American Christians are Soft and Weak

I had a history professor named Thomas Code. Professor Code was what I considered a hard man with a stern disposition. I took two classes from him in the early 1990s and I still think about a couple things he said. The first was that he challenged us as students to realize that college was one of the few things we paid more for and hope to get less out of. He used as an example how most folks were quite excited for classes to let out early. Another thing he said concerned the state of the American culture. He said we had all gotten soft and lost “the fire in the belly” we once had. Essentially, he was saying that in our current comfort and affluence we had become apathetic and complacent, more apt to obsess over our stuff and our status than champion a cause.

We had a guest speaker in church yesterday. He is a missionary that our fellowship has sent to work in Azerbaijan. He gave a great talk about what it means to be on the front line for the Gospel and He reminded us that there is a spiritual battle waging daily in the world. He used the Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi to challenge us to unity and to demonstrate how as Christians we are all soldiers with a mission to accomplish in God’s eternal plan. As I listened to the man challenge us I could hear Professor Code. We are soft. I am more concerned with my my job, my stuff, and what my next great tasting meal is going be than taking a stand for God’s advancing Kingdom. The missionary broke down at one point, sobbing over a lost opportunity to share the Gospel with a neighbor who suddenly died. It was foreign to me.

I know this post makes a blanket statement about American Christianity. I recognize that there are American Christians that are fully engaged in the battle, so forgive me if I have offended, but from my experience there are more folks filling the pews giving lip service to their commitment to Jesus and his Kingdom than actual warriors standing firm and taking a stand for the Gospel. I recognize them because I am one.

So what do we do? Do we even care?

 

 

 

Daily Devotional – Convincers or Proclaimers?

1 Corinthians 1:21

21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

Almost everyday I look at the WordPress.com articles tagged with the Christianity tag. It is a great way to find other blogs written about the faith. What is interesting is that many times atheist bloggers will tag their blog with the Christianity tag which makes these blogs show up in the search result also. I find myself fascinated reading these and realizing how dependent the atheist writers are on their own wisdom. Almost every article is predicated in the idea that Christianity is illogical or inconsistent or that faith is stupid and simpleminded. I am assuming that maybe the intellectuals in Paul’s day had the same the same issues with Christianity. Reading today’s verse we see how the scripture addresses this very question of man’s ability to intellectually grasp God. Notice the verse plainly says that the “the world did not know God through wisdom”. It goes on to say that most folks analyzing the faith using human logic will find it foolish. I honestly think it is a failure on the part of the Christian when he transitions from proclaiming to convincing. The scripture is clear; no intellectual argument is going convert the unsaved, it is only the power of the Spirit through the proclamation of the Gospel that saves souls. I am challenged somewhat to spend a little less time brushing up on my apologetics and little more time investing in people who desperately need to hear the Gospel proclaimed.

Father, thank you for your love and your reconciliation. Thank you for the Kingdom. Help us be proclaimers and not convincers. Remind us that your ways are not man’s ways and for us to assume that in our wisdom we can understand you is folly. Guide us by your Spirit and give us boldness to proclaim the Gospel wherever we may be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Check out the WordPress.com blogs tagged Christianity here.

Saturday Morning Poll – Do You Believe in Heaven and Hell

Hell has been a hot topic lately. No pun intended 🙂 ! Here is a pretty good video that sums up the current debate on the topic in evangelical Chrisitianity. There is a poll below. Let me know what you think!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Poll:

 

Daily Devotional–Work in Progress

Journaling this morning I wrote this prayer, “Thank you for waking me today to shape me and move me toward you and your perfection. I think I forget sometimes that you have started a work in me. I am guilty of just passing time and not always plugging in to what you are doing to make me holy”. I think this prayer comes from the idea revealed in Philippians 1:6 which reads;

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (ESV)

Sometimes I do forget that I was set apart and adopted by the Creator of Universe. That is almost to much to wrap my head around. It is so heady that sometimes I try not to meditate on it and just slip into wait for Heaven mode using my time and resources to just fuel my pleasures and comforts. I don’t think this is the right approach. As disciples we need to understand that our great God chose each of us and facilitated our reconciliation back to himself by becoming one of us and dying in our place so that would be adopted into in his family. Our response to God’s work in us should not be just sitting and waiting to see if we are moved to action. Our response should be to do what we can to be like Jesus.

I am certain that the work that will one day be complete in me is all a God work. He will complete what he started, but I do not think that fact gives me license to wait it out, doing nothing until He returns or until I meet Him in Heaven. I am challenged as this year winds down to look at my resources of time and treasure and evaluate how much of each I spent this year on this kingdom versus the Father’s Kingdom. I think if I had to give and account to Jesus today I would be embarrassed.

As a final thought. God has started a work in us. The end result is perfection. God is light and in Him there is no darkness. We are adopted children of God. On earth we fellowship with the Father through the blood of Jesus, but when we are perfected and free of this sinful body that is the flesh we will see Him face to face. I don’t live my life like what I just wrote is really true, because if I did I would be constantly seeking and yielding to the guidance and the work of the Spirit. I would abhor the sin in my life and recognize it as barrier between me and my perfect Father, and while I fully understand that God’s work in me is a work in progress, how many times will I hinder that work or disrespect that work by bending a little toward sin and evil opposed to seeking out and trying to be and do what is righteous and holy.

Heavenly Father, thank you God for your adoption and your salvation. Thank you Spirit for your indwelling and your guidance. Forgive me where my resistance to the flesh is marginal and where my pursuit of fellowship and communion with you is lacking. Forgive me for the misuse of the resources you have given me. Help me see the work that you are doing in me. I offer you praise. In Jesus name, Amen.

Daily Devotional – Simple Faith, Simple Assurance

Do you ever struggle with assurance? Assurance as in the idea of how do we know for sure that we are saved. I know in my own walk with the Lord I have had times in my life where I really felt like I was connected with Jesus and other times when I felt like I was living in direct rebellion to what I knew to be true. I would convince myself that I was not saved because of the way I was acting. One of the most widely known verses in the Bible is John 3:16. It describes salvation coming in the form of believing in Jesus. It does not go into great detail of what it means to believe in Jesus, fortunately John wrote an additional letter to the early Christians that clarifies what believing in Jesus really means. What is great is that his clarification uses the same simple and accessible language that he used in his Gospel. Look at 1 John 5:1,

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

He John is refining his definition of belief in Jesus. He is telling us that we have to believe that was the Christ. In this he means that we have to understand that Jesus died for our sins so that we could be reconciled back to God. He describes the result of this reconciliation in 1 John 5:13,

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

See how the result of reconciliation with God is eternal life. This idea echoes the declaration of John 3:16 where John wrote, “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

What does this mean for us as disciples? It means that we can approach our faith and our following of Jesus from a simple starting point. If we believe in Jesus as savior we can be assured of eternal life. We can also confidently approach God and fellowship with Him. This is a huge reality that we sometimes miss out on because we are worried about our salvation. The big take away for me is while there are definitely deeper things that we experience as disciples as the Spirit sanctifies and transforms us, the seed of faith is simple belief in Jesus as savior and if you find that seed in you be confident of your salvation.

Heavenly Father, thank you God for the assurance of your salvation. Father, help us walk in the reality of your love and give us a greater revelation of Jesus as the Christ. Affirm our belief in him as our savior. I pray for those not in your family today. Plant the seed of belief in them. Give us a boldness to testify about Jesus. In Jesus name, Amen.

Daily Devotional–Teaching my boy about Tron

Psalm 145:4

One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.

I took one of my sons to see the movie “Tron: Legacy” yesterday. The movie was a sequel to the movie “Tron” that I had really enjoyed when I was a kid. On the way to theater, I realized that my son hadn’t seen the original and I spent a little of ride explaining to him what had happened in the previous movie. I wanted him to be prepared for what he was about to encounter and I didn’t want him to be confused about the story. It may sound odd, but there was sense of pride I had in relating to my boy the foundational teachings of Tron. It reminded me of when I was a kid when I would ask my Dad something about his job and he would explain with great passion and detail about his work. You could tell he enjoyed teaching me.

Looking at today’s verse it reveals that my desire and the desire of  generations before me to teach the next is biblical. I am convicted that I can easily pass info down to my kids about video games, pop culture, computers, and a variety of subjects, but often times when I try and share with them about God it is challenging. Today’s verse challenges me to be more mindful and deliberate about what I am teaching, sharing, and proclaiming to my kids.

Heavenly Father, thank you for mighty works. Thank you that each breath I take is by your design and sovereign will. I pray that my testimony to the next generation would point to you. Thank you for your many blessings. I offer you praise. In Jesus name, Amen.