A Fruit Bearing Life – October 15, 2021

Just had a conversation with one of the Bible teachers here at WOGF who is teaching on the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:26-27) and it brought to mind a piece written by Dr. Ryrie (my teachers’ teacher, including my predecessor and boss for three years). I hope it’s a blessing and a challenge to you, as you take time to consider all the ways we can and should bear fruit! 

Fruitful Blessings,

Pastor Scott

What is fruit? Actually, the question ought to be phrased in the plural: What are fruits which a Christian can bear? The N.T. gives several answers to the question. 

  1. A developing Christian character is fruit. If the goal of the Christian life may be stated as Christlikeness, then surely every trait developed in us that reflects His character must be fruit that is very pleasing to Him. Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit in nine terms in Galatians 5:22-23, and Peter urges the development of seven accompaniments to faith in order that we might be fruitful (2 Peter 1:5-8). Two of these terms are common to both lists: love and self-control. The others are joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, virtue, knowledge, endurance, piety, and brotherly love. To show these character traits is to bear fruit in one’s life. 
  2. Right character will result in right conduct, and as we live a life of good works, we produce fruit (Colossians 1:10). This goes hand in hand with increasing in the knowledge of God, for as we learn what pleases Him, our fruitful works become more and more conformed to that knowledge. When Paul expressed how torn he was between the two possibilities of either dying and being with Christ or living on in this life, he said that living on would mean fruitful labor or work (Philippians 1:22). This phrase could mean that (1) his work itself was fruit, or (2) fruit would result from his work. In either case, his life and work were fruit. So may ours be. 
  3. Those who come to Christ through our witness are fruit. Paul longed to go to Rome to have some fruit from his ministry there (Romans 1:13), and he characterized the conversion of the household of Stephanas as the first fruits of Achaia (I Corinthians 16:15). 
  4. We may also bear fruit with our lips by giving praise to God and thankfully confessing His name (Hebrews 13:15). In other words, our lips bear fruit when we offer thankful acknowledgement to the name of God. And this is something we should do continually. 
  5. We bear fruit when we give money. Paul designated the collection of money for the poorer saints in Jerusalem as fruit (Romans 15:28). Too, when he thanked the Philippians for their financial support of his ministry, he said that their act of giving brought fruit to their account (Philippians 4:17, KJV). 

Charles Ryrie, So Great Salvation, Victor Books, 1989, pp. 49-50.

Adiaphora – Oct 8, 2021

Last week I challenged us to make the main thing the main focus of our conversation and to not allow “adiaphora” to divide us.  My editors encouraged me to find a different word, despite adiaphora being the very best word, because we don’t use it anymore.  I was a bit shocked that it’s not even in my most often used online dictionary!  I did, however, find it on a Bible site: 

Abstract – Most lay Christians probably have never heard of the concept adiaphora (plural) or adiaphoron (singular). Adiaphora, a word borrowed from the Greek, means “things that are indifferent.” It has its origin among the Greek Stoic philosophers (4th Century BC) who first used the concept to indicate a given act was neither a virtue nor a vice. The Greek word diaphoron means “difference,” but when the letter alpha (a) is prefixed to diaphoron, the word means “indifferent.” Hence, in regard to given theological or ecclesiastical beliefs or practices, adiaphora refer to beliefs or practices that are biblically indifferent, that is, neither commanded nor forbidden in the Bible. Adiaphora are those matters that Christians in their God-given liberty are free to do or not to do.       

Alvin J. Schmidt

I need to thank a pastor from my youth, who was rather youthful himself, for using that word so often in my hearing.  Pastor Nathan was instrumental in challenging my thinking when it came to dividing tradition or habits from biblical truths.   

It’s NOT wrong to form convictions.  It’s not wrong to have those convictions produce habits that allow us to walk in godly patterns.  Both the convictions and the habits may be based on application of biblical principles.  But principles are not precepts.  And when we have been believers for a long time, especially if we’ve been multi-generational believers or grown up in a strong tradition, it’s easy for us to start to think of our principles as precepts. 

It’s not a huge leap from there to judging others or even to creating roadblocks to faith!!  I personally struggle in both directions, despite what I KNOW.  I have strong personal convictions that I know to be adiaphora.  Yes, for me they have a principled basis, but in the absolute they are neither commanded nor forbidden, yet I struggle to watch believers who have freedom.  On the other hand, as a watch people get “religious” about their diets or about complying with various health recommendations; it’s equally as easy for me to be pridefully comendemning.   All of those principled but non-spelled-out issues are adiaphora when it comes to unity in the Church.  I’m all for controlling our children, but we don’t need to try to control each other beyond the precepts of scripture.  Amen?!?!

Pastor Scott

14 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. 2 For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. 3 Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.

5 In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. 6 Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. 7 For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. 8 If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.

10 So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For the Scriptures say,

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,

‘every knee will bend to me,

    and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’”

12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. 13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

14 I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 15 And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. 16 Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. 17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.20 Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. 22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. 23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning

Romans 14 (New Living Translation)

The Third Strand – October 1, 2021

Like the Apostle Paul did in Ephesians 5, I want to use marriage to launch into a brief point about the Church.  Here’s a sermon illustration that appeared in Leadership Journal, c. 1993. 

A braid appears to contain only two strands of hair.  But it is impossible to create a braid with only two strands. If the two could be put together at all they would quickly unravel.

Herein lies the mystery: what looks like two strands requires a third. The third strand, though not immediately evident, keeps the strands tightly woven. In a Christian marriage, God’s presence, like the third strand in a braid, holds husband and wife together.

This is a powerful little illustration and we, who are married, ought to make sure we haven’t sort of “pushed” God out of our relationship by filling our lives up with so much busyness or entertainment, that He has no place. But that’s not really the point of this article. I want us to think in terms of relational connections at church.

There should be a single strand that runs between each of us in a community that keeps us united. Paul calls it being “of the same mind,” or having “the mind of Christ,” or being “of one accord.” Since the Reformation, people have been gathered in churches based on doctrinal affiliation and later based on polity and even worship style. We might not always agree with specific choices made, but at least these choices are along biblical or “religious” grounds. So the single strand may be rather thick – doctrine, polity, and worship style. But at least the focus, we trust, is how can we best worship the Father of our Lord and Savior!

Something different has been brewing in our churches* with the advent of 24-hour news, the 365-day election cycle and social media. The small talk is starting to sound a lot more like what Paul was encountering all over Asia as dispersed Jewish believers were trying to figure out church with first generation Gentile believers. Each carried personal convictions and/or practices that threatened to shatter the unity of the church. We, these days, are no longer just talking about how work is going or about family life. Politics, and even national health care directives, are now divisive Christian talking points. We need to be reminded, as were the Corinthians and the Romans, that our gathering is about Jesus, not about whether the orange man was good or evil! Or whether vaccines should or shouldn’t be mandated! Or whether you should all be doing keto! (This is fun!)  

Romans is known as Paul’s great treatise on the Gospel; it ends with two chapters on unity.  Chapter 14 is about unity despite differing personal convictions. The conclusion is, essentially, that we each directly answer to God, not to each other. So stop condemning and/or judging (even with our facial expressions, body language, and Facebook posts)!  In Chapter 15, Paul explains why Abba doesn’t want His kids snipping at one another while worshipping Him, any more than you want to try reading a story to kids on your lap who are wrestling one another (or even name calling).  It robs those moments of your joy in them!  Something to think about. 

Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Romans 15:5-6

Let’s allow our Third Strand  – Christ and His Cross – to grow so thick that nobody knows or cares about whether we root for Donkeys or Elephants every four years!  After all, we are rooting for our neighbors to be loved into faith every day!

Blessings,

Pastor Scott

*I’m aware that politics and church have been interwoven for generations, but I’ve not seen this kind of invasive division before, unless you count all of you ganging up on the Broncos fans who moved here in the 90’s!  LOL

Maybe I need a New Focus? – September 24, 2021

Borrowed from a Facebook Post: There is so much going on in my mind lately about all that is going on in our country and world. This illustration by Andy Stanley* really spoke to me this morning. He asked the question,”What do you notice about Daniel in this picture?” The answer is that he is NOT looking at the lions. He is looking to his God!! With everything going on in our world today I think too many of us are spending our time looking at the lions instead of looking to our GOD. (Painting by Artist Briton Rivière, Title – Daniel’s Answer to the King. 1890)

As a young Bible teacher my pride was sometimes wounded when one of my children would latch on to a scriptural truth in our Christian School (or Sunday School or Youth Group) that I had tried to teach at home, maybe dozens of times. I finally consoled myself by concluding that I couldn’t make a plant grow, I could only plant seeds. This week I had a new epiphany.  

In the picture and a brief post above, re-shared on Facebook by one of our own, a truth is being  proclaimed that both Pastor Jim and I have been trumpeting for years, especially of late.  Yet, seeing this picture and reading this snippet, the truth hit me in a new way.  I realized that not only can I not make seeds grow, but God, in His manifold grace, uses all of our senses to communicate His truths.  Here, using art and history, something we should already know is powerfully reinforced.  

Beloved, the world does not hold the answers we seek any more than it did for Pilate 2000 years ago.  Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). He’s our Joy. He’s our Prize!

Yours, for His Glory,

Pastor Scott

*I know Andy Stanley has said some odd stuff of late; this isn’t an endorsement of everything he is currently saying.; but here, he is right on the money!

Who Decides What Is Hard? – September 10, 2021

Have you seen this meme? It’s a good one to help us “buck up” when we are complaining; but it conveys the opposite message shared by those who knew Jesus personally. Remember what Peter said? “Cast all your cares upon him, because He cares for you!” As we are supposed to become conformed to His image, consider the words of this article. Whether or not you can relate to the particulars, I bet we all can relate, more generally, to the need to humble ourselves in the way Tracy had to….

By Guest Blogger, Tracy Doughtery, via Crosscards.com Devotional on September 9, 2021

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had …” Romans 15:5 (NIV)

We often hear on the news and social media the stories people share of the hard things they are going through. I have to admit that sometimes I want to roll my eyes at what people say is “hard.”

But recently, God reminded me of an experience I had when my family was stationed in Fort Polk, Louisiana. My husband was part of the invasion into Iraq, and we didn’t know when he would return home. We didn’t know if he would return home.

I was in a leadership position for a women’s ministry that serves military spouses. One morning, I was in the front yard with our daughters when my phone rang. When I answered, a soft voice on the other end said, “Hi, Tracy. You don’t know me. My name is Susan. I don’t know who else to call, but I need prayer.”

I responded, “Yes, of course, any time! How can I pray for you?”

She said, “We just moved here, and I know many husbands are deployed to Iraq. My husband just left for two weeks’ Temporary Duty to the Pentagon. I have a 2-year-old and a newborn, and I’m really nervous.”

Immediately, I thought, Her husband is gone for only two weeks — he’s still in the U.S. — and no one is shooting at him. Really?! I haven’t even talked to my husband in almost three months! 

Fortunately, the Holy Spirit got a hold of my mouth before I could say anything insensitive or unkind. Then the Holy Spirit got a hold of my heart. What this woman was experiencing was hard! Two weeks by herself in a new place with a 2-year-old and a newborn — that’s certainly hard.

What’s considered “hard” in our lives isn’t up for comparison.

So I got the young mother’s contact information and invited her to some kid-friendly events that I thought she would enjoy and where she could connect with other women. Then I prayed for her while we were on the phone. I checked back in with her a few days later. As I ended the call that day, I realized this:

It’s not up to me to decide what’s hard. I just need to love others through their hard.

Just as Romans 15:5 says, we are to have the same “attitude of mind” toward others that Christ has toward us — one of grace, love and understanding. “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had …” (Romans 15:5)

So how can I have an attitude like Jesus toward other people? The key is to ask God. We can depend on God to provide; He is faithful.

No matter what we’re all going through, our current situations may very well be hard — they’re just hard in different ways. The situation I deem easy — our college-aged daughter coming home from school during the pandemic to live with us temporarily — is hard for the single mother who now has her children home with no childcare and can’t go to work. That’s hard … but we can’t dwell on the hard. We can’t allow all our focus to be on the hard. But we can love and encourage one another through the hard … and, in fact, that’s exactly what we’re called to do.

Heavenly Father, please open my eyes to the challenges others around me are experiencing. Give me a Christ-like attitude toward them and a desire to love them well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Let us draw near – Sep 3, 2021

This past Sunday (8/29) we discussed the way Nehemiah handled the news he received about the condition of Jerusalem, how his despair/burden led him to fast and pray, which, of course, led him to a plan.  My prayer for all of us is that if any of us aren’t already executing a plan, that God will reveal His will for each of us as we pray.  That said, as part of His church, His army (Eph 6:10ff), it’s also our responsibility to be praying at all times in the Spirit and to be on the alert for all of the saints!  Even if that’s “all” we can do!  

Please join me in praying for the persecuted church around the world.  Please join me, most urgently, in praying for the crisis in Afghanistan.  I don’t know what any of us can do, other than to pray, but through prayer miracles can happen AND He can open doors even for someone living here in the bellybutton of the USA.  So pray as you start your day.  Pray as you drive to work or drive the kids to school.  Pray during the lulls and even when things are chaotic.  Pray if something wakes you in the night…..

When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.

Psalm 63:6

In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; in the night my hand was stretched out without weariness; my soul refused to be comforted.

Psalm 77:2

Beseech the God of all flesh, not because He doesn’t know what’s going on, but because He Himself instructed us to pray! 

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the second time, while he was still confined in the court of the guard, saying, “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it, the Lord is His name,  ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Jeremiah 33:1-3 

Those are my thoughts on this rainy Friday. Blessings,

Pastor Scott

A Call to Pray – 8.27.21

I would love to rail about decisions made 20 years ago or 20 days ago, but while political pontifications may get our blood boiling, they don’t help the hurting; they don’t stop the killings; and they don’t comfort the frightened. We have direct access to the One Who does! This particular issue seems like a really hard one and Jesus Himself said, “really hard ones need prayer and fasting!” (Yes, that’s a very loose paraphrase). I’m calling on all of Word of Grace to Pray (and Fast) as God enables for the plight of Afghanistan.

I always hesitate to call a very specific fast, because we aren’t supposed to know when one another is fasting. Ironically the same passage from which I draw that conclusion also teaches that we will be fasting! 🙂

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6:16-18

Keep in mind that while food is the primary Biblical picture of fasting, sometimes it was types of food and certainly if could be from other “pleasures” – in 2021; screens come to mind!

Pastor Scott

Why Do Some Faithful Believers Die Before Reaching Old Age? – August 20, 2021

By Guest Blogger, Bob Wilkin, via Grace Evangelical Society, August 18, 2021

Matt asks a super question: “I know that most if not all Free Grace theologians hold that unfaithful believers may be disciplined by God with an early death.  Obviously, there’s Scriptural evidence for this, such as Ananias and Saphira. However, someone new to Free Grace may ask, can faithful believers die before their time? What about martyrs? Would the early death of a faithful believer be used by God to draw his or her church and family closer to Him? Thank you, and keep up the good work.”
We know that the Lord Jesus died before age 40, well before the 70 to 80 years that Moses spoke of in Ps 90:10. The Apostle James, the brother of the Apostle John, was martyred in AD 44 when he was around 40 (Acts 12:2) by Herod. The apostles Peter and Paul both died in Rome, circa AD 66, when they were likely in their early 60s. Jim Elliot, age 29, and four other young missionaries were killed in South America by the very Indians they hoped to reach. Lois Evans, wife of Dr. Tony Evans, died from cancer at the age of 70 in 2020.

We all know cases of believers who died young and yet were faithfully serving the Lord at the time of their deaths.

Matt’s unstated question is why God allows this. He gives one possible answer: God uses the death of faithful believers to draw their church and their family and friends closer to Him.
Of course, not everyone responds to the death of a friend or loved one by drawing closer to the Lord. Some get angry with God and some even backslide.

I would say that the reason God allows the premature deaths of some faithful believers is because those deaths glorify Him.

It could be that God taking some faithful believers home early is a mercy. Maybe terrible times were ahead for them in the city or country in which they lived. The peaceful death of Jeroboam’s son by an illness was likely a mercy on God’s part (1 Kings 14), giving him a glorious burial and sparing him an ignoble death when all the sons of Jeroboam were killed by Baasha (1 Kings 15:29). Or it could be that the Lord knew that this faithful believer might fall away if given more time on earth. I don’t know if God does that often. But He tried to do something like that with King Hezekiah. When Isaiah told him he was about to die and to set his house in order, Hezekiah begged for more years and God gave him 15 additional years (2 Kings 20). But Hezekiah then wrongly showed representatives from Babylon all of the treasures and strength of Judah. Hezekiah would have avoided that if he had just departed when the Lord told him he was to die. Plus, during those 15 extra years, Hezekiah had a son whom he named Manasseh. That son ended up being a terrible king. He would never have been king if Hezekiah had died when God originally intended.

As Matt pointed out, God sometimes takes the lives of rebellious believers prematurely. Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10) and Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5) come to mind. So do the believers who dishonored the Lord’s Supper in Corinth (1 Cor 11:30). But that does not mean that all believers who die young were rebellious. Many believers who die young were faithful. God has His reasons for taking home faithful believers before they reach old age.

Ministering Spirits – Aug 13, 2021

We’ve all heard stories of a child on death’s door who sees glowing beings no one else can see.  Or missionary stories of angelic rescue (see below), but are angels involved in our everyday lives?  Jesus said that children each have guardian angels (Matthew 18:10), but how involved are they with us, day to day, hour by hour?

Let’s do some cross-referencing!  Ephesians 2:6 tells us that God has already seated us in heavenly places.  Romans 8:15 says we are adopted as sons and cry, “Abba! Father!”  Peter calls us “living stones who are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood.”  With just those three references alone, I think it’s safe to cross-reference us, post-Cross believers, with the “he” in Psalm 91, which reads:  “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”  Psalm 91:10-13 discusses our supernatural protection:

10  No evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague shall come near your tent.

11  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.

12  On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.

13  You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Angels ARE real; they ARE all around us. They ARE the reason you swerved before you hit that car or that curb.  They ARE the reason you caught yourself before you fell down those stairs.  They ARE the reason you were distracted before you saw that ad you didn’t need to see.  

I believe that we can thank God for His daily protection!  Of course, that begs the question about the temptations and trials that do get through!  Don’t blame your angels. Sometimes God does that to temper us like steel (James 1:2-4), and sometimes we walk away from the protection God is affording (1 Tim. 6:10).  However, the point I really want to make in this blog is that angels are a component of the spiritual war we joined the moment we switched sides (Col 1:13).  As we fight this battle, every day in our devotions and in our interaction, angels are there combating the very demons that are pushing trials and temptations our way.  Right now the war doesn’t seem to be going very well in the West, just like in Daniel’s day (Daniel 10:12-14); but just like in Daniel’s day, the writing is on the wall!!!

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer…. 

Revelation 20:1-3b

So, stop worrying, grab on to your Shield of Faith with both hands and keep your eyes on the Captain of Hope. He’s GOT THIS!

A Fellow Soldier in Jehovah Sabaoth’s Army,

Pastor Scott

John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave. A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men with you there?” Paton knew no men were present, but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station. 

Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 18.

Balance! Aug 6, 2021

The issue of keeping our priorities straight came up in the 8/1 commissioning service and will come up again when we study the Helmet of Salvation on 8/15.  I ran across a great illustration in a file compiled by Pastor Craig Brian Lane.  Please take the time to also consider the relevant passages below!

Bill Cowher took over as coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1992. He quickly showed himself to be a man with a future. The Steelers made the playoffs each of his first several seasons as coach and went to Super Bowl XXX in 1996. One thing that made Cowher an effective coach was that he focused on his priorities. In Sports Illustrated Tim Crothers writes:

After almost every game, every practice, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher drives straight home to his wife, Kaye, and their three daughters. He doesn’t do ads for cars or frozen yogurt. He exists inside his two passions, family and football, exclusive of everything else. 

Cowher is so focused that one afternoon he was seated next to a woman at a civic luncheon and politely asked, “What is it you do?”

The woman responded, “I’m the mayor of Pittsburgh.” 

Granted, it’s a good idea to know who your mayor is, but Cowher shows us one essential truth: A person cannot focus on everything. A person with priorities must let some things go by the wayside. The more we focus on the Lord, the less we focus on the unimportant things of this world. 

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”  ~Matthew 10:37-39

“For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”  ~2 Corinthians 11:2-3

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.”  ~Philippians 3:7-16

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” ~Colossians 3:1-3

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  ~Hebrews 12:1-3