"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." 1 Peter 3:15
Tag Archives: Hope
Are Christians, particularly Christians in America, sociopathic?
Christian… Sociopath… These are two words that on the surface seem completely incompatible. Acts 11:26 tells us that the term “Christian” was first used of disciples in the Antioch church. This was initially used as an insult in that people were saying they were “little Christs”. In other words, they were just like Jesus, who because of His great love for people, voluntarily died to pay for the sins of the world. On the other hand – the dictionary defines sociopath as “a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.” Another says that “Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others.”
How can someone who is living a life that is reminiscent of a man whose critics admit was at least a good person and moral teacher exhibit behavior or attitudes that are patently selfish and apathetic to others? However, in spite of the apparent contradiction, I think if we are truly honest with ourselves, the answer is closer to “yes” than any of us who call ourselves a Christian would like to admit… And it tears me up inside… Let me allow this clip from Atheist Magician and Comedian Penn Jillette to begin to explain what I mean:
“How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” There is the rub… Way too many “Christians” fall in a daily routine and are comfortable to coast through life without a broken heart for their friends and family who, if what we believe is really true, are destined for an eternity without God… Well… to be honest that is the essence of selfishly living life “without concern for the effects of their behavior [or lack thereof] on others”, isn’t it???
We certainly shouldn’t be comfortable with it… But sadly I think that may just be the problem… our comfort. Because we are relatively comfortable, especially in comparison to most of the rest of the world, we just get into auto pilot and unintentionally slip into apathy. It’s not a conscious thing, but it occurs anyway… and it’s tragic.
Penn said “There comes a point where I tackle you… and this is more important than that.” Because people’s eternities are so important, our “social conscience” should remind us that we have a “moral responsibility” to love those around us enough to take the risk of offending them or losing a friendship to in a sense “tackle” them by sharing the truth about Jesus…
Let’s pray to God for forgiveness for our sociopathic tendencies and begin to live a life that actually reflects our name-sake, Jesus… and refuse to scoot through life uncaring and unaffected by the many people we know who do not yet have a relationship with Him.
Evangelism, Gospel, Inerrancy of the Bible, Is Jesus Real?, Ministry, Sermons, Social Commentary, Spiritual Growth, The Bible Bible, Christ, Christian, Christianity, church, faith, Fake Christians, God, God Christ, Good person, Gospel, hate, Heaven, Hell, Hope, Jesus, Life After Death, love, Meaning of Life, Ministry, relationship, Salvation, Truth
This week was the first time that my life directly intersected with the hurt of suicide. It will not be soon forgotten. At first I wasn’t sure how to process what had actually happened. As I slowly started to digest these events I came to the most inevitable question that those close to a suicide (or even who spectate from afar): Why?
Most will typically commit suicide because they feel there are no other solutions and no hope. I found one description online saying that the reason could stem from either financial or personal (relational, low self-esteem) difficulties. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of hopelessness that one would have to feel to wake up one morning with the desire to end it all – much less follow through with that desire (especially one that has a loving family).
Adding to the hurt of the act itself, is a frequent religious response to the act. It is my understanding that the particular family impacted by this was Catholic. This compounds the hurt because according to that religious tradition is the teaching that they are damned to Hell solely because of this decision.
There are two questions that need to be answered when discussing suicide, particularly of one who has claimed to be a Christian.
First, is suicide is a damnable (i.e. unforgiveable) sin in and of itself? In other words, will a true Christian who commits suicide be barred from Heaven. Second, is what does the Bible offer to those who are so hopeless and feel so helpless before the suicide ever happens?
Can suicide alone automatically condemn someone to Hell?
This is an issue that must be addressed due to the religious doctrine of the Catholic Church. For hundreds of years they have created a stigma around suicide that it is a sin that will not be forgiven and thus anyone (Christian or not) who commits suicide will be sent to Hell. There is no biblical support for this opinion. To the contrary, there is ample evidence to support that once a Christian possess salvation, they have been absolved of all sin! This would include the sins you have committed in the past, the sins you are committing now, and the sins you will commit in the future. There are many scriptures that support this doctrine (Eternal Security/Perseverance of the Saints) let me briefly call out three:
Colossian 2:13-14: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
Notice the use of the word “all.” It does not say that God forgave us of the sins we did commit only, but ALL sin that we have and will commit. There is a finality to this verse that indicates that the sin we have and will commit was nailed to the cross. As Jesus said…IT IS FINISHED!
Romans 8:38-39: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If the Colossians verse does not do it for you then perhaps Romans 8 will. Could Paul have been any more explicit? Nothing can separate a Christian from God, NEITHER PRESENT NOR THE FUTURE! Notice the Paul specifically mentions death. Not even death is powerful enough to separate us from the Father and the Son.
Romans 8:1-2: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Again Paul could not have been clearer. As Christians we face no condemnation and are free from the law of sin (and death). The outworking of the law Paul references here is the condemnation that we all would face from God were we not in Christ Jesus. This ultimately results in spiritual death- eternal separation from God.
The final picture that is painted… Once we have accepted Jesus’ payment for our sin (which places us “in Christ”, we have been forgiven for them ALL, past present or future, we will not be condemned. At the moment one is joined to Jesus in this way, there is nothing they can do to separate them from God. Suicide, being a sin, cannot separate a Christian who commits that sin from God.
There is something else that needs to be discussed here and that is the stigma associated with Christians who commit suicide. There are many would make the argument that “true” Christians cannot commit suicide. The premise of this argument is that “true” Christians find their hope in Jesus. 1 Peter 1:13 tells us explicitly to set your hope on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. If a Christian has lost hope then it would appear that the only way it could be rationalized is that they never had hope, and were never really saved.
This thought process is a fundamental breakdown of the basic understanding of sin and the role it plays in our life. If you conclude that suicide is a sin, then it must be considered in the same light as all sin. We as Christians will still struggle with sin until we reach Heaven.
We are to strive to become more and more Christlike, but we will fail at different points in our life. With that in mind one must conclude that there is NO difference between a Christian who lies, and a Christian who commits suicide, or a Christian who commits adultery in their heart and one who commits suicide. In the eyes of God there is no difference. James 2:10 states this as directly as possible “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” In the eyes of God there is no difference between the one who commits suicide, and the one who lies about why they were late to work. Many may scoff at this notion because in their eyes it may represent an extreme. However, God does not think like us He deals in perfect judgment. There is no difference in His perfect judgment between the two.
I believe the reason for this stigma is the finality of the sin. In suicide we see the ultimate in finality. It’s a permanent “solution” to a temporary problem. We see the hurt caused to the family of someone who commits suicide. The emotions involved, both anger and grief over the action are on full display. The Bible states that there is only one sin that is unforgivable and that is the denial of the Holy Spirit (i.e. never believing in Christ – cf. John 3:18). Nowhere does it mention that suicide is an unforgiveable sin.
What hope does the Bible offer?
Suicidal thoughts can end up enveloping someone just as quickly as adulterous thoughts do. The Word of God is designed to offer instruction for life and comfort in our time of need, no matter the circumstances of that need. Without exception, we all hit a time where we are depressed. We hit a point where we believe nobody gets it. We hit a point where we feel like we are alone on this planet. As I write this I am reminded of the footprints in the sand poem. What a simple but powerful demonstration of how God works in our lives.
Psalms is truly an incredible book in the Bible. In it we get a candid look at the prayer life of David and others. It includes bouts with depression. Take for example Psalm 31:9-13: Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends— those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. For I hear many whispering , “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life.
This is the reason that I love Psalms. It is David being completely honest and open with God. WHO HASN’T FELT THIS WAY?! What we see in the book of Psalms is that David wasn’t afraid to say out loud everything that he was thinking: All of the pain, all of the anguish, all of the anxiety, and all of the hurt. But David always had one more thing to say with each passing moment that he was in aguish… he knew that God would sustain him. Verse 14 of Psalm 31… “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ’You are my God.’”
1 Peter 5:6-7 sums up the Psalmists’ experiences in two verses: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may Exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.”
There are a number of verses that can help you in your time of need.
Psalm 9:9, 22:24, 27:4-5, 46:1, 56:8, 116:1-2
This is a great sampling from the direct and honest prayer of David. These come from the depth of his soul as he cries out in anguish to God.
Finally, if you are reading this and you are thinking about suicide, or know someone that is, please call for help. Call a pastor of a local Bible-believing church and speak with them. www.iamsecond.com can point you to one. You should know that God loves you. We are not talking about the kind of love that is fleeting, or abusive, or anything like that which may have exacerbated your present circumstances. His love is perfect. He will never abandon you. He will always love you. If you don’t have a relationship with God, know that He wants one with you. Hebrews 13:5 – Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
We are not talking religion, we are talking a personal one on one relationship with the creator-God of all of the universe.
God’s Word makes it very clear that all Christians are in a very dangerous and deadly battle – we are called to MAKE WAR! That is why we are given instructions on how and who and with which weapons we are expected to fight. Check out what Eph 6:10-18 has to say about it:
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Not only are we expected to fight, but we are expected to WIN – BIG TIME (cf. Romans 8:37).
Over the coming days we are going to look at the various aspects of the Armor of God… and see how each to be used to increase our effectiveness for our Supreme Commander-in-Chief. But before we strap on the Armor and go out Rambo-style to kick tail and take names I think it’s important for us to examine just exactly who who or what is/are the enemy.
Far too often I see Christians assuming that we need to fight against people and their messed up thinking… their ideologies (aka their politics), but it seems to me that verse 12 above makes it pretty clear that this is not the case. Let’s take a peek at what God says about it elsewhere (Ephesians 2:1-3):
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
One can derive from this passage, and the one from chapter 6 above, that Christians have three basic enemies: the World (culture), Satan/the Devil, and our own wicked Flesh… NOT other people!!! Nowhere does it talk about political entities… Hmmm…
Now for those of you who know me you know that I personally have a massive disdain for certain political views and that most of these views are held dear by a certain political party here in our country. This, of course, leads me to have VERY strong negative feelings about that party. But I have to stop and ask myself are rage… frustration… outrage… disgust… against a political party (and thus many of the people in it) a good use of my time and energy?
If our enemies are the World, our own flesh and Satan, aren’t we already fighting on 3 fronts? No military expert would tell you that is a winning battle plan… So why on earth would we want to add a 4th? It is a losing strategy, it is harmful to other people, the reputation of Christ and when you get down to the bottom of it, in almost every instance, fighting against other people it is downright sinful…
When I studied this out to teach it on our recent youth retreat I think I found that, we can reduce this fight to a two front battle. I deeply believe that if we will rightly focus our efforts it will make us more effective for the cause of Christ – I welcome your comments on whether or not the following makes sense.
In spiritual warfare we often (rightly?) begin by focusing on Satan as the primary enemy. Let’s look at some of his names (characteristics) to understand him better and fight him better. As I studied out his names I saw a pattern or progression unfold that made a lot of sense to me and helped me focus my battle efforts – hope it does the same for you.
In simplest terms the Devil is God’s enemy… Satan HATES God and would love nothing more than to replace Him. We see this in these names: Satan (which means Adversary) 1 Peter 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:15; Enemy/Opponent – Matthew 13:28; Evil One – John 17:15…
He is not powerful enough to oppose/fight God directly so he employs a round-about attack by going after God’s people and doing everything in his power to keep others from becoming God’s people… To do this Satan has masterfully influenced the culture toward greater and greater depravity and evil. God recognizes this ploy and has warned us in other names that have been given to Satan: Prince of the Power of the Air (which means he controls unbelievers) – Ephesians 2:2; Ruler of Demons – Mark 3:22; Ruler of this World (which means he rules the world system/culture) – John 12:31; God of this Age (which means he influences the thinking of this world) – 2 Cor. 4:4; Beelzebub (Lord of the Flies) – Matthew 12:24; Belial (which means that he is worthless – just like the corruption he has brought to the world) – 2 Cor. 6:15
Satan then uses the Culture/World to provide temptation for our flesh (the second enemy listed above). We see this in his names: Tempter – 1 Thes. 3:5; Serpent of Old – Deceiver in Garden – Rev. 12:9, 20:2
God warns us from falling to these schemes in 1 John 2:15-17 when He says:
15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
However, Satan is stubborn and will not give up… through the World/Culture will try to tell you that certain sins are OKAY… he’ll try to convince you that they are not that bad… He’ll provide you with every kind of justification from “I’m just wired/born this way” to “God wants me to be happy and this will do it” to “I/they deserve this”… But I’m here to tell you IT’s NOT OKAY…
Satan is a masterful liar (cf. John 8:34) – Though he tries to make it look good, pleasing and harmless, sin is an affront to God and His Holiness and it is harmful to our soul and damaging to our lives and relationships! Sinning is telling your heavenly father that you know best – it’s basically giving God the finger… and though God is loving and forgiving that is a dangerous game to play…
Once Satan has trapped you in one of his schemes and he has hooked you with some type of addictive sin, he then capitalizes upon our temptations and failures. God calls him the Accuser (Rev 12:10) because Satan bad-mouths you to God, in your mind and to other people. He is called the Dragon/Destroyer (Rev. 9:11; 12:3, 7, 9) because he uses your sinful mistakes to ruin your life. He is called a Roaring Lion (1 Peter 5:8) because he wants to swallow you up in the consequences of sin and keep you from experiencing fellowship with God. He is a Murderer (John 8:34) because he leads people to eternal death (aka Hell). The term “Devil” actually means “slanderer” ( Matt. 4:1) because If he can’t get to you any other way, he’ll try to destroy your/God’s reputation.
So, what I see from all this is that if Satan is the deceiving force that is corrupting the culture we only truly have to fight the battle on two fronts… We need to Submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7-8). And we need to MAKE WAR against our sinful nature (cf. 1 Cor. 9:27, Galatians 5:16-26). John Piper would say that the war against our own flesh is the most important aspect of this… but I’d have to respectfully disagree… I think both prongs of our counter-attack are equally important… If we fight directly against Satan (and we’ll see how to do that in coming posts) then the culture will be effected which will minimize temptations as much as possible, making it easier to fight against our sinful desires…
I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen sin’s painful effects on a lot of people’s lives and I’m hopping mad about it… I’m ready to strap the armor on and get it on with Satan in God’s mighty power… Will you join me?
"Really!?" moments, Encouragement, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Inerrancy of the Bible, Modern Parables, Satan, Social Commentary, Spiritual Growth, The problem of Evil, Theological Arguments apologetics, Armor of God, atheist, athiest, Christ, Culture, God, Heaven, Hell, Holy Spirit, Holy War, Hope, inerrancy, Jihad, Meaning of Life, Ministry, prayer, Purpose of Life, Real Christians, Salvation, Satan, sin, Theology, Truth
Open air preaching is absolutely fascinating to me. It is a back to the basic’s approach to evangelism. Think about it…this is how the apostles did it. They stood out in public and preached. They made their argument under the most intense scrutiny. It is incredible to watch the reaction of the world to those who preach in the open. You when I wrote The No Shame + No Fear series it was geared towards evangelism. So clear is the call for evangelism that many forget how to evangelize. Open air preaching is one way to do it. Keep in mind it is not for everyone. But there are a number of ways to this. Everyone has opportunities to witness. It could be on facebook, Myspace, with your friends or wherever!
Here are links to some open air preaching:
These video’s were put up by a group called The Way of the Master. This is Ray Comfort, and Kirk Cameron.
The heat wave that is sweeping the nation is definitely brutal… My A/C is having a VERY hard time keeping up… When Robert and I spoke earlier today he mentioned to me that this reminded him of how urgent we ought to be about the souls of our friends, family and neighbors… He said: “If you think it’s hot now… Imagine how bad it’s gonna be in Hell, where the heat never lets up!” What a sobering reminder…
Revelation 20:12-15 says, “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Later on we’re reminded elsewhere (Rev. 14:11 and 20:10) that this torment is forever and ever… OUCH… Let’s take a cue from my friend and let this oppressive heat help remind us that we are called to the ministry of reconciliation (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20)… Let’s get to it… Let’s show them how to get permanent/eternal A/C!!
Tell me if you’ve ever heard something like this: “I know what I’m doing isn’t right… okay, well maybe it’s even wrong… maybe… but I REALLY want to do this… it feels right… Well, at least I think it’s what’s going to make me happiest now. Yeah, it’s probably not what God wants, but it’s okay, cuz I’ll just ask Him to forgive me for it… later…”
Maybe we’ve even heard ourselves saying something like that… If not aloud, perhaps we’ve tried to justify sinful actions in our minds this way… Friends, let me say as lovingly as I can… this is a VERY dangerous game to play…
Consider what God says in Deuteronomy 29:
Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God… make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.
When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster… The LORD will single him out… for disaster.
Granted, this passage is written to Israel and in relation to the covenant they had with God… But the principle is clear… God HATES it when we identify with Him in name only and then go ahead and do our own thing… Isn’t that exactly what we’re doing when (like above) we try to justify stupidity? How many people do you know that claim to be Christian, yet don’t live it out in their lives at all? If and when they are confronted with their sin they blow it off as “mistakes” or dismiss it as “personality flaws” or “shortcomings”… and they will ask for forgiveness… later?
To bring this in a NT light, let’s look quickly at the end of Romans 5 and the beginning of Romans 6.
But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?… Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God…
Also consider Hebrews 10
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Notice at the end it says the LORD will judge His people… Can you be saved and sin willfully, yes… but then consider the next sentence… It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. And, as a child of God, who loves Him, you will not want to persist in that sin… Robert and I have both written in recent posts about freedom in Christ, and how that freedom should not be used for evil.
It has been said that there is no such thing as a person who has accepted Jesus but has no change in their life… Does that mean that you will be perfect from the moment of salvation? Of course not! However, if there is little to no evidence of a change in your life, there is much to fear and that person should take head to 2 Corinthians 13:5 which says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”
Does this mean that you have to “clean up” your life before you come to Christ? Absolutely not… Salvation comes through faith alone in Christ alone… Ephesians 4:8-9 affirms, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Since we are transformed into a new creation upon salvation then we ought to look and act differently than we did before… If we don’t we are massively immature as Christians or we are not Christians at all. Will there be ups and downs in the Christian life? SURE! Sometimes the downs might be huge… but we should be growing more and more as time progresses…
Philippians 2:13-14 says, “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.”
Basically, what this means that we have to rely upon God for the changes that He wants to take place in our lives, but we are to work with Him in that process…
So, I guess what this post boils down to is an appeal for everyone claiming the name of Christ (i.e. calling themselves Christian) to be, well, christlike (though the power of the Holy Spirit). Let’s stop living for ourselves and start living for Him… no more lame excuses for stupidity (like above) that presume upon the grace of God…
"Really!?" moments, Encouragement, Evangelism, G90X, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Ministry, Social Commentary, Spiritual Growth Apologizing, Asking for Forgiveness, Bible, Christ, church, Fake Christians, forgiveness, G90X, God, God Christ, Good person, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Hope, Jesus, love, Meaning of Life, Ministry, prayer, Real Christians, sin, Theology, Truth
I’m going to be out of pocket tomorrow, so I’m doing my G90X update a little early this week… Thought I’d take the Holiday as a good opportunity to remind us of a passage that isn’t always very comfortable. 1 Peter 2:13-17:
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.
Of course, in America we have no king… but we do have a Congress and a President and a Supreme Court… Regardless of your political leanings there are probably several men or women in Washington that you are not a big fan of… In posting this passage, I’ve got another confession to make… I need to do a much better job of praying for the men and women in our government… I spend a whole lot of time complaining about them (not always out loud, but often in my heart), and only a fraction of that time praying for them… which I think, is probably the best way to honor and submit to them.
When we are dissatisfied with certain things that our government is doing or not doing how should we respond? Robert touched on this in a previous post after he was very upset over the passing of the Health Care bill. I think 1 Peter 2:15 sheds a lot of light on what we can and should do… It’s easy to complain (believe me I know from 1st hand experience), but I think that our first obligation is to stop and pray and silence useless/foolish talk…
What do I mean by that? Here’s a question… What can actually (legally) be done to change the government? Vote them out, right? Of course you can write your elected officials and let them know how you feel about certain issues and how you will vote based on those issues… If you are dissatisfied with what they are doing/not doing – go to it… but the opportunity to actually make a change (by voting) only comes around every couple of years, right?! And there’s no guarantees that someone more worthy will be running against them. Our complaints in the meantime are futile and do more to rile us up and make us discontent and take our focus off what’s more important (i.e. the Kingdom of God, lost souls and hurting people around us)…
If our complaints are largely futile could they then be considered “ignorant talk of foolish men” in light of verse 15 and Ephesians 4:29, which says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”? Not convinced? Check it out in context (Ephesians 4:25-32).
Thanks to the sacrifice of countless men and women throughout America’s history we have the freedom of speech… We have the freedom to complain… But 1 Peter 2:16 reminds us, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” Do our complaints build others up… do they mark us as servants of God? Am I saying folks on Fox or MSNBC are evil in being political pundants? Not really… However, as Christians we should think about how WE need to respond to our discontentment on a daily basis.
So what can be done DAILY to change the government? The Answer is Prayer.
God has the ability to change hearts and minds… I truly trust in His power and sovereignty… If He has that power and ability, then let us lean on Him to do so… Let’s pray for our government officials that God would give them supernatural wisdom and that they would make God-honoring choices… Let us “cast all our anxiety upon Him because He cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7) – It can make a difference in our nation, in our lives and our attitudes… I certainly want to do the will of God and definitely do not want to be considered by Him to be a fool who’s engaging in “ignorant talk.”
Maybe I should pray more…
"Really!?" moments, Encouragement, G90X, Ministry, Modern Parables, Social Commentary 4th of July, apologetics, Bible, Big Government, Bill of Rights, Christ, Congress, corruption, faith, First Amendment, Freedom, G90X, God, God Christ, Government, government incopetency, government mismanagement, hate, Hope, Independence Day, Jesus, July 4, lies, love, Meaning of Life, Ministry, Obama, Purpose of Life, relationship, Theology, Truth
With the sermon last week I got bogged down in study rather than the speed reading needed to keep up the G90X pace… Today is a catch up day…
So instead of trying to teach today, let me pose some questions (please shoot me your answers as a comment to this post)… In a previous post I said that the overarching theme for the Bible is the redemption of mankind, in other words it is about God easing the tension between His perfect love and His perfect justice…
- What other themes do you see in the Bible?
- How do they speak to you?
- AND… How are you responding to them in obedience (And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6)?
- Finally, do you trust these as God’s Will for your life (The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17)?
Encouragement, G90X, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Inerrancy of the Bible, Ministry, Social Commentary, Spiritual Growth, Theological Arguments Bible, biblical inerrancy, church, faith, G90X, God, God Christ, Good person, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Hope, Jesus, Meaning of Life, Ministry, prayer, Purpose of Life, relationship, Salvation, Theology, Truth
WOW! What a game! If you missed it here’s a quick recap… The US dominated play against Algeria but didn’t score the winning goal until the “added time” at the end of the 2nd half. The Yanks HAD to win to advance because England was winning their match against Slovenia… This was a nail biter for sure.
For much of the match it seemed like the US was going to be robbed of a win on a mysteriously disallowed goal, much like they were against Slovenia earlier in the tournament. Plus, in spite of their best efforts and spectacular opportunities, goals were just not finding the net… However, during the added time Donovan perfectly placed a ball that weakly ricocheted off the Algerian goal keeper after a fabulous US counter striking run on goal. I literally jumped out of my seat!
Like the last dramatic match, this one got me thinking about spiritual stuff… Immediately after the goal was scored Matthew 20:1-16 popped into my head. This is a parable that Jesus told that demonstrates that as long as you’re alive, it’s never too late to accept Him and enter the Kingdom of Heaven (by placing your faith and trust in Jesus – click HERE to learn how to do that). Like the US, it doesn’t matter how many opportunities you’ve let slip away in the past… the important thing is that you do it! However, unlike the US, who only faced elimination from a tournament, this decision is the difference between Eternal Life in Heaven and Eternal separation from God in Hell.
Now, some of you may be thinking something like… “I’ll wait until the last minute and accept Christ then, cuz I wanna have my fun now.” That is a dangerous game to play… The US didn’t know in advance how much added time there would be at the end of the match (if any)… That is why they valiantly tried to score all game long – and their desperation became more and more evident as time elapsed – they knew England’s score… they knew that they had to score as well. Additionally, they didn’t know how many scoring opportunities they would get… Similarly, none of us knows how much time we have left here on Earth… nor do we know how many opportunities we are going to have to trust in Jesus… But, like the US, we know that time is running out… God’s patience with you is not leis e fare. In fact, the Bible tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Consider this, Jesus said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” But He won’t knock forever… Won’t you open your heart to Him? If you do the party that awaits in Heaven is far greater than our mutual rejoicing over the US Soccer team’s win today (see Luke 15:7).
For more details on the US victory click HERE.
"Really!?" moments, Encouragement, Evangelism, Gospel, Modern Parables, Social Commentary atheist, Bible, Christ, church, Donovan, faith, God, God Christ, Good person, Gospel, Heaven, Hell, Hope, Jesus, Last Minute Goal, Life After Death, love, Meaning of Life, prayer, Purpose of Life, real, Real Christians, relationship, Salvation, Truth, US Advances, US Gets Robbed, US Soccer, US Soccer Victory, US v Algeria, US victory over Algeria, US vs Algeria, World Cup, Yanks Win
So, yet again my internet at home was down yesterday… so the G90X is a day late again! Sorry… I’ve hopefully got that shored up (ATT said I needed a new modem, so I got one and installed it late last night)…
As promised, I wanted to talk about the prayer aspect of the G90X… But to do that, I’ve got to start with a confession. I didn’t get in the full 90 minutes last week… The first 2 weeks I did in spades, but last week, I let business creep in and rob me of my prayer time… Boy, could I tell the difference!
The best way I can explain how prayer works and changes me is by a personal analogy. I’ve got some VERY good friends who do not live in the same town as I do, but with whom I keep in close contact… I Facebook, or email or text them often (usually one or all of these multiple times a day)… These guys are two of my very best friends and they keep me sharp, on my toes… hold me accountable… listen to my joys, concerns and hurts and they encourage me – I value their friendship and their time VERY, VERY much! In fact, if I don’t get my daily “fix” (i.e. fellowship with these friends) my day is not quite as good as it would be otherwise… Oh, it can still be a great day, but regardless of how good it is, it is somewhat diminished by my not communicating with these important men.
It works the same with my Heavenly Father. The days I communicate intimately with Him (more than just a “drive by” or “rub-a-dub-dub thanks for the grub… Yea, God!” type prayer) are the days that I’m most encouraged, empowered, focused on what’s important and submitted to Him… These are the days I’m closest to Him and these are the days I’m most selfless and filled with compassion for other people! Like above, these days can still be horrible days (believe me!), but days are just somehow better when I’ve had my “Jesus fix”… THAT’s what I missed out on a little bit last week – I didn’t have as much fellowship as I should have or would have liked. My week was good, but how much better would it have been had I communed more with the God who not only created the universe, but who also loves me with a burning and passionate love?
If you don’t understand what I’m talking about because you’ve never experienced it let me encourage you to seriously consider John 3:16-18 and 1 John 4:9-10… Here’s what they have to say:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
If you HAVE experienced what I’m talking about let me encourage you to Love Him more and more and more… and express that love through time spent with Him through prayer… after all 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Pray continually” – Our days would be so much better if we would!