Way to Drop the Ball, Phil

*Sigh*

That’s what I thought when I first heard about the “controversy” surrounding Phil Robertson. Also, for the sake of length I’m not going to explain what happened. Besides, every news outlet has covered it, you can read part of the interview he gave with GQ magazine almost anywhere.

Anyway, I can’t say I was exactly surprised when Christians all over the place went crazy hearing that Phil got suspended over the comments. I was however pretty disappointed with the way Christians decided to express their view (and outrage) over the suspension. There are a fewdifferent themes interwoven into this situation so I’m going to list them out and address them head on. Hopefully I can shed some light on this issue and why I’m pretty fed up with my own people who claim to follow a God who extends grace to all, but yet only show grace to their own.

1. The Free Speech Issue

Let’s nip this one in the bud fast. A&E suspending Phil is not a free speech infringement.

Viewing this from a strict viewpoint of rights and free speech, any employer should have the right to fire people for the language they use if they deem it inappropriate. We’ve had to let people go at my dad’s company because of the words they used, does this mean we were infringing on free speech? Of course not! People can say almost anything they want without the government infringing. This does not mean that there are no consequences for the words you use. If someone lumps bestiality, homosexuality, and fornication into one sentence then there might be some kickback.

2. The Political Issue

I’m not surprised that of course party lines were drawn when this happened. It’s really a shame that someone’s view is so heavily linked to the assumption of their political leaning. I’m not surprised that conservatives all of the sudden came out in support of Phil’s free speech to say whatever he wants (they are not surprisingly silent on this issue when something is being said that they don’t agree with however), and I’m not surprised that liberals are all of the sudden insisting that someone being fired for their beliefs is not infringing on their free speech. Yet I bet if Phil was a homosexual, expressed his view for equality and got fired for that, there’d be an uproar from the liberal side. It’s frustrating to see that beliefs are not consistent, they are so often just driven by political leanings.

3. The Jesus Issue

This is what matters to me. I don’t care about free speech, political leanings, company profits nearly as much as I care about how Jesus handles himself and how as people who claim to follow Him we are called to be LIKE Him. We are called to be followers of Jesus ONLY.

I’m not approaching this issue from a political viewpoint. I don’t care about the conservative view point or liberal viewpoint nearly as much as I care about the view that Jesus has of people. I don’t care if it’s a double standard, just because someone else isn’t playing fair doesn’t mean that we who claim to follow the God of the universe start cheating too. The rules don’t change simply because other people (who don’t claim what we claim) don’t follow the “rules”. I don’t care how hypocritical, judgmental, or hateful other people are. It does not change who we as followers of Christ are called to be. Just read about the guy called Jesus who died on a cross after being tried unjustly and unfairly (what a double standard right?)

Here’s the bottom line; I don’t care if it’s a double standard, I don’t care if it’s not fair. As followers of Jesus we are called to speak kindly and with love to people. There are ways to express your convictions, to express the heart of God without compromising your beliefs and without marginalizing someone. A great example of that would be Jesus with the woman at the well. He didn’t come out and lump her sin in with bestiality, he didn’t tell her that sin “just ain’t logical” or anything like that. He met her where she was at, offered her FIRST living water and then told her to go and sin no more. Jesus doesn’t avoid sin, he overwhelms it with love and grace and she turns from it and lives forever changed because of Jesus.

I’m tired and exhausted from apparent “christians” who have no problem watching movies that involve premarital sex, who are silent on divorce in the church, who are silent on pornography, who are silent on the ridiculous amount of consumeristic tendencies our culture thrives on, who have no problem listening to music with sexual suggestive themes or watching music videos full of hypersexualization, who have no problem having a little too much to drink every now and then but then have the audacity to make sure we know the “truth”on homosexuality! In their minds they say “we MUST make sure people KNOW that WE believe homosexuality is SIN! is SIN!”

It gets old quick.

People all over the place need redeeming grace that Jesus offers them, we are the vessels with which Jesus shows it.

Why did Phil drop the ball? Because he had a chance to clearly articulate God’s heart for people. Instead He told the interviewer how a woman’s vagina has “more to offer” than a man’s anus (gee, thanks for the heads up bro), and that sin “just ain’t logical”. Way to drop the ball Phil, truly you showed Jesus to a a world desperate for answers.

If you like this post then share it!

-TW

Advertisements

The Twerk Seen ‘Round the World

Did I even spell twerk right? I hope so. Anyway, if you don’t live under a rock (which if you’re reading this I’m assuming you don’t) then I’m sure you’ve heard about or seen the video of Miley Cyrus’s at the VMA’s (Video Music Awards). Apparently, this was one of the most suggestive performances of the VMA’s in recent history. When you couple that with who Miley Cyrus used to be (An innocent little girl who went by the name Hannah Montana) you have a recipe for a media frenzy. After watching my Facebook blow up overnight with people railing against how disgusting and inappropriate Miley’s performance was, I couldn’t help but think to myself why now? Why are people just now starting to get upset at the vulgarity of the celebrity music crowd?

See all Miley really did was show us in a physical way, what we think. Our music is full of innuendo’s and flat out sexual content. It’s normal in our culture to see women half naked dancing around suggestively in music videos. In 1997 Marilyn Manson performed at the VMA’s in an extremely disturbing performance. Nicki Minaj has extremely explicit lyrics and suggestive content in her music and videos but there hasn’t been an outcry during her performances. Why all of the sudden are we as a culture freaking out about Miley? Because at one point she was a nice innocent little blonde girl and a few nights ago she was grinding against a man on national tv? What I don’t understand for the life of me is why we are now just saying “ok enough is enough”. I have three things I want to point out that are ingredients resulting in what we saw at the VMA’s.

1. Moral Relativity

Here’s the psychotic thing about our culture, we want to never be told how to live our lives. We do however, love to tell people in the public light how to live theirs. See we want to decry authority, God, and absolute morals. Then when something happens like what happened Sunday night at the VMA’s we are suddenly up in arms screaming “Have you no class!”. Well no, of course not, because we have taught her to have no class. We have taught that morality is subjective, do whatever feels right for you. So then by that logic, who are we to say that what she did was inappropriate? We aren’t. A culture reaps what is sows. We are telling my generation to experiment with everything, that God is a myth, that there is no absolute right way to live, but then we turn around and eat our own when they act out beyond society’s idea of normal and appropriate.

2. Twisting Human Sexuality

This especially rings true when it comes to sexuality. We have taken what is meant to be sacred and ripped it of its dignity and respect, running it through the mud all in the name of “do whatever feels right”. We have thrown sexuality out in the public streets mocking it and stripping it of its beauty. Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industryand fed the lie that porn is normal to look at. Is it? Is that really normal to do? Is that really healthy for the mind? My question is this; when are we a culture going to realize that human sexuality was never designed to be used the way that we are using it. Miley, is just the latest victim of a sex obsessed culture. I can’t emphasize this strongly enough, this is the fruit of the tree we planted in the 70’s, and it’s rotten to the core. My generation is one big sexual train wreck and like any good train wreck you just can’t look away.

3. The Gossip Machine

Secretly, I don’t think most of us want performances like Miley’s to go away. It gives us something to gossip about, something to talk about. It fuels our blog views and likes on Facebook. It fuels the tweets on twitter. But most of all, it makes us feel better about ourselves. “Well I would NEVER do that” we say. We love to talk about people that we view as less moral than ourselves. It makes us feel better. We have entire TV Shows dedicated to talking about the dirty secrets celebrities have. It fuels the machine called the industry (that includes music, movies, and anyone else in the public spotlight) and we eat it up every night when we get home from work and just want to relax. Gossip yeast in the dough, and we love our bread fluffy.

The only way things will change is when we start reaching hearts with God’s way of living life. If God is the author of human existence then He is the one who knows us best. When we follow Jesus’ way of living what we are doing is living the way we were intended to live from the beginning. When we start introducing people to this way, they become restored because it resonates with their inner most being. The solution to this sometimes ridiculous culture is showing people a better way to live. Miley Cyrus, I promise you can live the fullest life possible without taking your clothes off on national T.V

If you like this post then share it

-TW

Poetry: “Ok”

Ok so it’s been a while since the last post and I’ve been working on a few other ideas but I decided to mix it up a little bit with this one.  I  like to write poems and lyrics from time to time and I wanted to share a poem I wrote recently.  The Title is “Ok” and it is about man’s ruin and redemption; sin and salvation.  Let me know your thoughts.

 

“Ok”

Beating my fist to this chest to feel relevance
Defining by opinion my own excellence.
If I can only convince Him of my worthiness
Then I’ll be ok.

Him, who breathed the worlds into time, space and matter,
Who aligned the expanding universe on a silver platter
And handed it to man to rule; what a disaster.
It’ll all be ok.

The innocence of creation had lost its position
In the heart of man was now a self-religion
To put ourselves on the throne; a new vision.
We will be ok.

The more rungs of this ladder I upwardly climb
The further I descend from the presence of the divine
And the terror of our circumstance dawns on my mind.
I am not ok.

As our sin offended the highest the heavens
It continues to corrupt us down to our essence.
We’ve got nothing to fight with, no weapons.
We are not ok.

The point and purpose of eternal salvation
Is so much more than we have time to mention.
But how is this for a simple explanation:
To be made ok.

The beauty of grace is in the inability
To save ourselves, its all futility
But God sent Christ to save you and me.
We can be ok.

In a moment the Christ, reached in and changed my heart
A complete change from the inside, a brand new start.
I have a place in the plan of God, my own part.
More than just OK..

The beauty of grace is in the inability
To save ourselves, its all futility
But God sent Christ to save you and me.
We can be ok.

In a moment the Christ, reached in and changed my heart
A complete change from the inside, a brand new start.
I have a place in the plan of God, my own part.
More than just OK.

-RM

Slogan Christianity: The Stuff We Make Up to Make Ourselves Feel Better

“No God — No Peace. Know God — Know Peace.”

“Free Trip to heaven. Details Inside!”

“Try our Sundays. They are better than Baskin-Robbins.”

“Searching for a new look? Have your faith lifted here!

“If you don’t like the way you were born, try being born again.”

“Looking at the way some people live, they ought to obtain eternal fire insurance soon.”


“This is a ch_ _ ch. What is missing?

U R

“Forbidden fruit creates many jams.”

“In the dark? Follow the Son.”

“Running low on faith? Stop in for a fill-up.”

“If you can’t sleep, don’t count sheep. Talk to the Shepherd.”

 

 

C’mon, seriously?! Is this what we’ve been boiling down Christianity to these days?  Slogans that are so ridiculous, so over simplistic, that the world looks at these and chuckles?  This post is going to be dealing with slogans like the ones I posted above, and the way that these slogans, and slogans like it do so much more harm than good.

 

I’m not a negative guy.  Really, I promise, I laugh all the time, sometimes I’m way too sarcastic, and I have some friends that make me cry of laughter.  I don’t want people to misunderstand my intent here, it’s not that I’m trying to point out things for the sake of pointing things out.  I’m trying to steer us back to truth, back to the reality of Jesus.  This includes calling out junk in both the Christian and non-Christian world.  I’m often more critical of the Christian world because we are the ones who are making huge claims.  Not many people claim to know absolute truth, not many people claim to know the only  way to heaven, and not many people are so bold about the truth that they claim they know.  Because of this, it’s extremely important that we know the truth that we are claiming.  If we are claiming that Jesus is the only way to God the Father and all of the other things that come with such a loaded statement, then we must be able to articulate this clearly, not dwindling it down to 5 or  6 words.  This is what gets me so frustrated about Church slogans, they are over simplistic, half true (and you know what they say about half truths), and they do very little to articulate the full truth of Jesus.

 

I know many people like to say that the gospel is simple, easy, just say a few words (from the bottom of your heart) and presto, like a magic act, you are instantly saved.  You now have permanent “fire insurance” (Aka: You’re not going to Hell) and one day you’ll be in heaven forever.  While I know this is popular thinking, I don’t think it’ Scripturally accurate.  Even Paul who preaches God’s grace to humanity, acknowledges in his letters to the Churches he started that a fruit of the Holy Spirit working, saving us, is a change in our lifestyle.  Works are a very important part to salvation, why? Not because they save us, but because they validate the real work of the Holy Spirit in us.  Some might say I’m on shaky ground, I beg to differ, the Bible is full of verses that teach this.  Of course the most popular being James 2:17, but then you have verses like Matthew 7:21, and of course the countless verses that Paul writes encouraging the Church to live a life of purity before God.  If works didn’t matter then the New Testament would not be so full of verses supporting the system of saved by the grace of God, validated by the life we live.

 

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.  When it comes to the Christian faith, it is so important that we don’t windle down amazing truths in to bumper sticker slogans.  Why?  Because so often these slogans are not completely true!  For example, I saw one the other day that said “too blessed to be depressed”.  While a cute little saying that at first glance makes you say “Yeah so true!” Scripture will once again beg to differ.  Paul was quite depressed (or discouraged) often in his ministry, being shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten, and cast out by his own nation, Paul wrote very often his struggle of spreading the message of Jesus to the masses.  Paul was extremely blessed, and he always brought praise to God no matter what his circumstance, but sometimes those circumstances were extremely difficult emotionally, and yet Paul kept his eyes steadily on the Father.  See the difference? The slogan tries to mask over the realities of this world, Paul collides with them head on, still considers himself blessed, and let’s God sustain him through his extremely difficult life.   Or take Job for example, everything was taken away.  If you read Job it’s clear that the word depressed doesn’t scratch the surface of what was happening, Job was honest with God in his pain, and Job never sinned.  For some reason I cant’ see Job saying “God my wife and kids are all dead, but I’m too blessed to be depressed!”.

 

Some of you might be saying give it up TIm! It’s just a stupid little slogan who cares?!.  God cares, because in a world that already muddies the truth, we don’t need to add to the noise.  Often times we hear things like “too blessed to be depressed” and we get a little high off it.  We say “Yeah! YEAH! I am to blessed!” the problem however is once we are faced with reality, that little slogan is soon gone like a vapor.  It can’t stand up to the reality of our situations.

 

Here’s my bottom line, it’s not that every slogan out there is bad, or full of hot air, it’s just that we have to be very careful with what we say is true.  If we are claiming to have the corner on truth (and we are loud about it), then everything we say about that truth, must be just that: True.   We can’t claim to know the way to heaven, then agree with many things that are not in Scripture.

 

A good friend of mine who I love dearly told me regarding my view of slogans in Christianity “Maybe some of us just like a little uplifting slogan from time to time.”Here’s the thing, if it’s not true, then it’s a lie.  There are only one of two options here, true, or not true.  If it’s not true, I dont’ want to hear it, I don’t care how appealing it sounds. I’m not concerned about trying to feel good, I’m not concerned about feeling emotionally happy, I’m concerned with what the work of Jesus has done to humanity, and what it is still doing to humanity.  I don’t want fluff do you?  Do you want to be fed a bunch of happy one liners only to find out that it was like eating junk food?  Tasted great going down but there was absolutely no nutritional value?  Look for the truth of Jesus, not for the concentrated doses of statements that give you emotional highs.  That’s not what is important here, the Kingdom of God is the most important thing because it is eternal, it is forever.

Homosexual Marriage and the Church (What Are We Doing?!)

Note: This post is solely Tim Whitaker’s opinion.

Our nation is sharply divided over the idea of legalizing some form of homosexual marriage/union.  Well it’s time for Tim Whitaker to throw his view in to the mix.  I realize there are a lot of angles to approach the subject from.  Because of that, I’m going to try and keep my post focused on one angle.  Let’s face it, you could write a book on this issue, there are so many different ways to approach this subject.  I’m coming at it from the perspective of a Christ follower and what I really see in Scripture and how we as Christians are to handle the situation.  Do I have the only right way? No, I don’t think so, however one of the benefits of having a blog is that I can post my opinion on subjects.  So agree or disagree, read along.

Let me get one thing clear right off the bat for my more conservative readers; I think homosexuality is contrary to God’s design.  There you go, I said it.  I think the Bible is pretty clear on this issue.  If we take the Genesis creation account literally, then we clearly see that God’s design since day one was for heterosexual marriage.  That being said, homosexuality is simply another symptom of a bigger problem, sin in the world.  Now, if you’re reading this and you are a homosexual hopefully you’re not ready to throw stones at me.  Sure I think that the lifestyle of homosexuality is wrong, but there are two things to keep in mind.  1. I think getting drunk is wrong, and I have and know plenty of friends who love to party.  They know right where I stand on the issue and we are still good friends.  Just because two people disagree on an issue doesn’t mean that I think that they are somehow less human.  2.  You have a freedom to live your life how you choose.  This is clear in Scripture, that if you’re not a Christian, or a follower of Christ, that it is completely unfair for us to put our beliefs on to you.  God gave Adam and Eve a choice and Paul writes over and over to be concerned with matters of the church, not of the world.

But enough of that, I want to get down to the nitty gritty.  This whole marriage debate is discouraging.  It’s discouraging to see how many Christians are ready to take up arms because a secular nation that they live in is considering giving homosexual couples the same benefits in our nation as heterosexual couples.   Yes, I said secular nation because contrary to popular belief, America is not God’s chosen nation, America is not a “christian” nation, America is a nation governed by a constitution and bill of rights, not by a Bible.  How can someone who claim to be a follower of Christ say such things?  Because it’s true.   The Bible is not a book that is supposed to be used to govern, it’s meant to speak to the individual and to the Church.  I can’t stress this enough.  Regardless if people live in sin, throwing the book at them doesn’t change their hearts! Only Christ does.

Speaking of sin, if there is one big gaping problem with the way Christians are treating this issue it’s this: We are blind to the heterosexual fornication, murder, and hosts of other things that are also immoral that America has either legalized, culturally supports, or allows that is equally against God’s moral law.  This is the irony of it all. We live in a culture that is full of people who live lives contrary to the way Jesus taught us to live and then we act shocked and surprised when things like this come up.    Paul planted a Church in Corinth, one of the most vile cities of the time and do you see paul writing letters to people outside the Church? Do you think Paul stood on a soapbox and made sure people knew that Corinth was a vile city that was going to be destroyed by the wrath of God one day?  No of course not, instead Paul instructs the CHURCH on how to live.  This is key to understand, the Bible is written to believers, to people are inside the faith.   Just like the Jewish Law applied to the Jews, the Bible (especially the New Testament) is written to God’s Church, to God’s called out ones.  Are we called to evangelize? Of course we are! But we have to ask ourselves this important question: Do we want people to know that they are wrong and we are right, or are we trying to introduce people to the person of Jesus?  If our motive is to show people Jesus and who He is and how He changes our lives, then how we express that will look much different than some of the ways I’m seeing.

I don’t know where this mindset of guilty by association came about, but it’s completely contrary to the life of Jesus.  Jesus was heavily associated with the culturally immoral of His time. He offered them restored and full life, some rejected, some accepted, either way Jesus was there with, what that society deemed, as the most immoral of all.

Look, here’s my bottom line, if homosexual marriage becomes legal, so what?  Does that change your mission here on earth as a Christ follower?  If you meet two people are legally married who are of the same sex, are they somehow beyond the saving grace of our Lord? No, they are not, so why are we treating them like they are?   The devil is tricky indeed, while we Christians are obsessing about this particular issue, millions of babies are being aborted, marriages are being torn apart by infidelity, our culture worships at the alter of money and stuff, teen suicide is at an all time high, military PTSD is at an all time high, but yes let’s rally behind the issue of two people who want the same rights in our nation that other people get.  Right or wrong, it’s not our job to tell people how to live! Remember, we are the ones in a foreign land, we are the ones who are just passing through.  People, wether it’s legal or not, are going to live how they want to live and we change hearts by personally showing them Jesus, not by legislating one part of God’s law in to a nation.  Last time we turned England into a Christian theocracy it got so corrupt that secularism was born.

Some of you might be saying that I just don’t want to stand up for the truth of God’s word to which I will leave you with a very popular Scripture verse.

 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:10-17

Notice here that Paul points everything to individual and the devil.  I don’t see any of these weapons that Paul describes meant to be used against people, I don’t see Paul saying “Our struggle is against immoral people! ATTACK!”  In fact in 1 Corinthians 5 he says quite the opposite: What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

I’ll tell you what, why don’t we put the kind of effort we put in to stopping the homosexual agenda (an outside the Church issue) in to helping the millions of men in the Church addicted to pornography, or helping the Church lower it’s staggering divorce numbers, or infidelity in the Church? I could go on and on.  We have many things we can focus on ourselves with before we go about casting judgement on the world.  Judging the world is not our job, it’s God’s.

-TW

What Salvation Is: Part 1

The next two blog posts will be a little different.  Julia’s dad (my father-in-law) has professed faith in Christ last week and even got up and gave his testimony during CBC’s services on Sunday.  This is a place he hasn’t stepped foot in for years.  I was with him briefly on Monday night and could definitely see a change.  With that in mind I was thinking of what true salvation is and the ways salvation changes us.  This post will be what salvation is and the following will be what salvation does.

What is Salvation?
A mere decision to a proposition?  Not in the slightest.  A mere conclusion of logic?  Also, no.  Salvation of the Bible is something much more than simply a logical decision or a decision of change.  The shortest message of salvation I think you can read is found in Acts 16:30-31:
“And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

“Believe on” has the idea of trusting on, resting on, trusting oneself to, or depending on.  What it doesn’t mean is assenting to, acknowledging that, superficially accepting, or any other form of such things.  In Biblical Greek, the word “believe” and “faith” are very closely related (much closer than we know in English).  In fact it would be correct to translate Ephesians 2:8 as “For by grace are you saved through belief; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”  Believing and faith in the Bible are the same thing.  This is a much stronger word than what we use “believe” for in today’s English language.  We use it to say “to think” or “to assent/accept” and even “to come to understand.”  These meanings are not the meaning of “believing on” in Acts 16:31.  There is an illustration I’ve heard often of a tight rope walker in the 19th century that goes by the name of Charles Blondin (real name Jean Francois Gravelet).  He stretched a tight rope across the Niagra Falls to show his pristine balancing skills.  He started across with a balancing pole, then did a back somersault while walking across.  Each crossing after that he completed in a different manner: blindfolded, with a wheelbarrow, even making an omelet in the middle of the rope.  Then he comes to the crowd that was watching him and asks if they believe that he could carry someone across on his back.  Everyone at once screams “YES WE BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT!”  But then his question changed and was now, “Ok, who will get on my back and cross?”  The crowd suddenly went silent.  Everyone believed ABOUT Blondin.  They saw what he did and believed he COULD do it but no one was willing to believe IN or ON Blondin and get on his back.  Many people believe about the Lord Jesus Christ but only those who believe on Him will ever get real life.

“the Lord Jesus Christ” does not say “Jesus” or “the Savior” or even “Christ.”  He is the one of whom we read that died and rose again.
Jesus tells us that this is the one who became a man to be the savior.  We just recently celebrated the birth of Jesus.  Joseph was told “thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).   The name Jesus tells us of his humanity.
Christ is the anointed one.  He is the promised Messiah, the servant of Jehovah (Isaiah 42).  It is a shame to proclaim Jesus as a cool, party attending, rebel character that is found being proclaimed in many churches.  This is the anointed one, the Messiah, the promised one.
Lord is a term used of one in authority over you, one who you submit and bow to.  There are not two separate events of accepting Jesus as your Savior then accepting him as your Lord.  Salvation is the acknowledgment of Him as Lord!

So the gospel of salvation is that man is without ability to save himself but upon the confession of helplessness, the repentance of sin, turning to the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on Christ (both the person and the work) “you shall be saved.”

Romans 6:17 is Paul looking back to before they were “saved” when he says, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin.”  He is commenting on the fact that we were astray from God and servants of sin.  Then he reflects on their moment of conversion when he says, “but ye have obeyed from the heart.”  The tense of the verb “obeyed” is in the Aorist tense which says it happened at a definite moment of time (the moment of salvation).  But what is interesting is the last phrase, “that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”  Salvation is doctrine; it is truth to be received.  God has revealed the truth of the person and work of Christ and given man the responsibility to respond to the doctrine.  Salvation is truth to be received.

So in the ultimate sense, what is salvation?  It is the supernatural work of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  It is the redemption of a fallen race and is available to all.  It is not just giving your life to Jesus or accepting a Savior as I hope I made clear.  Now, at Salvation we may not have known everything we were coming into, I know I didn’t.  But we can look at that moment and see that all of these things are true and prove true in the life of a true believer.  Thank goodness we can say:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16

Next time, we will look at what salvation does.  Stay tuned.

~Rob

 

Untitled

Empty Community (Tim Whitaker)

Empty Community

 

This past week I went to a bar in Philly to support a friend who was guest bar tending. The more guests he got to come out that night, the better chance he had at landing a job. Before I go further let me address the fact that I went to a bar for my readers who might have a problem with it. I say this in love. Get over it. Really, if you have a problem going to where people are, then you need to re-read the gospels. Let us not forget that Jesus was an ACCUSED drunk (Matthew 11;18). We really need to get out of this mold that going to a place where sin happens (which really is everywhere we go) somehow tarnishes our testimony. But that is for another time.

 

Anyway, as I was saying I’m not personally a big bar/club person for a few reasons. The main one being that I don’t drink, the second one being that the atmosphere of a lot of bars/clubs isn’t one I like being in too long, and third WHERE ARE THE FREAKING CHAIRS?! This particular bar I went to was more like a night club. They had a big room with a live band playing cover songs while people danced, and then there was a another room that was more like a standard bar area which is where I was for the majority of the night. Although, as the night progressed the club trickled in to where we were. By the end of the night you had to scream to talk, and people would randomly just start dancing right where you were standing. Can you say awkward?

 

I observed something though. Something that really hit me. This was all about community for the people at this place. They were craving relationship with other people, they were craving validation from other people, and ultimately they just wanted to be heard. They wanted to know they were being listened to. I people watched probably the whole night. I watched guys who were drunk hit on girls. I watched girls who were drunk dance like they thought they actually could, and then I watched people sip their beer and dig deep in to a conversation about their life. I over heard people talking about bad breakups, their work life, their family, how much they hated their job. I heard bad jokes, I saw guys with egos so big they couldn’t fit in the room, and I saw women so insecure it was terrifying. This was a place full of people different ages, different colors, different personality’s, different perspectives, and with different reasons for being there. Some wanted to be there just to hang out and talk, other’s were looking for someone to go home with, others just wanted to dance, and found the need to hop up on the bar to do it (awkward moment number 2). What I’m getting at was there were all different types of people, but there was a common theme in all of them. Everything they were doing was with other people. There was this innate desire in them to be with others. Imagine being at a club or bar with no one else. No one to serve you, no one to talk to, no one to dance with. Just lights, loud music, and alcohol. It wouldn’t be the same. In fact it wouldn’t be anything close to what you were going there to do. Being with other people is key to who all of us are as humans and it is essential to recognize that the reason a bar or club is usually so popular is because of the massive amounts of people that go. Even though we don’t even realize it, interaction with people is one of the driving forces behind the success of the industry. People can buy alcohol and drink at home, people can crank up a stereo and dance anywhere. It’s not that those things that I just mentioned are exclusively at a bar or club, it’s that there are other people doing it with you.

 

The problem with the bar/club scene is that ultimately it is empty. Relationships are skin deep (literally), guys go to try and get with girls, girls want to dance to show the world that they are beautiful. It’s a complete distortion of authentic community and human relationships (not in all cases granted)). Conversations only go so far. Alcohol soon takes its (desired) affect and the music is so loud and provocative that the atmosphere is hyper-sexualized. It’s not reality anymore, it’s an escape from reality, it’s an attempt to forget about the problems of the day and to drown them in your drug of choice (alcohol, sex, music, women, men, etc).

This is an opposite approach to God and his design for relationships. Because instead of trying to escape reality, God invites us to experience true reality. As humans we were designed for two relationships. The first one is relationship with our creator, the second one is relationship with each other. There is a catch. The catch is that if we aren’t restored to our relationship with our creator we can never fully be in relationship with each other. Relationships with people hinges on relationship with God. Miss God, miss people. There is evidence of this all over the place. Almost everything humans do has SOMETHING to do with other people. Who likes doing most things alone? Not many of us, and even those of us who do still need some human relationship in our life. We as a church must realize how important human relationship is to our faith. If God is true, and God is ultimate reality, then we need to realize the way God designed us to live in wholeness.

 

We have the opportunity to show the world what real relationships look like. We have the opportunity to wake people up to wholeness, not empty living for the weekend, but real moment by moment connected to God living. But first it has to start with us. We need to wake up from our slumber and start connecting with people in real ways. I’m not talking about the 5 minutes of “turn around and shake hands with someone”. I’m talking about deep relationships that span life, not just Sunday mornings. If we miss this, we miss a huge part of the gospel. If God designed us for two types of relationships, one with God, and one with each other, then we need to start talking about the other half of how we were created to live. The New Testament mainly addresses how to live with people. The Sermon on the Mount, Paul’s letters to the churches, all deal with how to interact with each other, how to live life together, and how to be connected with each other through Jesus.

 

The world wants community, the world wants people in their life, the world looks for places to meet new people, to talk about life. The question we have to ask ourselves is are we willing to go to those places and start to transform the atmospheres from emptiness to wholeness.

 

 

I end this with a short story. That night at the bar, I reconnected with a friend I haven’t seen much of in a few years. We spent the majority of the night talking about music, life, and eventually Jesus. We talked about theology, Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity in general for probably 2 hours where he eventually told me that he re-committed His life recently but it still at war with himself. We talked about it and wrestled through the thoughts and ideas he had regarding God and Christianity. It was a great night in my book, because everywhere we as Christians walk the kingdom of God walks. That night me and three friends brought the kingdom of God in to that bar, and people were changed (including myself) because of it.