Posts Tagged ‘ Lifestyle ’

Used goods

I once prayed “Father, use me for Your will.” When I say “once,” what I really mean is that I did not understand exactly what I was asking for when I first prayed that prayer.

Most of us would like to do something great for God. We have those dreams of leading thousands at a time to Christ or performing amazing miracles which lead many to investigate the claims of the Gospel message. Some of us want to write that devotional, Bible study curriculum, or song that changes the way people think about God.

We take Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,” and use it as evidence that we are to do great things.

I must point out that it merely says “to do good works” (and is also referring to our inability to gain God’s favor or salvation through works, but only by God’s grace). Jesus told us to do good works, as well.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16

We must remember, however, that on our own “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), which means our good works are worthless. It is only when we are used by God that our works mean anything, are in fact “good.”

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

Philippians 2:12-13

 My simple prayer led me through many trials and tests. I was forced in many ways to re-examine all that I believe and think.

What have I learned?

Two things:
1) That I still have a lot to learn!
2) While we may be able to do things with good intentions, we can only truly do good things when used by God.

When we are God’s “used goods,” He will use us to accomplish His will, not only for us individually but for the all of Creation. We must remember that much of the time this means our good works may be doing the dishes, paying bills, and helping our neighbor. Sometimes it means scrubbing toilets, washing people, and feeding mean-spirited, smelly hungry people. Sometimes it means sharing the Gospel, preaching the Gospel, and leading ministries.

We must be open to God to know what to do. We must remember that much of our being used by God means faithfully living our lives in the day-t0-day routines of life. It also means faithfully following His leading if and when He uses us for “the greater things.”

Polluted Dreamers

Last week I looked at differences of beliefs between churches, denominations, cities, and what have you, and how it is our pride and misunderstanding which gets in the way of unity.

I may “get in trouble” with some those who come across my blog or with whom I regularly associate, but this week I am continuing the topic by looking at those who cause the trouble.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written aboutlong ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.

Jude 3-10

 As I mentioned last week, it is pride and misunderstandings which get in the way, but it is in individuals where it starts and then spreads. As Jude remarked, we were warned that people would infiltrate the Church. These people “change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

What does this look like?

Jude mentions sexual immorality. We definitely see this with all of the Catholic priests in trouble for abusing children, pastors having affairs, and the Church approving of the homosexual lifestyle. But this is not all there is.

We also see the change of grace through moral preaching. This also has a tendency to deny Jesus, but it is not universal. These teachings are based on “You can do anything and live a good life. Just try really hard. Do not worry about failing! After all, we are sinners!” I wish I could say this is a paraphrase to get the point across, but this is almost a direct quote from many different pulpits.

This carries over to the next point that “It does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” This sounds great. There may even be truth in it, to a point (read C. S. Lewis’s works to see what I mean. I am not saying I agree, just pointing out a reference). However, Hitler sincerely believed the Germans were the new Arian race and far superior to all people. Stalin and Mao sincerely believed atheism was the way to go. Most people agree that they were sincerely wrong. Ask the dozens of millions of people who died under just the three men living out their sincere beliefs. According to this teaching, these three men are still on their way to heaven.

What about Jude’s line “those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire”? Many today are teaching “eternal does not always mean ‘forever’. Just look at some of God’s warnings in the Old Testament that His wrath would burn against Israel forever!” For starters, look at the context. Secondly, how come this may or may not apply to “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life“? We all must be wary of reading the Bible this way. There are people who will be FOREVER condemned to the Lake of Fire. I do not like. No one should, but it is there. It is true.

Many of the people who lead others astray make a fatal error.

They misunderstand how God works. This is not to say anyone can understand precisely how God works, but they tend to assume God does everything in ways we can and should understand. Therefore, miracles cannot work, because they go against the laws of nature. Jesus cannot be the only way to Heaven, because there is so much truth in the world. No one goes to or stays in Hell, because God could never harm His own Creation.

This is dangerous. This is prideful. This is eternally deadly.

They base their knowledge not primarily on what the Bible says, and many times not even tradition, but what “feels right” by their conscience. This is dangerous in that we do have a fallen nature. Just remember, Jonah did not think it felt right to save 100,000 people at Nineveh, but God still sent him to preach to and save them. Peter did not think it felt right that Jesus should die to save everyone, but Jesus still went and saved us.

Just so everyone knows, I am not calling all liberals or all Catholics or all Baptists or all Episcopalians or all whoevers bad Christians on their way to Hell. I would be just as guilty as those about whom this posting refers. I do not fully understand God’s grace, and He is more than capable of saving all those with whom I disagree and especially me.

These perversions and immorality Jude mentions are not necessarily sexual, but they can also include many of the things listed above.

What do you think? Am I way off base, or are many of the dissenters and distractors our leaders who allow pride and their own personal feelings to get in the way?

Apologizing or Using Apologetics

President Obama has received a lot of flak for apologizing for the United States of America. I recently read an article that brought up the subject. It got me to thinking about Christian apologetics – giving a reason for why we believe what we believe.

In my short 27 years, 8 months, and (roughly) 2 weeks of life I have noticed that there are a lot of Christians who spend their time apologizing for declaring truths or offending people or the Crusades. They tend to act like a puppy who pooped on the floor and do everything they can to hide from the shame of past offenses and being friendly. Some people just ignore the sin topic entirely and sometimes ignore Jesus Christ, because these are the top two issues that offend people.

Why are you a Christian, then?

If Jesus is not our central focus, if His death and resurrection did not happen and our sin is a non-issue, then why even call yourself a Christian? Did you know there is a name for this Christian? The “Christian Atheist” is one who goes to church … maybe … does all the right things, is a generally good person, and helps people. Yet these people rarely mention the cross, Jesus, or sin.

There is another name for that: Atheist. So, you might as well own up. We will miss you, but you cause more harm than you realize.

If you truly wish to live a God-honoring life, speak for your faith and your God. Yes, it can be tough talking with people about sin and the need of a Savior, but that is actually the one thing a Christian is supposed to do (see Matthew 28, especially verses 17-20).

So, give a reason.

Peter, the Apostle, told us “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15-16, NIV). The greek word used for “give an answer” is where we get our words “apologize” and “apologetics.” We were commanded by our Lord and reminded by one of His closest followers to share the message, to know what we believe and why, and to share these reasons.

But we can do it “with gentleness and respect.” We do not have cram “You are sinner and you need Jesus!” down the throats of people. One of the best definitions for gentleness I have ever heard is “controlled strength,” and for respect “loving patience, service, and humility.” Yes, you should find times to share your faith, but the loudest message will be faithfully living your life for Christ. If you are living well in a God-honoring way, you study His Word regularly, and are always willing to listen and help and humbly live your life, people will ask you about why this is. Then you can share your story and the story of Jesus Christ. It does not have to be all fire-and-brimstone, follow Jesus or suffer talk. In fact, a simple and straight-forward explanation usually opens the door to further conversation.

And do not worry if you do not have all the answers. You can ask your pastor or friends for advice or even refer the asker to one of them.

If want some help, here are a couple of common questions and answers that may come up:

“Faith is abandoning reason and believing for believing’s sake! So why have faith?”
“Actually, faith is reasoned belief. I have faith in what I do not see or understand, because I have seen enough evidence that what the Bible says is true enough places to trust the others.”

“How can you believe in a God when there is so much evil on the planet?”
“Evil can be defined as “the absence of God.” If most of our world wants nothing to do with God and often pushes Him away, you would expect to see “the absence of God” in many places. If some people do not want His help, why would He? Should we not be more amazed that have not destroyed ourselves? Our continued existence can be seen as evidence that God is good and gracious in keeping us from destroying ourselves.”

These are just a couple of short, quick responses, and by no means full rebuttals. It takes practice reasoning skills to become proficient.

Another reminder: Anyone who says the Christian life is easy is trying to sell you something. Jesus warned us there would be difficulties, but we have the Holy Spirit to help us.

Do not apologize for the faith we hold. If we truly believe we have access to the truth, there is nothing to apologize for. We should acknowledge the sins the Church has committed, but we should explain the difference between what has been committed and what Christ has called His Church to do. And we live it.

What do you think? Do you see more apologizing or apologetics? Do you have any stories of your own?

Do you know where there are any personages of historical significance around here?

Earlier I talked about Bill and Ted demonstrating the most excellent story ever told, and really how we just need to always be ready to explain our faith to anyone we can.

If God can use this guy ...

Today is a short but sweet message.

Bill and Ted were two young men who lacked many intellectual capabilities, yet they changed their world (and ultimately the galaxy) into a peaceful and prosperous one.

You may already know where I am going with this …

If two know-nothings can change their world with a tiny bit of help from God, how much more do you think you can do? Believers in Jesus Christ are given His power through the Holy Spirit. You can deny He still works in us today. You can even deny that miracles still happen. I love to break it to you, but the Holy Spirit does indeed still work and perform miracles through His people.

Do not think for a moment that you are not good enough to ever do anything. With the power of the Holy Spirit working through you, you can make drastic changes to your own little part of the world and maybe even the rest of the world!

Remember that Billy Graham was a boy who heard a message in a tent and went on to become the most famous evangelist in the world. Bill Gates is a college dropout who is now one of the richest people in the world. Barack Obama is the son of a Kenyan foreign student and a middle-class woman, yet today he is the leader of the free-world.

Do not think you are any less. Jesus did say “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31, NIV … and I suggest reading the entire chapter).

You can do anything through the power of Christ. You were meant to do great things, even if it is “merely” being somebody’s friend.

What Religion Do You Follow?

Everybody follows a form of orthodoxy and religion.

Religion I have covered previously. Orthodoxy means right thinking or correct thinking. Therefore, if you are orthodox, you have a way of thinking that is correct.

Most people claim to have some form of truth … except of course for all the post-modern thinkers who claim there is no absolute truth. (Seriously think about that. They make an absolute claim there are no absolutes.)

Are you a Secular Humanist? Is humanity the highest form of life on Earth after millions and billions of years of evolution?

Are you a Theistic Humanist? Is humanity the highest form of life on Earth because a deity created us or effected evolutionary processes to get to us?

Are you an Atheist? Is there no possibility that there is deity of any sort?

Are you an Agnostic? Is there a possibility of a deity, but anything is possible?

Are you Muslim? Is Mohammed the last true Prophet?

Are you Jewish? Are certain things Kosher and others not?

Are you Christian? Is Jesus of Nazareth the Son of God?

What do some of these have to do with orthodoxy and religion?

Everybody who follows any of these has to put a faith in the parts they do not understand or for which they do not have empirical proof.

We do not have missing links for evolution, so faith is needed.

There is no proof denying the existence of God, but there is no empirical evidence of most biblical miracles. Again, faith is needed.

Many hold claim to truth, all offer proof of what they hold to be true (or hold some things to prove nothing can be proven), and all have to start with an idea of what they hold to be true or should be true. This means we all need some faith to believe what we hold to be true.

What we believe to be right (orthodoxy) shapes what guides our decisions and actions (religion/orthopraxy) which define the way we interact with life.

And now for an in-your-face, controversial statement:

If you claim to not have an orthodoxy and/or religion, you are a liar and a hypocrite.

Weekend Words and Sunday Stanzas – 05/01/2011

Today I bring to you one of the first poems I ever wrote for God, and it happens to be based on one of my favorite passages. The passage is a reminder to me that God works in and changes us to be holy, but He still requires us to do something. You can call it “God helps those who help themselves” (which I might explain my thoughts on this in the future) or “We have our role to play in our sanctification.” Either way, God gives us the freedom to either choose Him or choose ourselves in every moment.

i submit to You  God
daniel m  klem

if i draw near to You
You draw near to me
You will purify my heart
my hands will be clean
i am double minded
i am a sinner  indeed
i will now resist the devil
We will make him flee
i submit to You  God

so You are with me

****

 James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist
the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God,
and He will draw near to you. Wash your hands,
you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-
minded.

Taken from the book simple words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m klem, p. 157.

The Gospel of Nothing

Nothing to offerWhat are we able to give God?

What is it that we can give God to get closer to God?

Creator of Everything

God is the Creator of everything. All things we are able to measure. Almost all things we are not able to measure.

God created light. God created atoms and molecules. God created mass. God created single-celled organisms. God created plants. God created animals. God created us. God created emotions and infact has emotions. God created and is goodness. God created and is truth. God created and is Life.

God did not create lies. God did not create hurts. God did not create pain. God did not create hate. God did not create evil. God did not create sin.

What we give God

This last line is what we can give God … at least at first.

This is the gospel: We have nothing to give God but our filth, our hurts, our lies, our hate, our evil, our sin.

In other words, nothing.

But we also give God our choice to follow.

In other words, we choose to love God.

God takes all this and gives us in exchange grace, forgiveness, grace, the Holy Spirit, grace, a new car new life, grace, and hope for a future in Eternity.

God also does not want us to continue living as we have. That is why there is new life with the Holy Spirit. This is also why there is so much grace: we will continue to mess up.

But God wants more.Empty to receive

After clearing us out of all of our nothing, God knows we need something.

If we present ourselves as ready and willing for whatever, God fills us with Himself – the Holy Spirit – to go out and perform good works for the benefit of others to bring glory to God.

After giving God our nothing, God gives us the ability to give our very lives, to give the Love given to us, to give forgiveness to ourselves and to others, to give our all.