Friday, August 25, 2017

Do You Struggle With The World?

There is a quote at the beginning of a DC Talk song called What If I Stumble. The quote is by Brennan Manning, he said:

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

What I think is the most disturbing is the way we behave as professing Christians. We are selfish, in love with the world and the pleasures of the world, we act just like the lost and then we say we devote ourselves to Christ. The Bible teaches that friendship with the world is enmity with God. We can't love God and love the things that hate God and are at war with God. The world has chosen their side, the devil, the demons, they have all chosen their side. They reject God. Those who follow God, however, we try to be on both sides. We want to have our cake and eat it too. We want to be friends with everything that is against God and claim to love God.

Let's be honest, the scripture says that we are lying when we claim we love God and love the world. We can't have it both ways. Let's be honest, if you can't live like we love God, we probably don't. We love ourselves and we love what we think God will do for us. We don't love holiness or godliness, we love the idea that God loves us and we can go to heaven. If you can't act like a Christian, chances are you aren't a Christian. If you love the world so much that you can't walk away from it, you have a problem. How do I know? Jesus said so.

"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' and not do what I tell you?" Luke 6:46
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments" Luke 14:15

In 1 Johns 2:15, we read "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 

I know I struggle with being selfish and sinful and evil but God always pulls me away. I sin and fall into trouble, we all do. When we are in Christ, we are His and He will not let us just be content with sin and evil and love of the world. Maybe for a season, we find ourselves in a dark place, but we never remain in the valley.  I have been in the dark places, but I don't pitch my tent there. This isn't because I'm awesome, but because I belong to Christ. It's all from Him. Do you have that tension? Do you have a restless and unsettled spirit? Do you have a war inside you? Do you have a desire to resist evil in your spirit, even while your flesh is reaching for evil? If you don't, then you need to cry out to Jesus. 

"So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple" Luke 14:33

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Racism Is Stupid

Thanks to Charlottesville, the country is divided and tearing itself apart because people are full of hate and lack common sense. Let's just say it, racism is stupid. First off, let's be clear on something, the idea of race is made up. We are all human, we are part of the human race, the idea that we are all part of different races was created to separate people. We are not different races, we have different ethnic groups, different languages, some distinct physical characteristics based on geographical location of our ancestry, but that is it.

Culture is different, language is different, traditions are different, human worth and value are the same. Every person created is an image bearer of God.  The value given to each human life is the value assigned by The Creator, not by any social construct. We set up a system in this country that has never been correct. Slavery was wrong, segregation is evil, racism is wrong and evil and stupid.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

Sunday, August 6, 2017

If You "fill in the blank" Will You Still Go To Heaven?

This is one of the most common questions that I've heard. Some have asked, "if you commit suicide, will you still go to Heaven?" There have been questions about if you are Muslim, homosexual, infants (that's a whole other blog), even Catholic or Mormon. Bottom line question is, who goes to Heaven and who doesn't?

There is, of course, the simple answer that says "if you believe in Jesus, you go to Heaven" which is true. I want to dig in a little deeper. There are verses that seem to contradict in the answers. We have verses that tell us that if we believe in Jesus, we would be saved, but Galatians 5:19-21 says:
the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So Paul says that people who practice these things don't have the inheritance, but what about those who do these things and also believe in Jesus, do they go to Heaven?  We see the same things listed in 1 Corinthian 6:9, this is a list of people who practice these things will not inherit Heaven. This verse includes "those who practice homosexuality" and it says they will not inherit Heaven. There are arguments that this is "sexual idol worship" with pagan priests, but there is no real historical or textual support for that interpretation. In the entire text of the New Testament, any sex outside of a husband and wife inside of the bounds of marriage is placed in the same category. That category is sin.

We need to understand a few things about sin before we more forward. First off, we all sin in some ways. Sometimes we lie or cheat or lust or hate. These are sin. Apart from Christ, we are slaves to sin, and we all have weakness. Some struggle with lust or pornography, some with anger or hate, some with greed. The Bible says that lust is a sin, but attraction itself is not a sin. Having same sex attraction is not a sin. Acting on same sex attraction is a sin. Any sexual contact that is not a man and woman in the context of Biblical marriage is sin. Is two men or two women kissing a sin? It's a more hazy area, the Bible doesn't say, but if the actions lead to sin (sex outside the Biblical context) then it's problematic.

The verses we looked at covered sins that become habitual sins. Sex outside of marriage, lust and porn, a lifestyle of greed or living for revenge, things that control and drive our lives are habitual sins. The verses that Paul writes about points out habitual sins, lifestyle sins. These things become a way of living and are often in our lives in the place of Christ. When Paul says the people who practice these things won't inherit Heaven, he is referring to people who practice these things as a life style.

The truth of the Bible is that Jesus will change your life when you become His. Your life revolves around Him. You have a desire to obey, you want to live in a way that follows the Bible. If you don't want to stop sinning, you probably aren't saved. If you want to live however you want and don't care what the Bible teaches about it, chances are you have not been truly saved.

You don't have to take my word for it, read Peter's word. He writes in 2 Peter 1 that we can know we are saved by our behavior. In verse 10 he says that we can confirm our calling and election by having the qualities he listed and to escape the corruption in the world because of sinful desire. If we are more in love with sin than Jesus, we are not saved. If we hold to our sin more than we hold to Jesus, we are not saved. If we lack the qualities that come from being saved, we are probably not saved.

The behaviors don't mean you lose your salvation. If you sin and fail, get up and pray and ask for forgiveness and strength. If you fail again, keep seeking and praying. If you struggle, you will make it. If you stop struggling and just embrace sin, you may find that you don't know Christ, and you will end up separated from Him. Not because you did this or that, but because you are spiritually dead in your sins and you have never been saved. You will find yourself separated from Him for eternity.

Lastly, I want to cover the suicide issue. Many have said that if you kill yourself, you sin without having the chance to ask for forgiveness. When you trust Christ and turn from your sin, you are forgiven eternally. If you are in Christ and end up committing suicice, it is not a one way ticket to hell. If you are in Christ, you go to Heaven. My prayer is that those who are in Christ find the strenght to continue to live and don't commit suicide and those part from Christ are saved and find hope to continue on.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

My Lessons from Lessons from the East by Bob Roberts Jr.

A different perspective is always important, and Bob Roberts Jr. gave us one. I have worked through this book. We in the American church we try to cram everything into Sunday morning service. We say church and think building and service and an hour on Sunday. We try to do everything in our American way thinking in the best way and the only way. Maybe we should look outside our western context of the church, after all we aren't really making that big of an impact. We are losing ground, while in the East, people are coming to Christ in the face of persecution and violence.

Lots of this book resonated with me. I really connected with what Roberts said in the first part of the book. The second part deals a lot with how Roberts is reaching out to Muslims. I really recommend reading part 1 you can take or leave part 2. Part one will make you think about what and why of the local church practices. Much of what we do needs to be examined. Check out Lessons From the East and give it a read. If you are on church staff, read it with your staff. Give it a look.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Let Ministry Find You

Have you ever had an experience where God orchestrated more than you could ever dream up? I have to admit I find myself there often, mostly with work. I have been in several unique career opportunities the last several years. God has open doors for me to do ministry in unique places with unique people and share Christ with people. I will admit that I haven't always wanted to go where God is leading.  I have worked in a factory, as a Wildlife tech in group homes, in a plumbing wholesaler, at a call center and I've made pizza. In every place I've been, I've met believers that I could share and walk with and non-believers that I could share with.

Over the years people said that I needed to "find a ministry". I have tried and it's never worked. I have discovered that ministry did find me. Opportunities showed up when I was just being who I am. When I lived my faith on a daily basis, not looking for some place to find ministry,  it happened. People would talk to me they ask me things and we had chances to connect in the area of faith.

Here is my point. You need to pray seek God and just be yourself. God is doing things and working in people's lives and He wants to use you to help you and others experience God in powerful ways. He will connect you with the people you need to connect with all you have to do is be faithful. At the call center, the pizza place, the factory and the group home, I've made faith connections. It happened when I did pest control and it will continue to happen, not because of who I am, but because of who God is.

Where is He connecting you?