Saturday, June 30, 2007

Do you have a wartime mentality?

True Christianity involves serious warfare. The Christian life is not just a "walk", it is also a "war". It is a war against the flesh, the world, and the devil. This war is a daily reality. The question is, are you living like it is peace-time or war-time? Do you have a wartime mentality? Or, do you actually think it is possible to make peace with your flesh, the world, and the devil? If so, think again. This war only allows for victory or defeat. If you are not fighting, then you are more than likely already a prisoner of war or worse a casualty. Oh, and in this war there are no neutral parties. You can't opt out of this one.

The Bible clearly depicts the Christian life as a battle:
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life." "Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand." "Do not think that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword." "He who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." "Watch you, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." "War a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience"

For a better understanding of the Christian wartime mentality, please read J.C. Ryle's "True Christianity is a fight." This is a fantastic read.

Related posts on Slice of Laodicia and Drell's Descants.

Friday, June 29, 2007

What would Jeremiah say to the modern church today?

I listened to a teaching yesterday by R.C. Sproul (Jeremiah Part 2) that was very bold, convicting, and direct in which he applies the message of the prophet Jeremiah to the modern church.

“The greatest threat is not from without, but rather from within - the false prophet within the gates that led the people away, that negotiated the law of God, and that distorted the word of God. How often are we hearing that doctrine doesn’t matter? Or, it is religious experience and his heart that matters. When the truth of God is compromised at the critical points then the church is in serious trouble. We see the church echoing the secularism in her own theology. We see this coming from within the church. We are in a crisis time when it comes to doctrine. When the doctrine is corrupt, then the practice of the life of the church can only go down.”

People are in such need of spiritual nourishment, but they are dying because there is minimal clear teaching of God’s word. It is time that the church stands up for the full gospel and for righteousness. It is time for us to be faithful to the Word of God. Are you a Jeremiah?

Listen Here

Also read "Are you BOLD or are you a coward? "

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Contemplating the Importance of Baptism

Recently, I have been spending some of my time in the book of Acts. I have specifically been focusing this study on the practices and make-up of the early church. While I have only journeyed through chapter 8 on this particular reading, the prominence of baptism in the early church has been extremely interesting in contrast to the role baptism plays in the modern church. Let’s take a closer look.

After being asked “brothers, what must we do”, Peter said they must repent and be baptized. Those who truly believed were subsequently baptized right then and there. Peter didn’t wait until next week or whenever it was convenient for the new believers. No, he made sure all 3,000 were baptized that day. It was after they were baptized that the 3,000 were “added” to their number.

2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
2:41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

In Samaria, those who believed the gospel message preached by Philip were baptized. Notice that belief was again immediately followed by baptism. It didn’t say that they joined a Bible study or a small group. They weren’t told to consider baptism at some later date when they were able to invite their friends and family to witness the “ceremonial” event. No, they were immediately baptized.

8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon (a practicing sorcerer) himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.

Philip again shows us the importance of immediate baptism for those who believe. In fact, this passage involving the Ethiopian eunuch also demonstrates that a complete presentation of the gospel will have a true believer begging to be baptized. So, if someone is not interested in baptism one of two things are present (1) they have not been presented with the true gospel or (2) they do not truly believe.

8:35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

Ok, I had to move into chapter 9 because it shows that even Paul was immediately baptized upon his conversion.

9:18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,

Why don’t we (the modern evangelical church) immediately baptize new believers? Why do we allow even a day to go by before they are baptized? The early church fathers, the apostles, those who were extremely close friends with Jesus all treated baptism as an immediate act of faith. In the case of the converts at Pentecost, the apostles didn’t even count them as fellow believers until they were baptized. This reality of how our church fathers valued baptism makes me want to see new believers immediately ushered to the baptismal before they leave the church. Do we not do this because it is just too messy or inconvenient? Would we be raising the bar too high and therefore turn people away from accepting Christ? If someone would be turned away because of an immediate baptism (they would have to get wet), then are they truly ready to give their life to Christ? The response of a new believer should always be like that of the Ethiopian eunuch “why shouldn’t I be baptized”. In other words, "show me the water because I am ready right now".

Monday, June 25, 2007

What is going on? Where is God in all of this?

"On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria." Acts 8:1

This event occurred after Stephen boldly proclaimed true redemptive history and as a result was stoned by the religious leaders. I find it interesting how this event, like so many other "non-planned" events in church history, was used by God for his kingdom purposes. In fact, this event was the beginning of the fulfillment of what Jesus spoke of when he proclaimed that “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Sometimes we wonder “what is going on” and "where is God in all of this". I am sure the early believers had these thoughts. Why is this happening to the church? This can’t be what God intended. Well, maybe it is exactly what God intended for the furthering of his kingdom. Do you even feel this way about your life? I know I have, only to find that God used those trials and “set backs” to bring me to a place where he could use me in significant ways for him. God can use all kinds of circumstances for his glory. I find this to be very awesome and assuring. We just need to stay faithful to him and remain in him – even when (or especially when) our world is being shaken. God is sovereign.

Are you BOLD or are you a coward - Acts 4

Peter’s demonstration of incredible change over a short period of time from being a denier of his relationship with Christ, timid, and fearful to being a bold proclaimer of Christ who is very willing to be jailed and persecuted for his name is a clear demonstration of the resurrection of Christ and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. It is just amazing how Peter went from a coward who wouldn’t even admit to being associated with Jesus to a bold proclaimer of the Gospel. What changed? Well, Christ was resurrected, Peter spent time with the resurrected Christ, and Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 4 we continue to see a Peter who has undergone serious transformation. After speaking with incredible conviction and without fear before the Sanhedrin, he prays for even more boldness. Peter prays “… now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness…” God answered his prayer and shook the place where they were meeting and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Is this how we are living our lives? Are we speaking the word of God this boldly – with the threat of prison and physical persecution? Or, are we still holding onto a little bit of fear? Are we asking ourselves what will others think? Can they handle this much truth? If I am this bold, will I lose some of my congregation? After all, I can’t lose any members because I have a “ministry” to support and run. What about my reputation among other Christian leaders? Will I be known as too “radical” among my peers? I wouldn't want to offend anyone.

I submit that too many are concerned with acceptance; with their reputations (this is pride). Too many water down the truth in order to “reach people where they are” and to be “relevant”. I submit that this approach is simply acting out of fear and not out of faith. God tells us to speak the truth. The apostles provide an example of what happens when we boldly speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – the Holy Spirit shows up and many are added to the kingdom. With this in mind, let's make sure we are boldly proclaiming the truth of God's word out of deep conviction and love - not watering it down out of fear.

Lord, may I be faithful to speaking the truth at all times; may I not water down the truth in order to appease man; may I never operate out of fear. And may you “enable your servant to speak your word with great boldness”. Holy Spirit come.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Henry Neufeld posts Transformed Daily

Henry Nuefeld , on his blog "Threads from Henry's Web", posted a few of my articles. As a publisher and writer, he added an interesting and supportive view of my post "I Said the Prayer – Now Make Me Happy". Check out what he has to say. I am adding Henry's blog to my blogroll.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The "Altar Call" Pentecost Style - Acts 2

As I was reading the accounts of Pentecost, the process of conversion took center stage in my thoughts. What did conversion look like on that day? What happened that added 3,000 followers of Christ that day? That was quite an altar call. Here is what the conversion process looked like with the Apostle Peter officiating:

First of all, Peter presented the Gospel message (the redemptive story) and underscored the life, death, burial, resurrection, and lordship of Jesus Christ which was proclaimed by the prophets of old. At this, the people were “cut to the heart and asked what shall we do?” The people believed. They had faith in Jesus Christ. But Peter didn’t just close the service with a song of praise at that time. No, he responded with the instruction that they must “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins”. What is repentance and why did Peter feel it was necessary?

Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ. Paul talks about repentance when he states that “godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation”. Repentance is truly letting go of who you once were and turning from your sinful ways as you turn to your new life in Christ. If you don’t turn from your old ways and leave them behind, you cannot turn to Christ. There is no turning to, if there is no turning from. True repentance weeds out those who are just “coming” to Christ so that their lives can taste better as if he were the icing on the cake. Jesus is not a side dish.

What about baptism? Why did Peter tell them that they must be baptized? I thought baptism was just an outward expression of what Christ has done in our hearts. Isn’t baptism optional? If it were optional, why would Peter tell them it had to be done? Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to just skip this step? After all, there were a lot of people there that day. And besides, it is just creating one more hoop for them to jump through. Shouldn’t he have made it easier on everyone and suggested that they just consider baptism at some time in the future? Obviously Peter felt that baptism was of the utmost importance and should be done at the time of conversion. In fact, Acts 2:41 states that the 3,000 were considered to be added to their number that day only after they believed and were baptized. Over the past 2 years I have been convicted that baptism is more significant than we tend to think in evangelical circles.

Reading on in Acts 2, I find it very interesting to see that the result of this massive conversion was people devoting themselves to the apostle’s teachings, to fellowship, to meeting together daily, and to praising God. And out of this it says that “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved”. I submit that we should take a lesson from Peter, on whom Christ said he would build his church, as we instruct and lead people through the act of conversion and lead them into the fellowship of the saints.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

ARE YOU A TRAINED FLEA CHRISTIAN OR ARE YOU A FREE FLEA CHRISTIAN?

Have you heard of a flea circus? Well, apparently people catch fleas and train them to perform and do amazing tricks. I know it sounds crazy, but hang with on this one because I am going to attempt make a useful analogy between a trained flea and many Christians.

Here’s how the flea training is said to work:

Using a jar, the flea catcher somehow lures the unsuspecting flea into the jar. But, because fleas are big jumpers, they need to immediately put a lid on the jar to keep the flea from jumping out of the jar. So, the flea trainer quickly puts a lid on the jar. Subsequently, the flea tries top escape. But, when it jumps, BANG, it hits the lid and falls down. Over and over, the flea will jump and BANG hits the lid. Until, after some time, you can see that the flea is jumping just almost to the lid, but not quite. He jumps and jumps, not quite hitting the top, but jumping as high as he can. Now, it appears as though the flea is pretty smart. What's strange is to see what happens when you take the lid off the jar. The flea continues to jump just almost to where the lid was. But, it won't jump any higher. It continues to act like the lid is still there. The flea hit a limit to what it could do. He decided that he could not go any higher and then never tried to improve. Even though the limit was gone, he was stuck in a rut - doing just what he always did and not challenging himself. 1

So, are you a “trained flea Christian”? Do you keep living your life as if you were still trapped in the jar of your past when you lived for yourself and were a slave to sin? Well, the lid was lifted when you gave your life to Christ. He removed the lid and you can now jump out of your old life and live for Christ outside of the jar. You are no longer a slave to the jar (your flesh and pre-regenerate self) because you have been granted freedom in Christ. Freedom to do what? To live for Christ and no longer for your flesh. You have freedom to no longer be conformed to this world but instead to be transformed as God intended. You have the freedom to be the new creation that you are in Christ where the old-you truly passes away as the new-you lives in, and for, Christ.

Wake up! The lid has been removed. Live like a “free flea”” Christian.



1 Excerpts from the Boy Scouts of America Website.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Said the Prayer – Now Make Me Happy

Why do so few Christians actually study the Bible diligently these days? Could it be because they are more interested in themselves than in truth and God himself?

It appears as though after Christians think that they have their ticket to paradise (heaven) they get interested in reading and learning. But it isn’t the Bible that most of them are driven to read, rather it is the plethora of books found on the shelves of “Christian” bookstores.

Unfortunately, it appears as though the following thought process is typical for many Christians in America and other prosperous, religiously free, nations. “OK, now that I am going to heaven, let’s get busy at making my life better. How can being a Christian make me happier, bring me more joy, make me more money, help my marriage, or make me a better parent.” Do you see the general theme? It is ME. Now that I said the prayer, tell me what God can do for me? This inward focus has been really good for “Christian” book sales, but that’s about it. God did not save us so we could focus on ourselves. He saved us so we could focus on loving him and others. Being a Christian is not about the pursuit of happiness. Rather, it is about the pursuit of holiness. It is about dying to self and living for God. It is about serving God and others. Just take the great commandment and the great commission as examples of where we should be focused.

Do either of these mention “ME”? Is it “love the Lord your God and love yourself”? Or how about “go into all the world pursuing happiness and prosperity”. No, it is all about God and others. I exhort all Christians to read the Bible, which is very clear about how to live out the Christian life. It does a rather good job at telling us how to love God and others. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not saying that all books are bad. However, I am saying that the Bible needs to be the place we go to encounter ultimate truth and the understanding on what it means to be a follower of Christ and how to live it out.

Here’s the interesting spin. When we read our Bibles, focus on God, and serve others, we will actually find that joy, peace and fulfillment that we were pursuing from the wisdom of man in all of those other books. Dying to self is a hard thing. But it is mandatory if we are to experience true freedom and victory in Christ.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Garbage In = Garbage Out:

Why do Christians think that they can fill their minds with the garbage of this world and still experience the victory Christ died for them to have? Why is pornography a huge problem among Christians? Could it be because they continue to fill their minds with “soft porn” every night in front of the television? How can a man expect to be delivered from the sin of lust if he watches TV shows or movies that show inappropriately-dressed women and have plots involving sex, sex crimes, or perversion? What about materialism? Do you think watching TV contributes to your tendencies to be greedy, unfulfilled, envious, and discontent? These are just examples of how the world can derail our Christian walk.

What you put into your mind matters. You cannot expect to live out the Christian life with much success if you continue to fill yourself up with the world. We are supposed to be aliens in this world. We are also supposed to be in the world but not of it. When we invite the things of this world into our minds, they become part OF us. Or, we become OF the world. Most of the stuff in the movies and on TV should repulse us. Why, because it repulses Christ and is contrary to his nature which should be our nature when we are born again in him.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What do you think about worship these days?

This is a little outside of the box at TransformedDaily. However, reading a few blogs recently about the worst worship songs ever posted by Alistair Roberts, Peter Kirk, and David Ker, made me contemplate my feelings on the direction of modern worship. (By the way, I don’t necessarily agree that all of these songs should be on the worst list)

Anyway, I love to worship. In fact, I have been heavily involved on several worship teams. For the past 12 years I have played the bass for my church’s worship team, the young adults (very progressive) worship services, and for several guest artists playing/worshipping in the Phoenix metro area. While I have a heart for modern worship, I must say that it has been getting progressively harder to enter into worship vocally. True, I do not have the best voice or the largest vocal range. However, I can carry a tune and that didn’t used to get in my way. But there is something else that has been making it more difficult to fully and passionately enter into worship during a typical service. Here is what has been affecting me.

I am going to generalize, so please do not think I am talking about all artists or all of their songs.
1. The melody line of many songs is becoming very complicated. One must listen to a song several times in order to follow some of the new stuff being introduced as worship songs. I believe that many songs used for worship are actually written for radio play and not specifically for group participation/worship.
2. Questionable theology – this is becoming more and more of a concern and issue for me. What we proclaim with our voices matters. We are singing these songs to God. What are we saying to him? Are we honoring him? Are we proclaiming truth? Does it line up with the Bible? What we sing really matters. Some of the new tunes (and yes some of the older stuff too) are whacked out. The theology is just not biblical. It may sound good to the ears, but just doesn’t pass the truth meter.
3. Finally, the key that some of the new tunes are being sung in is just way too high. You have to be a first tenor or a recent vasectomy patient to sing many of the popular songs being released these days. I am a bass/baritone and I just can’t go that high. These high keys make it nearly impossible for the average guy. I think that many worship leaders lead the song in the key the original artist wrote and performed it in. That may work for Chris Tomlin or David Crowder, but the average Joe (or Eric in my case) just can’t make it happen at those frequencies.

I’m not an “old fogy”. Notice I didn’t say anything about volume or style. In fact, I like it loud and enjoy virtually every style of music.

Anyway, I hope you don’t hear what I am not saying. I am not saying that all modern and progressive worhip is bad. I am not trying to paint it all with this same brush. However, I am saying that just because something is popular on Christian radio doesn’t mean that it should be used in the worship service. I implore worship leaders to examine a songs theology, ease of singing the melody, and the range (key) of the song before adding it to your worship set list next weekend. Thanks for listening and worship on: in Spirit and Truth.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Have you done the “Hokey Pokey”?

You are most likely familiar with the story about the widow's mite. Remember how Jesus used her as an example because she gave everything she had? She didn't have much, but she put it all in the plate. Well, her story is typically used in tithing sermons and for building campaign rallies. However, I would like to challenge you to apply this concept of giving to your whole life - not just your finances. Are you giving all of YOU to God?

Jesus tells us that we must take up our cross if we are going to follow him and be his disciples. We must die to self. We must leave it all behind. Essentially, Jesus is telling us that we must put our entire selves in the offering plate. Jesus didn't ask for 10% of us. He didn't ask for 90% of us. No, he asked for 100% of us - all of us.

So, like the old hymn, the "Hokey Pokey", states, "Put your whole self in ... That's what it's all about."

Taking Matters into Your Own Hands

Dinah and the Shechemites is an interesting and sordid story. It provides some insight on how we should, or shouldn't, respond to injustice. What Schechem did to Dinah was definitely a horrible act and deserving of justice. But, was the punishment over the top? Was the punishment designed by God? Did Jacob’s sons seek God for guidance and insight on how to deal with this matter? The answer appears to be an emphatic no. There is no mention in these passages of God at all. The two brothers appear to take justice into their own hands and respond to the situation out of anger and pride. Did Shechem deserve to be punished for his actions? Yes. Did the entire city deserve to be murdered, plundered, and enslaved? God did not command this response. In fact, it is interesting that Levi and Simeon used deceit to administer what they thought was justice. Like father – like son(s).

It is important that we go to God in all things. Even when we think we clearly see a need for justice, we must go to God for direction regarding our involvement in carrying out that justice. He may want us to respond with aggression. However, he may have a completely different plan of justice and we may need to control our emotions and anger and allow God to perform the justice in his time and in his manner. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Justification and Sanctification - How they differ

I often encourage the reading of this very clear and timeless writing by J.C. Ryle where he dissects the clear distinctions between justification and sanctification. This stuff really matters. If you haven't read it - read it now.

"Too many are apt to look at nothing but the surface of things in religion, and regard nice distinctions in theology as questions of "words and names," which are of little real value. But I warn all who are in earnest about their souls, that the discomfort which arises from not "distinguishing things that differ" in Christian doctrine is very great indeed; and I especially advise them, if they love peace, to seek clear views about the matter before us. Justification and sanctification are two distinct things we must always remember. Yet there are points in which they agree and points in which they differ. Let us try to find out what they are..." Read entire article by J.C. Ryle.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Do you feel the urge to "help" God?

Let God fulfill his promises. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that we need to “help” God to be faithful to his word. Resist the urge to grab the reigns that only God should hold.

Throughout biblical history we run into so many pillars in the faith that have had an issue earlier on in their lives with trusting God. Fearing for his own life, Abraham showed a lack of faith when he gave his wife Sarah to the Egyptians and to Abimelech. This occurred even after multiple promises from God that he would be the father of many nations. Why was he fearing for his life with this kind of promise from God? To top it off, it was even after the covenant of circumcision. Sarah showed a lack of faith when she offered her handmaiden to her husband instead of waiting for God to fulfill his promise. And Abraham went along with the idea. Rebecca showed a lack of faith when she decided to manipulate Isaac in order to fulfill the promise she received directly from God about Jacob. Jacob participated in the deceit to obtain the blessing that God had already promised would be his. The stories could continue.

Now, most of these people finally, in faith, let go and allowed God to do his work without their “help”. God restored them, used them, raised them up to be pillars in the faith, and was still true to his promises. As it states in 2 Timothy” if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” However, as we know there were huge consequences to their faithlessness. Let’s learn from the lives of our forefathers and reject the urge to take the reigns. Allow God to be God and to fulfill his promises in your life. Don’t’ hear what I am not saying. I am not saying that we should just sit back and do nothing. No, you must respond to his direction, be a devoted follower of Christ, obey his commands, and passionately live out who you now are in Christ.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ministering out of humility and confidence

Understanding that we can do nothing good apart from Christ is so foundationally important. You see, Christ had to come to this earth to save us because we could not save ourselves. We were completely hopeless without Christ. We can do no good work apart from him. To think otherwise is to cheapen the blood of Christ.

With this in mind, are we approaching our ministries from this humble and sober perspective (reality)? Or, do we think our successes are because of us? Do we think that we can “make it happen”? Well, we may be able to fake it and produce some results without him. But, do you think those results are truly kingdom results? Maybe, if God allows it, but probably not. Is the effectiveness going to be sustainable? Probably not. Will we truly finish “strong” if we run the race in our own strength? Again, probably not. Paul said that he worked harder than anyone else, but it was God’s grace that was really doing the heavy lifting. We must be grounded in Christ and Christ alone and know where the strength and success come from.

While we must be humble and sober in our understanding of where our strength comes from, we must also be confident and bold. You see, when we are truly living out who we are in Christ, then we are promised to do even greater things than him. Yes, we are empowered and even expected to do greater things in our ministries than Christ did in his (accept for the cross of course). With this in mind, we must take action with conviction, passion, and gusto. We must boldly minister the Gospel and live lives that represent our faith.

What does all of this mean? Why am I rambling on? Because, how we approach our ministries matters. It can never be about us and it is never because of us. It is all about God! He started it all, he is the reason for it all, he makes it all happen, and he receives the glory. This should make us both extremely humble and, when we are grounded in his truth, ultimately confident. He formed us, he saved us, he transforms us, he equips us, and he uses us – all for his glory. We are blessed to be instruments in his hands and vessels for his service. And it is when we submit to his hand, and not our own strength, that we can expect great results.

Here’s a simplified version: (1) God calls us, (2) In faith, we humbly respond to his calling with bold action, and (3) God is glorified and his kingdom is served. It starts with God and ends with God. He is the alpha and the omega. But, we must respond and be willing, passionate, and confident about the role we’ve been blessed to play in this kingdom experience.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

What happened to Abraham’s Faith? From fear to faith.

The faith of Abraham is so well known and is a pillar in the faith of the entire Christian church. But it didn’t appear that he always had this level of faith. Two separate times he deceived (lied to) others in order to protect his own life and wealth. He felt the need to not tell the whole truth and allow his wife, Sarah, to be taken by other men. He did this even after hearing directly from the Lord that he would make him a great nation. In fact, the Lord directed him to Egypt where he proceeded to lie about Sarah. Where was his faith that the Lord was in control and would protect him? Out of fear, Abraham again appeared to have little faith when he, even after the covenant of circumcision with the Lord, deceived Abimelech by allowing him to believe that Sarah was his sister. This does not look like a man of extreme faith that will be lifted up as an example to all who will follow.

It appears as though God himself even was beginning to question Abraham’s faith. God needed to know where Abraham stood and decided to test his faith. You know the story, God told Abraham to sacrifice (kill) his beloved son Isaac. He wanted to know if Abraham loved him more than anything or anyone else. Was God number one? This test seemed extreme and far greater than the tests he previously failed. However, Abraham passed the test and proved his sincere, totally-abandoned, faith to God.

What made the difference? What happened that caused his faith to surpass his fear? The Bible doesn’t clearly reveal that, but whatever happened to Abraham must happen to each one of us. We must come to a point in our lives where our love and faith in God exceeds our fears, feelings, and actions of self preservation and self indulgence. We must be willing to sacrifice all for God. Jesus said we must take up our cross and follow him if we are to be his disciples. We must leave our families, jobs, stuff, and our very lives for him. We must die to self. True faith is giving it all up for God.

Is your faith still giving into fear or is it ready to go all the way? Has your faith seen the transformation that Abraham’s did?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Tightrope of Life

I am going to attempt to use a high-wire or tightrope walk as an analogy to walking out the Christian life. The idea for this analogy was originally presented to me by one of my closest friends and a fellow disciple of Christ – Chris.

So, how does the Christian life relate to a tightrope walk and what do all of the components represent? I submit that the process of walking on the rope is living out the Christian life, the sanctification process, and the working out of our salvation. It takes faith to get onto the tightrope and faith to stay on the tightrope. It demands that our eyes be fixed looking forward. If we look to the left or the right, if we look down, or if we look behind we will surely loose our balance and fall. The temptation is strong to look about. But we must keep our focus forward on this critical walk.

What happens if we fall? Do we have a safety net? Yes we do. Is that net the grace of God? I submit that it is not the grace of God. Rather, it is the mercy, love, kindness, and patience of God that catches us if we fall. God’s grace, on the other hand, is something much more useful to our walk on the tightrope. God’s grace is a powerful tool that helps us remain on the tightrope. It is the stabilizing rod. You see, God’s design and desire is that we do not fall. His desire and design is that the safety net will receive little use. “I write this so you will not ‘fall’, but if you do fall there is a ‘net’ to catch you”. This can be the case if we daily take hold of God’s grace in order to remain on the rope. Through Christ he has given us his grace that teaches us to stay on the rope, it his grace that works in us, and it is his grace that helps us in times of need.

So, while we are walking the tightrope, being sanctified, and working out our salvation with “fear and trembling”, let’s never forget that God’s grace (the stabilizing bar) is enough to help us keep our balance and remain on the rope.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Is God Patient or Indifferent?

This morning, I heard Alistair Begg talking about God’s patience and it got me thinking.

Do we take advantage of God’s patience? Do we use his patience as a license to postpone submission to him? Do we truly understand that it is only because of his love, mercy, and kindness that he is patient? Paul writes in Roman 2:4 “do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?”

It is a foolish thing to confuse God’s divine patience with divine indifference. God is patient so that we may have time to come to true repentance - not because he is indifferent to our sin. Isaiah wrote: “will you try the patience of my God also?”

Why is God patient? So that we may have the opportunity to repent. “Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation…” 2Peter 3:15 Does this mean that his patience actually brings salvation or guarantees salvation? No. But his patience does give us the opportunity to respond to the gift of salvation.

Let’s never confuse God’s patience with indifference. Let’s never take it for granted. Let’s not show contempt for it. Rather, let’s respond today with repentant hearts and lives to his gift of salvation; for we are not promised tomorrow.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Your faith matters to your family - a look at Noah

As I was reading through the story of Noah this morning, I had some interesting thoughts about the importance of a father's faith. Men, your faith matters to your entire family.

Noah was a righteous man and considered blameless. So when God decided to purge the earth of the evil that man had created he recognized Noah and made plans to save him. But not only Noah, he also decided to save Noah’s wife, his sons, and his son's wives. This does not mention that anyone of these people were righteous and blameless or walking with God. So why did God save them? Why were they spared? Was it because God had to repopulate the earth and needed them for that task? God could have started all over with just Noah and his wife. He didn’t need the sons and their wives for this task. Was it because the sons helped his father build the ark and this was their reward? Was it the faith of the sons and their wives that saved them? No, it is only mentioned in Hebrews that it was because of Noah’s faith that they were saved. Why did God save the entire family? It appears as though it was the righteousness, faith, and walk of the father, Noah, which actually saved his entire family from the epic flood. Do not think that I am advocating that a father’s faith can provide eternal salvation for his family. For you see, the ark only saved them from the serious storms of life and the judgment of God for a period time. They all eventually died and were responsible to God individually.

However, as men, we can never underestimate the importance that our faith plays in the lives of our entire families. It was Noah’s faith that allowed himself and his entire family to be saved. The faith of a father can protect his family from many storms in this life. It can provide a spiritual protection and set the tone for the entire family. Men, your faith affects more than just your life. It impacts your entire family. Your faith matters. How you live your life matters. Your walk with God matters. Don’t take your role as father and spiritual leader of your family lightly. You set the tone, provide a covering, and what you do today affects generation s to come. The stakes are high. Put your trust in God. Circumcise your heart to the Lord. Live out who you are in Christ. May you “find favor in the eyes of the Lord” and be called “righteous and blameless among the people” just as Noah. And may your family be invited onto the ark in times of trouble and turmoil because of your faith.

Here's a related post on becoming the spiritual leader of your family.