There are some Sundays when the music all seems to go together, the sermon is powerful and you feel so close to God like you could almost reach out and touch Him. The same could be said during times of prayer, or in a time of great need. There are times however when God does not feel as close. Perhaps the service just feels more dry than other services, or perhaps you feel like your prayers are getting no higher than the ceiling. There have been different times in my life when I have felt close to God, and there have been times in my life when I felt distant from God. This does not always have to be just an hour or a day. There have been periods in my life when I have felt distant from God for weeks or even months. If you have ever felt this same way, you might be wondering what can do, or what should I do? Fortunately the Bible speaks on this very issue. The person of Job felt distant from God for a period in his life. He suffered great loss, and his friends and wife were of no real help to him. He longed to be close to God, but God only appears in the beginning of the book of Job, and doesn't really make an appearance again till the end of the book. The Psalms are another example, on the one hand they expressed that there was no where one could go to get away from God, but then in other Psalms expressed a distance from God and longing for God to be active in life. It is comforting to know that even in scripture there are people who have felt similar things to us, and dealt with many of the same questions we've had. I want to offer some advice on this issue, seeing how I have experienced this distant from God in my own life. The 1st thing I would suggest would for the one to ask if they have fallen into a sinful lifestyle, or have some recurring sin, that has not been confessed nor repented of. While all of us still have a sinful nature and would be shamed if our all our thoughts and actions were put before us, there are still times when believers can fall into sinful lifestyles or have a particular sin that is not being properly dealt with by the believer. It could be a fantasies about a co-worker, or some unresolved bitterness towards a person. It could even be that one is lying more than they are telling the truth, and so many more sins. Whatever the sin may be, you have felt the Spirit convicting you of it, but as the sin goes unaddressed sin does what it always does which is it separates us from God. if this is the case then you should pray, and confess your sin to God, repent of it, and again put your trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of that sin. Focus on the what it took for God to forgive you of your sin, and concentrate on just how much God loves you. As you focus on the cross of Christ and understand that in that action and not by your actions that you are forgiven you might find that God again feels close. Let's say that this is not the case. The next situation is similar to that of Job, where although one is not perfect they regularly confess their sins, and put their trust in Christ, and strive to live a Christ like life every day loving God and neighbors. Yet God does not feel close for some reason. Here I would advise first going to God's word. We believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, so when we read the scripture we understand that this is God speaking. This is not just a doctrinal statement in order to make our theology fit together all nice and neat, but it is a truth, a statement of reality that God, our creator, sustainer, and savior has revealed Himself to us in the words of each book in the cannon of scripture. So if one wishes to encounter God, then one need only go to the text. I would also suggest that one go to God in prayer as well. The scriptures is how God communicates with us, and prayer is how we communicate with God. Remember the parable of the old woman who wanted justice from the unjust judge, and understand how much more will God answer your prayers if you continue to pray to Him. It is okay to let God know that you feel distant from Him, and it is okay to ask for comfort for the Lord. In fact we are commanded to cast all of cares and worries to the Lord. Spending time in God's word and prayer is the believer's way of encountering God when the church has not gathered together. Finally it is also important to remember to not place too much emphasis on feelings. Our emotions are important, and serve as an important tool in daily lives, however in this era I believe we have given too much credit to our emotions making them the deciding factor in determining if something is true or not. How do I know it is right, well I feel that it is right. How do I know that I'm in love, well I feel in love. How I do know God is near, well I feel that God is near. By allowing our reality to be determined primarily by our emotions we put ourselves at the mercy of ever changing and sometimes irrational feelings. One does not need to always feel in love, to know that they love someone, and one need not always feel that God is close to know that He is. We can read in the scriptures and see that God is close, and put in our trust in the word of God, and not in the feelings of our heart. I have found in those times when I feel like God is distant that if I go to scriptures, and read about how God loves His people such as in Psalms 23, or if I read about the experiences of Paul in his letters, and the relationship he has with God and if I trust in the words of Jesus Christ that God loves me I find that in time my feelings soon follow what I know to be true. It is a tough time when you feel distant from God, and so this is also where a church family and pastor are also important resources to help you during through these feelings. Have you ever felt distant from God? How have you handled those times? Was this blog helpful to you? Comment below and let me know!
If there is one lesson that needs to learned and learned well in today's culture it is that of consistency. With social media, cameras on every phone and the ease of hacking into websites and private information it has become incredibly easy to find out if one is being consistent between their actions and their words today. The few exceptions to this rule must spend considerable money protecting their inconsistency, but for the rest of us it is important to understand that in this age if we get into the public eye at all, we will be held accountable for our actions and our words. For Christians this is particularly important because hypocrites has long been the excuse for unbelievers to avoid churches and other places where they might hear the gospel, and now it is even being used as a weapon to attack the ethical views held by many Christian institutions. The problem with consistency however is that not many people want to be consistent. In the book of Luke when Jesus first begins his ministry and reads from the book of Isaiah the people around him are amazed, but when begins to talk about mercy being shown to the gentiles the crowds turns on Jesus and tries to throw him off a cliff. They were okay with receiving mercy from God, but they did not want this mercy shown to other people who were not like them. I have known a few Christians who share this same point of view, understanding that God has forgiven them of their sins, but wishing that God would not forgive someone else who they viewed as worse. Perhaps the most glaring problem of inconsistency within the church today however is when people say a phrase but their actions, and beliefs do not stand by that phrase in the least. Let me give an example. One of my primary criticisms of the CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) is that while they claim to believe in the authority of scripture, they also maintain that one may interpret the Bible any way they choose, even if this interpretation is diametrically opposed to someone else's interpretation of scripture including how people in the Bible interpreted a particular passage. So the question becomes, "how can the Bible be authoritative if everyone can have a different meaning to what it is saying?" The answer is it cannot, but here we see the problem. The CBF claims to believe in the authority of scripture, but once that claim is examined along with their other claims we learn that is does not carry any weight. Such inconsistencies are not limited to the Christians however. It is a common joke about politicians claiming to be for one thing, but in their actions and the policies they push for reveal that they are not for that at all. There are thousands of examples of people being inconsistent in either their actions, beliefs, and/or words, but what do we as Christians do about this? It is clear that Jesus was for Christians being consistent because he commanded that our yes be our yes and our no be our no. We continue to this same thought carried through Paul's letters where he rebukes churches such as the one in Corinth for being inconsistent as well as when Paul rebuked Peter. Because Christianity is truth Christians should be the most consistent people of them all. I believe it for this reason that it stings that much more to the world when we see examples of Christians being inconsistent. It is one thing to see thousands of men being caught having affairs, but it stings worse if we were to learn of just 4 pastors having affairs. I can already hear some of you typing asking the question, "So are we suppose to be perfect? That's impossible!" I didn't say that we should be perfect I said we should be consistent, or more specifically we should be more consistent within Christianity. Christians are called to uphold the law, but we also understand that we will fail in this calling and in fact we will fail over and over, and yet many times Christians try to maintain a sense of perfection to the world. We sweep sinful actions under the rug, and try to move on without letting too much attention be on that sinful person, this comes at the great cost of the world not really seeing the power of the gospel, which is God's power to forgive humanity. While we should strive every single day to be more like Christ and love God and neighbor more, we must confess our sins when we do sin, and mourn over how our actions have hurt others, and offended God, but then we should rejoice in forgiveness we and/or other Christians receive from God and celebrate their repentance. This is consistent Christianity, it is biblical Christianity. What do you think? Comment below and let me know!
I think it is best to start this blog with a quote from Matthew 5:27, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." If there is any benefit to living in the moral wasteland that is modern America it's that we can get a better idea of what Jesus meant when he spoke on moral issues. Of course I am talking about the recent event that has happened in our nation the scope of which cannot yet be understood. For those who don' know, recently the website Ashley Madison a website created for the purpose of enabling people to have affairs was hacked and all of the information of their clients were made public for the world to see. This was not a hundred or even a thousand people, but millions of people who have now had their intention to commit adultery exposed to the world, and the reaction has been interesting. This interesting reaction comes from the secular culture which seems to have responded to this event with moral outrage. One might think that their outrage was directed towards those who hacked the website, and to be sure those individuals exist, however I am more interested in those who express moral outrage at the people who sought to commit adultery. The reason why this is interesting is because I had thought that marriage had lost all value in our culture today what with many young people not getting married, the redefining of marriage and the divorce rate in our country. What I missed is what many of these people were upset about, which was not that they destroyed their marriage, but that they were not honest about it. If these people on this website had just divorced their spouse and then went off to date someone else, well then I guess there would be no judgement, but because these people did their deed in secret then they are deserving of culture's condemnation. This plays into one of my favorite hypocrisies which is the hypocrisy of, "I might (insert sin here) but at least I'm honest about it" This is a hypocrisy because it places one sin over another in an attempt for the sinner to justify themselves rather than own up to their own sin. While it is true that the consequences for sin differ from sin to sin, all sin equally separates one from God, and all sin is an affront to God's holiness and goodness. So being honest about your rebellion from God does not make you any less of a rebel than the person who is rebelling against God and lies about it. The hypocrite does not see this because they are focused on the sins of others so that they will not see their own sin. So let's put this cultural condemnation in perspective shall we? "It doesn't matter if I place no value in sex because I jump from bed to bed, if I were to settle down and commit, then I would be faithful." "I might look at a ton of porn while I date my girlfriend, but she knows I do even though we don't talk about it, but I would never cheat on her in real life." "I might sleep with other people but so does my spouse, we have an open marriage, we are progressive, which is why we are morally superior to these people who cling to the old fashion marriage and then fail at that because they had an affair." Of course one's sin need not be sexual in order for one to be a hypocrite. Many of the people who are quick to condemn the people involved in Ashley Madison have a plethora of other sins by which they might be judge. Lying, stealing, rebellion from God, idolatry, are all still sins, and worthy of condemnation from God, and yet we will want to focus on adultery because we are the ones who didn't commit that particular sin. I wonder how many people who have now had their sin laid bare were once standing above another person proclaiming their moral superiority in some kind of fashion. This is where Christians can come in. Instead of seeing these people the way that the culture sees them which is denigrates and morally inferior people, we could instead see them the way Jesus sees them, and in fact the way that Jesus sees us, which is as sinners. Yes every person involved in Ashley Madison is a sinner, and what they did is wrong, and destructive towards marriage, just like the refining of marriage, or having sexual relations before marriage. Yes adultery is a sin, and the people who committed this sin are sinners, but we must consider Jesus' words before we begin to speak so that we may approach this situation from a biblical worldview.The quote I gave at the beginning of this post is from what is called the "sermon on the mount" and in it Jesus lists several sins and explains them in such a way that every single person becomes guilty in some way, which was Jesus' point. Jesus wanted to let us all know that we are all guilty before God the Father and in need of a savior and of forgiveness. Believers, we have an opportunity here to preach the true gospel, to speak to this issue from a biblical worldview. It is an opportunity for us to preach the gospel to these sinners and let them know what Christ did so that their sins would be forgiven. To explain to them that if they would turn from their sin and trust in Him, they can know that they stand justified, and righteous before God even though they have committed adultery because Jesus has died for their sins, just as He has died for yours and mine. This is also where we come to hard part for Christians, and that is forgiving as we have been forgiven. There were many names that came out from this, and many of those names will be Christians or people connected to Christians in some way. It could be someone's spouse or someone's parent who has had their intentions exposed, and so for the Christians who will be hurt from this, and who have loved ones involved in this situation I encourage you to pray for their repentance, to express how their sin has hurt you, and how it has grieved you, but I also call for you to remember how God has forgiven you and so I encourage you to forgive them as you have been forgiven. As for the rest of the believers out there, we should respond to this in two ways. The first way is with grief. We should mourn that so many people are caught up in sexual sin that a website devoted to having affairs could be so successful. We should mourn that our culture has such a low view of marriage and of sex that the sin which is being judged here is not violation of the marriage covenant, but dishonesty, and we should mourn for the broken families that will arrive because of the sins of these people. Our second response should be to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, the one who will wipe away every tear, and the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. We should preach Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins. We should with humility and grace preach repentance and trust in Jesus. We should keep in mind that one day we will stand before God and every deed we have done will be expressed. We should remember that we are also grievous sinners who have been shown the awesome grace of God, and we should seek to help the families that are going to be broken because of this sin. In short Christians should be Christian. What did you think of this event with Ashley Madison? What do you think of this blog, was it helpful, did it make you think? Comment below and let me know!
It's important to say the right things. Today there is so much said at once and so much of it is wrong. Communication is important and so it is important to say what is clear and correct. It is also important however, that if you are going to talk the talk you must walk the walk. As a preacher I talk a lot. I study and pray so as to say that which is in keeping with my faith and the word of God. If my actions however do not back up my words then all I am doing is making noise. Yes its true that the Spirit can and does still work despite my imperfections, and it because I am imperfect that I must point people to a perfect savior just as I must be pointed to a perfect savior. Having said all that it is still important that I strive for my actions to always match up with my words. I have recently found that this is more difficult to do than to say. One example is that it's easy to say that we should think of other people more than we think of ourselves. This is a good Christian principle coming from the second greatest commandment, and from numerous verses in the Bible. For a long time I thought this principle just meant being nice people, asking them how they were doing, and opening the door for them, and giving money to those who truly needed it. While all these things are good, they are not indicative to the concept of putting others above self. For believers putting others before one's self has its true meaning when it involves sacrifice. There is nothing wrong with being nice to people and getting the door, but it does not cost much. There will be times in our lives when thinking of others will cause us to have to sacrifice and it is during these times that we are more conformed to the image of Christ. Some times it could that we have to sacrifice our free time in order to comfort someone in times of trouble. Some times it could mean sacrificing something that you wanted to buy because you are spending real money to helps somebody out. Some times it could sacrificing your pride and desires by not saying something that while true, would not help the situation and would hurt the one you love. Love requires sacrifice, which is one of the reason I believe God instituted the family. It takes sacrifice if one is going to be in a family and as any parent will tell you, when the child comes it is all about that child and your thoughts and desires come second. That is sacrifice. Sacrifice is not something that is pleasant. It means putting yourself second which is something no one really wants to do. This is why love is one of the fruits of the Spirit. The scriptures tell us, "Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13. There is a great video from the Christians who are being persecuted by ISIS stating that they will lay down their lives so that the ones taking them can hear the gospel. Perhaps the reason that many Americans are not seeing the love of Christians is because Christians in America are unwilling to really sacrifice in order demonstrate the love of God to unbelievers. I do not wish to make generalizations as I have witnessed many Christians sacrificing much out of their love for others and the church and of course God, but I believe there are many Christians like me who will only love so long as that love is not too costly. This is not a Christian attitude and reveals a lack of love within the heart. If you find that this is your attitude I invite to reflect upon the love that was shown to you by Jesus. Jesus, "who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bound servant, and coming in the likeness of men. and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death of the cross." Philippians 2:6-8. When we think about the love and mercy God has shown us we should reflect that love in the treatment of others, and if we are to truly show God's love to the world, then love must be like God's, which means it must be sacrificial. Of course it's easy to talk the talk, God help us to walk the walk.
As Christians we are called to repent of our sins, and to trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins. In conversations I've had with people there has been some confusion on this and so I wanted to take this time to address it. There are those who claim to be Christian yet they are unrepentant of certain sins in their life and so the question if they really are a Christian comes up. Now this is a complicated subject because we are dealing with people's hearts and because even Christians who repent of their sins still find themselves caught up in sin. There is also the aspect of salvation through faith alone that must be considered. So in order to deal with the least amount of confusion I will start first from salvation. We are saved by the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit which works in our heart upon us hearing the gospel of being forgiven through the death of Jesus. It regenerates our hearts, creating in us a sense of guilt over our sin, a love for God, and a faith and trust in this gospel and Jesus our Lord and savior. Without the Holy Spirit first regenerating the heart of a person it is impossible for them to truly believe in Jesus Christ. When a person becomes a believer they are given a proper understanding of their sin and are grieved by it. This grief might be that of understanding how they have offended God, but it could also be a grief of them being eternally separated from God. Nevertheless, it is this guilt and grief over sin, that is the beginning of repentance. What repentance is, is a changing of the mind and a turning away from sin. You no longer desire to sin, even if you at times will have a desire to sin. No longer are you a slave to sin even though you will still sin. Repentance is making war on sin. It is going to battle against the old man you once were every single day and fighting in the power of the Holy Spirit. Repentance is loving your neighbor more and more and focusing upon the Cross of Christ as we learn day after day that we will lose this battle, yet we have victory in Jesus. Now it is important to keep in mind that none of this is done in your own power, but is done through the Holy Spirit working in you. It is not your own will that causes you to love more, but that is the fruit of the Spirit. So is the struggle against actively pursuing sin while having faith and trusting Jesus that He has forgiven you. From this perspective we can shift gears to unrepentant sin, and more importantly why it matters in terms of one's salvation. One mistake not to make is thinking about unrepentant sin the same as un-confessed sin. It is good and biblical for Christians to confess our sins. We should confess them to the Lord and to each other within the church body, however it is not proper doctrine to say that one must confess all their sins or they are unsaved. To think like this would put one in the same company as Martin Luther before he truly understood grace by faith alone in that he would go back to confession several times a day due to sins that he had not confessed. Repentance instead is a sign that one is saved. It shows that one cares about their sins, and how they offend God and affect other people. This is why any person professing Christ yet being unrepentant of their sin should examine their salvation and turn to Christ. Repentance is the evidence of salvation just like the fruit of the Spirit. If a professing believer does think what they are doing is wrong and they refuse to stop it, and fight against it, that is when there is a case of unrepentant sin. Now I hear some of you saying, "What about that verse in the Bible where Paul talks about food sacrificed towards idols?" It is true that there are some things that we are given some freedom on, and we are not to use this freedom to give into the desires of the flesh, and Paul talks about this clearly in Galatians. The works of the flesh vs the fruit of the Spirit. Our righteousness is not found in our ability to keep the law, but in Christ, and as such we should have no problem admitting when we are weak in the law, and trusting that through Jesus Christ we have been forgiven. The Christian that has true faith has no reason to try to work around the law, or bypass the law, or remove the law. The true Christian can look at the full law and see how they have failed to keep it, yet trust that in Christ they will be right before God. As such, Christians strive to be obedient to the word of God out of love for God and love for others. This is Christian life and what repentance looks like. What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below and let me know.
When I was a child I had a simplistic view of conflict, and conflict resolution. The person who did something wrong should apologize and then the conflict would be over. As I have grown up I have realized that life is not always that simple. To be sure there are times when one does offend another and so they should seek to be forgiven, however there are some conflicts that arise not from blatant sin, but from two or more people coming together and having a disagreement about the proper course of action. When doing various projects with my dad I have learned that although we are similar we can have different ways of doing things. For example when moving furniture he might rotate it to the left while I rotate it to the right. Although my dad is much more experienced than me, and most of the time he is right, I have to say that there a few times when either his way or my way could have worked. Conflicts arise from situations like this. A similar situation could be in the disciplining of a child. There are multiple ways to discipline a child and some ways are more effective for certain children at certain times than others. Because of this parents can disagree about how the discipline their children in particular situations. If a child fails a test should he grounded for the weekend or should he be given some grace but the parents inquire about his school work more? The truth is there are times when one option would be better, however both options are good in their own way. These types of conflicts can tough for families because there is no wrong person in these situations, there is no one right solution, and thus figuring out what should be done can lead to trouble. What do we do when these conflicts arise? There is no one answer to this question, but perhaps I can give some good tips for dealing with these conflicts when they arise. 1. You must understand that you are both sinners. I put this one first because for me it is something that I can quickly forget in the middle of a conflict. I get a sense of self-righteousness about myself and I can forget that I am a sinner. It's important to remember that you are sinner because you are a sinner, but it can also lead you to ask the question of if you are driving by some kind of sinful desire such as the desire to be right, or to win an argument. I am often tempted to be this way during confrontations, and it is something both members should be aware of. 2. Remember the work of Christ (Philippians) In the book of Philippians Paul explains that believers should view others more highly than they do themselves taking on the attitude of Christ who was equal with God, but did not consider this something to be grasped, but instead made himself low taking on the form of a slave and being obedient even to death on the cross. When we are not dealing with issues of doctrine, truth, and things clearly laid out in scripture we should be willing to ask ourselves the question, "What does it cost to be right?" There are issues worth fighting for, but there are also issues that aren't worth fighting about and it is in these times that if we view others are more important than us, then not only can be lead to peace faster, but we can move in a spirit of love and humility, rather than a spirit of pride of pride and bitterness. 3. Remember the gospel. It is important that we remember that we have been forgiven through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We have been forgiven our sins. In every aspect of life we should always recall what Jesus has done for us. The gospel is not just for unbelievers, it is for believers as well. The gospel is what continually sanctifies the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit. As believers if we are going to handle conflict in our homes, communities, churches, and even our world we must keep going back to the work of Jesus on the cross. That act of love, humility, justice, and righteousness is what should be what sets the tone for our lives every single day. What do you think? How do you deal with conflicts where there is not a clear right and wrong? What did you think of this blog? Comment below and let me know, and as always thanks for stopping by.
Ever since the supreme court has redefined married to be between two consenting adults rather than a man and woman, I have seen a vast amount of comments on facebook and twitter regarding this issue. My addiction to electronics aside I couldn't help be notice the vast amount of self-righteousness coming from people of both sides. I've seen posts like, "God honors my marriage, soon you and all your bigoted people will be forced in the closet" and posts like, "You are a perverted person only interested in twisting God's word to suit your own ends" I've seen all kinds of posts talking about how America is one step closer to becoming this magical utopia where skies are filled with rainbows and everyone is happy and I have seen posts predicting that America will be the next home of the Nazis in less than 5 years. Perhaps what I have seen the most of is professing Christians on both sides calling for the other to repent. Now some of you who are reading this might think that I am one of those who aim to walk down the middle of the road, and this is an article about how Christians on both sides should not worry about these issues because God loves us all. Rest assured I am not that person, and this is not that article. This article is a calling out to myself, and to everyone else who has gotten more self-righteous rather than righteous which has expressed itself in the issue of homosexuality. There is an important difference between self-righteousness and righteousness. That difference is understanding where one's righteousness comes from which is not from ourselves, but from Jesus Christ. No one, again no one is righteous through themselves. We are all thieves, perverts, adulterers, gossipers, murderers, or in short sinners. All of us have done wrong and desire to do wrong, and have desired to do wrong. We are imperfect, we have missed the mark, so there is not one person who should dare claim to be righteous because if they do they are liar and the truth is not in them. All of us have sins we are guilty of and should feel ashamed over, but many Christians have become too busy arguing with each other which conveniently leads them to ignore their sin, just as the flesh desires. One is not righteous because they support same-sex marriage. One is not righteous because they support traditional marriage. One is righteous because the Son of God came and died on the cross taking on the full wrath of God, conquering sin and death and granting to those who are united to Christ through faith His righteousness. Being united to Christ through faith means repenting or turning away from your sins, no longer desiring to do what is evil in God's sight, but wanting to do what is good. It also means trusting in Jesus Christ. Believing that it is Jesus who has saved you and will bring the good work that He started in you to completion. As Christians if we only call people to repent, then we have given them only half of the command. We must call for them to repent and to trust in Jesus Christ if we are going to give the the full command of God. We must also make sure that is true for ourselves as well. Have you repented of your sins, and are trusting in Jesus Christ? Professing Christians on both sides of this argument need to repent and trust in Jesus. There are several sins that Christians in support of traditional marriage must repent of. They should repent of not being as loving as God has commanded. They should repent of being self-righteous rather than trusting in Christ. They should repent of waiting until this moment to start to care about the sanctity of marriage. They should repent of not speaking the truth in love, but of speaking the truth to win an argument, caring not for the edification of brothers and sisters in Christ, but to make themselves feel important as they defend the faith. If you're not guilty of any of these sins, then repent of the sins you are guilty of. I was picking sins that I need to repent of. If you are Christian in support of same-sex marriage there are sins that you should repent of. You should repent of proclaiming a false witness against God. Scripture is clear on this issue, and for a man to have sex with another man or a woman to have sex with another woman is sin in the eyes of God. You have promoted that your brothers and sisters who experience same-sex attraction should not practice self-control which is a fruit of the Spirit, but have encouraged them to engage in sinful activity. You have also spoken not with love but with hate towards Christians who understand that sex persevered for husband and wife, not merely spouse and spouse. You have sought to create confusion over God's word rather than trusting it. You are guilty of trying to justify sin rather than confessing it to God. For these sins Christians on both sides are called to repent, and put their trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. Let us not have righteousness in ourselves for we know that self-righteousness does not honor God, nor does it lead to salvation. Instead let us trust in the righteousness that has been given to us by Jesus Christ and let us seek to live lives that reflect that righteousness, and trust in Christ, not ourselves. Jesus has died for our sins. He will grant us victory over them. It is because of how good Jesus is that we can be righteous, and so let's seek to be righteous. The righteous Christian is one that trusts in the mercy of God. The righteous Christian is one that does not speak from position of being better than his neighbors, but speaks like one beggar telling another beggar where to find food. The righteous Christian loves not because of how good he is, but loves because God first loved him. Let us seek to be the righteous Christian. What do you think? What did you think of this blog? Comment below and let me know. Thanks for stopping by.
Life is full of failure. Failure is word that we don't hear often in the world today, and it seems like our culture is going out of its way to make sure that people never feel like a failure. It hurts to fail. If you've played any sports you know how it feels to work so hard to win the game only to lose in the end. Every student knows what it is like to fail in school, even if they never received a failing grade everyone has gotten a grade that they hoped would have been higher. Perhaps Christians are the ones who deal with the most failure. Not only are we told that most people will reject the gospel when we tell it to them, but Christians deal with failure in their own life every single day. Christians fight against sin. If a Christian is not struggling against various sins in their life, then it is fair to say that that person should reevaluate their salvation because they may be a false convert. As Christians struggle against sin, if they are honest with themselves they will come to learn something real quick and that is they fail a lot. There isn't a Christian alive who can't relate to Paul in Romans 7. When one really takes a look inside themselves they see just how wicked and depraved they really are. Now it's true that as one becomes a more mature Christian they learn to love their neighbor more, however Christians will always struggle against the wicked thoughts they have. Because we still have a sinful flesh we deal with sin, and often times will fail and have the feeling of misery afterwards. So what do we do when we fail? For this it is important to go to the book of 1 John. In 1 John 2:1 John writes, "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin, but if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father--Jesus Christ the Righteous One." John is making it clear that the goal of Christians should be to not sin. In this way Christians should never be comfortable with their sin, nor should they be totally comfortable in this life, as they can always do better, and be better since they still have a sinful body. John then points us to where we should look if we do sin, and that is we should look to Jesus Christ the righteous one. The reason for this should be clear, but in case it isn't Christians look to Jesus when they fail because he is the one that will bring them to success. It is because of Jesus that we have a desire to fight against sin, and it is Jesus who is the one that will save us, not just from the consequences of sin, but from the sinful desires themselves. I have found that as I focus on the goodness of Christ, and the grace I have been given in Christ Jesus I want to love my neighbor more and I hate my sin more, and fight harder against it. I am not looking to my own strength or skill but to the one who has beaten sin and death. As Christians we must understand that we are not the heroes of this story, we are the ones in distress. The true Christians understands their need for salvation and continually puts their trust in the one who has saved them, Jesus Christ. The true Christian can deal with failure because they know that the son of God has not failed, and this is part of the process of us to stop thinking so much about ourselves, and focus on Christ which will in turn lead us to love our neighbors more. The true Christian can admit that they have failed, they can be honest about their sin and call it what it is, make not excuse for it, and does not justify it. From here we cling through faith to Jesus who will cleanse us from it. We have tried to save ourselves time and again, and we have failed over and over, so we learn our victory does not come from us, it comes from Jesus Christ. The same can be said for each time the church meets with a failure. We should look to the one who has won, and to the one who was and is and is to come. With recent news some people would see that church has failed in a big way, and I'm sure many Christians right now are dealing with feelings of hopelessness and the sting of failure, but we do not sit in our own self pity, we do not lie down and admit defeat, we look to and cling to our savior to our king, the one that will come and judge the earth and make right what went wrong. Jesus has died for the church, and has risen again. We must continually look to Jesus each time we fail, and we must trust in his word that he who began a good work in us will see it through to completion. Christians fail, and fail often, but Christ has succeeded, and thankfully the truth of Christianity is not dependent upon Christians, but Christ.
"I do not believe that people are at their core good. I believe because of "the fall" humanity is from the moment of conception corrupted. I do think however, that most people like to go down the path of least resistance which in today's world is a non-confrontational attitude. So getting a group of people to hate, ridicule, outlaw, and eventually attack another group of people is not a straight forward affair, but with this blog post you will learn the needed steps to take a group of otherwise peaceful people and turn them into savage, angry, barbaric people willing to do most evil things imaginable, but only when it comes to a particular group of people. The first step is to find the group that is not in support of your worldview, and in fact holds many opposite opinions to your worldview, and the first thing you want to do is dehumanize them. You see people nowadays feel bad about attacking another human so if you want to get a group of people ready to attack another group your first step is to get them to not see the other side as actual humans. This can be done in variety of ways and has several different effects. One of the most effective ways which plays into step 2 is to make this group seem evil in some way. You could insult their worldview and call it backwards, or foolish. You create this us vs them situation but you paint yourself as a normal human with normal morals, while painting them as abnormal humans. Perhaps they are a different color, perhaps they have a different orientation, or perhaps they are not as evolved. You can play off the current culture in what you want to call them. You can use a vile term to call them by, and this way you paint with a broad brush so that you can equate the best of that group with the worst of that group and judge them all equally. You don't want them to be seen as individuals, it's easier to just categorize them all together so that you have a more clear target. Remember that the key is to make them look evil in some way. So be sure to blame anything you can on them or their worldview. It can violence, suicides, the break down of the family, don't bother with actually looking at the situation, and don't worry about facts. Just blame and attack to keep them on the defensive. Again you can use whatever is sensitive in culture that you're in. The trick is make them a special kind of bad. Not the kind of bad that everyone has, but this is a different bad, and they are not like other people, they are less than human which is why they are so bad. This will give you some important results. First and most important it closes down all communication with other side. Who cares about finding truth and listening to worldviews to see which best fits with reality when you have a people to persecute. All of that discussion would just make these people seem like actual humans beings, and if you are going to get others to persecute them they can't be human. So this way you close down communication which only reinforces your position because now people will only ever hear one side of the argument, and you can further make them look evil by misrepresenting their side in your monologue. The next step is to add a sense of self-righteousness to the people you want to be your persecutors. People want to feel that they are right in what they are doing, this is why it is so important that when you dehumanize a group of people you make them out to be really evil, now your people won't feel so bad when they start to hate that group of people and ridicule them. When ridicule of your targeted group begins it's important that you don't condone it, but neither do you condemn it. You see if you celebrate it, you'll lose your subtlety which you need because you are manipulating people, but you don't want to condemn the ridicule either, because you want to let people know that it is not wrong to ridicule another group of people. If anything what you'll want to do is berate the other side for not being able to take a joke should they complain about being ridiculed. As ridicule of this group becomes more socially acceptable you want to continue to dehumanize them and continue to culturally attack them and their worldview while promoting the idea that when people do things against this group of people they are in fact doing what is right and good. So for example when an injustice is done, you want to make sure that this is seen as victory for your side, not because it actually did anything for your side, but because it hurt your target. The next step is silencing any voices of balance. Now since you have already made this group subhuman you have silenced them from the public square, however there will always be those people who want to be fair and balanced. They must be silenced. If a person shows a little bet of sympathy or balance towards the group you want to persecute, you must shout them down, and send a mob of people after them. This will not only silence them, but it will also act as a warning to other people who might want to stand up for the group you want to persecute that they must quite or else. You also need to shout down anyone who criticizes you or your group. If your group is going to be the self-righteous knights who will annihilate this evil group of sub humans then you must be above reproach. Not literally, in truth you can act any way you want, but if anyone should dare speak against you, they must be silenced by any means the culture will allow. The next step is to outlaw certain things that your targeted group will want or need to do. Should they be a certain color then keep them from entering certain places, if they are a religion make some of their customs illegal, if they have a worldview then make holding certain positions they have illegal and all of this should be done in the interest of the public well being. That's an ambiguous term that is hard to clearly define so it should be good to use for the dumb down masses. Finally keep doing all these things and human nature will push it forward naturally, as ridicule begins to become more bold and cruel, and more laws are made to the point that if someone is even part of that group they are now a criminal and thus worthy of all manner of suffering in the eyes of your public. Now you can do whatever you see fit to this group you want to persecute because you have made them less than human, evil, a problem to be corrected by any means necessary and you have silenced anyone who would speak against you, or for them. Let the extermination begin."
I hope as one reads this they grasp the satirical tone in it. I do not think it is right or good for any group or any person to be persecuted. I believe each person should be treated equally and fairly because they are made in the image of God. I believe it is wrong to bring injustice against a particular group because you disagree with their worldview or something other shallow reason. I wrote this so that people would understand what I see as a pattern for persecuting others, and seek to avoid this line of think and acting. For Christians I hope that should there be anything in here that hits close to home, that you reflect in thought, prayer and studies of the scriptures, and if need be repent. It is not my desire to see anyone persecuted, however living in a fallen world I know this will be the case until Jesus returns. What did you think of this blog post? It is a little different from my normal ones, so I'm curious as to how you will like it. Comment below and let me know.
I've never given much thought about organization until I need to find something and can't. I've always operated on the "I generally know where it is" approach to life and that has been a bad idea and it really demonstrates my immaturity. Today I went to go get my marriage licence and if you are married you know that it requires some particular documents. Documents that I had trouble finding because of my lack of organization. This slowed down the whole process and ended up hurting my fiance, because since this is something we had to do together she wasted some of her time because of my laziness in organizing my files. As I said earlier this demonstrated that I was immature in this area, but let me tell you I have learned my lesson now. I sowed disorganization and I reaped a longer process for doing a relatively simple task. The principle of sowing and reaping is one that is clearly taught in scripture. It is just basic wisdom, however if you are anything like me, these little decisions that I make each day and don't think about add up to a big frustration. I am fortunate that I was able to find what I needed in time, but if I couldn't then this would have taken even more time, and that would not have been good for anyone. As Christians I think we can allow our spiritual life to also get disorganized. If we do not continue to reflect on our faith, and continue to learn about our savior and do not have regular time in His word, then when life hits us with any number of issues we are not able to find what we need to approach them from a biblical worldview, and if we continue to neglect the word of God then our worldview which we claim is Christian could in fact have nothing to do with what God has said in His word. Instead what we end up with is a confused mess of inconsistent ethics and ideas and we continue down that road we become susceptible to the lies of this world. When we buy into the lies of this world we get wrapped up in all manner of sin that is hurtful to others, self destructive and most of all offensive towards God. This demonstrates a spiritual immaturity on our part when we do this, and in some cases it can demonstrate unbelief. So what do we do when we realize that we have allowed ourselves to become lazy in our spiritual lives? Well we repent and trust in Jesus, the one who has saved us from our sins, and we look to the time when God did not give us what we sowed, He visited that upon Christ, and we look to all that we will reap not because of our righteousness, but because of Jesus' righteousness. I've had to repent of the sin of laziness in regards to my disorganization just like I have had to repent of many other sins that have committed knowing full well that they were wrong. Perhaps you find yourself in similar shoes as I, or perhaps you feel like you have done worse, no matter how big or how small your sin is, there is forgiveness in Jesus Christ when we repent of our sins, and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of them. This is what the Christian life looks like until Jesus returns. Paul talks about this in Romans 7. Paul states that he does the things he doesn't want to do, and doesn't do the things he knows he should, but then at the end of the chapter he thanks God for Jesus Christ who will deliver him from this sinful body. You see, a believer's life is filled with repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus. Christians must have both. It is important for the development of a believer to continue to confess and repent of their sins as they learn more about the character of God through His word, but it is also important that we continue to trust that through Christ alone we are saved. We are not saved because of how many sins we confess, we confess our sins knowing that God is good to forgive them because of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. We repent because we understand how our sins hurt ourselves and others and offend God. Repentance and trust in Christ, that is the key to the Christian life. It is something that I am learning more about day after day. What do you think? Are you an organized person, or do you struggle with that? Are you trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of sins? Comment below and let me know.
Here you can read various thoughts and discussions that come from the mind of our Pastor