Monday, January 30, 2012

Growing In Grace


"Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" 2 Peter 3:18

Here is a verse that tells us WHAT to do---"grow in grace and in knowledge, but you may ask, HOW do I "grow in grace and in knowledge?

 Let me ask you a few questions that you can use to examine your life to see if your are growing in grace and knowledge: 

Is your sense of sin becoming deeper?

Is your faith becoming stronger?

Is your hope in the promises of Christ becoming brighter?

Is your love for the Savior becoming more extensive?

Is  your spiritual-mindedness  becoming more marked?

Is your obedience becoming more consistent?

Is your inner life being characterized by more of Christ and less of yourself?

Is your trust in what Christ done for you on the cross captivating your heart more and more each day?

 Do you feel more of the power of godliness in your own heart?


After doing some real hard soul searching to see if your life is characterized by the above "marks," come to the savior and confess the areas of your weakness and ask for the Holy Spirit to work in you to produce  growth and movement. 


Listed below are some private MEANS of grace that a man must practice alone in order to grown in Christ:

 A man must practice  private prayer.

A man must be diligent in the private reading of the Scriptures.

 A man must stop always talking AT God and allow God to speak to him through the word that He has implanted in his soul.

A man must allow God to speak into his life.

A man must practice private self-examination.

The man who does not take labor in  these things, must never expect to grow. This is the root of Christianity!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Our Good Deeds =Utter Rubbish


Here is a brief thought on how worthless our good works are when we hold them up before God in order to be "made right with Him" or to "gain entrance into heaven." 

Please take the time to read this verse in the context of the whole chapter so you can feel the full force of what the Apostle Paul is trying to say. Then take the time to really reflect on the commentary that is provided below. Let this thought cut deep, penetrate, and strip away any thought or idea that you might carry in your heart that you in anyway on your own can EARN God's favor apart from the work of Christ on the cross.

"Yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but DUNG, that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:8).

And do count them but dung - The word used here - σκύβαλον skubalon - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, dregs; refuse; what is thrown away as worthless; chaff; offal, or the refuse of a table or of slaughtered animals, and then filth of any kind. No language could express a more deep sense of the utter worthlessness of all that external advantages can confer in the matter of salvation. In the question of justification before God, all reliance on birth, and blood, and external morality, and forms of religion, and prayers, and alms, is to be renounced, and, in comparison with the merits of the great Redeemer, to be esteemed as vile. Such were Paul's views, and we may remark that if this was so in his case, it should he in ours. Such things can no more avail for our salvation than they could for his. We can no more be justified by them than he could. Nor will they do anything more in our case to commend us to God than they did in his. 

Is there any thing in your life that you're trusting to earn your salvation? If you're trusting in your Church, your good deeds, your love and compassion that you have for others, your religious devotion, your bible reading, your prayer life--- then you're trusting in things that are worthless and will be utterly discarded by our Lord at Judgement.

 Remember the words of Isaiah: We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind (64:6).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Man and God


Let me share a few Biblical insights on man and God!

God:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple (Isaiah 6:1).

1. Isaiah's famous vision of God portrays the vivid imagery of God sitting on a THRONE---God throughout the Bible is portrayed as a KING.

2. Isaiah shows that God is HIGH and LIFTED UP---we see the MAJESTY of God.

3. Isaiah describes God's TRAIN FILLING THE TEMPLE---The Orientals regarded such large robes as indicative of GRANDEUR and STATELINESS.

Summary: From Isaiah's description of God we get somewhat of an idea of how we are to view God.  God is to be viewed as the supreme Holy King who rules and reigns over all of life.

Man:
Then I said, "It's all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven's Armies" (Isaiah 6:5).

1. Isaiah's REACTION to his vision of God---He exclaims that he is doomed, for him it is all over, why? He stands naked before the King of Kings, the creator of the universe.

2. Isaiah confesses that he is SINFUL---We all stand before God as doomed sinners. We have no goodness in ourselves. We have nothing to offer the Holy, High King.

3. Isaiah recognizes that his LIPS ARE DIRTY---Simply put, our whole being is dirty and contaminated, we are in a depraved condition as we stand before the Holy King.

Workable definition:
We (human beings) are in a very bad condition, we have nothing good in ourselves to offer God. God is Holy, High and lifted up as King of Kings; God's Holiness prevents us as sinful creatures from approaching Him without a covering (or protection).


The song "clinging to the cross" gives us the answer to our hopeless condition before a holy and righteous King:

 

My soul is weak
My heart is numb
I cannot see
But still my hope is found in You
I’ll hold on tightly
You will never let me go
For Jesus, You will never fail
Jesus, You will never fail

Simply to the cross i cling

Letting go of all earthly things
Clinging to the cross
Mercy’s found a way for me
Hope is here as i am free
Jesus, You are all i need
Clinging to the cross

Even darkness is as light to You, my Lord

So light the way and lead me home
To that place where every tear is wiped away
For Jesus, You will never fail
Jesus, You will never fail

Simply to the cross i cling

Letting go of all earthly things
Clinging to the cross
Mercy’s found a way for me
Hope is here as i am free
Jesus, You are all i need
Clinging to the cross

What a Saviour, what a story

You were crucified but now You are alive
So amazing, such a mystery
You were crucified but now You are alive

Simply to the cross i cling

Letting go of all earthly things
Clinging to the cross
Mercy’s found a way for me
Hope is here as i am free
Jesus, You are all i need
Clinging to the cross



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A coffee, cafe, and some conversation



The other day I was at the local cafe just sitting and relaxing, drinking some coffee and doing some reading. After about ten minutes, I noticed a middle aged woman coming into the cafe with a mentally challenged man who seemed to be in his late thirties.


I observed the woman and the man and noticed that she kept her attention on her companion most of the time. The middle aged lady went to the cafe bar and got her companion a doughnut and something to drink. After ten to fifteen minutes the women left the young man at his table, and as I observed he was really going to town on his doughnut, and from time to time he would let out a bellow or two, and have some radical tics, but he seemed fine sitting at the table on his own.


Anyway, the lady comes and sits in a chair right next to me, she positions herself so that she can keep an eye on the man that she came in with.


Out of curiosity, I asked the lady what relationship she has with the young man, to which she replied, " I work for a group home and I bring Brian out into the public so that he can acclimate himself to the public environment." This lady tells me that Brian is mentally challenged and that he also has autism.


So, I decided to really be intentional and allow this lady to "speak her story," and to be honest, I was really blown away at some of the things she related to me in our forty-five minute conversation.


She told me of her struggles being a single mom, without any support from family or friends---she noted to me that she would wake up in the mornings and on many occasions look out her window to make sure her car was still in the driveway---she told me there were times she could not pay her utility bills---she said there were times she did not know where her  next meal was coming from.


She went on to say that after she drops Brian off  at the group home, she would pick up her mentally disabled foster child from the group home, and it would start all over again.

I felt compelled to share with this lady the hope that I have inside of me---so I asked her permission if I could share "my hope" with her, and she gave me permission, and for the next fifteen minutes, I shared with her the hope of the Gospel.

She responded positively to the message, telling me she knows about Jesus from her Christian up-bringing. She noted that she tried going to different Churches; and this next dialog breaks my heart, but she sighed, and said," I've found the churches to be judgmental, cliquish, and  I felt marginalized being a single mom, while most of the people in the church were married and had family." Oh, what a horrible indictment on the Church; now to note, there are local Churches that make it their mission to be relational and inclusive and share the love of God with all who come into their faith community, but sad to say this lady never found this kind of warm and inviting community of believers.


Let me digress for a second, when this lady was sharing with me her hurts, pains, and struggles, I kept thinking how blessed I'm---having four great children, a beautiful wife, two fantastic grandchildren, no real money problems, friends, and good health, and I know the God who created me and the universe.


It really hit me that this lady is alone in her struggles and with her pain. At one point in the conversation, I asked her if she ever gets out to do dinner and a movie---she said,"are you kidding me, I would just so appreciate sipping a hot cup of coffee without distraction." And I thought of all the little things that I have and do that I just take for granted, I told this woman that after hearing her  story,  I'll double-up on my efforts to be thankful to God for all His blessings in my life. 


As the lady was getting ready to leave the cafe, I told her it was a pleasure listening to her story, she replied," the next time your wife gives you a cup of coffee be thankful." And that is advice that I'll take to heart.

Monday, January 23, 2012

As A Man Thinketh So He Becomes



"Think On These Things"

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things (Philippians 4:8).


Most of the time this verse from Philippians is looked at from the perspective of the lists of things that we should be thinking about.  I would like to flesh out the definition of the word "think." Below is some random thoughts on the word "think."


1. Eight out of ten Bible translations translate the Greek word (logizomai) as"think." One of the ten translate the Greek (logizomai) as "dwell," while the other version translates it as "thoughts." NIV-think, NLT-think, ESV-think, KJV-think, NIV-think, ASV-think, YLT-think, WEB-think, NASB-dwell, GWT-thoughts.


2. logízomai (the root of the English terms "logic, logical") – properly, compute, "take into account"; reckon (come to a "bottom-line"), i.e. reason to a logical conclusion (decision).


3. Here is a list of how various commentaries translated or expound on the word "think" in Philippians 4:8:


-Object of your careful attention
-Observe them
-Esteem them highly
-Seriously consider them
-Reason with yourselves about them
-Have a continual regard to
-Make them the subject of your thoughtful consideration or carefully reflect on them


4. The Greek word in Philippians 4:8 is in a verb form---now we know that a verb means action---you can see from the list above that it requires a deliberate, intentional, commitment of the person to engage themselves with the eight virtues that are listed in our text.


Closing thoughts: Paul gives the believers in Philippi a list of eight virtues that are to be the subject of their thought life---there is no room here for the believer to be passive and to disengage his thought process. To the contrary, we are to pay careful attention to HOW and WHAT we are thinking (inner-landscape).




James Allen (November 28, 1864–1912) who was  a British philosophical writer sums it up best when he notes:
The aphorism, "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he," not only embraces the whole of a man's being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Do You Love?



What do you love? This is the one question that cuts through all the religiosity in our lives.

Augustine, in his Homilies on the First Epistle of John strikes at the heart of our question when he notes, "such is each one as is his love."We are defined by WHAT we love.



The clarion call of the Scriptures is that we Love God supremely, above all others; in fact, the Scriptures portray God as a jealous God, who demands that we love Him supremely. Listen to these powerful words in Exodus 20:5, "I am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods," wow! a jealous God, that will not tolerate our love  being placed on anything or person above Himself.


What is the greatest command in the Scripture? This was once answered by a young man in the Bible. This young man asked Jesus, "how do I get eternal life?" Jesus then asked him, "what does the law say?" And the young man answered, "we need to love God supremely; and, Love our neighbor as our-self;" Jesus then basically says to the young man, "you got it right!"



 Now, I don't believe any human being has the capacity to love God in the way that God calls us to love Him. Man in his fallen condition can't reach to that height, and will fall short every time. Our heats are evil and wicked, this is how the Old Testament  prophet Jeremiah describes our hearts for us (Jeremiah 17:9).











 To be able to love God the way  He calls us to we need a new birth, cf. John 3:3. The apostle Paul says that we need to be new creatures ( 2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul gives us a marvelous description of what happens when we become apart of God's family, he tells us, "God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Romans 5:5).






Christian ask yourself while you go to God in your quiet time--- am I loving God above everything?---remember, "such is each one as is his love."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

MARRIAGE!







Marriage is the union of a man and a woman---where a man and wife are regarded a a single organism. This idea of oneness is seen in Genesis 2:24, "Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh."

 There are so many dimensions to this oneness, certainly there is the aspect of sexuality, but so much more! Think in terms of the Creator combining two parts---like a lock and key,or a violin and bow, in marriage, the relationship will not work unless the two parts are working in harmony. The two parts work to complement each other.



One way that Christianity frames the idea of marriage is that it is for life. Take note that   there is a difference between how Churches view divorce: some don't admit it at all; others allow it in the case of adultery, while others will grant divorce for less serious issues, but we can agree that all Christian Churches allow divorce rather reluctantly.

Christianity views divorce  more like a surgical operation, a separating or dissecting of the body, Jesus has this to say about the dissolution of a marriage: "what therefore God has joined together, let not man separate (Mark 10:9).

Love for each other is certainly one of the reasons that two people get married, but it is not to be the only reason for remaining married. People "fall out of love," but if love was the only reason for staying married it would leave no room for "the contract" or promises made before others and God.

Do these words sound familiar?

In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.



To those who have taken the marriage vow, recommit your energy to those vows; both before your spouse and before your God.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happiness



Can We Really Be Happy?




I think the concept of happiness is such a weighty thought. I mean, even trying to define happiness has eluded philosophers throughout the ages.

There is deep hunger in all humans to be happy, as Dostoevsky in the Brothers Karamazov so succinctly tells us, "And yet---happiness, happiness---where is it? Who can say of himself that he is happy?"

Our culture offers us happiness; happiness through material things, happiness through through self-gratification, but we all conclude in the end, we are still not satisfied.



Listen to the words of the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca (5 B.C. - A.D. 65).

There is not any thing in this world, perhaps, that is more talked of, and less understood, than the business of a happy life. It is every person's wish and design; and yet not one of a thousand...knows wherein that happiness consists. We live, however, in a blind and eager pursuit of it; and the more haste we make in a wrong way, the further we are from our journey's end.



However, the Holy Scriptures affirm for us the reality of how God's people can be happy now and in the future (eternity):

In your presence is fullness of joy; in your right hand there are pleasures forever (Psalms 16: 11).

Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4).

I defer to Augustine in the confessions as to the real meaning of happiness: "I serve You and worship You that I may be happy in You, to whom I owe that I am being capable of happiness."










Let me share some Biblical insight on the subject of happiness, but in order to do that we must go back to God's original design for man. From Genesis 1: 26-28 we learn three very important truths:
1. God created man to be in a loving relationship with Himself (spiritual).
2. God gave man the institution of marriage and family life (social).
3. God gave man the mandate to rule and subdue the earth and its creatures (cultural).



If your not running toward the God of the Bible, turn around and start running toward Him, and run the fastest you've ever ran in your life.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Exegesis and Spirituality


This is somewhat of a different post, in this post I'd like to share a book that I've been reading that is refreshing (jogging my memory) how we need to exegete the Scriptures.  Gordon Fee's "LISTENING TO THE SPIRIT IN THE TEXT," informs us that exegesis and spirituality must not be separated in our approach to Bible study.

This idea or thought is not something new to me, I've always realized that it is the Spirit that gives us understanding of the Bible---as Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life" (John 6:63), but Fee's book awakened within me the deep need to blend our exegesis with spirituality.

There are 12 chapters in the book with a total of 163 pages. Fee's book is clear, enjoyable and filled with a scholarly passion for God's living Word. The chapters cover a wide range of pertinent issues that any Christan can relate to.

I'd like to share some of my thoughts on chapter one---exegesis and spirituality completing the circle. Fee describes for us what chapter one is all about when he writes:

What I propose to examine is the interface between exegesis and spirituality, between the historical exercise of digging out the original intent of the text and the experience of hearing the text in the present in terms of both its presupposed and intentional spirituality (p.4).

Fee makes the argument that exegesis and spirituality are often perceived as being unrelated. Fee talks about seminary training where exegesis and spirituality are two distinct tracks of study,while he notes that indeed they are two different academic tracks of study, he contends that they must be brought together or we will lose the ultimate aim of exegesis.

 Under the heading spirituality, Fee sums up the whole idea of Chapter one, where he says so succinctly, "...the proper aim of all true theology is doxology. Theology that does not begin and end in worship is not biblical at all, but is rather the product of western philosophy" (p.5).

I could go on, but let me sum up my thoughts on the idea of joining exegesis and spirituality together---we must strive to  exegete the bible with the higher goal of God's glory---it's always about God's glory. If we lose sight of this idea we are in danger of becoming arrogant and prideful---for we know that knowledge can puff up, let us do all things for God's glory and honor.



 



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spiritual Growth


I would like to look at one verse that will show us the means of spiritual growth, and I want to note that this verse does not says anything about  practicing the "spiritual disciplines" that we hear so  much about today in our evangelical Churches.

The verse is 2 Peter 1:3, which tells us, "God's divine power has given us everything we need for life and for godliness. This power was given to us through knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and integrity."

Let's do some exegesis on this one verse. It is important to understand that Peter wrote this letter to expose and counter false teachers. In the midst of Peter's polemic against false teachers Peter tried to show Christians how to develop Christian character (how to grow spiritually) (1: 5-11).

God's divine power has given us - God's divine power speaks to the source or well in which all spiritual character traits come from. All the power that the believer needs is found in the Gospel, as Paul stated in Romans 1:16 "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God."

This power that is in the Gospel is called a divine power, and this power is God the Father's power that is exerted on the believer through the means of the Gospel. It is this power that gives the believer everything that is needed for life and godliness.

In his notes on the Bible Barn's makes an interesting observation about the meaning of life in our verse - "The reference here in the word "life" is undoubtedly to the life of religion; the life of the soul imparted by the gospel." So, all that the believer needs to nurture the spiritual life of the soul (inner landscape) has been given to him by divine power through the Gospel.

According to Clark in his commentary, he tells us that "God Hath endowed us with the gifts; or, hath gifted us," So all believers have been given everything they need  in this life to have their souls nurtured to become more like Christ and to live a practical life of Godliness.

Through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: According to Gill's exposition of the entire Bible he says this about 2 Peter 1:3b "The call here spoken of is not a bare outward call, by the ministry of the word, but an internal, special, and powerful one, which springs from the grace, and is according to the purpose of God, and is inseparably connected with justification and glorification...."

Let me bring this all together for us, God has give the believer by His divine power all things necessary for spiritual growth. God has given the believer a new birth, in which the Holy Spirit changes the believer from the inside out.

God has certainly given the Church different ways to grow - His Word, christian fellowship, prayer, the observing of the Lords Table and Baptism. However, God has not given us any formula or system for a means of spiritual growth. And God has not just now given the Church these "spiritual disciplines" that have been hidden in some ancient monastery as a means for spiritual growth.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How do we know we are really growing in Christ?


How do we assess spiritual growth? This is one question that I've wrestled with for quite some time. Three influences are responsible for bringing this question to the forefront of my mind.


First, my personal experience with with the Church. I've noticed   Churches were measuring the wrong things. In my spiritual journey I've been in many Churches, and the one common denominator that I've observed being used to judge spiritual growth was attendance, giving, and how involved congregants were in the programs of the local Church.



Think for a second! What do these three indicators all have in common? Spiritual growth is being measured by how involved you are in the Church. The danger with this assessment is that spiritual growth is completely wedded to one's Church involvement, while the more fundamental things like anger, a complaining attitude, honesty, father's being spiritual leaders in their homes, and congregant's prayer lives all become secondary issues.



Second,  my thesis paper that I did for my master's degree. My research led me to many books that dealt with Family Based Ministry--- Family Based Ministry focuses on the home as being the primary setting where spiritual formation and growth takes place.

Reggie Joiner is considered the father of the Family Based Ministry movement. Joiner's book "think orange" emphasizes the necessity of the Church and the family to combine their influences for the spiritual health of the home. The force of the Family Based Ministry movement is for the Church and the family to partner together, to work towards building strong spiritual healthy homes.

The emphasis of this movement was contradictory to the assessment that was so prevalent in most Churches that used Church attendance as the means to measure spiritual growth.



Third, the rise of the missional movement. One of the faces of the missional movement is Reggie McNeal, McNeal's missional philosophy is that the Church needs to be intentional about looking "outward," he would say the the Church has become to "inward focused."

The missional movement would stress that we need a new "score card" for measuring spiritual growth. The Church has become too focused on programs and less focused on the spiritual health of the congregants---spiritual growth should not be inextricably linked to Church attendance.


In the Scriptures Jesus tells us to come to Him (Matt. 11:28), and then He invites us to abide in Him (John. 15:4), this is the essence of the Christian life. The Church and the individual Christian may be doing all the "religious things," but when it comes to the only assessment that  really matters be failing---in revelation 2:4 the Church of Ephesus was charged with losing her first love.


Without a life that is burning with love for the Savior not much matters. We can be involved in all kinds of Church ministries, be at the Church every time the doors are open, and without love for Christ, it will all crumble and fall at the Bema Seat of Christ.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Spiritual Quandary


I must admit, I'm in a little bit of a quandary. Over the years, I've sensed that something was missing in the way I was "doing Church." I struggled with the question, "is this sense that something is askew, me, or is it the Church?"



Now, I've been "out of the Church" for over three years, and have wrestled with this question like Jacob wrestled with God, and like Jacob, I think I'm beginning to overcome (understand more clearly). Since I'm a slow learner, it takes me a while to "get things," you know, before they really sink in and make sense.







This little bit of background information about my journey will be helpful to know so you can understand my story. I had come to be a follower of Christ as a teenager. Started my spiritual journey in the Charismatic Church and from the Charismatic Churches, I found my way into a Fundamentalist Independent Baptist Church where I stayed for ten years.

From the Baptist Church, I journeyed into meeting with believers in house Churches, from house Churches I found myself in an Evangelical Free Church, where I stayed for over twenty years.

I thought that this background needed to be shared, lest you think that I have a bone to grind with organized Church. For the record, I LOVE the Church of God, now when I say "the Church of God," it needs to be noted, I don't mean organized religion; but the people of God, the body of Christ that Jesus died for and redeemed.




So, its time to get back to the "quandary," what was askew? what was missing? was it me or the Church that had the problem? Well, let me defer to one of the most influential evangelicals in North America, J. I. Packer, when he noted, "Christianity in North America is 3,000 miles wide and a half inch deep." Oh, there it was! and it was the deep part that really got me.

Let me digress one more time, I can remember driving home from Church one Sunday afternoon and looking over at my wife and saying "I can't do Church anymore," that  is what it felt like for so many years,  just "doing Church," there was no "deep" anymore.

The feeling reminded me of my younger days when I was brought to the Roman Catholic Church by my father, it was all duty, it was what good Catholics did, you simply went to Church every Sunday. Going to Church was what God expected from you, it was what God wanted, and certainly what the local Parish expected.

So to answer my question, was it me or the Church? I've come to the conclusion that it was not me, but  the Church. The Church can become so program centered, so organizational that it stops being the living, breathing, organism that God called Her to be. Unless the Church becomes intentional about not becoming an organization, it will drift towards that end.



I see in many Churches where there has been a "wake up call," God, through new leadership has been calling local Churches to become more intentional about "community" and promoting real spiritual growth. There is a paradigm shift that is using a new score card to judge spiritual growth--- a score card that is moving away from judging spiritual growth by how involved you are in the Church---to judging spiritual growth by how many believers are disciplining others, or looking for an increase of fathers in the Church leading their own families in worship of God.



A new, more balanced score card, that asks, "are there more healthy marriages in the Church?" a score card that goes "deeper" than just how involved you are in the Church's' programs, or how much time and money you give to the organization, oops I mean the Church. The score card that is currently being used has become so unbalance, and even dangerous.



The goal of the Christian life is as the great Apostle Paul noted, that we may know Christ. To know Christ and fellowship with other believers in worship of our King. To break bread together, to see others come to the waters of baptism as new followers of Christ proclaim Him as Lord and savior.
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To God be all praise, glory, and honor

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Focus more on being than doing


I've been thinking of the importance of self examination in the life of the believer, the lack of attention we give to our inner landscape manifests itself in cold barren lives. The Church of God can become dry and religious, God's people can have a FORM of Godliness, but not experience the life and power of the Holy Spirit.


I would like to share what some believer's have observed about the essence of true Christianity.

Frederick Whitfield observed--- Christianity is not merely a "theological system"--but a person. It is not only a redemption--but a Redeemer. What a difference between casting ourselves upon a system, however beautiful--and upon a tender, loving, compassionate Savior!

The Apostle Paul---"I want to know Christ!"

The Greeks in the New Testament---“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

Theological systems, ceremonies, rituals, church, can never make us alive on the inside, it is only when we allow God to speak to our hearts through His indwelling word. The Christian life is KNOWING CHRIST, it is a relationship with Jesus and nobody can be dead on the inside when they are living in communion with the God of the universe.

One of my complaints about the way that we "do church" is that the leadership in the churches emphasize work, ministry, getting involved, doing, doing, doing. Our churches keep us so busy with doing that by the end of the day most Christians are just worn out.

Now notice, I said that our churches place to much emphasis on doing---I didn't say that any of those things are wrong, or that believers should not be engaged in the work of ministry. The key word is "emphasis," it is the message from the leadership of the church---"if you're busy doing ministry in the church, then you must be growing spiritually, and that may or may not be the truth.
 
The Church needs to change the scorecard on how it measures spiritual growth. The church needs to redirect its emphasis away from work (doing) and more towards Christians "being." Christ can't be formed in us by doing, Christ can only be formed in the believer as the believer takes the time and listens to the Holy Spirit's promptings and nudges.

The believer allows the Word of Christ to dwell in him richly in all wisdom, and as the word of God takes residence inside of the believers life, God begins the process of conforming us into the image of Christ.

This is a process, and for this process to happen the believer must practice the spiritual discipline of spending time with God. Some of us stay busy for a reason, we don't want to hear what God is saying to us. It is a humbling experience when we are listening to God and He begins to put His finger on certain areas of our life.

Since the fall, we have always wanted to do it our way, Like the song says "I did it my way." Doing it (life, ministry, church, whatever it is), our way is the essence of the fall of man.

Pay attention to your inner landscape, think of the christian life more in terms of "being" than "doing." Let the focus of your life be; "that you may KNOW Christ."

Our Mind's Matter

Thinking, thinking, thinking, always thinking. The life of the mind is the heart of the Christian life. As I think through the Scriptur...