The Social Dilemma Part 2

So as Tim stated in his post last week… we are touching on some of the pitfalls of the social media driven world.  Again, I would like to state that we love social media.  In fact, if you are reading this post… it is a form of social media.  We looked at the validation search last week and want to take a look at “intimate moments” this week.

Missed Part 1?  Check it out here: Part 1

The more I scour the various platforms of social media the more I am confronted with the simple fact of their success.  Social media has reached deep into the human psyche and struck a chord for acceptance, and validation.  Tim aptly explained that this search for acceptance and validation is because we haven’t found it in our Creator (with whom we have already been accepted and loved).  If we don’t seek for it and find it in our Creator we will pursue it elsewhere and always come up empty.  However, I wanted to look at not our search for validation but the loss of distinction between public and personal information.

The rest of the world is breaking into our most intimate moments.  Walk through a restaurant and notice how many families are not talking but all scrolling through their phones.  See how many dates are inundated with pictures/tweets of food, ticket stubs, and selfies.  At the next wedding you attend try to count the amount of times someone pulls out their phone to get the next Instagram photo captured for posting.  These intimate moments are being destroyed because of our addiction to social media.  Family time around the table used to entail discussing the latest news of the day and enjoying time as a family, now it is time to catch up on the world.  Dates used to be the method of discovering if the person across the table or next to you at the concert was the person you wanted to spend your life with, now it is the method to gain social popularity.  Weddings used to be a celebration of love when we show our support in this beautiful union of two people, now it is the springboard for “likes” and “follows.”  I assure you that your family would rather have you present at dinner than see you posted a picture of your plate with the hashtags “#homecooking #loveyoumom #poorcollegekid #nomoreramen.”  I promise that your date would rather spend time talking to you and enjoying the date then see some status about how good your seats are or where you are eating.  And I can absolutely guarantee that the couple that invited you to their wedding would much rather you enjoy it with your phone in your pocket and your eyes on them.  If social fame is what you are after then the sacrifice will be much greater than you want to give.  As those precious moments slip by you will wish that you everything back.

Another problem I have been noticing was more apparent than ever last Friday.  Yes, February 14th.  Better known as Valentine’s Day.  Scroll through any social media news feed that day and you will see a bunch of posts that you will wonder why they are online instead of written in some card.  Part of it goes back to what Tim wrote last week… we want to be noticed, we want to be validated, and we want to show off our lives.  I am thrilled that people love their significant other but those are moments and things that should be shared between those two people only.  Stop bringing the world into our private lives!  I’ve had to catch myself on multiple occasions from spreading something that was private.  From inviting people into my intimate moments that had no business being there.  The line has all but been erased between public and private; between universal and intimate.

Push the social media back out of your private life and enjoy those moments.  No tweet, vine, post, or picture will ever compare to the quality time spent in the moments you will cherish.  Tell your significant other to their face how much they mean to you and it will mean much more than an eloquently worded post.  Sit down and discuss life with friends and family around the table and you’ll never miss what the social world is doing around you.  Enjoy your life and those you have in it face to face instead of screen to screen.

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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.

Christians & Alcohol: The Other Side of the Fence

This is Side 2: see Side 1 here!

It is interesting to me that the majority of things we (as Christians) argue vehemently over are personal preferences.  Many Christians spend their lives arguing for things not in scripture while denying things that are in scripture.  I think one of the biggest things argued for/against may be alcohol.  Did Jesus drink wine? Should I drink alcohol?  Don’t I have personal freedoms in Christ?

I would have to say the scripture is clear that drunkenness is indeed a sin and a “big” one at that.  Just take a look at the list of things Paul gives to those in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.  He then concludes “and such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”  Three big words in Christianity all in one verse: regeneration, sanctification, and justification but we will get into those perhaps in a different post.  So obviously drunkenness is a sin but little is said about alcohol or moderation drinking in general.  So instead of pulling out verses and attempting to explain something that may or may not be there lets go to some principles of the scripture.

1: Stumbling Another Believer (1 Corinthians 8)
Tim pointed out in his post that his friends check with him to make sure it is ok before drinking in front of him and that is great.  However, I have been out with friends (some mutual friends of Tim and I but some of my personal friends) that have not given me the same luxury.  Now, I am not one to judge them on their decisions about what to drink but because of the reasons I will list in this post, I attempt to avoid alcohol altogether.  Now, with respect to stumbling another believer there are of course lines.  If I didn’t like orange shirts and asked every member of my church to please throw out their orange shirts that would be a bit of an issue on my end.  But when a younger believer has knowledge that the leaders in his local body or the “older crowd” is ok with drinking then he goes out and drinks and fuels the addictive tendency and now has an issue with alcoholism that is closer to the meaning of causing another believer to stumble.  It is obviously still the choice of each individual but when that believer looks up and sees that behavior what inhibition would exist to push him/her in the right direction?

Several years ago there was a study conducted on alcohol usage in teenagers compared to the alcohol usage of parents.  In homes where parents were total abstainers from alcohol 16% of the teenagers tried alcohol before adulthood.  However, in homes where the parents were social drinkers, 66% of the children experimented with alcohol before adulthood.

There are numerous other examples that could be brought to light but the principle is the same: why rejoice in something that could cause another believer (or your own child) to stumble and stumble big.

2: Better to Be Separate then Compromising (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
I mentioned in the intro that in 1 Corinthians 6 we have a list of things that the believers in Corinth used to be, and among that list was drunkard.  Of course a drunkard and a social drinker are not the same thing but I don’t think it is too many steps down the staircase of alcohol between the two.  I have seen many friends that started at social and have stepped down to borderline drunkard.  Do you know what the number one reason people drink alcohol is? Socialization.  That is interesting to me and very telling.  People drink to fit in.  I wonder how this translates to Christians who chose to drink.  People are drinking to fit in with people who drink.  Paul says that some of the believers in Corinth were drunkards but have been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus.  So being a drunkard is a lifestyle that is associated, not with Christ, but with the world.  So in 2 Corinthians 6 we have Paul’s entreaty (using the words of God from the OT) that they should “come out from among them and be separate.”  I don’t think it is illogical or a stretch to say that a drunkard is not a drunkard without alcohol.  Social drinking is not social drinking without alcohol.  Paul associates the whole business with the world and urges the believers in Corinth to come out from among them and be separate.  As Christians we tend to pride ourselves with our distance from the world.  What we fail to realize is that keeping a steady distance from the world is actually pulling us further from Christ because this world isn’t growing steadily closer to God.  It appears to be the exact opposite and if our focus is on keeping a particular distance from the world then it is on the wrong thing.  We should have the attitude of distance to Christ.  We have been bought with a price and compromising in little things seems like a big price to pay at the judgment seat of Christ.

3: Christian Testimony (1 Peter 4:3-4; Romans 12, 1 Thessalonians 5:22)
I think this slides right in line with #2.  Part of being separate is your Christian testimony.  This, to me, is one of the strongest reasons to not partake in any drinks.  It actually is a fantastic opportunity to speak a few words in the gospel every time I am asked the question from a co-worker “you don’t drink?”  I have the opportunity to say that Christ saved me from my sins and I can’t see any way it is rewarding to Him for me to drink.  Sure, it comes with criticism sometimes; just look at the believers to whom Peter was writing in 1 Peter 4:3-4.  “For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.  With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you.”  This negative treatment of those who seek to uphold a Christian testimony and be separate hasn’t changed.  However, there are many who look to such an example and see a difference and inquire.  They are impressed with someone who can stand against the flood of normalcy in our society and have convictions.  Now, the difficulty comes with consistency.  Christian testimony goes far beyond alcohol and drinking and into every sphere of our lives.  When I have talked to others about this issue they come back with a retort of “well if that is the case then we shouldn’t go watch some movies or look at TV shows or listen to some music” and that always surprises me.  When did the grid of Philippians 3 become out of date and unnecessary?  When did looking at our actions and activities to see if there is any honor for Christ in them become something of the past?  EVERY THING should be compared to Christ and to see if it is bringing Him honor.  If it doesn’t, then like Paul reminds those in Corinth “if anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss” (1 Corinthians 3:15).  A Christian will have to face a judgment as well.  Not the Great White Throne judgment that judges sins (Revelation 20) but the Judgment Seat of Christ which judges works (2 Corinthians 5:10).  Everything that didn’t bring Christ glory and honor will be burned up and a reward will be lost.  Reward that will ultimately be placed at the feet of Christ.

But I referenced Romans 12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:22.  In Romans 12 I had in mind the appeal “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (v 2) and “give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (v 17).  The principle is what we have already been looking at.  Be separate.  But what about “Do what is right in the sight of everyone, “as Paul says in verse 17?  It ties into what a surface reading of 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says “avoid the appearance of evil.”   Some would take this to mean that we should not only avoid evil but avoid anything that looks evil.  Although this may be a good Biblical principle that is not in the context here.  We are to avoid every form of evil, whether it be doctrinal teaching, glaring heresy, or lifestyle choices.  We should avoid everything that may produce anything in us (albeit beliefs or lifestyle) that is contrary to the whole of scripture.  Does drinking make anyone a better person?  Do the ramifications of alcohol help anyone?

Perhaps my convictions are so strong because as a young person I had a former drug addict/distributor (the largest in PEI, Canada) look me in the eye and tell me “Rob, if you learn anything from me just stay away from alcohol all together.  It will do nothing for your testimony and is only playing with fire.  Don’t take the risk of getting burned.”  Regardless of my conviction, the Bible is only crystal clear on drunkenness.  I just wanted to give the Biblical principles for the other side of the argument from Tim’s post.  I am only a sinner saved by grace so to condescend on anyone else would be wrong but hopefully this at least brings a balance to the alcohol issue.  Regardless of your stance our prayer/desire is that all things are done to the glory and honor of our Savior.

-RM

 

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The Condescending Christian

Condescension: (n)
1: voluntary descent from one’s rank or dignity in relations with an inferior
2: patronizing attitude or behavior

I think this is a word we are all familiar with.  A word we are all disgusted with? Perhaps.  A word we are all plagued with.  More likely.

I’ve been discussing Christianity with various friends recently and we have all come to the same conclusion: Christians are not very Christ-like.  It reminds me of the first time the label “Christians” was used in the scripture.  We have all heard this before, but in Acts 11:26 we see that “in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”  The ironic thing is that this is an adjective and was not word that the believers called themselves but was a description that the pagans in Antioch gave them because they were following Christ.  The term was most likely a derogatory term given in mockery but the pagan world looked and saw people following Christ.  I wonder if they were being mocked because they actually acted like Him who they were attempting to follow.  Jesus said “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first” (John 15:18).  Contempt and mockery comes along with bearing the image of Christ.

Why do I say image instead of name?  “Christian” has become a nominal claim that holds no value but bearing the image of Christ is what we are called to do; be a reflection of Christ.  I believe a major problem in Christendom is that we are trying to be too “Christian-like” and forgetting to be “Christ-like.”

Now, this is not 100% true in every local church but it is a trend I am noticing more and more that the Church is shutting their “doors” tighter and tighter.  Obviously by doors I mean their hearts.  The attitude in local churches is that if you are on the inside you have been blessed and are a select group of “God’s elect” but if you are on the outside then you are not worth our thoughts.  It is interesting that Christ was never holed up in a building with the religious leaders of the day and reminiscing on how much better He was than the rest of the population (for He very well was MUCH better).  He was mocked for sitting and eating with sinners, for talking to a woman at the well, for calling children, for rescuing prostitutes, and loving the “scum.”  However, modern Christianity has turned their face from all of these ones that desperately need our love because we want to be “Christian-like.”  Christians don’t talk with non-Christians! Christians don’t get their hands dirty! Christians don’t sit and eat with sinners!  We want to stay in our “Christian boxes” and remind ourselves how great we are compared to all the sinners!  Paul knew nothing of this attitude when he writes to Timothy “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I AM chief” (1:15).  Paul knew he never lost his nature as a sinner and it motivated him to reach other sinners!  I remember hearing Billy Graham tell an interviewer that the first step for a gospel preacher is to first love sinners for whom Christ died.  Gospel preaching becomes dry and lifeless when the motivation behind the message is not a sincere love for the lost!  Why are people leaving churches to never return?  Because Christians are not “Christ-like.”  Christ didn’t have to provide entertainment to get a following and He didn’t need fancy projectors and loud music.  He only needed His love for every single person.  What happened?  They CLUNG to Him.  The world knows very little of God’s love because we have been called to be the vessels of His love but instead we shut ourselves in and pat each other on the back for being such a good Christian while lives are being torn apart, people are hopeless, and the world is spiraling out of control.

When I was in California recently I was talking to my friend and he was sharing with me some of the various things he has gotten himself into out there.  Every other Wed he goes and gives out burgers and Bibles to homeless people in LA.  Two of the ones he has reached come to services regularly on Sunday because he takes time out of his day to just sit and talk with them and helps them in any way he can.  This was just one of the things he was into and I really looked up to him for that.  He surely isn’t being very “Christian-like” but he certainly is being very “Christ-like.”

I’m not sure when we lost sight of the fact that we are only sinners saved by grace but we have.  Let’s step out of the box of our condescension and back into the life of love for people around.  I don’t care what race, sexual orientation, religion, or social status our neighbor is, they should all be getting a glimpse at the love of Christ.  Would my neighbor be able to call me a follower of Christ or is it just a label I’ve slapped on myself because I go to a Christian church?  What about you?  Lord, change my heart and help me to love like Christ.

-RM

 

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My Story: Paths Colliding and God Directing (Rob)

Happy Valentines day everyone 🙂  I have especially been enjoying the thought of Christ’s love for us this week.  Think of Galatians 2:20
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Ok so Tim and I were at Starbucks the other day and he told me that he wanted us both to do a “story” post on our spiritual life.  I enjoyed Tim’s post and through my post I want to show how God moved in my life to bring me to where I am today (including meeting Tim and starting this blog with him).

So, much like Tim, I was raised in a pretty conservative church.  Except, ours went a little further than even Tim’s upbringing did.  Sure, we were a suit and tie type place, but women also wore head coverings and were silent.  We had no pastor because the priesthood of all believers was something we really believed in.  The requirements for church membership were clear salvation and full immersion baptism and only those in fellowship are allowed to partake in communion on Sunday morning.  I still attend this church and will  gladly discuss why I believe God has called me to be there with anyone.  Growing up this way though had its downsides.  I don’t blame this on the church at all or my parents but I developed an attitude that I was better than some people because of how I was raised and certainly the kids I went to school with weren’t as good as me because I was a REAL Christian!  I grew up listening to a very clear gospel ever Sunday night and usually in the summer we had special gospel meetings for an entire month every night except Saturday.  I made a profession of my faith in Christ at the age of 12 (in 1999) during one of these summer meetings and held onto that for many years.  Really I was only depending on my own faith to save me instead of the work of Jesus on the cross.  I knew the gospel enough to give a good story and convince others I was saved.  I even had myself convinced at one point.  But oh the lingering doubts.  I got baptized to try and suppress some doubts and then joined the local church because that is what Christians do (Forsake not the gathering of yourselves together)!  But it was all a facade.

As I started college in 2005 I began to date a girl who by no means was a Christian and was into all of the things I always stood against (drinking, smoking, etc).  To this day I’m still not sure why I dated her but I’m actually glad I did.  This was the beginning of my REAL encounter with God.  I truly believe God was using this relationship to show me what a fraud I was that I didn’t care about anything that I was claiming to believe.  That is when God was speaking clearly to me, showing me daily that I had never  been “born again” and I was still a sinner on my way to hell.  On spring break in 2006, I was down at my parents house in NC visiting.  My parents still go to a very similar church but just down there in NC.  Whenever I was around them they had a joy and peace that I knew I didn’t have.  I longed for it.  One night I was on the back porch with my friend Daniel and we were playing some guitar together.  He would play all these nice Christian songs and I would play all these secular songs I was into (this is not a sermon against secular music at all).  But that spoke to me loudly, that I had no interest in this Christian life and didn’t care about God or Jesus or anything to do with the Bible.

That night I reached out to my friend Jimmy and told him what had been going on inside my head for some time.  That I really had never been saved.  He read some verses with me and as I was reading 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened” I realized two things.  First, was that I had been depending on my own belief to get me to heaven.  I had convinced myself that I had believed enough and that is what salvation really was; believing God.  Second, I saw that no matter how much I believe that he suffered for sins doesn’t change the fact that he did; just like I can believe that the sun will not rise in the morning but it will not change the suns rising.  I realized that the Bible says he suffered for me and if the Bible said it that it was enough for me.  It wasn’t depending on my faith to save me but depending on the Bible saying that “It is finished” and there was nothing for me to do.  That was March 30, 2006.

Since then my life has been perfect and I have made no mistakes….. NOT.  Christianity is not perfect living, which I very quickly had to admit as the sins didn’t stop.  But as we grow in our faith the desire for sin lessens and we should look more like Christ.  Fortunately God has given us His spirit to accomplish this because the REAL Christian life is impossible without the Holy Spirit.

Now, how I met Tim.  Actually, it comes out of a lower point in my life.  It is not that I was doing anything wrong but I had some of my priorities a bit messed up.  I was reading less and cared more about hanging out with friends, having fun, and going to open mics.  But at Starbucks is where I met Tim and we hit it off instantly.  He encouraged and strengthened my faith as he challenged me.  He doesn’t go to a church like mine and doesn’t share some of my beliefs about how worship should be done but I love him anyway and he has caused me to dive deeper into Christ.  I met some other cool people through him as well.  I was always one to openly discuss my faith with anyone and everyone.  I am not one to shove it down your throat but if you ask me about it I’m going to have an answer.  I have a huge interest in Christian life, the church, apologetics, and science.  All of which integrate into my pursuit of Christ.  The more I talked with Tim the more I loved the challenges we brought eachother as we wrestled with what our faith means everyday.

Tim and I don’t agree on some things but we are definitely both in love with Christ and want to see him lifted up and his people encouraged to follow His example and His word.  When he asked me about a blog I thought it was an excellent idea and was honored he wanted me to join him.  This has been a great learning experience for me and we enjoy seeing discussion and wrestling with our readers as well.  That is really our desire with the blog, to make us all sit back and think and dive into God’s word together to be a better embodiment of our Savior.  We also value the opinions of those that aren’t Christians because isn’t that our commission? To go into all the world and preach the gospel?  Our testimony is at stake to and we want nonbelievers to look in and see a church body that is all about love and truth and God without all the other distractions and headaches that Christians are sometimes known for.  Let’s all grow together as Christians and be a light to an ever darkening world!

Thanks for reading and keep commenting!

-RM

 

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Kicking God Out!

Tim stated in his status today:
“Well as expected we have politicized the CT shootings. Conservatives blame the “absence” of God in schools, and liberals blame guns. There you go, keep fighting for your agendas, that’s definitely what we want to see. Finger pointing, blame games, rhetoric. it’s insane.

P.S my dear brothers and sisters in Christ. God goes where He pleases, He is God. We didn’t “kick” him out of anything. Besides, the Bible tells us that God looks at the heart of men, not the outward deeds. We can pray all we want in school publicly, but if it’s out of forced religious duty then it doesn’t matter to God. He wants our hearts.”

First I would like to say our hearts, prayers, thoughts, and love go out to all the suffering families.

But I would like to follow up on Tim’s points and elaborate a bit.  I don’t care about the political agenda of either side to be quite honest so if you are looking for a politically charged post, please move on.  I do care about the notion of “Kicking God Out.”  My first question is “where does God reside?”

Where Does God Reside

“Heaven,” shouts an excited child.
“AMERICA” declares a passionate patriot.
“Among the children of Israel,” explains an avid reader of the OT (Exodus 29:45).
“The Temple,” states one reading the dedication of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 7:16).

What are we told, in this age that we are currently living, where God lives?  Acts 7:48 tells us not in a temple made with hands.  1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

God dwells in the Temple but not a physical temple.  Any person saved through faith in Christ is become “temple of God” and is the dwelling place of the Spirit of God.

So where does God reside?  In those who have been saved through faith in Christ Jesus.

Kicking God Out

Since we answered the question of where does God live/dwell then it’s easier to answer the statement that “we kicked God out of our country/schools/etc.”  Did we?  If I was at Starbucks and stated to the gentlemen next to me, “See that guy over there delivering tortillas to Qdoba?  I just kicked him out of here!”  The gentlemen may rightly state, “I don’t ever remember seeing that man in here?”  That is basically what we are saying when we claim that we are kicking God out of this country.  God doesn’t live in schools, in church buildings, in the Senate or Congress, in the White House, in stores, or in countries.  God lives in people.  So unless we are actively removing the Holy Spirit from individuals we haven’t kicked God out of anything.  I understand the concept that we remove the 10 Commandments from walls and declare “SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!” at every opportunity but that isn’t removing God.  God isn’t a person confined to a particular location He is the I AM.  I strongly disagree with “we pushed God out of our country so He took His hands out.”  God doesn’t promise protection to any nation besides Israel but somehow we get the notion that because the USA was founded on “Christian principles” we are a nation blessed by God?  In the NT there is the idea of God’s protection over a group of people but it isn’t a nation.  It is the church of God.  1 Corinthians 5:5 says “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”  Paul is telling them that they need to excommunicate the man who had been sleeping with his step-mother and that he should be handed over to Satan. Obviously not literally, as I firmly believe it is impossible to be controlled by Satan if you have the Holy Spirit, but into His realm outside the protection of the local church.  So unless we have been kicking God out of individuals then no one has kicked God out of anything, publicly.

However, I do agree with the sentiment that has been expressed that we shove God out of every area of our lives and then wonder where He is during tragedy.  Read the story of Job and take a lesson on dependence upon God in ALL circumstances of life.   This is different from the public removal of God into the personal removal of God.  As Christians, we can do this.  We are the dwelling place of God which means He should have access to every area of our lives.  But, what about the movies I watch? What about the management of my time?  What about the places I go?  What about the things I say? My job/school decisions?  It seems we push God out of active involvement in our lives and then wonder why things go wrong.  That’s not to say a Christian solidly grounded in God will not experience hurt, pain, sadness, or storms.  Actually, on the contrary he/she will probably experience more but when you are grounded in God the joy is unwavering and peace is overwhelming.  One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 23:26, “My son, give me thine heart.”

As a nation, it is impossible to “kick God out.”  Sure it is possible to deviate from the “Christian principles” but that won’t cause national tragedies.  God doesn’t punish anyone else for another’s sins.  But privately, we (at least I) have all been victim of pushing God out of certain areas of our lives.   When that happens we won’t enjoy that relationship we have, complaints will flow off our lips, and our joy will diminish.

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”  John 15:11

Christ gave us the key to joy in the preceding verses, especially vs 5.  One of the “I am” statements of Christ.  If we are abiding (remaining) in Him our joy will be full.

-Rob

 

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Love: It’s a thing of the past!

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

~John 13:34-35

 

Christ preempted a problem plaguing our local churches today by about 2000 years. Love.  I don’t mean that husbands are forsaking their wives and children are going through life never feeling appreciated (those these issues could also be addressed).  The love I am talking about is what Christ spoke to His disciples about.  Christian love.  This is something that even in the past days has been on my heart heavily.

 

I will be the first to admit that my life is not an overflowing cup of love for everyone I come across.  That is to my own shame.  Christ is still working out the pieces of rock in this lump of clay as I am shaped into His image.  But I feel that there is a severe lack of true Christian love.

Let me give you an example.  This is a personal example and it is half of what really got me thinking about this topic.  I don’t think I am alone in saying that the Christian life is hard.  One of the hardest things about it is true, unchanging, consistency.  We have our own flesh against us, we have the world against us, and we have the devil against us.  All three of which, probably have completely controlled our lives at one point or another.  Now, we have a new master but those other three are still all seeking the throne.  So, I will say I struggle with consistency in my life.  One thing I’ve never struggled with was being convicted about sin when I’ve messed up and desiring to get back on the right track and enjoying the amazing fellowship with God when He restores me.  Even when we are struggling with things in life, and maybe we are headed down the wrong path, something inside a Christian is never right and a true Christian will never be happy and will always have remorse and eventually come back.  I really believe that.  When I have been to my lowest points, and actually really enjoying myself, yes I was having a lot of fun, but at the cost of my relationship with God.  Inside? I was miserable.  I wanted to give everything up and run back to God.  That is the mark of a true Christian.  The innate desire for God.  Always.  Now, there was a lady that I respected, older than I.  And it got back to me recently some things she said about me.  I will summarize, “Rob is just on a spiritual high.  He goes through spiritual waves of highs and lows.  Right now he is on a spiritual high and he will crash soon.”  Hearing those words hurt immensely.  Why?  Because this was a woman that I actually respected and looked up to.  I have lost much of my respect for her now but I learned a lesson.  How is my love?  I’ve had to look over my actions of the past and see that not all of my decisions were based on love for others.  What have I done to help out my fellow believers, just because I had a deep love for them.  Look at the local church in Jerusalem in Acts 2:41-47.  Verses 44 and 45 just show what this church’s motivation was: love for each other.  What an example.  I’m sure old brother Scott wasn’t there looking at a younger brother Carl and saying “well I’ve seen Carl and he goes through waves of being spiritual… right now he is doing well but just give it a little bit and he will crash again.”  I bet Scott was doing everything he could to make sure Carl didn’t crash again.  Is that how I am?  Do I look at my fellow Christian and judge them or do I come along side of them and encourage, strengthen, motivate, and love them?

Love is where it all begins.  And, where it all ends.  What does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 13 (the great love chapter)?

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

It all starts with each of us.  I have to just work on myself and how I can love.  It doesn’t matter to me what anyone else is doing or saying.  It doesn’t matter to me what anyone else is living for.  My Savior said that other people shall know I am His by my love.  So I think its about time I did a love check.  I think it’s about time to heal up wounds I’ve created in others in the past.  Where is the love?  Christ.  Let’s pour that out.  Especially to believers, and then to the entire world.