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 – Know Peace

Colossians 1:19-20

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and
through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in
heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

I used to have a t-shirt in the 90s that read “NO JESUS, NO PEACE,
KNOW JESUS, KNOW PEACE”. It was and is a suble reminder that true
peace only comes from being in relationship with God through Jesus.
Peace is a word that is bandied around a lot, but for the Christian
peace really should be one of the key ideas to meditate and think on.
The story of our faith is a story of a great conflict that exists
between God and man. We and God are two opposing forces unreconciled.
Ironically, one side of this conflict has the ability to crush the
other side out of existence. Even more ironic is the weaker side
thinks they have have the ability to deny that the greater side even
exists. Yet, in all this irony, there is peace. There is peace because
God our great Father chose to reconcile us back to himself. He did it
through sacrifice. He did it by offering up the life of His son Jesus
so that God himself would no longer have to view man in conflict.

How do you view God? Do you see God as a great enemy of man? Do you
see Him as an eternal punisher who will bust you down if you do wrong?
If so, you don’t see Him through Jesus, and until you do see Him
through Jesus, you will never know peace.

Father, our great God in Heaven! Thank you that you do not war
against us. Thank you for forgiving our arrogance and our self-pride
and making peace through the offering of your Son. Father help us
understand your love and empower us to be peacemakers in the way you
are. Thank you Lord Jesus for your sacrifice and love. We offer you
praise. Amen.

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–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.

Proclaim Jesus

Acts 8:4 (ESV)

4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.

 

The family and I were doing SOAP journals on Acts 8 tonight and I wanted to share this verse. The context of Acts 8 is that Stephen an early Christian had been murdered for his beliefs in chapter 7 and a great persecution of the church had started at the hands of Saul. Verse 3 says that Saul was going house to house to drag Christians off to prison. This verse hit me because in all the adversity that these folks were facing the best course of action for them was to proclaim Jesus. I know in my own experience when times get difficult or when I am stressed or when I am down I rarely proclaim the good news of Jesus. I tend to wallow in the muck of my circumstance. I’m praying tonight that I would be more like this folks.

When times are good – Proclaim Jesus!

When times are bad – Proclaim Jesus!

When money is tight – Proclaim Jesus!

When I feel lost – Proclaim Jesus!

When I am carefree – Proclaim Jesus!

In all things – Proclaim Jesus!

Father, thank you for the Son! Thank you that you have given us a testimony to share about the great work of love and reconciliation you did for your creation. May that testimony never be far from my lips. I offer you praise. In Jesus name, Amen.

Soteriology–The Study of Salvation : What is Salvation?

Acts 4:11-12 (ESV)

11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

To wrap up the discussion on Soteriology, I want to spend this post looking at what salvation is. I had all these grand ideas that if we could dissect the doctrine of salvation then we could come to a great understanding of what our purpose is and how we should live and the lot. I think that goal was misguided, so I just want to wrap it up with a simple answer. Jesus is salvation.

I am not sure how many who read this blog read the Bible. I hope it is many. The Bible lays out the story of humanity. It is a story of creation and calling. It is a story of rebellion and obedience and its pages it answers the big questions of why are here, what is our purpose and what will happen to us when we die. I know some would scoff at the idea that I and countless others throughout time would commit our lives to God based on the writings of men written in book that has been passed down from the generations, yet to me this book is inescapable. It has time and time drawn me back to its words and time and time again revealed things to me about myself that no other source has. Some have asked me do I really think that God would use a book to communicate with people. This week I have contemplated that question a lot and thinking about it I came to a new appreciation of my limits. In my current state of knowledge and understanding, I can for example only speak one language. I use a computer to prepare my taxes. I don’t know how to fix my broken ice maker, and while there are a several things that I do know there is an infinite amount of things that I don’t. So how do I learn things that I don’t know? Most of the time when I wish to learn something new I read about it. Almost daily, I trust what others before me have written in books to increase my knowledge and understanding about a subject. I don’t think I am alone. Most educational systems are based on learning from books. So does it seem feasible that God would use a book to teach me about Himself? Why would most everything else we learn be in the form of reading but not information about God? It’s a question everyone must wrestle with individually. My hope is that you read the Bible and ask God to reveal Himself to you as you do.

So what does the Bible teach us about humanity and salvation?

It tells us that God created humanity for His purposes and His pleasure. He gave the first humans He created rules to follow and they didn’t. He condemned these people to eternal separation from Him. Tragically, all of us similarly fail to meet God’s criteria which is perfect obedience and submission to Him and therefore are also condemned to eternal separation from Him.

If the story ended there it would really be a tragic book, but God provided a way for humanity to be reconciled to Him.

Salvation is Jesus. The Bible teaches us that God became the man Jesus of Nazareth and dwelt among us entering this world as a baby conceived by a woman and the Holy Spirit. Because he was conceived by the Holy Spirit he was born perfect and lived his life in perfect obedience and submission to God. He lived the perfect sinless life that we are called to live. In order to reconcile humanity,  God required a perfect sacrifice and Jesus offered his life as the payment for all the lives of humanity. He stood in the place of humanity and took God’s punishment, the punishment we were to face, on himself so that we could be reconciled. However, this reconciliation was not for all but for only those who become followers of Jesus.

I get that the exclusivity of this message make it offensive to some, but the greater message here is the first message. Humanity was created by God for His purposes and His pleasures. God desires the worship of His creation. He provided a way for us to worship Him. That way is Jesus.

Jesus said:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

If you made it this far, thanks. My prayer is that you would know Jesus and therefore know God. If I can help in anyway feel free to reach out.

Heavenly Father, thanks for your salvation and the book you gave us that teaches and guides. Open our eyes and our hearts to know you better. We praise you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.