How To Get Along With Others

How To Get Along With OthersJohn Maxwell famously said, “The entire world—with one minor exception—is made up of other people.” That “one minor exception”? It’s the person staring at you in the mirror every morning! Obviously learning how to get along with all the “others” in the world is hugely important.

It’s even more important for those who call themselves Christians.

The Bible makes it quite clear that people watch how Christians treat one another to see if the message they preach is one worth living. And Jesus told one of His most well-known stories to make the point that all of the Bible is fulfilled in just two things: (1) Loving God and (2) Loving others.

 

To live above with the God that we love,
Oh, wouldn’t that be glory!
But to live below with the saints that we know,
Well, that’s a different story!

The Bible says a lot about “one another.” In fact, that phrase is used nearly 60 times in the New Testament! Not only is there much that the Scripture has to say to us about getting along with one another, but most of what was written has been confirmed by modern psychology.

Join me this Sunday at Calvary Assembly of God as we begin a new series called How To Get Along With Others. We’ll be learning some practical training along with biblical insights to help us excel at this vitally important life skill.

You can find directions to our church here, and if you can’t join us in person, be sure to tune in to our Periscope broadcast (follow me @craigtowens to be notified when the broadcast starts).

5 Ways To Live As A Free Servant

Peculiar not popularWe Americans love our freedom! But “freedom” is often misused and even abused—

  • We have sexual freedom … but not the “freedom” to say no.
  • We have freedom of expression … unless it’s “offensive” to me.
  • We have freedom of speech … unless I think it’s “hate speech.”

Freedom usually means: I am free to do what I want when I want to do it, but you are free to only do what I agree to. In other words, “freedom” has become subjective and selfish. For Christians, citizens of Heaven who are passing through Earth, the Bible calls us to use our freedom in a different way.

[1] Make sure your freedom is based in reverence for God (1 Peter 1:17). God is the One who will judge our actions. The Amplified Bible adds, “conduct yourselves in reverent fear of Him and with profound respect for God.”

[2] Live good lives, shown by your good deeds (1 Peter 2:12). The word good here means beautiful, useful, beneficial. In other words, the emphasis is more on action than on talk. George MacDonald wrote, “The time for speaking seldom arrives, the time for being never departs.”

[3] Do good to silence foolish talk (1 Peter 2:15). Notice the contrast between doing (the citizens of Heaven) and merely talking (the citizens of Earth). Good doing always trumps good talking.

[4] Live as free servants (1 Peter 2:16). That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? A free servant?! But this is the same word used to describe Jesus in Philippians 2:7. It’s also how Jesus lived. In fact, the only time Jesus said, “I have set you an example” is when He was being the lowest of servants.

[5] Never forget the Cross (1 Peter 2:21-24; 4:1-6). Because of what Jesus did on the Cross for us, we die to sins and live for righteousness. Because of the Cross, we are to live differently from Earthlings.

When we live in this peculiar way, it gets noticed:

Simple question: If you are a Christian, are you living the way Peter instructs you to live?

We will be continuing our Aliens and Strangers series next Sunday, and I would love to have you join me. If you cannot be with us in person, tune-in to our Periscope broadcast (search for @craigtowens).

Christians As Priests

Priesthood of ChristiansThere are some extraordinary pictures in the Old Testament that take on new life when viewed through the lens of Jesus Christ. One picture is how God chose the Jewish people out of all the people on earth, how He then chose the tribe of Levi to serve as His priests, and then how He chose Aaron from the Levites to be the high priest.

The Jewish people, the Levites, and then Aaron became God’s special possession because He chose them; it’s not that He chose them because they were special. God did this to give us a picture of what He wants to do with all of us.

Although the Levites were chosen as priests, God tells all of Israel—

You will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:6)

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. That the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)

When the Apostle Peter is speaking to New Testament Christians, he uses the same type of language. He calls all Christians:

Christians are ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ that are to carry out their priestly roles while on Earth. 

Peter also talks about where Christian priests are to minister. In the Old Testament, the priests had a set location where ministry was done. But Peter says we are living stones built on the Living Stone (2:4). That means that the place of worship today is not brick and mortar, but flesh and blood.

Christian priesthood is mobile, adaptable, empathetic, and responsive to the the needs of the people.

If you are a Christian, here are some good questions to ask yourself:

We will be continuing our series about how citizens of Heaven should live on Earth (a series we’ve called Aliens and Strangers) this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, please come join us. If you cannot visit us in person, you can watch our Periscope broadcast (just search for user @craigtowens).

Reconnecting the Disconnection

DisconnectThere is a disconnection problem in the United States of America. Consider this:

  • John Adams, one of our nation’s founding fathers said, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.”
  • Every president from George Washington to Barak Obama has invoked the name of God in his inaugural address.
  • 96% of Americans say they believe in God.
  • 80% of Americans call themselves Christians.

And yet:

  • Our grade schools make no mention of “God”, some even to the point of not reciting the pledge of allegiance.
  • Higher education is openly antagonistic toward God and Christians.
  • The entertainment industry normalizes lifestyles that are openly unbiblical.
  • Even our US government has done things like legalizing murder in the form of abortion, and sanctioning homosexuality by calling their unions “marriage.”

The Bible calls Christians “aliens and strangers in the world.” Perhaps the term “aliens” is not so much for what we say we believe, but how we live what we believe. 

So Peter opens his letter to “strangers in the world” by telling Christians how to live in a way that can reconnect this disconnection.

  • Humble—because we sinners have been chosen (v. 2a) to become citizens of Heaven.
  • Confident—because of the foreknowledge of God the Father (v. 2b) that can never be thwarted.
  • Teachable—because the process of the sanctifying work of the Spirit and obedience to Jesus Christ (v. 2c) requires us to be humbly-confident, teachable servants.
  • Graceful and peaceful (v. 2d)—because what we believe about God’s invitation to come to Him, Christ’s payment that makes that possible, and the Holy Spirit’s sanctification should be lived out in graceful and peaceful lives.

Would your Earthling family members say you are graceful and peaceful? 

Would your Earthling coworkers say you promote grace and peace on the job? 

Would your Earthling neighbors say you make the neighborhood graceful and peaceful? 

Would the Earthling business owners you frequent say your gracefulness and peacefulness is more evident than in the citizens of Earth?

Search me, God, and know my heart test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is ANY offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24).

We will be continuing our Aliens and Strangers series this Sunday. If you are in the Cedar Springs area, and don’t have a home church, please join us. If you cannot join us in person, you can tune in via Periscope (search for @craigtowens).

My Going Is Your Calling

BibleThis morning I shared some cool thoughts on Luke 10:1-3

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”

Are you following me on Periscope? My username is @craigtowens. If you subscribe, you can see these types of broadcasts live. But, not to worry, I have uploaded it here as well…

Links & Quotes

link quote

“‘And Enoch walked with God’ [Genesis 5:24]. If so much as this can be truly said of you and me after our decease, we shall not have any reason to complain that we have lived in vain.” —George Whitefield

“A neglect of secret prayer has been frequently an inlet to many spiritual diseases, and has been attended with fatal consequences.” —George Whitefield

“You have heard many men’s dying words, and these are mine: A life spent in communion with God is the pleasantest life in the world.” —Matthew Henry, to a friend when near his death

Sgt. Jason Kelley is a wonderful asset to my hometown, and our surrounding area. So I couldn’t be happier that he has been named Kent County Deputy of the Year!

We are losing a pastor who has been so involved in our city. Pastor Tom Holloway is moving to South Carolina, and I am going to miss him.

A U.S. Army chaplain has found an innovative way to water baptize soldiers. Love it!

Eric Metaxas asks, “How can anyone defend Planned Parenthood after the sickening video came to light this week?” Check out his insightful answer.

[VIDEO] Here is the video from another Periscope broadcast I did about handling fear—

F.E.A.R

PreachingI read something really cool in my personal devotional time this morning, and I took to Periscope to share it live. (Are you on Periscope yet? Check it out, and please consider following me at @craigtowens.)

Please take a look at the well-known stories in Luke 8, and then listen to what the Holy Spirit was showing me this morning about F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real. The verse I really focus on is Luke 8:37.

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