When my husband and I got married 15 years ago, we got all kinds of wedding gifts–dishes and towels, household appliances, picture frames–all the things found on a traditional wedding registry. We appreciated all the beautiful gifts, but over the course of 15 years, 4 kids, and 8 moves, very little remains of the those gifts. There has been one gift that I’ve treasured above all the rest, however, that I still have and use on a daily basis. It’s a spiral- bound hodge-podge of my Aunt’s famous recipes. Some of the recipes are photocopies of recipes clipped from the Food column of old newspapers, others are hand-written favorites, still others are recipes taken from cereal or oatmeal boxes with my Aunt’s refinements hand-written along the side.
I am definitely a Pinterest-junky and have hundreds of pins for recipes that I circulate into our meal rotations, but somehow I always go back to my Aunt’s recipe book. On the surface that recipe book might not seem to be anything special. For instance, I have a basic cornbread recipe in there and a teacake recipe that my husband loves. But love was poured into those recipes and I sampled many of them during my childhood during the holidays or when I would go to my Aunt’s house for a visit. When I cook something from that stained, fifteen year old cookbook I’m spreading nostalgic memories from my childhood infused with love.
There is another book that should be treasured even more. Its pages not only reveal “The Way” to life eternal through Jesus Christ, but also gives wisdom on how to live this life more abundantly (and I’m not talking about financial prosperity). The Bible is God’s Word lovingly written to us, yet more and more we set it aside for what we consider more modern. It has become modern now to follow men rather than to follow the Bible. We trust more to what man says than what the Bible says and we rarely check what they’re saying against the Scriptures. Men are coming out with all kinds of heretical teachings that run contrary to God’s Word, but if they throw in a couple of cliche’, churchy-sounding words, or they say the name “Jesus”, they have us.
A prime example of this is a Youtube video that has been floating around with Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam claiming that he knows his “Redeemer Lives” and that His Jesus is alive. Now, I’m not saying that God cannot change Louis Farrakhan’s heart, but we are so quick to rush to judgement because he said some familiar phrases. But if we hold not only what he claims, but his actions up to the light of Scripture, we might not be so quick to claim the title Christian for Louis Farrakhan, especially considering he hasn’t denounced Islam.
The Bible warns us against those who would use the name of Jesus interchangeably with other names in order to deceive and further their own agenda, but often we fail to heed such warning because of another mistake we make following men–we fail to look at their fruit. The whole “don’t judge” movement has evolved to such a perilous level that virtually anybody, whether they’ve received Christ or not, can make a claim of the gospel for financial gain or attention no matter whether the fruit of their lives communicates otherwise. We have deceived ourselves into believing that the Gospel is able to inform, but unable to transform. We’ve reduced the meaning of “Christian” to simply being aware of or having knowledge of Christ. But it seems as though Christ has no power to change our hearts, our behaviors, our attitudes, or our mindsets. Because of this, when someone who “proclaims” the Gospel sounds like the world and worse lives like the world, we have no problem. This is why “men and women of God” can proudly declare God’s Word and be “in ministry” all the while neglecting their failing marriages and practicing a lifestyle of sin, with no accountability.”
Yet the Bible clearly teaches that our lives are as much testimony of God’s power as our words.
James 1:22-27, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
We must be guard our hearts as Christians and our first defense is our Bible. We must cling to God’s Word when so many are being led astray by following men who do NOT follow Jesus of the Bible.