Posts Tagged ‘Christians’

Chris Russell recently published a blog post called “8 Keys to Knowing God’s Will For Your Life.” That post was directed toward helping believers to figure out the big picture in regard to God’s will. For instance, those keys have much to do with God’s plan for you vocationally, in ministry, and in the important stages of life.

This post, on the other hand, lends help for the “smaller” decisions that we make from day to day.  In order to continue in the middle of God’s perfect will, it is vital that we make right decisions each day and each week. But that is not always easy. As a tool to help you make right decisions from a biblical perspective, I have pulled together 13 questions you should ask when facing a choice. Here they are:

1)  Does God already have a clear teaching about this?

Joshua 1:8
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

If God has already spoken clearly about this, you do not have to wonder any longer. Just do what he has told you.

Simple, right?

Well, the problem here seems to be that most people in our culture today seem to have a fairly low level of knowledge of the Scriptures. They are “low-information believers.”

So, I would encourage you to saturate your mind as much as possible with God’s Word. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Learn it. Once you have done so, you will be amazed at how much better you are at making good, solid decisions in life.

2)  What do my top spiritual advisors tell me about this?

Proverbs 11:14
Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

It is vital that you surround yourself with godly friends who will be able to speak into your life about life’s decisions. Do you realize that you are basically a composite of the five people you spend the most time with? It is crucial to choose those people carefully. If you don’t have those types of friends, I would encourage you to increase your involvement in church and small groups and ministry in order to establish those godly relationships.

3)  What do authority figures in my life have to say about this?

Titus 3:1
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work.

(Also see Romans 13:1-7Hebrews 13:17)

God often works through authority relationships in our lives. For instance, it would be extremely rare for the best choice to be something that is illegal. Look at this choice from the vantage point of authority figures in your life, and at least use that as an important reference point for you.

4)  How will this affect me spiritually?

1 Corinthians 10:23
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

There is much more to this life than just earning a bigger paycheck or improving your status amongst peers. When you make choices, make sure you consider how this decision will affect your spiritual development. Will this draw you nearer to God or further from him?  Will this decision interfere with your ability to attend church, maintain godly relationships, or spend time cultivating your spiritual disciplines?  If it harms you spiritually, then I would suggest pulling the plug on that choice.

5)  How will this affect my family? Will this draw us closer to God or further from God?

1 Corinthians 8:9
But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.

Not only must you consider how this decision will affect your own spiritual development, but you must also consider the affects it will have on the spiritual state of your family. Will this help your family to grow in Christ, or will it interfere with that spiritual growth? Will this pull them away from godly friends and away from a healthy, godly church environment? Will this divide your family in any way? Be careful not to make decisions that will cause your family to pay a big price.

6)  Is this going to bring more peace or less peace to my life?

1 Thessalonians 4:11
That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.

Did you know that God actually wants you to have a peaceful life? Of course, this is not the “American way,” but it is definitely an important consideration when it comes to making decisions. Be cautious that you are not stacking your life with more and more “stuff” that will send you over the edge with stress and anxiety. And make sure it is not going to steal the peace from your family as well.

7)  Is this consistent with the way God has wired me?

1 Peter 4:10
As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

God has created you for a purpose, and He has designed you specifically to fulfill that purpose. You are a gifted individual, and His plan will be for you to function within that area of giftedness. When we veer outside of the way He has wired us, we often feel excessive stress, anxiety, and burnout very quickly.

When it comes to making decisions, make sure you evaluate the choice in light of the way that God has designed you. Are you creative? Are you detail-oriented? Are you relational? Are you task-oriented? Are you a communicator? Pay attention to how God has wired you.

8)  Am I paying attention to the risks that are associated with this?

Proverbs 27:12
A wise man foresees evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished.

When making decisions, it is very important to honestly assess the risk that is involved. Sometimes we can become so mesmerized by a “golden carrot” that we overlook the risks that are associated. For this one, I would suggest that you have an outside voice speak into the situation.

In his book Entreleadership, Dave Ramsey says that anytime he has made a business decision that has gone against his wife’s advice, it has cost him at least $10,000. Sometimes others, like a spouse, can see the risks that we overlook.

It is a sign of wisdom to be cautious. Not fearful, but cautious.

9)  Do I have total peace from God about this?

Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Sometimes everything can look right on the outside when I’m making a decision, but there will still be angst within my spirit. I have learned that making a decision without that inner peace is nearly always a mistake. God gives us peace as a protection and a guide. Seek His peace, and be cautious of making decisions that move against that peace.

10)  Are the doors of circumstances clearly open here?

(See Acts 16)

God often works through obvious circumstances. For example, He did that for Paul in Acts 16. In that chapter, Paul and his entourage kept facing closed doors as they were seeking where they were to minister next. And then, one door to Asia flew open while all other doors were closing.

God often directs me more by closing doors than by opening them. But there have been times in my life when I have attempted to force open a door that was not truly open. That never ends well.

It’s always good to look at how God is opening or closing doors in front of you. And while an open door does not always mean that you are to pass through, it is often an indicator that God is at work. Pay attention to open doors, and be cautious of forcing doors open when they are closed.

11)  Is now the best time for this? Could waiting be better?

Ephesians 5:16-17
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Haste does not always produce the best decisions. Sometimes everything might seem right about a choice, but making the decision at a later time might make more sense. This isn’t always easy, because we often want to move forward quickly when we see an opportunity. But sometimes the wiser decision is to slow down, plan more, get more input, and give it more time to develop.

12)  Am I willing to let God close this door?

(Again, refer to Paul’s journey in Acts 16.)

An important element to making good decisions is to make sure that you are completely submitted to God’s ultimate plan for your life. Sometimes we get it into our heads that we want to do a certain thing, and then we struggle immensely when we begin to realize that God may not want us to move forward with that particular choice.

The disaster comes when we place our desire above God’s plan. Let me be clear here. That never turns out well. The best decision you can ever make is to submit your choices to God’s plan and be willing to give up an opportunity when you sense God does not want you to move forward with that decision.

13)  Am I willing to trust God if He asks me to step forward?

Hebrews 11:6
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Closely related to the above question is this: Are you willing to trust God if He asks you to step forward? This is basically the flipside of question 12. It’s important to stop when God says, “Stop,” and it is equally important to move forward when He says, “Move forward.”

Are you willing to do that thing He might want you to do? What if it makes you feel uncomfortable? What if it moves you out of your comfort zone? What if it requires faith?

I can testify to you that the most exciting moments of my life have been when I have submitted to God and stepped forward with Him in faith. I hope you can experience that same joy.

Wrapping It Up

OK, so when you have a tough choice to make, I would encourage you to go over these questions before confirming your decision. Perhaps print these questions out and keep them as a reference point for the future. Talk through each of these questions with your spouse or a friend in the context of a decision you are currently making in your own life. I know of some parents who have used these with their kids to help train their children to make good decisions as well. In essence, these questions can serve as guidelines for helping you and your family make decisions that you will not regret.

* All Scripture quotes are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible

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Galatians 3:26-27
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Following World War II, there were more than two hundred French soldiers with amnesia who returned to Paris. They had been prisoners in Japanese camps and suffered through horrible ordeals of privation and torture. These men had been so psychologically devastated by their imprisonment that they lost the conscious awareness of who they were and where they had lived before the war.

Most of the soldiers’ identities were quickly established from Red Cross records or with the help of fellow prisoners, but after all known efforts were exhausted, there were still thirty-two men whose existence seemed impossible to trace. Not only were there no records of them, but none of the other soldiers knew anything about them. The doctors who were treating these thirty-two men believed that the chance for recovery would be impossible unless they were reconnected with family and friends.

Someone proposed publishing photographs of the men on the front page of newspapers throughout the country. A date, time, and place of meeting would also be given, hoping anyone having information about them would come. The plan was implemented and French newspapers soon published the pictures, adding that the Paris Opera House would open its doors for the potential identification and connection with loved ones.

On the assigned day, a huge crowd gathered inside the opera house to view the veterans. Every seat was taken and people spilled out onto the streets. Finally, in a dramatic entrance, the first of the amnesia victims walked onto the stage of the darkened room and slowly turned around under the glare of the spotlight, giving everyone a full view. Then, according to instruction, he and the other thirty-one soldiers who followed asked the same pleading question: “Does anybody out there know who I am . . . does anybody know who I am?”

Thankfully, many of the men were soon reunited with their families.

Isn’t this the same question that all of humanity is asking? Sadly, many people have a terrible case of self-imposed amnesia. But this is to be expected from a generation that has stepped back from God’s Word. Sadder yet is the church–professed Christians seem to have forgotten that they belong to Christ.

So who are we? We are called sons of God(Galatians 3); new creations (2 Corinthians 5); children of God and heirs of God (Romans 8). The New Testament is brimming with descriptions of the Christian’s identity in Christ.

Understanding who we are in Christ will cause us to recognize why we are different from the world. The truth is, if we don’t understand what makes us different from the world, we will never be able to make a difference in the world.

We, of all people, need never ask, “Does anybody know who I am?” We are new creatures . . . children of God.

Prayer Point: Thank God for the incredible, life-changing work He has accomplished in your life: through His death on the cross, paying for your sin; through His resurrection, securing for you eternal life; through His mercy, flowing for you every day. Don’t live in a state of spiritual amnesia any longer; instead, meditate on God’s promises on your behalf, and thank Him for who He is molding you to be.

Extra Refreshment: Read 2 Corinthians 5.

Stephen Altrogge

We all know that we’re supposed to pray. We all have our own prayer “tactics,” such as prayer lists, prayer apps, prayer walks, prayer meetings, praying out loud, writing down our prayers, writing down the prayers we say out loud, and saying out loud prayers which have been written down.

In spite of all these tactics, I believe prayer is THE MOST underrated spiritual discipline. The simple fact is, I take prayer for granted. Because Christ has opened the way into the Holy Places, I can pray freely at any time of day. I can pray in the car, as I’m working, and while I’m watching my kids. Being able to pray so freely is an incredible, wonderful blessing. I think, however, that the freeness with which I can pray causes me to take prayer for granted.

Think for a moment of all that takes place when I pray.

GOD HEARS

But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. (Psalm 4:3)

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. (Psalm 5:3)

Holy smokes! When I pray, the Lord himself, Yahweh, the King of Kings, the commander of the armies of Heaven, hears me! The God who crushed the Egyptian army and humiliated the prophets of Baal, hears when I call to him. I’m not speaking empty words into a void. I’m not simply talking to myself. This is not the power of positive speaking. When I call, God hears.

GOD STRENGTHENS

O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:17–18)

Not only does God hear me when I pray, but he also strengthens me. In the midst of affliction, when I barely have the strength to call out to God, he hears me and strengthens me. He imparts real spiritual, emotional, and even physical strength to me. Prayer connects me to the infinite strength of God.

GOD BLESSES

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)

God is eager to bless me. Just as I am eager to give good gifts to my kids, God is eager to give good gifts to me. When I pray, God unleashes blessings into my life. I realize that sounds terribly Joel Osteen-ish, but it’s not. It’s God’s word. God will give me good things when I pray to him. He will bless me and pour out his incredible riches into my life.

GOD ACTS

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (>James 5:16–18)

This passage is meant to encourage us that God does real, incredible things in response to my prayers. When Elijah prayed, God actually altered weather patterns! When I pray, God does real, amazing, incredible things. He changes circumstances. He softens hearts. He intervenes with financial provision. He brings reconciliation. Prayer brings the Almighty God into the mundane details of my life.

Given all the astonishing things that happen when I pray, why do I treat prayer so lightly? That’s the big question we all need to answer.


Stephen Altrogge serves as a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church. Find out more at The Blazing Center.

Tips to a brighter Relationship
The wise couples (you know the ones that most people say “they were meant to be”) turn into wine and keep on getting better with age. Yet, lots of relationship fade away after the excitement phase is over and separate themselves like oil and water.

If you want your relationship to have the long life it deserves, have a look at our 10 things to do for a brighter relationship.

1. Have a positive attitude towards life

Everyone wants to be around cheerful people that seize the moment and take the best of everything.

A constant attitude of dissatisfaction, complaining and nagging — attracts negative emotions creating a terrible mood, and implicitly creating bad relationships between people.

Having and keeping a positive attitude towards life makes you a more attractive partner while at the same time, makes you a happier person overall.

2. Love yourself

Your partner doesn’t want to be the object of your sacrifices. He wants you to be happy with him just as much as he wants to feel good with you.

You both need to be pleased and fulfilled with your own individualities in order to be able to draw the same emotions in your relationship. And, more importantly, you need to preserve your own personality above and beyond the things you’re doing to please the other person.

3. Pay attention to your partner’s wants and needs

Men and women are different and inherently share different perspectives on relationship and what makes them happy in life. Acting controlling and trying to change your lover around to like the things that you do and undertake the actions and reactions you see as righteous — is an instant major turnoff for your partner and extremely frustrating for you.

4. Show admiration and gratitude

If you are in a relationship with someone — it goes without saying that you appreciate them for a series of qualities, the way they treat you, how they make you feel etc.

The key here is to REMIND your partner CONSTANTLY just how much you admire the things he/she does for you and the way those makes you feel.

5. Be careful with words

“Words cut deeper than swords” is more than just an idiom. It is a universally valid truth.

You cannot take back an offense, an insult, a humiliation, a lie or any verbal abuse. No matter how much you’ll excuse yourself after the storm has passed. It will irreversible linger in the back of your partner’s head and “scar” her/his feelings or opinions about you.

6. Show respect

Any kind of healthy relationship needs to be built on mutual respect.

Respect is multi-leveled and shows that you have common-sense and value the person for what they are and stand for. Therefore, you need to respect them verbally (see item 5), you need to respect their opinions and decision even when you don’t agree with them, you need to respect their friends and family even if sometimes it’s just for the single reason that “they come with the package”.

7. Be empathetic

We all go through stressful periods, have bad days and lazy moments and get affected by various factors which alter our spirits and self-worth. Having someone besides you who accentuates your awful mood rather than ameliorating it — is even worse.

So, try to cheer up your other half when they’re down, accept that your partner might be upset by something that does not impinge on you (and vice-versa) and show them compassion. Bear in mind that once in a while, we all need some time alone.

8. Make memories together

There is nothing that brings you two closer than going through happy, adventurous and also less joyful experiences together. Try to make an effort towards taking some trips, lessons (dance/music), doing whatever you find exciting and fun (scuba-diving, camping, participating in a contest) as long as you do them TOGETHER.

Take a lot of pictures and souvenirs to reinforce your good times and to remember that blissfulness, if and when things become tedious.

9. Fight routine

Sometimes, life just seems too demanding and tiring to find the time, patience and will to fight daily routine. Still, as I said previously, memories are what make your connection deeper and more meaningful. Sitting in front of the TV the whole afternoon and ordering dinner every evening is not too much of an experience.

10. Spice up your love life

Routine is again a turnoff when it comes to your most intimate moments. Once again, being adventurous and open to trying new things can make a huge difference.

You need to constantly find new ways to appeal to your partner’s senses and outreach his or her desires.

Try new positions and / or locations, anticipate the moment (through messages, notes, phone calls) and value foreplay in order to relate at a deeper emotional level. Dare to dive into each other’s fantasies and be that person that he or she never had and never wants to leave.

There’s nothing wildly spectacular about the pieces of advice shared throughout the article yet that’s precisely the reason why they work — always! They fit with any person and any type of personality, it’s what people in successful relationship do, and what keeps them in those relationships.

So, are you ready to brighten your relationship with these 10 easy and natural things?

Jesus was so large of heart, so large of spirit, so endless in consciousness. Like, you don’t even need to think he is the son of God. Just think of him, first, as a man. He was such a man of beauty. Impatient with hate, dismissive of judgement, large of heart. Jesus was a beautiful man. Giving, forgiving, listening, understanding, relating, empathising. He was what some call, a son of mercy. How did his followers get so angry, and faithful and full of the fury of condemnation, and … xenophobia.

It’s all this ‘heretical’ teachings that take symbols and words and twist and bed them to fit whatever prejudice is in vogue in that age. Every generation has had its interpretation of the book of Revelations for 2000+ years. To fit its social context, and in this generation, our apocalyptic influencers insist the job of Christians is to delay the anti-Christ. *Shudders* And delaying the anti christ often means, in their telling, fighting ‘sin’, attacking the ‘sinful’, fighting cultural wars. To do this, they often descend on the book of Revelations and stretch and pull every word and symbol until it fits that assignment.

I have no doubt that they truly, truly believe in what they say, and their hearts may be in the right place. But it’s oh so dangerous. When Christians leave the simple, clear words and teachings of Jesus and the example of his life and witness, to pursue… evil.

Like sometimes I understand why the world is so cynical, so suspicious of Christians and Christian motive. Why they disconnect from our culture, and attack beautiful experiences like worship, or tongues, or prayer. They don’t see what I see when I am in many gatherings and I see the family of God’s children in worship, in fellowship, Connected, broken, emptied of self and ego and ambition, and fear and hate. Ah, worship, it’s a blessing to watch people in worship.

Then, those same people get into the world after service and then they become this judgemental, angry set of people. It really confuses me. Really confounds me. Like, how did you lose that pure state, that Jesus-state, so soon? How did you let it go? How did you let love go? How did you let compassion go?

Jesus was a disruptor. He was a spiritual disruptor. And that disruption was to the Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and all of that of the times the eye-for-an-eye, God-of-wrath stranglehold. His disruption was love. If it wasn’t love, then there was no point of His coming. The religions of the time already had judgement, condemnation down to a part. If that’s what he came here for, then it was unnecessary. But he came because his message was radical and revolutionary.

The way I see it. God was tired of the disruption of his true image for millions of years. He sent Jesus to make it right. To reveal his true nature that prophets and priests had struggled with for years. Jesus came to earth to model God’s true nature. That’s why it’s so difficult to justify a gospel of hate with his life. You can’t use Jesus’s words to justify this self-righteousness. You often have to turn to flawed apostles, or visioners. I’ll stick with Jesus. I’ll always cast my lot with Jesus. Stop “fighting for God”. He doesn’t need your help. What he asked you do is work on your life and bring others to him through that life. 

Listen, Jesus didn’t send the church to fight the devil for him. Nope. Jesus already won that battle on the cross. It is finished.

Anytime the Bible teaches about the Devil, it’s in relation to a Christian’s personal life. Resist the devil and he will flee “FROM YOU”. It’s not for you to carry weapons and go claiming you are fighting the devil. God doesn’t need your help to fight the devil. God needs you help to fight for your salvation and to draw others to him. And his weapon for that is love. The more you spend time fighting the world, the less time you have living a better life as a Christian. 

Matthew 7:5

Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (NLT) 

When Christians stop persuading and start coercing, we have moved so far from what Jesus thought, we’ve practically turned our backs on Him.  Here’s what Walter Brueggemann has to say about “Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God.” 

I so desperately want people to meet Jesus. To meet this beautiful, incredible guy. All this hate from Christians makes it so hard. 

Important reading: “The Problem with, Hate the Sin Love the Sinner” 

“Using “hate the sin” as a license for cruelty defeats the purpose of proclaiming truth.”

  • Phylicia Masonheimer

The Problem with "Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner"Social media has brought out a dark side of Christianity. Torrents of hate spill into Facebook comments. Names are called. Insults are hurled. And somehow, we’re expected to win people to Christ through all of this. It’s this dark side of faith that the world reacts against so violently; their scapegoat for subjective morality. If Christian love looks like this – who would want it?

Hate the sin but love the sinner.

We use the phrase liberally, but are we liberal with the love?

There are plenty of Christian leaders who see this hatred and say, “No more!” But with the same breath that claims the love of Christ they write off the law that made Him necessary. Blurring the created lines of right and wrong, they “love the sinner” – and lie about the sin. Thus we end up right where we began: Striving for the ever-evasive balance of love and truth.

Our faith is like walking a tightrope. With each step, we are in danger of a wild swing into legalism or compromise. We walk the thin line – this narrow path – only by keeping our eyes fixed on the perfect balance of love and justice: God Himself. For if God did not define these things for us, we would have no measure of right versus wrong. We would be unable to give grace because there would be no reason to give it – without sin, there is no cause for mercy.

I’m the first person to call us to a higher standard of holiness. But as we navigate this sharply divided world, both online and in real life, we need to ask ourselves the following questions:

DO WE ACTUALLY HATE SIN, OR DO WE SIMPLY LOVE JUDGMENT?

Using “hate the sin” as a license for cruelty defeats the purpose of proclaiming truth. The gospel needs no help causing division; it is foolishness to those who reject it (1 Cor. 1:22-24). Because the gospel will divide based on its exclusive nature, our job is not to further that division but to simply love the Lord our God with all our hearts (emotions), souls (being), minds (thoughts), and strength (effort). Our second directive is to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.  (Matt. 22:37-40)

God hates sin because He is holy. Sin is contrary to His nature and prevents humanity from approaching Him. But because God is also loving, He desires a relationship with humanity. Jesus was the solution to the problem of sin, atoning for our unholiness and making possible what would otherwise be an impossible relationship with God.

Thus, God doesn’t hate sin arbitrarily. He doesn’t take joy in condemnation (2 Pet. 3:9). He judges because He is holy and sin must be judged. Yet it is by God’s mercy that any of us are able to claim the name of Jesus today. We are called to discern right from wrong in the world, but we are not called make judgment our hobby. To hate sin doesn’t mean we point it out at every opportunity, finding satisfaction in the failures of others. Our hatred for sin should be a direct result of our love for gospel hope. We only hate sin because it prevents a relationship with God. God is the judge; we are just the messengers, and we would do well to remember that.

SEE ALSO: 5 Ways to Protect Your Marriage on Social Media

DO WE HATE SIN IN THE LIFE OF OUR NEIGHBOR BUT IGNORE IT IN OUR OWN LIVES?

This question convicts my heart whenever I scroll through social media. Rife with animosity, Christians go to battle against even more malicious commenters in a never-ending debate about homosexuality, abortion, alcohol, and politics.

Yes, we should stand for what is true. But if we really hate sin, we will hate all sin, starting with the sin in our very own lives.

It’s really easy to point fingers at people who live a lifestyle devoid of God. It’s not so easy to see the sin in ourselves. Modern Christians, we are a speck-picking bunch. In the name of “truth” we seek out sin and we point at it like an over-eager hunting dog, waiting for God to pat us on the back. We are not called to seek out sin but to seek out those who need the gospel (Matt. 28:20). In the process of presenting the gospel, sin must be addressed. But hating sin is not our Christian day job.

The best way to understand, recognize, and address sin is to hate it in our own lives first. That means knowing the Word of God – really knowing it. Really studying it, not just proof-texting passages for Facebook debates, yanking phrases out of context to prove a point. We hate sin best when we love God most, because only His hatred for it is a direct result of His love for mankind.

SEE ALSO: How Sin Kills the Pro-Life Mission

DO WE ARGUE OVER THE DEMISE OF SOCIAL MORALITY WHILE IGNORING OUR OWN LACK OF HOLY LIVING?

Lifestyles of sin are celebrated in cultures worldwide. It seems to be all the rage. Morals are relative. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes. Society is indeed descending into moral chaos. But before lamenting the rapid descent, we should check our own moral thermometer. Are we ignoring the same heart attitudes that have been our culture’s demise?

Pride. Selfishness. Anger. Materialism. Envy. Lust: “…after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:15) Our world is dying because of the idolatry of desire. Where self replaces God, there is no room for abundant life. The eternal is replaced with the material, and separation from God is the inevitable result.

We bewail politicians and feminism and Common Core but the harsh reality is that this society is the way it is because of human hearts just like ours. We cannot expect a transformed culture when we have not transformed our very own minds. We cannot expect society’s sins to be conquered when we refuse to acknowledge our own transgressions.

So before arguing about abortion online, shut off the sexually promiscuous TV show.

Before bewailing the demise of the family, respect your husband. Love your wife.

And before burning sinners on a verbal stake in the name of “hating sin”, ask yourself: Does this action reflect the holiness of God? Am I really presenting the truth in love, or have I lost my love in zeal for truth?

I’m preaching to myself here. Instead of repeating, “Hate the sin, love the sinner”, I’m telling myself something else:

“Hate my own sin, love the way God does.”

Mercy is what draws us to repentance; it is the hope of our gospel. It’s the most lasting, loving way to truly hate sin.

This article originally appeared on phyliciadelta.com. Used with permission. 

Phylicia Masonheimer blogs at Phylicia Delta, where she teaches women how to preach the gospel with their lives: proclaiming Jesus in work, love and home. Her eBook Christian Cosmo launches March 1st, 2017

Sometimes finishing well looks different than you think it does.

You don’t have to be everything to everyone to finish well. You don’t have to do it all and then some to be counted among the greats. You don’t have to travel far and wide or spread yourself thin to be valued.

Finishing well has more to do with your character than your time, status or audience.

Finishing well might mean that someone carries you across the finish line when you don’t have anything left to give.

Finishing well might entail helping someone else break through the tape at the end of the race.

You don’t have to be the best, look the best, or feel the best to be a champion in My Book.

You might cross the finish line broken and bruised—like I did—but holding a victory that cannot be taken and does not spoil or fade (see 1 Peter 1:3-9).

Sometimes finishing well is getting last place, just showing up, trying again and not giving up.

My economy is so different than yours. I value the weak. I pass out awards to the banged-up. I fill up the empty. I lay down my life instead of exerting entitlement.

Bow instead of bulldoze.

Dance instead of despair.

Give instead of hoard.

Listen instead of sounding off.

Stoop instead of strut.

Pick others up instead of sprinting ahead.

Finishing well looks different than you think.

It’s not about applause but about attitude. It’s not about accolades but an ability to endure when no one is cheering. It’s not about advancement but about being faithful with what He has set before you.

Sometimes it’s about resting, relenting and relinquishing.

Sometimes it’s about giving in order to gain and conceding in order to conquer.

Don’t give up. I go with You. I am for you. You can trust me to be strong in your weakness.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” –2 Corinthians 12:10

I finished well. Follow My Lead.

Love,
Me

Connect with Katie M. Reid on her blogFacebook and Twitter. Let’s grow in grace as we learn together.

Grady Nutt, the late Christian comedian and preacher, used to have an entire routine that revolved around, ‘the call to the ministry!’ He added to that last word the grunt that many old-timer southern preachers add to almost every sentence. The word came out sounding like ‘ministruh’ with a strong emphasis on the last syllable.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Somewhere along the way between Paul and Grady many Christians came to the conclusion that ‘the call’ was only for ministers. In fact, ‘the call’ is described in hushed tones, as though it were some sort of divine, communicable disease with which God infected a certain few of His followers. And if one were to ‘get the call,’ it could result in a new big voice, big hair and a big Bible.

It is the conclusion of this writer that the church has misunderstood the words call and calling. The result then, is that the Great Commission that Jesus gave to all of His followers, is only being attempted by a handful.

In Paul’s opening words to the Corinthians in his first letter to them, he describes himself as “called to be an apostle,” then goes on to describe the church as those who are “called to be holy, to gather with all those everywhere who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…”

All three uses of the word call are from the same word in the original language of the Bible. It is the same word in Ephesians 4:1 and it has the general meaning of invite or summons, to call someone.

The question before the church then, is not, ‘Who is called?’ or ‘Have you been called?’ Rather, it is ‘Will you respond to the call of God on your life?’ The Bible teaches that all Christians are called by God to serve in His kingdom. Will we respond like Isaiah with “Here am I, send me,” or will we take the next-boat-to-Tarshish approach of Jonah? To better understand this subject we must see that there are three aspects of ‘call’ in every believers life.

First of all, there is a call to salvation. God sent His Son Jesus to seek and to save those who are lost. Peter explains that God is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”(2 Pet. 3:9b) God calls us to salvation and by grace through faith we can call back. Paul wrote, “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13)

Next, that call does not just result in ‘fire assurance’ as some term it, there is also a call to Christlikeness or holiness. “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy. “‘ (1 Pet. 1:15-16) The Christian is called, is summonsed to act like a Christian all the time, to be like Christ.

The word holy has the idea of being set apart. Like mother’s fine china dinnerware, the Christian has a special purpose. Unlike that china however, a Christian’s holy lifestyle is on view every day. God has called us to be Christians, to be set apart. There ought to be something different about us because of our relationship with Jesus. That difference is a Christlikeness that attracts others to what we have.

Third, every believer is called to ministry in God’s kingdom. Ephesians chapter 4 is one of four New Testament passages that list and discuss spiritual gifts. We must notice that none of these are considered exhaustive lists. Who can put a limit on what the Holy Spirit can do with obedient believers?

The Ephesians passage mentions gifts that we normally think of when we hear someone speak of being called to ministry. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers called “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

The clear teaching of scripture is that all Christians are called to ministry. Earlier in Chapter 2, Paul wrote, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph.2:10) The gifts of chapter 4 then, inform us that some Christians are called to a particular ministry of preparing other Christians to do their ministry.

Every Christian has been called by God; called to salvation, called to personal holiness and then called to service or ministry. Some Christians are called to the particular offices mentioned in the fourth chapter of Ephesians. However, there are as many ways to minister as there are ministers!

For the Great Commission to be obeyed, every soldier in God’s army must do his or her assigned task with his or her grace gifts. The question is not, ‘Are you called?’ It is, ‘Will you obey the call?’

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Roy D. Hall is Pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Diboll, TX and Professor of Bible at Angelina College in Lufkin, TX.
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