Posts Tagged ‘ Orthopraxy ’

VerseD: Psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Psalm 32:8, ESV

God desires to teach us in how to live, and He has given us to primary sources:

  1. His Word (the Bible, but also Jesus),
  2. His Church.

Listen to both to live rightly.

VerseD: 1 Peter 3:12

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
1 Peter 3:12, ESV

What you do matters.

What you think matters.

If you are consistently thinking impure and evil thoughts, if you are doing what you know God does not approve of, do not expect Him to answer your prayers nor rescue you from challenges.

Odds are, you created those challenges.

Running Around in Circles with Everywhere To Go

Get yourself over to Proverbial Thought for some wise exposition!

I will keep this short, and hopefully you get the point!

I used to regularly update an online journal called DanDantheGodman, which was a nickname given to me during my year working for McDonald’s. My tagline for this journal was “Running around in circles with everywhere to go.” I eventually used it on my MySpace page, as well (another thing I rarely ever think about let alone visit or update).

As a Christian, it occurred to me that it might not be the best tagline.

At the same time, it occurred to me that might be the best tagline to describe much of Western Christianity (though by no means all!)

Think about it for a moment:

The Church is supposed to fulfill the two-fold mission issued by our Lord.

  • Go into the world making disciples and teaching them all the things He taught (Matthew 28:18-20).
  • Promote justice and help those in need (Matthew 25:31-46, and Isaiah 58 is the most beautiful expression of this).

Yet, we see so many churches, congregations, and ministries that seem to promote taking care of ourselves more than taking care of others. Promoting this means they are teaching self-preservation and gratification rather than the things that Jesus taught.

In other words, many Christians in our culture are “running around in circles with everywhere to go.”

Put another way, many Christians are not putting their faith into action. They attend their churches, give donations and tithes, and attend small groups, but they rarely if ever teach the Word of God or reach out to non-Christians.

Are you running around in circles or stepping outside of your circle?

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
James 2:20-24, NIV

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 01/19/2014

Act on the call of wisdom and head over to Proverbial Thought!

Lepers have always been cut off from society. Almost no one wants to touch them, and they can become social outcasts from the idea that they can transmit their disease to others.

Jesus was the only one who would touch lepers. His touch could make them whole and able to rejoin society. The change He made in them then changed how people thought and acted.

In many churches today, there is another form of leprosy that must be healed. We are a people who need to have our thoughts and actions changed.

We must turn to Jesus for this healing and change!

______

leprosy

 leprosy

numbness

 have we become a nation

a people

a world

of emotional leprosy

“I don’t feel God in my life”

“I got nothing from the service”

“I cannot love anymore”

we cannot seem to feel

we cannot seem to feel God

are we emotional lepers

there is a cure

we must cut ourselves deep

we must cut ourselves to get clean

this is by doing

stop reading about acts of faith

act

stop wishing for miracles

be the miracle

stop praying for the world to change

change

and change the world the Bible

do Jesus

do God

and

heaven will come down

God will move in power

your leprosy will be healed

Really?!

Get a taste of wisdom over at Proverbial Thought!

Big and Newborn Bros

Big and Newborn Bros

My Wedding with Nick

At my wedding 2.6 years ago

Yesterday was my little brother’s 28th birthday. I still think of him as a junior higher, perhaps 13 or 14 years old. That is now half his age! I can barely believe it!

This past Thursday, January 9, was my 14th Re-birthday. It was 14 years ago I first knelt down and declared I believed Jesus is my Savior and the Son of God. I was only a couple years older than how I still view my brother when that happened.

This all got me to thinking about something.

Some friends and I had a conversation about conversations a while back. It was all about the exclamation “Really?!”

The full context of this conversation was focused around what one of us had heard about friendly conversation and this one word. Asking this word after a friend or loved one makes a statement is the same as casting doubt on the validity of the statement.

It is one thing if the conversation goes like this:

“I just won a million dollars!”
“Wow! Really?!”

Winning a million dollars is not a typical occurrence in daily life. Shock and amazement with a little bit of doubt makes sense.

But when the conversation is more like this:

“I lost my phone today.”
“Really?”

In this context, it can said as any of the following:

  • Anger: “How could you do that again?”
  • Sarcasm: “This is such a surprise coming from you!”
  • Astonishment: “This just happened?”

And many others.

The underlying theme is that saying “Really?!” denotes disbelief or mistrust, or at worst it denotes aggression or animosity. And to be fair, most of us use the term in such a way as to say “Tell me more!”

In Jesus’ Name. Really?!

You are probably thinking about how often you say “Really?!” to people, and, if you are like we were, you are attempting to justify your use of the term and explain that you usually mean “Tell me more!”

Let me then ask you this, Christian believer: How do you live your life?

Do go around claiming your connection to your church and as a good Christian, yet those outside the Church look at your example of love and light and think “Is this person really ‘blameless and innocent, [a child] of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16, ESV)

Put another way, do they look at your life and say “Really?! That’s a Christ follower?” And they want to stay away from God because of your example?

Or do you go around sharing the good news of Christ as you live out His commands of love and sacrifice? Do those outside the Church look at your example of love and light and think, “Really?! This kind of thing is true? Tell me more!”

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.
2 Corinthians 13:5-6, ESV

Engine Change

Firstly, here is your regular reminder to get some good ol wisdom from Proverbial Thought.

Perhaps you have heard the line – or even said it yourself – “I believe I can get to heaven, because I am basically a good person. I do a lot of good things, at least way more than the bad I do!”

There are a few reasons why this is wrong, and I will explain this some a little later.

First, a story:

Engine Change

You are a car. You were built with the modern combustion engine, and you run on gasoline. As you drive around, you occasionally speed or roll through a stop sign; but overall you follow the rules, let people merge ahead of you, let people take the closer parking spot at the store, and do your best to keep your engine running well.

One day, you realize that the way you are living is actually harming your surroundings and causing some issues within your engine, because it runs ever-so-hot and fills the air with corrosive and poisonous gases. You decide to clean up your act! You switch to a biofuel, like E-85. You still live much the same way, but now you have much less of an effect on your surroundings. Good for you! You are now the envy of so many other cars who wish to live the same way as you!

There is still one problem: No matter what kind of fuel you use or how well you drive, you are still polluting your environment even just a little. No matter how well you drive, even if you follow all of the rules of the road and let every one else get ahead of you on the road and in the parking areas, you still pollute your environment at least a little. Your good intentions will always stain your environment and hurt the air.

One day, you learn of the Master Mechanic. When you choose to let the Master Mechanic work in your life, he offers an upgrade you can not get on your own. He switches out your engine for a fuel cell and tells you to obey all traffic laws and offer your spot on the roads and in parking areas. He tells you that you have to come to Him regularly to ensure your engine is running smoothly. In the process, you will no longer pollute the air or run too hot. Instead, all you produce clean, pure water. You may still drip the occasional break fluid or wiper fluid when you forget to check in with the Master Mechanic, but He fixes you right up and helps you clean the spills when you remember to spend time with Him.

Did you get it?

Perhaps this was a little too straight-forward, but here is the explanation:

Our hearts are like the engines. While we eventually come to realize that our actions have consequences, that we can do many things to make our bodies run efficiently and healthy by changing habits or diet, we still have a problem. We may occasionally do truly selfless acts, but we all have selfish motives at one time or another. We all deny God in some way at one time or another. We all put ourselves in the place of God at one time or another.

This is called sin. One sin is enough to taint every part of our lives. No matter how good our intentions, we all will fail in the end to live perfectly pure and clean lives. A car that runs on biofuels will still require oil to help the engine run smoothly. A person doing good works will still do many things with selfish intentions, or make something (including their good works) more important than God, or they may think they might have the control that God alone has to decide who suffers and who does not or who lives or dies.

Good Intentions

What a person like this fails to realize is that even good intentions can lead to horrible results. I know of someone who once was told by his dad not to let anyone touch the car in the driveway. It seems like a simple enough request. His friend called and said, “I need a ride to the store, can you help?” He thought, “Sure. What could be the harm of a quick five-minute drive?”

His friend came over, and they pulled out of the driveway. At the stop sign at the end of the block, they rolled through the stop sign and were struck by another car. His friend was killed almost instantly.

You see, his dad wanted no one to use the car, because his dad had gone to find new brakes having taken the ones from the car to match.

This young man had good intentions, but his desire to do something good at the sake of disobeying his father led to drastic repercussions.

It must be remembered that even our good intentions may have unintended consequences. Think of the age-old cliché “Be careful what you wish for!” As the show Once Upon a Time … puts it, “Magic comes at a price.” There are countless ways to express this.

The Whole Point

Here is what it all means:

Apart from the work of Messiah Jesus through the Holy Spirit living in us, we can do nothing on our own to get us to Heaven. While we are capable of good works on our own, they are meaningless without God. We must believe in the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, that He brought us grace, forgiveness, and peace for our sins.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
Isaiah 64:6

As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God. All have turned away,
they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
“Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . .
Romans 3:10-18, 23

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:17, 14-15

The Core Values: Engrossed Existence

Here is another friendly reminder to head over to Proverbial Thought for today’s devotional thought from Proverbs!

We now continue our look at the Four Core Facts and the Four Core Values, having examined the desperate pursuit of God, diligent prayer, and a consecrated heart.  If you are interested in a more in-depth look at the Core Facts and the Core Values, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.

As I said before, all of the Core Facts and Values flow together. The Values are useless without the truth of the Facts. Without a desperate pursuit of God bathed in diligent prayer creating a consecrated heart, we play a dangerous game with the fourth Core Value:

A Focused Life

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified . . . For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7

Why would I say we play a dangerous game with a focused life without the Core Facts and Values?

Perhaps you have heard that line that goes something like “Those who believe in nothing will fall for anything.” People can devote their lives to just about anything out there (read the tabloids, news, and/or history books).

Some people even dedicate their lives to God without considering the possibility that God will come collect. Then they are surprised at what God wants.

It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly
and only later to consider his vows
Proverbs 20:25

This is why we need a foundation based on the reality of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Son of God, and a value-system based on the truth revealed in the Bible.

FOCUS!

Have you noticed how easy it is to be distracted? Humans have always found a way to distract themselves, but Modern Man has really excelled in this area.

We have access to an entire world in ways barely imaginable 100 years ago, from cars to trains to airplanes.

We have access to an entire world through the internet.

We have access to endless entertainment through books, movies, television, video games, sports, the internet, and various other entertainment-industry options too numerous to list here.

We have access to friends and family any time of the night or day around the world through telephones, cellular phones, e-mail, Facebook, the internet (noticing a theme?), and so many other things.

We have more than enough to distract us, and we have even made it possible to stop using our own imagination.

But what do the most successful people in our world have in common?

Focus.

Their lives are dedicated to one major thing (which can include many smaller things, but usually related things), and they do not let anything get in the way of their dreams and goals.

They each have a focused life.

This is basically what God has called all who would follow Him to do. Be focused.

On what?

The answer comes in a rebuke of Peter by Jesus:

“You must follow me.”

We have to focus our lives on Jesus.

However, I will take this a step further.

There are a lot of people who claim to follow Jesus, and they show up to church regularly, tithe, donate, and volunteer.

They live good lives.

While their lives are engrossed in Jesus, I would posit that their entire existence is not engrossed in Jesus. (See the title of the post worked in there?!)

In truth, these people (and even many people engrossed in following Jesus can succumb to this) are distracted by serving.

How do we know when we get distracted by service?

One of two things is usually what happens:

  1. We are not going where Jesus is going. We find ourselves in the church building all the time, or at church functions, and we know everyone we see or know someone who knows that person well and we are all Christian. We rarely encounter anyone who is hurting, mourning, in desperate need, or stuck in sin (of which we are aware).
  2. We are exactly where Jesus is, but we are “pulling a Martha. Sometimes, we are so busy serving Jesus that we forget about actually serving others, and we are surrounded by people who really need Jesus.

The Problem and Solution

We are not fully engrossed in following Jesus. That is just the way it is.

This is where the other values come in. To be fully engrossed we must desperately pursue God by reading the Bible, learning what it means through teachings and fellowship, and seeking where God is working. To effectively pursue God, we must be in constant communication with Him through diligent prayer, and this helps us grow in a desire to study the Bible and find where God is going. As we pray and study, we find our hearts are growing ever more consecrated to God, and our desire to seek Him and talk with Him grows. The more consecrated our hearts become for God, the more we find our life being focused on God.

The only other step is that we must put it all into practice.We must be with those who are hurting and in need. We must show love and grace. We must forgive ALL people.

We must effectually become like Jesus Christ.

Our focus in life must be to be completely engrossed in living and loving like Jesus, pushing aside distractions and pushing on in faith, grace, and love.

Next week, I will briefly discuss The Core Mission.

What are your thoughts? How are you doing?