To Your (Spiritual) Health

Imagine yourself sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for a consultation with this person you had seen on several occasions, and instead of the doctor’s coming in, a police officer comes in and tells you to leave. On your way out of the office, you notice that the police are confiscating computers, files and records. As it turns out, this person you thought was a doctor proved to be nothing but an impostor. Your doctor had never been to medical school, had never done residency, had not passed any kind of medical exam or board. You would rightfully ask what right this person had to practice medicine.

 A case similar to this took place in West Palm Beach, Florida. An account from www.nbcnews.com states: “An 18-year-old Florida man is accused of posing as a licensed doctor, going as far as opening his own West Palm Beach offices — calling it the New Birth New Life Medical Center & Urgent Care, with a website and all — in order to solicit patients, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said” (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/florida-teen-arrested-performing-exam-fake-doctor-own-offices-authorities-n519676) The article also stated that his bio offered no schools attended or credentials of any kind.

Now suppose you go to this doctor’s office at the recommendation of a friend or family member who believes that this is a genuine doctor. When you enter, you notice no diplomas or certifications anywhere on the walls. When the doctor enters the room, you begin to ask questions about his or her background. You ask, “Where did you attend medical school?” The response is, “Well I don’t really want to brag about myself, so I won’t tell you.” You ask, “Well what about your internship, your residency?” “Again,” he or she says, “I don’t want to receive any glory for my education, so I don’t tell anybody.” Would you trust your body to someone with no credentials to make a diagnosis?

 In many ways, however, people trust their eternal souls to people who have absolutely no training whatsoever to make a spiritual diagnosis. Take for example the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (the Bible). From the foreword to the text: “Our goal has been to produce a translation that is not only faithful to the original texts but also clear and easy to read.”—New World Bible Translation Committee.  This would lead you to believe that a group of people who had some knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek actually took copies of those languages, and using their scholarly background, actually made an accurate translation of the Scriptures. Instead, what you actually find is a text that has been slanted toward the particular teachings of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, better known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Nowhere does their Bible indicate who those people are or even if they have any credentials to translate biblical languages at all. If you want to check the credentials of the New American Standard Bible translators, you can write to the Lockman Foundation at www.lockman.org and receive a list of translators and their credentials, as I did several years ago. You can also contact Zondervan Publishers and get a list of those who contributed to the New International Version translation of the Bible.

You will not get that from the Watchtower. All they will say is that their committee does not want glory to go to them. So how do you know if you can trust their translation, or if it is indeed accurate? And what difference does it make? Let’s take a look at one their texts to see. John 17:3 in the NWT 1984 edition reads, “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” Notice the phrase “taking in knowledge of you.” The Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament says “that they may know (ginosko) you.” There is a big difference between the two. I can sit in Bible studies for years taking in knowledge of God and never know him. I can sit in a history class taking in knowledge of Abraham Lincoln, but no matter how much knowledge I have of him, I will never know him. There is an eternity of difference. Subsequently in the 2013 of the NWT, they have changed their translation to read “their coming to know you” with a footnote repeating the phrase “taking in knowledge.” These two statements do not mean the same thing. So which is the more accurate? 

This passage states that the key to possessing eternal life is an accurate personal knowledge of God, not just taking in information about God. If you miss that, you will miss eternal life. If you would not be willing to trust your body to a physician with no credentials, why would you trust your eternity to an anonymous group that may have no credentials to make the claims that they do? Your spiritual health depends on it.

Mike McGuire received his Masters of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in December 1988. Since that time he has pastored churches in Texas and New Mexico. He has also written youth Sunday School curriculum for LifeWay Christian Resources and has contributed to their adult curriculum as well. He has also taught seminary extension classes of biblical hermeneutics in both English and Spanish. Currently he serves as the bi-vocational pastor of Belvue Baptist church in Hobbs, New Mexico where the Son always shines. Join us at Belvue for an accurate understanding of God’s word.

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Mike McGuire Ministries is the expression of the life and ministry of Mike McGuire. Mike became a follower of Christ at age 10. Several years later, Mike began studying high school Spanish simply a…

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What You Don’t Know About Your Pastor

Over the past thirty years I have had several people make comments to me as a minister such as, “You’ve never had a real job in your life!” Or “You only work two days a week; what do you do with the rest of your time?” Most often those comments are meant to be an insult. Sometimes the person asking, “What do you do?” really wants to know.  

Some people think that a pastor just stands up and says whatever comes into his or her mind. Unfortunately that is often true. I call it “shooting from the lip.” Some pastors eschew preparation as though it were somehow unspiritual. Being “led by the Spirit” to some means just saying whatever pops into your mind while standing in the pulpit. Occasionally circumstances may prevent the pastor from being able to prepare properly, but that should be the exception rather than the rule. 

Pastoring is more than sitting in a study poring over commentaries and study helps to prepare sermons. Members seldom understand what pastoral work really is. Several years ago I tried to explain it to a young woman who honestly wanted to know what I did with all my “free time.” “Pastor” means “shepherd.” I explained to her that a shepherd’s job was to feed the sheep in the flock. How does a pastor know what sheep need? It comes from spending time with the sheep. A pastor cannot always put in “office hours” because ministry does not always take place in an office. Often ministry does not take place between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm either. 

Many times over the years your pastor will receive a call from a church member or their family notifying him or her of a death. The pastor is expected to drop whatever is going on to make an appearance in the home or the hospital immediately. Maybe the call concerns an accident where a member or their loved one has had a car accident or experienced an illness.  

Pastors also make home visits when members are ill. When church members are absent, often they expect the pastor to make a personal visit to find out why they missed services. Sometimes they take offense if the pastor does not drop by the house promptly.  

Besides walking the hospital corridors with a church member concerned about a loved one’s life hanging in the balance, a pastor may also sit quietly with the member in a funeral home hugging the elderly church member who has recently lost her husband after more than fifty years of marriage. These are some ways that the pastor gets to know what the sheep need. 

On the positive side, the pastor may be present at the birth of a church member’s baby or grandchild. He or she may celebrate the new birth with the family. Then there are the weddings, receptions, anniversary celebrations, and quinceañeras that the pastor performs or attends, all the while celebrating with the members of the flock. 

Maybe the pastor will have the privilege of baptizing that baby that he or she witnessed the birth of. With long tenure, that pastor may also have the opportunity to perform the wedding ceremony of that same child or one he performed the quinceañera for.

Some churches also want their pastor to be involved in civic activities. Besides ministerial alliance and denominational meetings, they expect the pastor to attend various noon-day luncheons or maybe sit on the board of charitable organizations. This is all public relations. These are opportunities for ministers to be recognized in public. 

There are many things that your pastor does that you may not even be aware of. Remember that seven eighths of the iceberg is under water. If you only attend church once a week, you only see one eighth. If you attend less than that, you barely see the tip of the iceberg. Just because you do not see your pastor at the church office, it does not mean that he or she is not working. Pastors are often busier than you know. Let your pastor get to know you.

 

Instant Obedience

Many years ago when I was a child, my family would often take long car trips pulling a small camper with a Chevy station wagon. My sister and I were the youngest two of four children. Our older brothers rode in the back seat while my sister and I were relegated to the back end. We lay back there on a huge yellow cushion and a full-size collie dog (Yes, I did lie on the dog.) On long trips of day-long driving, my parents would often allow me to stand on the front seat in between them. I cringe to think of it now in our safety-conscious environment. Nevertheless, I never got injured from that.

When we would arrive at our campsites, one of the first things I wanted to do was to throw rocks in the nearest body of water whether a stream or lake. I did not care. I just wanted out of that station wagon. 

One of those trips took us to a place near Walsenburg, Colorado. I suppose it was early evening and still daylight outside. Not long after we fund our place, I took off running toward the lake as fast as I could. Suddenly I heard one of my brothers call out, “Stop. There’s a rattlesnake.” Being only about four years of age, I had no idea what a rattlesnake was, what one looked like, and I certainly did not comprehend the danger I was in. I stopped anyway, even though I did not understand. It was one of my brothers who saw the danger, not my father. Had I continued in my headlong journey toward the lake, the snake might have bitten me. 

Suppose I had questioned the situation. I might have said to my brother, “You’re not the boss of me! You’re not Dad. You can’t tell me what to do. You’re just trying to keep me from having the fun of throwing rocks in the lake,” and kept on going. Or I might have thought, “I don’t even see a snake. I don’t know what a rattlesnake is or what it can do.” I might have thought, “What do I care? It will never bite me.” Instead, I obeyed instantly. I stopped, and one of my brothers actually carried me to safety. The other one killed the snake, and we kept the rattle for decades. 

When it comes to God’s commandments, we should obey instantly. Instead we often feel like God is trying to prevent us from having fun. We question God’s goodness and his wisdom. My brother could see from a different perspective, and he had a greater knowledge of the danger than I did. In the same way, God views our circumstances from a different perspective, and he has infinite knowledge. He knows what the dangers are even if we can’t see them.  

God’s commandments were not designed to be burdensome or to stifle our fun. Jesus said that if we love him we will keep his commandments (John 14:15). John also wrote in his first epistle, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2-3 NIV). If we claim to love God, then we will keep his commands. 

God gives us his commands, first of all, for our protection. Keeping his commands protects us personally and as a society. Think of what happens when dishonesty or stealing become a regular part of our lives. Think of the devastation that adultery and murder cause. God is not just trying to spoil our fun. He is protecting us. 

Second, God’s give us his commands for our provision. He wants to provide us with something better. Satan’s way is for us to take short-cuts, to settle for less than the best; but there is always a price to pay. Sin may be pleasurable, but only for a short season (See Hebrews 11:25). In the short term, sin can be very pleasurable, otherwise no one would ever sin; yet in the long run, it causes much pain and harm. No one sets out to become an addict, a murderer, or a thief. It takes place in small increments.  

Although living a godly life may be difficult, it is not burdensome. When you realize that God loves you and wants what is best for you, you choose to please him. Instead of complaining and rebelling you choose to obey out of your love for God. Obeying God instantly is what he wants and what is best for us. So instead of complaining and making excuses, we seek to please God. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:9, “We make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” That should be a believer’s highest goal.

How do we know what God’s commands are? Jesus summed it up in only two basic principles: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). If you follow these two principles, you will never go wrong.

 

This, Too, Shall Pass

The summer just before my fifteenth birthday I was attempting to impress a neighborhood girlfriend with my gymnastic ability. Several of us had gathered in my front yard one evening when my father tossed a Hula Hoop out into the yard. One of us got the idea of rolling it while we tried to dive through it without stopping it. Thinking I could do it easily, I dove through the hoop. On the other side I landed on my right shoulder. A sudden pain shot through my left shoulder. It was so great a pain that I could not even raise myself from the ground. One of my friends said I had dislocated my shoulder and offered to fix it for me. I refused to let him touch my arm, which was beginning to swell. The swelling was so bad that my elbow disappeared. I had a tube for an arm.

 My father took me to the emergency room with a bath towel fashioned into a homemade sling. The X-rays showed that I had broken my collar bone rather than dislocated my shoulder. The standard procedure for setting the collar bone was the use of a figure 8 bandage. It loops around both arms and holds the shoulders back in place so the bone can mend. There is no cast, no sling. Since my clothing obscured the view of the bandage, no one could tell that I was injured.

That broken bone was the most physically painful event of my life. Kids at school once it started who did not know I was injured would innocently bump into me, triggering excruciating pain as the ends of the break had not been immobilized as they would have been with a cast. It seemed as though I could feel the ends of the bones scraping together. In moments of sharp pain, I actually hoped my life would end.

One day after being jostled particularly hard, I thought to myself, “One day this will heal. The pain will go away.” Surely as time passed, so did the pain. The bones fused back together and became stronger once again. When a flare up did occur, I consoled myself with the idea, “This, too, shall pass” even though I did not actually know that phrase at the time. I realized that most pain is temporary even though it may leave scars.

Since those younger days, I have experienced more pain, both physical and mental. I remember that it, too, will also pass. Sometimes decisions made in moments of pain can have tragic results. In the pain resulting from the loss of a long-time spouse, the survivor makes rash decisions only to regret them later once the original shock and pain have subsided. 

Problems have a beginning, and most of them will have an end. Sometimes problems can make permanent changes in life. Sometimes we have to adapt to those changes and learn to live with them. A few years before my hula hoop incident I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. That problem had a beginning, but it will not have an end. It has not been a fun journey, but it is one I must battle every day. It brought about major adjustments in my lifestyle. I have learned to adapt. 

At times, people turn to alcohol or drugs to alleviate the pain, whether physical or mental. That can lead to addiction, which often causes more problems than the drugs or alcohol solve. Addictions tear families and communities apart. 

Tragically, some people take their own lives when experiencing pain. Some suffer in silence while hiding their pain as my bandage was hidden from others’ view. Problems are often temporary. They will end, but taking one’s own life is permanent. When it happens, people around them are left in shock. Often they do not see it coming. They do not recognize the warning signs. They would have reached out to them if they had known.

If you are experiencing some kind of pain, reach out to someone to help. Pain can cause “tunnel-vision” where all you see is the problems. Talk to someone who can help you discover solutions and alternatives. Talk to a friend, family member or even a life coach. Talk to a pastor or priest. See a doctor. Get professional help. Remember the words of 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Remember the hymn, “God Will Take Care of You.”