About This Blog

Welcome to The Word In Life! This blog is about the practical understanding and application of Scripture in everyday life. Come along as we explore God’s written word together.

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture is quoted from the New King James Version (NKJV).

Ron Franklin

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Fewer Americans Identify as Christians – and that’s OK!

Originally posted on Biblical Faith and Society:

A new Pew Research study indicates that between 2007 and 2014 the number of adults in the United States who identify themselves as Christians dropped from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent. By any measure that’s a significant decline!

WorshiperBut what does it really mean about the state of the Christian faith in this country? If media headlines are any indication, American Christianity is in real trouble.

“Millennials leaving church in droves,” trumpets CNN.

“Christians drop, ‘nones’ soar,” says USA Today, and goes on to declare, “The United States is a significantly less Christian country than it was seven years ago.”

But is the U. S. really significantly less Christian than it was seven years ago? I don’t think so.

Identifying as Christian and being a Christian are two different things

Yes, there undoubtedly are fewer people today who call themselves Christians than there were a few years ago. But that…

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Put your past in the past!

How many times have you looked at some mistake you made in the past, some situation that went wrong because of bad decisions on your part, and said to yourself, “If only I hadn’t done that!”?

One of the unpalatable truths of life is that “if only I hadn’t” can’t change anything. What’s done is done, and if anyone is hard at work on a time machine that will allow us to go back and change what we did in the past, it hasn’t even made it to beta-test yet.

That’s why I’m so glad that God doesn’t operate on the “if only you hadn’t” principle. He doesn’t give us the ability to go back and change what we did, but He does make it possible for us to put our past in the past:

BiblePhilippians 3:13-14 (NKJV) Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

No matter what our past may have been like, God is calling us to a great future in Christ!

So, don’t let past mistakes continue to haunt you. Repent of your wrong choices (repenting involves confessing the wrong, then turning to a new, godly path), and then put them behind you.

Dealing with the results of past decisions may be a necessary part of your present and future. For example, an unwise sexual relationship can yield consequences that shape your life for the next 18 or 21 years and beyond.

But God already knows all about that. The new future He wants you to press toward already takes those consequences into account. Yet He still plans for you to be “more than conqueror” (Romans 8:37) over anything life can throw at you.

“One thing I do,” says the apostle Paul. “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…”

I think that’s a great program for being an overcomer in life!

Ron Franklin

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Having a good reputation

Do you care what other people think of you? Sure you do! And there’s
nothing wrong with that. In fact, the Bible says we should care what
opinion others have of us:

BibleProverbs 22:1 (NKJV) A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.

We are supposed to want people to think well of us. In fact, according to 1 Timothy 3:7, anyone who doesn’t have a good name, not only inside the church but with the community at large, is not qualified to be a congregational leader. God wants His people to have good reputations!

So, we should pay attention to maintaining a good name. Not by trying to manipulate people into liking us by conforming ourselves to their desires or expectations, but by living the kind of godly life people can’t help but respect.

When we live a Christ-like life, having a good name will take care of itself.

Ron Franklin

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Handling My Fears

I know believers in Christ have not been given a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), but I still experience that disturbing emotion sometimes. To my mind, the issue for Christians is not that we are never supposed to feel fear, but how we deal with it when it comes. I think the experience of the children of Israel on the shore of the Red Sea shows us what to do.

God had sent Moses to deliver His people from slavery in Egypt. But when Moses led the people out of that country, he took them to the shore of the sea and, it seemed, straight into a trap.

BibleExodus 14:10 (NKJV) And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.

There the people stood on the shore, their way forward blocked by a sea they could not cross. And when they looked behind, they knew that big dust cloud on the horizon was the pursuing Egyptian army, angry and determined to violently chastise them for daring to escape from their servitude.

Sea in front, Egyptians behind, no weapons and no ability to fight. From a human perspective, the children of Israel literally had no way out of their situation. Fully understanding their between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place predicament, they became very afraid. And in their fear, they gave us a great example of what Christians should do when the circumstances we face in life make us afraid – they cried out to the Lord!

The Bible never promises that believers won’t face threatening and seemingly impossible situations. In fact, it pretty much assures us that we will. But it also tells us how to handle it when those crises inevitably occur.

Psalm 56:3 Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.

When adverse or threatening circumstances stir up emotions of fear, they should just motivate us to call on the Lord and trust Him for deliverance. Even when there seems to be no way out, God can part the waters for us when we trust Him with our fears.

Ron Franklin

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Getting Ready To Share Your Faith

When I graduated from college with a degree in Electrical Engineering, I applied to IBM, and was offered an on-site interview at one of their labs.

I had been told that IBM did technical interviews. That meant they weren’t content to simply have you dazzle them with your sparkling personality. They would actually pose engineering problems and challenge you to solve them on the spot.

So in the week or so before the interview, I got out all my old textbooks and ran through every type of engineering scenario I could think of. And by the time I got on the plane to go to that interview, I was ready. In fact, I was confident! I actually enjoyed those interviews, because I knew I was well prepared.

Well, that same principle applies in the spiritual realm:

Bible1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and ALWAYS BE READY to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

If I need to prepare myself to land a job as an engineer, how much more should I prepare myself for my real job in life as a representative of Jesus Christ!

So many Christians hang back from sharing their faith with others out of fear that they won’t know what to say, or how to say it.

Well, believe it or not, there’s an app for that. It’s called preparation. Do your homework!

Write out a two or three minute description of what you were like before you came to Christ, what brought you to put your trust in Him, and how your life has been different since Jesus came into it. Ask friends and family members to help you by letting you share your testimony with them. Then, once you’re comfortable sharing, ask a friend or coworker who is not a Christian to allow you to practice sharing with them.

Now, when you have your “interview” with someone who desperately needs to hear how their life can be transformed through faith in Jesus Christ, you’ll be ready and confident, just like I was in that IBM interview.

And by the way, I got the job.

Ron Franklin

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Believe That You Have Received From God

When I graduated from college, I went to work for IBM. One of the first things I did when I got on the job was to set myself up for direct deposit of my pay. With no intervention from me, every pay period my salary automatically was deposited in my bank account.

I was a bachelor at the time, with no one to worry about but myself. So, I seldom even bothered to check my account. I was writing checks right and left, buying whatever I wanted to buy, and I hardly ever checked to see that the money was actually in my account.

Why? Because I believed IBM when they said they were going to deposit my pay into my account. I believed them so implicitly, I didn’t even bother to check.

In other words, I had faith in IBM.

I confidently wrote drafts on my account, without checking to see that the money was there, because I believed that I had received what IBM had promised me.

And they never let me down. There never was an instance where the money I expected to be in my account didn’t show up.

That’s exactly the kind of faith God asks believers to have in Him.

BibleMark 11:24 (NIV) Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

God says that in order to receive from Him the things we pray for, we must believe that we have received them.

That’s the kind of faith He asks of us – to simply trust Him that what He has promised, He will do.

If I can have that kind of faith in a human company, shouldn’t I be even more willing to put total faith in God?

After all, God’s track record is a lot better than IBM’s!

Ron Franklin

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When church members help one another

Woman speakerOne of the members of the church I pastor gave a great testimony in the service not long ago. She had just had surgery on her jaw, and had been laid up with a lot of pain. She wasn’t able to go to the store to purchase things she needed, so she called on one of the other members to help.

Her testimony was about how much of a comfort it is to be in a congregation where you can call on fellow members in your time of need, without feeling that you are imposing on them. She talked about being comfortable in asking for help, because she had built relationships with other members.

This was great to hear, because that’s what a church should be like. Nobody wants to feel that they are imposing on other people, but when you know that the people around you love you and are happy to go out of their way to help you, that gives a sense of comfort that money can’t buy.

The other thing I, as her pastor, really liked about this member’s testimony, which she gave standing at a microphone in front of the congregation, was that I knew she was doing something way out of her comfort zone. But even though she is by nature pretty shy about speaking in public, and although it still gave her pain to have to speak, she wanted the church to know how blessed she felt by her fellow member’s willingness to give help when she needed it.

So, not only did she bless the congregation by her testimony, she herself grew a little bit more in the process.

Ron Franklin

Photo credit: City Temple SDA Church, Dallas via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) [Photo is not of our member]
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