character of Christ.

To extrapolate Christ’s teachings from His Life, without allowing for His Divine Presence to enable, equip, and empower us, sets us up for some unrealistic expectations because much of what Christ taught ran counter to the culture of His day and even ours. In other words, His teachings were not popular, and to exercise His teachings without His empowering Spirit, can set us up for discouragement. Christ did not just teach, He embodied His teachings which provided His followers with not just instruction, but demonstration of how those teachings should be lived out.

John states it this way in the his account of Christ’s words, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (15:4-5)

While a life lived in “reverence” to Christ does so as a way of elevating Christ’s teaching in our lives to a place of Holy Reverence and Honor. A perspective of reverence enables and empowers us to embody the life-giving teachings, principles, and most importantly, commandments of Christ. We live our lives as a way of allowing Christ’s true character and nature to shine through us.

From a cold dark prison cell in Philippi, the Apostle Paul penned these very famous words, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).

How could Paul write such things facing such dire circumstances? Paul knew that it was only “through Christ” which gives us strength, and in another place, the all-sufficient grace to face unthinkable trials, tests, and even power to live up to the self-sacrificing, counter-intuitive and counter-cultural teachings of Christ.

With a mere reference view, we have the option of taking or leaving things as the world does. But, maintaining a reverence for both Christ and His teaching, it will provide us a holy compulsion drawing us into a relationship with the originator of the principles, teachings, and ultimately commandments of Christ.

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute.  One Minute Inspirational Sermonettes, Devotionals, and Sermon Ideas for Busy Christians, Pastors, Teachers, and Bible Students!  Visit our ABOUT PAGE  for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you.  ~ RD Mangold

WANTED! Willing to Risk Death Daily

Wanted
Stamp Art by Bureau of Engraving and Printing; Imaging by Gwillhickers – U.S. Post Office; Smithsonian National Postal Museum, Public Domain, Link

There were wanted posters everywhere throughout the Civil War Era of the United States. Not the kind in post offices because there weren’t any post offices yet! These “Wanted Posters” read as follows:

“WANTED – YOUNG, SKINNY, WIRY FELLOWS NOT OVER EIGHTEEN. MUST BE EXPERT RIDERS, WILLING TO RISK DEATH DAILY. ORPHANS PREFERRED. WAGE $25.00 PER WEEK.

The need for delivering information over long distances across the great divide of our troubled young nation was becoming more critical with each passing day. The Pony Express, now only in its infant stage was answering that call and was looking for some very special young men; men who were willing to make great sacrifices, spending long hard hours in the saddle. They had to be totally dedicated to the cause, making certain that the mail would reach its destination no matter what.

This was their Pledge of Service:

“I, (name), do hear by swear, before the great and living God, that during my engagement and while I am an employee of the Pony Express, I will, under no circumstances, use profane language; that I will drink no intoxicating liquors; that I will not quarrel or fight with any other employee of the firm, and that in every respect I will conduct myself honestly, be faithful to my duties, and so direct all my acts as to win the confidence of my employer. So help me God!”

In 1860, the newly minted Pony Express mail route would consist of nearly 2,100 miles. The service would start in St. Joseph, Missouri and pass through Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and end in San Francisco, California. The service guaranteed the delivery of mail from St. Joseph, Missouri to San Francisco, California in an incredibly short 10-day time span.

In their 1½-year history, the Pony Express encountered just one rider who refused to make his run. These riders were to face every type of natural disaster and danger imaginable, from crossing rivers with wild rapids, to parched desert sands, and every possible weather condition the Wild West could unleash at them. It was through this unpredictable world of nature that the Pony Express riders dared to pass. Steep grades, narrow canyons, howling winds, bone-chilling blizzards, incredibly deep snow drifts all were barriers to the progress of even the most dedicated rider.

Consider this a call to all Christians – We have no excuse for not sharing the Message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have social media, videos, blogs, and vlogs. What took them 10 days to travel 2100 miles takes us about 3 hours. We’re a generation engorged with opportunity, but so few are willing to take the risk, the plunge, or to dive right in. There needs to be an expediency and urgency to our message! Men and women who are willing to brave the harsh elements of counter-culture and controversy to stand up for the noblest cause there is, “Go ye into all the world…” 

The postman’s creed, which in truth there is no swearing in for, states this, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Our Mission is the Message! Let’s not allow anyone or anything to stand between us and a lost and hurting generation. Their lives depend upon it; their eternity depends upon it.

WANTED! Dedicated and devoted Christians willing to cross racial, social, geographical, and political, boundaries. WAGE: OUT OF THIS WORLD!

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute.  One Minute Spiritual Sermonettes, Devotionals, and Sermon Ideas for Busy Christians, Pastors, Teachers, and Bible Students!  Visit our ABOUT PAGE  for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you.  ~ RD Mangold

The Danger of Doing Nothing

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.Romans 12:21

Winston Churchill called World War II the most preventable conflict in history saying, “Never was a war more easy to stop than that which has wrecked what was left of the world from the previous struggle.” Cowardice and timidity ruled the day!  Europe’s constant side-stepping and appeasement cost millions their lives and brought the world to the brink of a dark and militaristic reign of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Evil in our modern day is pandemic. More blatant than ever is the world’s disregard for God and His Word. Laws are enacted and bills passed daily that are subtly making what you believe and practice as a Christian, a criminal activity!

What is a Christian to do?

Cowering from and ignoring the devil is not the answer – Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Paul admonished the Romans to overcome evil with good. Our Christian duty is not to declare war on our neighbors or society, for “we wrestle not against flesh and blood.” Rather, “He (God) hath showed you, O man, what is good; and what the LORD requires of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

“Serminutes” – Sermon in a Minute. A one minute spiritual pick-me-up for busy Christians!  Visit this POST for details on what exactly that is. Thank you for visiting today! May the Lord richly bless you. Rodger Mangold