Be Holy in All Your Behavior

February 9, 2022

Striving for a life of holiness is of utmost importance for us as the children of God.  God did not send His Son to save us from the power of sin so that we could just go back to living how we always lived.  The holiness of God demands that we live holy lives. 

The Spirit, through Peter, makes this very clear to us.  “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am Holy.’” (1 Peter 1:14-16, NASB).  God wants us to be obedient children by no longer being conformed to our former lusts.  To be conformed is to be shaped and molded by something.  We need to stop being shaped and molded by the sinful desires that used to drive us.  We need to stop being conformed to the shape of this world.  Now that we are in Christ, God is calling us to be holy in all our behavior.  God is holy, and He expects us to be holy.

What does it mean for us to be holy?  It means to be set apart to God.  It means to be set apart from the world around us.  It means to be set apart from our former sinful pursuits.  Simply put, it means that we are supposed to be different now!  Because of the gift of Jesus—His death and resurrection—we are not supposed to think, speak, or act in the same way anymore. Let me ask you, is your life in Christ appreciably different from your former life?  Can people detect that you are different from the world around you?    

Holy living is a very serious thing to our Holy Father.  He gave His all so that we could be holy in His sight.  Now that He has made us holy, let us pursue holiness realizing that we were redeemed from our former life at countless cost, “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:19, NASB)    

—Scott Colvin


Suffering with Christ

January 28, 2022

Are you prepared to share in the sufferings of Christ? Brethren, I think we need to get ourselves prepared. Think about the direction the world is going regarding the things of God. The world is growing ever more hostile to truth. Many in the world believe that speaking about God and Christ is offensive. Speaking the truth in love about sin and the coming judgement is considered a definite faux pas, if not outright “hate speech.” Christians who support the traditional, biblical view of morality, the family, gender, sexuality, and the like are often branded as hateful bigots. 

Let me ask you a question: Do you think things are going to get better or worse in the coming years? 

We need to prepare ourselves to suffer with Christ. We need to prepare our children and grandchildren to be ready to suffer with Christ. One of the keys to being prepared is to learn to rejoice when we suffer for Christ’s sake. Peter writes, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you … But if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.” (1 Peter 4:12-14, 16, NASB) Suffering for Christ is cause for rejoicing! If people look down on you for your faith, don’t be ashamed. Keep on rejoicing! When people say nasty things about you because you’re trying to hold to the truth of God’s word, don’t hang your head. Keep on rejoicing! When we suffer with Christ, don’t feel alone in your struggle. You are not alone because the Spirit of God is resting on you! Suffering with Christ is not a time to be downcast. It is a time to lift up your voice and glorify God. 

We need to dwell on these things. We need to be preparing ourselves and our families for the suffering that will come to those who are striving to live godly lives. And when suffering comes, let us rejoice and give glory to God. 

—Scott Colvin 


The Prosperous Soul

December 31, 2021

“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 2, NASB) This was John’s prayer for Gaius, his faithful brother in the Lord, and this is my prayer for each of you in the new year—that you will prosper in all respects.

I pray that God will grant each of you success in school and in your careers.  I pray that you will find contentment in life, and satisfaction in your work.  I hope that business will be good, and that you will use whatever financial blessings God may choose to bless you with for His kingdom and His glory. 

I pray that God will bless you with good health.  What trying times we have been through for nearly two years now.  Times like these really make us appreciate good health, don’t they?  May God bless each of you with good health, and may we use the blessing of good health for the sake of Christ.  Let us use whatever physical strength and vitality God may grant us to be busy about His work and to serve one another.

Most of all, I pray that your soul will prosper in the new year.  This is of utmost importance.  What good is it to have physical blessings and good health if we neglect the condition of our soul?  As Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26a, NASB) A prosperous soul is a blessing of the highest order.  When our soul prospers, we will find unspeakable joy, peace that surpasses comprehension, and renewed hope.  When our soul prospers, we will find satisfaction, and contentment.  When our soul prospers, we will truly be living the good life. But when we neglect the condition of our soul, we will find trouble, sorrow, and confusion in life.  I plead with you; do the things which will cause your soul to prosper in the year ahead.

Let’s make 2022 a year in which each of us grow spiritually like never before.  I pray it will be a year in which each of us are granted deeper spiritual understanding.  I pray it will be a year in which each of us will find the deepest joy and satisfaction in a closer walk with God.  May your soul prosper in the new year!

— Scott Colvin


Whitewashed Living

November 5, 2021

Cemeteries have a certain beauty in their own way, don’t they?  They are quiet.  They have well-manicured grass and beautiful flowers.  There are many beautifully carved stone monuments scattered about the grounds.  And yet, even though cemeteries are beautiful on the surface, we don’t go there just to enjoy the afternoon or to have a picnic, do we?  That’s because we know what lies under the surface. 

Jesus made this point when talking about the scribes and Pharisees.  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28 NASB) What do we learn from Jesus’ statement?  People, even Christians, can be just like a cemetery—beautiful outwardly, but full of death and decay inwardly.  The scribes and Pharisees went through the right motions.  They read and memorized the scriptures, they faithfully attended worship services, they carefully tithed all that they had, they said all the right things, and yet Jesus told them that they were dead inside!  Jesus knew what was under the surface.  It was all a veneer.  They were just like whitewashed tombs. 

You and I need to be careful that we do not fall into this way of living.  We need to be careful to surrender our inner lives completely to God.  We need to be careful that we’re not just going through the motions so that we appear righteous to others.  We can fool people with a coat of whitewash, but we can never fool Jesus.  He knows our hearts, and He wants to be Lord of our hearts.  If we will surrender our hearts to Jesus, He will make our inner selves radiant and beautiful, and that beauty will flow outwardly into our lives and make us truly beautiful in the eyes of God. 

— Scott Colvin

 

P.S. This is Scott Colvin’s first post on whiletoday.com. Check out his bio under About. I’m glad to have him joining me as a writer for this blog. — Russ Holden

            



Is Life a Test?

April 5, 2020

Dr. Gregory House was television’s fictional curmudgeonly doctor who solved medical mysteries. Some have even wondered what House would do with Covid-19. But House was also a misanthrope and an atheist. In a scene where the characters were considering whether there is anything to people seeing a white light at the end of the tunnel in near death experiences, House retorts that it is simply the chemical reactions to the brain shutting down. There is nothing after death, and he finds that comforting. When questioned about this being comforting, he replies: “I find it more comforting to believe that this isn’t simply a test.”

The scene succinctly raises an important issue about life. Is life a test or not? The Christian worldview gives a much different answer than the one given by the fictional Dr. House. The question is worth pondering.

I suspect that the comfort gained from saying life isn’t a test goes something like this. Death is the end. There is no judgment, heaven, or hell. (Can we hear John Lennon’s Imagine being sung in the background?) We can’t get life wrong. It’s like the elation of the student who finds out there is no final exam.

Yet, this perspective comes with a terrible cost. It would mean that life has no ultimate meaning despite the fact we all seem to seek to make our life meaningful. It would mean that no moral values exist, other than the ones I subjectively create for myself, or we decide as a group, or some elite, powerful group decides for us. Yet such values are more akin to “I like chocolate; you like vanilla” than they are to “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not.” The dictator who exterminates millions, the gunman who takes out a passersby in a shopping mall, or the woman who donates time at a soup kitchen are all just different ways of living life. Who’s to say which is better? They all die. If life is not a test, no one passes or fails.

Believing that life is a test certainly has ramifications. Since my choices in life can lead to eternal loss or eternal bliss, choices are filled with meaning and cannot be taken lightly. A choice between good and bad really exists. Doesn’t my sense that some things are not fair suggest that there is something about moral decisions that goes beyond my subjective feelings about them?

Such a life is more than a pass or fail for the afterlife. Life becomes a moral adventure. We have the opportunity to grow in goodness, love, and kindness. We learn the challenges of standing up for justice and fairness in a world that is frequently unfair. Honesty grows into transparency as we learn to be honest about who we are in all circumstances. The trials of life produce patient endurance.

I find comfort in life being a test. It means life matters, and death is not the end. It’s a profound question. The course of your life will be affected by your answer. Is life a test?
−Russ Holden


Reflecting on Time

August 17, 2018

When I was a child summers seemed like they were an eternity long, but now that I’m older I perceive time moving at a much faster pace. Of course, children may find the long car trip to be an eternity, and as parents we hear the annoying, “Are we there yet?” I suspect some of our perception of time has to do with this: for an eight-year-old one year is 1/8 of his or her lifetime, and for a sixty-five-year-old, one year is 1/65 of his or her lifetime. As we accumulate years, they become a smaller percentage of the total. You hear older people talking about and event, and they’ll say, “Has it really been ten years, it seems like only yesterday.”

We must all deal with the flow of time. Yesterday is past; tomorrow is uncertain. I have what the author of Hebrews calls “Today” reflecting on Psalm 95. Matt Perman gives four helpful adjectives to time.*

Time is inelastic. We’ve all experienced it. A deadline looms, and we have too much to do. We wish we had more time than anybody else on the planet. If somehow, we could have our own personal, extra day. I’ve mused about that with sermons and Sunday coming. The Jews had a lunar calendar so periodically they had to insert intercalary months or days to match the solar year. If I could just have that intercalary day between Friday and Saturday, sermon preparation would be easier. But time doesn’t stretch. It is inelastic.

Time is perishable. You can store money in your savings account. You can store canned goods and staples in your pantry and frozen foods in your freezer to eat later. But you can’t store up time to spend later when you need it. Seven days in a week, 24 hours in a day, and 365 days in a year, but no extra time to insert as needed. We only have today.

Time is irreplaceable. Great cooks know about substituting missing ingredients. You are missing 1 teaspoon of baking powder, so you use ⅓ teaspoon of baking soda and ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar. Some ingredients in life can be substituted, but not time.

Time is necessary. You can find activities that don’t require money. You may find some things to do that can be done alone and do not acquire other people. But everything we do requires time. Time is necessary.

Given our relationship with time, I want to live fully for God. I want to be wise. I ponder the following. “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalms 90:12, ESV). “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15–16, ESV). I give thanks for today.

*Matt Perman, How to Get Unstuck, pp. 165-166.


Why Not Me?

July 13, 2018

A tragedy or calamity can be difficult to take. In my own case, that difficulty has been the diagnosis of multiple myeloma. Admittedly, there is stress and adjustment that must come. And with it comes a very human question: why me?

But I’ve not allowed myself to dwell on this question. I have felt it one that should be immediately dismissed. The problem with the question is that it is unanswerable, and it leads to self-pity. The question presupposes that calamities should not come into the life of the questioner.

Dismissing the question has meant reflecting on the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. Proverbs 3:16 says this about wisdom:

Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. (Proverbs 3:16, ESV)

The Book of Proverbs presents general truths. In other words, a person who lives according to God’s wisdom is more likely to live longer, be able to take care of material needs, and have a good reputation. Yet we all know that good people die young, that natural calamities can destroy wealth, and that evil people can steal and slander good people. The rest of the wisdom literature helps us nuance these general truths.

The Book of Job lets us know that the righteous person may suffer. Job suffers from the acts of lawless Sabeans, natural calamities, bereavement, and illness. The conflict in the book surrounds Job’s friends’ attempts to convince him that his troubles are the consequence of his own wickedness. The Book of Job confirms that the good person may suffer. But the end of the book doesn’t so much answer our questions as say God knows how to run the creation. Trust him.

Ecclesiastes has its characteristic lament: vanity of vanities. The Hebrew word is hevel which means breath or vapor. The phrase emphasizes that life for all of us is transitory, and it suggests that it can be enigmatic — vapor, think of the fog in a morning, can obscure things from our view. We do not have God’s viewpoint.

Ecclesiastes also reminds us we don’t know why good things come to some and miss others.

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. (Ecclesiastes 9:11, ESV)

We don’t know why certain people are in the wrong place at the wrong time. “But time and chance happen to them all.” In Ecclesiastes 8:14, we find that sometimes the righteous seem to get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked receive what we think the righteous should get. Ecclesiastes in the end asks us to trust God: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, ESV).

For the Christian, the problem of this life is that we live in between the perfection of the Garden of Eden and the perfection of the New Jerusalem when God will wipe away all tears and make everything new. In this in-between time, death, disease, calamities, accidents, and evil deeds happen. And they can happen to all kinds of people: both the good and the bad.

In ministry I’ve been with people as they experienced the most terrible struggles of their lives. I’ve seen people of great faith face the challenges of this in-between time. I’ve witnessed their faith and hope. The interesting thing about difficulties is that people of God often find within these difficulties God’s providential care. So, as I face my own challenges, I’ve come to realize that “Why me?” is the wrong question. Rather the challenge must be faced with faith and hope. If it can happen to the people of faith I know, why not me?


The Best Job

June 15, 2018

We often ask a little boy or girl, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My childhood answers included cowboy and fireman. As you get older, it is easy to entertain many job and career paths, but we eventually choose. Work is honorable and God-given. Work existed even in the Garden of Eden. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15, ESV).

When I was making career choices, my thoughts were not on fatherhood. In the back of mind, of course, there was the idea that someday I would marry, and we would have children. I even took a college course, “Marriage and the Christian Home,” just in case. But job was foremost in my mind.

Work is rewarding. At the bare minimum, there is a paycheck. We may feel satisfaction in creating, producing, growing, or problem solving. (And yes, every job has its drudgery. It is part of the curse on the ground, Genesis 3: 17-19). Employers may reward years of service or ideas to a suggestion box. Although I have personally found work satisfying, how do the rewards compare to fatherhood?

Certainly, fatherhood like everything in life has aspects that don’t seem quite like reward: dirty diapers, crying children in the middle of the night, a defiant three-year-old, or an angry teenager. Yet despite some of the drudgery and struggles that life always brings, I reflect on fatherhood (and now being a grandfather) as the best job in the world.

I’ve witnessed two, wondrous births. Wonder is the right word for it. The stress of labor gives way to those first breaths and that little cry that announces to the world, “I’ve arrived.” A newborn is so small and helpless. You feel the responsibility but also the joy.

I’ve experienced the thrill of first steps and first words. The child begins to stand up alongside chairs and sofas, and then there are those first halting steps. Before you know it, you are racing to keep up. We repeat “Momma” and “Dada” hoping they will be first words. But there is even greater joy when hearing from your child for the first time: “I love you.”

Proud moments are found in sporting events, graduations, and first jobs. Joy is shared in weddings and the birth of grandchildren. But one of the most important and moving moments for me was my children’s baptisms.

Job is important. We spend a lot of time at work. But I’m convinced the best job of all is father and grandfather. It has the greatest joys. We live in a world that sometimes disparages the role of father. We have too many absent fathers. The world needs fatherhood as God intends. We need such fatherhood modeled. Much of society’s ills would find solution in fathers and mothers as God desires. Men need to catch this vision of fatherhood. It’s the best job in the world.

P.S. Yes, I know that mothers have the best job too.


A Spiritual Church

June 2, 2018

The church began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) with the outpouring of the Spirit and the preaching of the gospel. The miraculous manifestations of the Spirit were to confirm the new revelation given by the Apostles (Hebrews 2:4). Although I do not think we should expect to see in our lifetime the things that were marks of the Apostles (2 Corinthians 12:12), I believe we are to be a spiritual church.

We are to be a spiritual church because our faith is based on the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus told the Apostles: “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into al the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:12-13, NASB). Scripture comes to us because of “men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21).
We are to be a spiritual church because Christians have received the indwelling Spirit when they were baptized (Acts 2:38-39, Acts 5:32). The Spirit is a motive for holiness (1 Corinthians 6:19). The Spirit aids us in our struggle with sin (Romans 8:13). The Spirit is said to produce in us the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

We are to be a spiritual church because of prayer. One of the hallmarks of the church in Acts is prayer (Acts 2:42, 3:1, 4:24, 6:4, 12:12, 13:3, 14:23, 20:36, 21:5).

What we should be and could be is not always what we are. Paul in addressing the problems in Corinth says that he ought to be speaking to spiritual people, but in reality, they were carnal (fleshly), still babes in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1). May the word of Christ dwell in us richly, may we not grieve the Spirit but mature producing the fruit of the Spirit, and may we learn to pray without ceasing. These are the things that characterize a spiritual church.