Category Archives: The Christian Life

How could we pray for revival? (Revised for 2017)

RevivalB America, religion, and revival are terms that go easily with each other. They bring up images of tent meetings, dramatic preaching, and mass conversions. Today, these are mostly nostalgic images of a past America where Christianity played a larger role in the public life and a call for repentance was more easily aroused.  In the battle for the culture on the national scene, we have seemingly been outwitted those opposed to orthodox Christianity and many among us are unaware of what actual faith in Jesus Christ is.  The need for revival is great.

But how specifically could we petition God for this revival? There are certainly many good approaches. The most important is starting out with a revival of faith and action in our own lives. We could all start by repenting of our own failures in our lacking of concern about others, and we could then rejoice in God’s mercy and love that we can start new today.

Here are a few things to think about praying for, some obvious, and some that you may not have considered:

Pray that we would pray. I recently read a book from a “Christian writer” who began the book by criticizing a seminar leader for taking a  time of reflection and prayer and instead of starting by first calling the church to action. Yes, we should take action. But action not directed by God, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, is not what we need for revival. (I wonder what might have been accomplished if the church in the early 1900’s had spent more of its time on its knees praying verses fighting for prohibition counter to the Bibles own words.)

Pray for the giving over of buildings. America is full of minimally used and marginally maintained church buildings. Pray that many of them become alive, or that they would  give over their buildings to those who would use them well to proclaim the Gospel, reach out, and serve their local communities.

Pray that Christians will use new media more to spread the true Gospel and not just to share good times, complain about the government, the news media, foreign interests, etc…  (Though these can be worthy things to do if done in grace, perception of actual importance, and moderation.) But these uses appear to outnumber loving presentations of the Gospel to a lost and dying world 10,000:1. I heard it once said and believe it mostly to be true. What you really care about in this world is what will be on your Facebook page.

Pray that followers of, and families in, Christ would not be guilty of the sin of Balaam without falling into the sin of self-righteousness. That they and would stand out in the culture by wise and loving choice of focus and activity. Pray that the dependence on popular culture for relating to one another in the church would be replaced by activities of greater grace, and that the church would be full of more genuine fellowship.

Pray that pastors will proclaim the Gospel in the pulpit and that they and their congregations would desire for follow the Word of God in all aspects of life even under the possibility of persecution.

And Pray for a transformation of our political and cultural leaders that they would fear God and love their fellow man. That we would pray for those who persecute us, and their would be transformation in their hearts.

Let us see what God may have in store for us in the next decade.

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Does God Believe in Grey?

Grey is simply white with some black in it. Does it seem to you that we live in a world where all truth (white) has a little bit of lie (black) in it? Where it is true when they say, “everything is shades of grey?” Where it is sometimes hard to determine who the good guy is and who is the bad? Does God, the one who said let your yes be yes and your no be no, believe in shades of grey? 

No. However, God is merciful and because of this is it can often appear that he does. He uses sin filled people in the process of being sanctified to do his work giving the appearance sometimes of a world filled with grey. The catch phrase we hear a lot these days is that God uses imperfect people. God also tells us that light and darkness, truth and evil, will be intertwined so deeply that they cannot be completely rooted out and separated in this world. But that they will be rooted out in a “harvest” to come in the end of the age.

Does that mean there is no complete truth? In some ways our entire life here on earth is the searching out of truth and acting out on this absolute, undiluted, and unbending truth against a completely corrupt evil. Through our sin filled minds, however, we often don’t see it that clearly. If fact, most of us feel uncomfortable by a pure truth or pure good. We are like the movie that throws in a few curse words so it doesn’t get that dreaded G rating.  We are all accountants that want to appear to be mild versions of the Hell’s Angels in order not to be thought of as dull.

This is most likely because we misunderstand God. We misunderstand how truly joyful God is. And we think, mistakenly, that there is an actual alternative to God’s joy. One a little less demanding. Maybe, even a little more fun. This is because evil is essentially living for the brief moment on what is often referred to as “borrowed capital.” The devil uses the good things God made while, for reasons only God completely understands, he has his brief reign as “Prince of this World.”

We can think of grey as pure truth diluted by sin. It is our job, our precious task, to undilute it in order for God to shine brighter into this world and life is more joyful, clearer, and we are more effective. How do we do this? We do this through prayer, working in his body, the legitimate church (a good, wonderful, and God designed organization that stands as the restrainer of evil) loving our neighbor as ourselves and loving God with all our heart. This can be played out in millions of unique and inventive ways. We are not to settle or surrender to dull grey but work to shine the true nature of the undiluted truth of Christ as a bright light into our world of darkness.

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The Distracted Life

                                       The road of distraction often ends here.

The tag line of our devotional site is “Connecting Busy and Distracted People to God.” This begs the question, “If we are not busy with God, doing the things that God wants us to be doing, as seen in his Word, just what are we busy at?”  Research says most of us aren’t busy doing very much at all. For example, in the United States, the average person who is not actively working (40% of America isn’t working), spends 6 1/2 hours a day in leisure activities including 3 hours of television watching. Even a person who is working still watches on average 3 hours a day of TV. The truth is that a lot of us really are not that busy with critical things. We are distracted.

Just what is distracting us? I could give a list of things that are obvious to most of us. I have already mentioned television, which is an example of something that can be good but is often misused. Other things like celebrity gossip following are not awful but have little edification value. And others like drug use and pornography have damaging effects that show our separation from God.  However, no matter what our activities, we need to be alert. The apostle Peter says we have an enemy that prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour.  

Most of us do not need an enemy always tempting us to waste the time God has given us. We are happy to volunteer as we go down three broad and well-worn paths. God warns us of these common paths in the book of First John.  

  • The pride of life. This one Got Adam and Eve who were living in a paradise. We get discouraged with the blessings already bestowed upon us and we want to elevate ourselves up to the level of God. We want others to look up to us and have our own kingdoms instead of desiring to be part of God’s story. We whittle away our time on things that bring attention to ourselves but are of little value to the Kingdom of God and other people.
  • The pride of the eye. This where we get distracted by all the stuff. The latest this and that and what the neighbor has. Of course, stuff isn’t bad. Stuff can save your life. Stuff can bring great joy. Stuff can show our neighbor we love them. But it can also distract us, giving us a temporary focus that at first provides a uniqueness, and then wears off if its only use is to be a God in and of itself. In the western world, we are loaded down with lots and lots of stuff. Even the average person in poverty in American has three television sets and a cell phone.
  • The lust of the flesh. This is where we get distracted by the things that satisfy our physical desires. A lot of these are very good things. After all, our God is a lover of pleasure and joy. Our enemy is not a creator. He is a created being very dependent on God, like everyone else, and takes the things God has given and twists them and misuses them. In addition, we follow his lead (most of us independently need little prompting from anything but our own selfish desires) and we misuse these things also, distracting us and separating us from God by things of the flesh.

The best way to move away from these distractions is to refocus on God. The Bible paraphrase “The Message” catches the spirit here in Philippians 15: 6-21.

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites. But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

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A Child’s Eye of Wonder

Jesus said to be like a child. In Mark 10:15, he specifically says,  I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. Those are not only surprising words, but they are an ultimatum. These are even more startling considering that at the time they were spoken, children had little intrinsic value in their childhood state. Their value being only in the future functioning adult years.  Those of us with children, who can be overwhelmed by the tasks of taking care of what is by nature immature and often challenging can ask, like the disciples who pushed away the children, what could the God man be saying?

There are, of course, two elements of a child. There is the selfish element that seems to disregard any thought of anyone else in the world’s needs besides themselves. This is what we see with the crying toddler throwing a tantrum in the grocery store when they aren’t allowed to buy the candy bar. This is a bare bones expression of the childishness of our original sin nature inherited from Adam. But I think we all suspect that this is not what Jesus is getting at here. There is an innocent element to children. And this is the intrinsic value to children, this is what we celebrate. The child with no guile, no alternative motive, who sees everything with a new and uncynical light. Good is good and evil is evil.

It this second element that Jesus is obviously referring too.  We must be like a paidion (Greek for young child) in approaching God. This is the attitude that Jesus commands us to have. We are to have the joy, beauty, and wonder of children as we approach our loving heavenly Father. There is also a secondary element coming out of this that may be worth calling attention to. And that is it what a child sees. The child sees and pays attention to the smallest of things. They can take pleasure in the most innocuous of items, a cardboard box becomes a castle, a small puddle becomes an ocean, a dandelion a thing of beauty to behold. They have joy in these small things. They grasp on to moment. They are not worrying about the big picture. They are lacking suspicion, their thoughts are not cluttered, they have trust, and they are into the now without the distraction of the past or the future just as we should be in prayer, bible study, and loving our neighbor. They can be this way because they are trusting their parents to take care of the rest just like we can trust our Father God.  

We do take all scripture in context. Jesus is not saying for us to abandon stewardship, parenthood, good government and other important things of mature adulthood to go and play unicorns in the field.  The scriptures are overwhelming in the call for responsibility. But we can take with us our maturity, and integrate it with the required wonder, vision, and trust of the small child and count on Jesus and the cross to “cover our backs.” We can put off the worry of the moment to take on the wonder of the day. In so doing, we take one more step to be more like Jesus Christ. Strangely, child-likeness with God is an unwavering command and not an optional lifestyle.

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A God Focused Desire

I was sitting on an airplane and someone had a book that was entitled, essentially that the secret of happiness, had to do with not giving a “blank” (fill in your favorite offensive word here) about what others think.  At that moment, the thought of not having to worry about anyone else but just myself seemed appealing. It would be great just to free myself up from all the multi-layers of obligations that I have.  When someone bothered me with work, family, or ministry issues, and I didn’t feel like dealing with it, I could simply say I am tired of this. I have decided I am just going to be happy and “blank” everyone else.

This is initially attractive because we all know how disappointing other people, and other people’s opinions of us can be. But slowly as I walked through the airport terminal the truth sank in. Yes, being a slave to others opinions can be exhausting. But pleasing ourselves only can also a very fickle and disappointing project.  The Bible tells us that “the human heart is the most deceitful of all things.” (NLT) As many of us have discovered, we often think we know what we need to be happy then find out later that we didn’t have a clue. In the first chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul tells us that as a punishment God gave men over to their own desires, and he lets us get what we want until we find out that our own self-focused desires destroy us. The substance lover is destroyed by the drugs, alcohol, or food, the lottery winner devastated by his riches, or the social-approval-driven come face to face with their phoniness. Our hearts deceive us.

When the selfishness of the moment passed, I thought that we as Christians, as followers of Jesus, have agreed to take on a better task than just pleasing ourselves. We need only to please God. When we chafe at this as we often do, it is because we lack wisdom. But it is easier to please God than ourselves because we all know that we have a tendency to misjudge ourselves. But God does not misjudge us. He knows what is in man and knows what we need in order to grow and be sanctified. He knows what gives a peace beyond understanding. That is a peace that can go beyond the happening based happiness of the moment to a joy that has eternal capabilities.   

God’s commands, what God wants us to do, are not a secret. Often however, we think we need to guess at what they are. His commands, the outline for our lives, are given to us in the Bible. (As a warning to many, they are not found from the self-appointed “apostle” down the street.) We can wake up the next morning and set off to do them. But God also does a very strange thing. When we believe on Jesus, he also transforms our hearts from one of “stone” to one of “flesh,” and he begins to expose the good things in our hearts. He gives us desires and then tells us to pursue them. Something my pastor said a few weeks back caught me off guard when he said that yes, we really can do what we want and pursue our desires. They just need to be in the parameters of our loving God’s design. God is lover of pleasure, joy, and peace.  As we live for God, he takes away our deceitful desires and fills our hearts with our true desires that he has built into us.

In Psalms 37 God says,

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

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It’s ok…you can resign as commander of the universe.

Have you ever secretly felt you had the job of ruler of the universe? Perhaps, like most, you didn’t realize you had taken on this tough job.  And perhaps, those around you didn’t realize you were the ruler.  We had a pastor who had everyone raise their right hand and resign as ruler of the universe. We all did it and laughed. But you know what they say about comedy, its funny because it can be strikingly true.  If we were to authentically analyze our worries, a lot of us think that we are responsible for the universe. For those of us carrying this burden, I have good news: Today is your day of freedom!  Both you and I can quit worrying about everything, everywhere, all the time.

A lot of us spend a lot of time worrying about things that we have no control over and have no way of effecting. Even the best of self-help realizes this, anyone of the millions of people who have read Mormon Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, knows that we need to spend our time where our circles of influence (what we can do something about) and our circle of concern (what bothers us) intersect.

But hold on a second! Doesn’t the Bible spend a lot of time telling us to get involved? The Bible doesn’t call for a self centered disconnected life. In Matthew it says, go into all the world and make disciples. After all, we get to be part of the work God is doing in the final defeat of his enemy, in the salvation of others, and in the sanctification of those who believe on him.   Our lives have effects in far greater spheres than we imagine, and we need to be concerned about what is going on in far off places, after all we need to be reaching them for Christ. We need to be interceding in prayer. And we need to be vigilant about false teaching, and we need to support the innocent, and so on and so on. 

Are we just supposed to sit by the pool and chill out and just let anyone do anything they want? No. (At least not most of the time). But God told us we don’t have to be the ultimate judge, jury, and executioner of everything. He told us we are not responsible for everything. He is. We don’t need to stay up night worrying if evil is going to win. We know ultimately it loses. And we are given a clear standard to judge. We are to judge as we would want to be judged against the Bible and to judge the fruit of others as it corresponds with the fruits of the Spirit (see Galations 5: 22-23).

Jesus told us we don’t need to worry about being ultimate judge and executioner because we aren’t capable or gifted to do it. But by our pride we are determined that we are. We are under literal orders to absolutely not to stay up late into the night worrying that we have unsuccessfully directed the universe and separated good from bad. Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 13:24-27

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’  But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (nkjv)

In 20 A.D., a plant called darnel, which looks a lot like the wheat, would get caught up in the wheat. In fact, you could not tell it apart until the harvest and much damage to the wheat could be done trying. When the church has tried (i.e. the inquisition) it has gotten it very, very wrong. Let’s go forth and sow wheat, but leave the final harvest and ruling the universe to God.

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Got the Easter Spirit?

I have been driving around town looking for the Easter banners put up by the local civic authorities with the word Believe on them like they did at Christmas. But apparently they had forgotten to put them up.

I was at the mall looking for the mass of shoppers preparing for Easter Day, and thought I would wander through the store looking at and enjoying the Easter decorations. It must have been an economic malaise that has recently hit the country, because except for the card store it seems everyone forgot to check their calendar. Easter is just a few weeks away.

On the drive back to my house, I turned on the radio to listen to some Easter music on the easy listening pop channel that each year plays holiday music. There wasn’t any. I clicked on the Christian radio station to catch a couple of hip updated versions of “He is Risen.” But alas nothing.

I know that Easter has not been completely forgotten. There was a nice collection of dresses for little girls at the department store. I got an advertisement from a local church on special services. And I did read that the average family spends $200.00 on Easter each year for candy, decoration, and dinner. But lets just be honest here, society just doesn’t change like it does at Christmas. There is no Easter Spirit among the community at large.

Like it or not, people have a tendency to be different at Christmas. More prone to be generous, secular musicians sing songs about Christ, and profound atheists have symbols of a Turkish Bishop named St. Nicholas all over their children’s rooms. But at Easter…it…well…just doesn’t happen.

Is it that  bunny that lays eggs and decorates with pastels? Or is it that secular society says enough is enough. We will go along with you on Christmas and give you the virgin birth. But raised from the dead, that we call a halt on. I just don’t know. It is just that, be honest, for most of America Easter doesn’t have it.

However, one of the great problems with Christmas is that it doesn’t stick around. All those good feelings slide away as the credit card bills come at the end of January. Those who catch the Easter vision. It is more than just catching a wave of societal goodness. The realization that you have been chosen by God for eternal life. That Christ died and rose again for you is permanently life changing, and the spirit doesn’t quit two weeks into January.

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Are you being indoctrinated? or taught?

                      Looking into North Korea from a Church on the border

I recently read a book on the education of some of the college age students in the repressive nation of North Korea. Believe it or not, there is a University in North Korea sponsored and ran by Christians in order to get a foothold in starting a relationship with this nation who is desperate for both money and information.  (The wisdom of this approach has pros and cons given that Christianity or anything unapproved by the North Korean leadership cannot be mentioned.)

The book had an interesting twist. It was written by a reporter who pretended to be a Christian missionary in order to teach at the school and get access into the country. The book itself, except for showing a very bleak picture of life even for the best of the best, was rather self indulgent of the author and uneventful except for a couple of interesting proclamations the author gave.

  • At one time, the author wondered if the students were simply insane when it came to the worship of the then leader Kim Jon-il.
  • At another time, due to the constant amount of lies told by the students she doubted the students had any concept of what truth actually is.
  • At another time, she wondered if the indoctrination that the students were receiving from the state in their worship of Kim Jong-il was equivalent to the indoctrination that the Christian missionaries received in their following of Jesus.

It is this last point, I want to talk about. It is a valid question we all have to ask ourselves. Why do we believe something? Are we as Christians any different from the North Korean worshipers of the Korean political ruler?

Certainly, I think there are some key differences in Christian training and what happens in North Korea. The fact that every one of the Christian teachers who were volunteering in North Korea were free to leave and  switch their religion at any time may be the initial self-evident difference. However, many people are indoctrinated into false belief systems in much less extreme situations than North Korea. Some differences between being taught verses being indoctrinated are listed below:

Signs you are being taught:

  • Multiple sources are provided if available
  • Counter arguments are explained and given their day in court when age appropriate
  • Freedom is given to investigate alternatives
  • The truth is presented even when it is unflattering to your point of view
  • The raw data is made available for investigation
  • The motivation of the teacher is out in the open
  • Trust is given to the decision maker to make the final decision

Signs you are indoctrinated

  • One or very limited sources (usually generating from the one source)
  • No freedom is provided to investigate
  • Unflattering moments are covered up by lies
  • Raw data is hidden or non-existent
  • Motivation which is typically self-enriching of the trainer or leader is hidden
  • Trust is not given to the decision maker

Ultimately, indoctrination is consuming of the person being indoctrinated. They are being manipulated typically by dishonesty or partial truth (the father of lies is of course the devil or enemy of God) for the enrichment of the trainer or teacher. Teaching is the opposite. True Christianity must be taught, and Jesus was the great teacher. (He compelled no one to follow him and got nothing out of it merely for himself.) In teaching, the student is uplifted to as high a level of the teacher as possible. In a sharing of true knowledge, it can ultimately be used as a blessing to all. As you may have noticed, indoctrination is not just limited to repressive political regimes. We can see the elements of it in our public schools and many false religions here in the United States.

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Manchester by the Sea: No Hope of Redemption?

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 4:21)

The academy awards come up Sunday. I recently saw one of the movies which will be considered for best picture. I saw it mostly by accident. I don’t see many first run movies anymore due to both limited time (I have seven children) and often inclination.  My wife and I were away for the weekend in a seaside town in Washington state celebrating our 23rd anniversary. 

There was not much to do in the evening. But there was an old-fashioned movie theater with one selection. The ticket taker smiled when telling us that they didn’t take credit cards, but said she was glad we had some cash that way she didn’t have to let us in for free.  The film playing that night was Manchester by the Sea. I had heard a little about the movie (which turned out to be mostly wrong), but I thought what could be more delightful than to attend a thought provoking movie about relationships in a small seaside town while in another small seaside town on the other side of America.

I would have walked out and never looked back about 30 minutes into the movie had not been for the peer pressure of sitting in the front of the theater. I would have had to walked past 100 grey headed retirees who had thicker skin than I did. The language was awful, the relationships lacked any sort of gentle affection, and the view of sex was pathetically low. However, ultimately I am glad I didn’t leave, because in the end I thought that writer and director Kenneth Lonergan, had made a brutally honest movie about a world where there is in essence no God. 

The plot is relatively simple. The main character has committed a tragic and accidental act to those he loves the most. This act was driven by substance abuse and it cannot be undone. In a series of tragedies, interspersed with subtle humor, he tells a young man whom he has now become the legal guardian, “I can’t beat this.”  He cannot overcome and make peace with his awful mistake. It haunts him, and he has become a shell of the man he once was.

Manchester by the Sea, in its slow moving gritty blue-collar New England world, brings out the one key things that can never occur in a world without God. In a world where there is no God there is no chance for redemption. There is no removal for eternity of the damage that our sin does to others and ourselves.

Most of us, never get to see that deep behind the curtain. We never get to see the whole picture of our sins of commission and omission and their effects on those around us. God knows most of us could never handle it. The protagonist here, in a world where the beauty of the ocean side scenery given to us by God himself is the backdrop for mankind’s failings, understands the pain of sin. He realizes there is no fixing it. There is no undoing it. 

Even though many these days have trouble distinguishing fiction from reality, we can be glad that Manchester by the Sea is a fictional story. The good news is that in the world of reality there is redemption. Odd it may be that many try to pass off this good news as fiction despite overwhelming evidence of its truth, and they would rather find themselves lost in the created world of movies and video games.

But in Jesus Christ we have redemption. God himself takes the pain and punishment we deserve for our tragic mistakes. And in his heaven, God washes away the suffering and makes each person new. When we glimpse this now, it is the beginning of genuine healing of the effects of our mistakes and sin no matter how aweful our mistakes are. However, there must be an active trust in God for that to happen. Jesus cannot help us if we reject him. We must call out on his name.

In a world where there is no God, the honest writer can only come to the conclusion given to us by this movie. There can be a little kindness, a little friendship, a little improvement but there is no brand new. There is nothing really to break us out of the darkness. In the end, there is only death.

That is why Jesus said he did not come into the world to condemn the world. But that world would be saved.  

It may be nice despite its crudeness that Manchester by the Sea wins the Academy Award for best picture. I think we sometimes put too much of a covering on the effects of sin. The world doesn’t like the truth. I won’t be watching the academy awards. But I will be pondering this great hymn written by Edward Mote over 200 years ago. That in the real world; we can stand faultless before the throne of Jesus Christ. That is the amazing in life. That is the magnitude of the greatness of real love. We see that here in the last stanza.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

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Why let cliches stop you stop you from following Jesus?

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                      The Cathedral in the Forest

A couple of cliches about a life following after Jesus haunt me. One is that Jesus’ church is filled with hypocrites. In a way, this is of course true. It is also true that football games are filled with fair weather fans who leave when the team starts to lose, progressive political rallies are filled with trendy hangers-on who don’t care about the “issues,” and vegan restaurants with people who ate a hamburger in the last three days. Human nature is inherently hypocritical. We all want to appear different than what we are. We are all in some degree or another fake.

One difference is that a true Christian, a follower of Jesus, is that they are filled with the Holy Spirit. Over time, they are realizing their sin and hypocrisy. And in a process of repentance and transformation they are being changed to the image of Jesus as part of a journey of sanctification. If that is not happening to some degree, they may be a hypocrite in the true meaning of the term. A hypocrite is an ancient Greek term for actor. That is they are playing the role of a Christian. And as Christianity becomes less popular in the USA as it is trending, a benefit would be that there are less of these.

But the good new is that those who desire change are not destined to be left in a life of hypocrisy. And more great news about Christianity is that the truth, the reality shown by Christianity, is not hypocritical, fake, or variable. It is the only truth, and it is consistent no matter what viewpoint a person is looking at it from.

One of the worst parables ever told when it comes to God is the one of the blind man touching the elephant. Just because the blind man states, while touching the elephants trunk, that the elephant is a snake because the part he comes into contact with feels like a snake doesn’t mean someone else can’t see the whole elephant. In fact, millions listening and reading the parable all know it is an elephant just like millions of people know there is a God. Why do millions know there is a God? They know that because God declares himself through nature.

This is where another well known cliche comes in. I can worship God merely by communing with this Nature. My cathedral is the forest.  Yes, Amen! God made nature. It does point to a creator God that is more wonderful than any hand built cathedral. But we just can’t worship God’s creation and not worship the real God. To God, this is the worst of sins. It is idolatry. An idolater is missing the entire point of nature.

The book of Job in the Bible, one of the oldest written works in the world, not only addresses the issue of suffering in an honest realistic way, it also paints a picture of God’s magnificence as Creator, and how man pales in comparison. True worship of the God of nature involves not only appreciating the creation, rejoicing in the “cathedral forest,” but it offers understanding of, and obedience to, and relationship with the Creator. This is actually very good news since the real God is merciful and caring while nature in and of itself can be harsh and deadly. This relationship with God comes from knowing the revelation of God in the Bible. The historically accurate, unique, and ancient word of God.

The word of God is not bound by cliches we throw at it. The Christian life offers both a life of hope and appreciation of beauty no other person can get in the way of. It is a life of transformation and truth; though not necessarily a life of guaranteed successes. Throw off preconceived notions and start to study the the Bible by reading the book of John, email us, find a friend, go to a church that believes in the Bible, ask questions, begin a journey beyond cliches.

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