Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lukewarm Christianity, Nothing Christian About It

I have a feeling that this post may potentially anger some people. I hope not, I'm not wanting to make people angry, it's against my nature, but if that's a by product of the Truth, then let people be angry. Jesus made plenty of people angry with the Truth. The prophets sure weren't well liked, and God has revealed to me that I have a gift for prophecy. By that I mean not Old Testament, future predicting prophecy, but New Testament "given the power to preach repentance to those who do not want to hear the message and to warn of God's wrath for disobedience" prophecy. Oh and thanks Wikipedia, for the excellent way of wording it. It's safe to say that this would fall into that category.

What this would be is simple. Pretenders and Posers. Or as the hip term for it is today, "Lukewarm and Casual Christianity". I'm sure most, if not all, have read of this or heard of it. It's an affliction affecting the Church in America. It's the idea of halfhearted faith and a lack of commitment to Christ. It's a disease that Satan uses to give people the belief that they are "okay" when they aren't! So many people are illusioned to think they are saved but are they? They can say they prayed a prayer, they can go to church, but if there aren't good fruits. I'm sorry but I find it hard to believe. I'm not here to talk you out of your salvation. I am going to question it though, for your sake, and the Church's. I'm asking you to look into your own heart and ask what's your motivation, what's your drive, where's your good fruit. Because, if you don't, then before you know it, a day is going to come when the Judge will and by then it'll be far too late.

Our nation has become content with churchgoing and religion, but I ask you, where is Christ? He sure is talked about and everyone seems to gather to meet with Him, did He not get the memo? Or is it that we are missing something. I'd say it's best to go with the latter. Where is your heart? The Church in a lot of places is content with believing, showing up on Sunday and Wednesdays, and calling it Christianity. To put it as simple as I can: that ain't cuttin' it. Even the demons believe guys.

In Revelation, Jesus addresses a letter to Laodicea. A church eerily like that of the American church. He tells the He knows all that they do and while they aren't cold, they aren't hot either. He wishes that they would just pick a side rather than toeing the line. He then goes on to say because they choose to sit on the fence, that He will spit them from His mouth.  He goes on to talk about their wealth and contentment. He counters them by telling them they are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. Ouch. From hero to zero, huh? How many of us are that way? Tell me, if Jesus was before you right now, would He say: "I know you friend, come sit with me." or would he say "I heard you call my name, but who are you?". It terrifies me, but I'm frightened that quite possibly a majority of "Christians" would fall in that second group. I have a sincere deep fear that a few of my most beloved friends are in that group. It comes down to truly calling on the name of the Lord. Something Demian Farnworth makes clear in his article on the subject:

"Ultimately, a genuine Christian, among other things, obeys God’s commands, reject this evil world, longs for Jesus’ return, loves other Christians and discerns between truth and error. Only when a person submits to the will of God can he accurately be described as “calling on the Lord.” And only then can he enjoy great confidence in his eternal salvation."
Need I say more on that?
When it comes to matters of the heart, it always at some point, involves love. Is there something you are having an affair with? Something you are loving more than Christ? You hear people talking about their relationships say: "Oh, I couldn't live with out him or her, they are my world!" Well what about God? The One you are meant to love above all?

Let's talk hypothetically here for a second. What if right this very moment you were told to sell everything you owned and give it to the poor. Would you? What if you were told to leave behind your parents, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, work, and friends and then follow? Would you? What if you were told to cut off your hand or pluck out your eye to keep from sinning? Would you be able to?

I'm not trying to convince you to do these things. I'm making a point. How far are you willing to go for God? How far are you going for God? How much are you willing to risk for this Love? Abraham risked his son. Gideon risked his army. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego risked their lives. When you truly love someone, there are no limits to what you will do for them. You also won't strive for the bare minimum. You would do what was asked and then some! If you love God, you'll follow his commands. Just as Christ obeyed the Father. Are you doing that? Honestly? Or are you putting more time in excuses and defenses and alibis then His Word?

I love the way Switchfoot puts this in their song Yet.
"If it doesn't break your heart
It isn't love
If it doesn't break your heart
It's not enough"
That's how it needs to be with Christ, your heart should be breaking over your lack of commitment, just as it breaks Christ's heart to watch us not live the life He has for us. A man I look up to in a big way, Tony Nolan, showed a picture the other day, of a sign in a hockey locker room that said: "Play the game. Don't watch it." Are we doing this? Or are we on the bench? If so it's not God's doing. He is yelling for us to get out there and get in the game. It's got to be on us. It's time we stand up and say we aren't happy with "okay", we want something more filling. God sure isn't happy with "okay". For some this isn't directed at you, some are doing quite fine, but it never hurts to look into your motivation. Others it's time to step up and decide. Search your heart and make some decisions. I'll be here. 

Much Love,
"I'm finished making sense
Done pleading ignorance
That whole defense
Spinning infinity, but
The wheel is spinning me
It's never ending, never ending
Same old story
What if I say I'm not like the others?
What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays?
You're the pretender
What if I say that I'll never surrender?" - The Pretender - Foo Fighters

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Light Shall Not Be Overcome (Spiritual Warfare Pt. 3)

That would be a reference to John 1:5 if you are wondering. I want to start right in on this. We've learned who we are fighting, and how to be equipped for the fight, it's time to get down into it.

How on earth (literally) do we fight against such things as ourselves? I mean after all, at first glance it seems pretty counter productive. What about the world? Being hostile to the world also seems to give the wrong image. Finally, how do we fight against Satan, when we've never seen him physically? It seems like we have a lot to deal with. Thankfully, Christ is on our side.

To begin with, let me give you some scripture.
James 4:7 says:  

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
This passage, while being relatively short, has a lot of Truth packed into it. There are two main points. Submit to God and resist the devil.

Submitting to God may seem to be a no-brainer, but what does that really mean? To submit, in this usage, is to be obedient. How do you be obedient? Well, without going into a whole different discussion... read your bible. Since the whole discussion is warfare, let me put it like this. In war, soldiers who die, often do so because of one of two reasons. One, their commander was foolish and got them killed. Two, they didn't listen to their commander's orders and it cost them. Now when we put this into context biblically, our commander, Christ, isn't foolish. He isn't going to make a false move. That leaves one other way to lose, to disobey his orders. Thus, we are to follow his orders, and resist the devil, so that he will flee.

Now the resisting the devil part. It really comes into 3 parts: Be firm, be bold, and finally beware.

To resist, you must be firm in your faith, don't surrender an inch to any force except Christ (which in that case, surrender all!) You can't be on the line about how far you will go. Either pick up your cross and follow, or sit there, don't just tag along. Christ tells us in Revelation that he has a deep dislike for a lukewarm believer, so much so that he says will spit them out, just like lukewarm water. He would rather you turn away, than to pretend to follow.  The reason, he gives in Matthew. He tells us that it is impossible for us to have two masters. So, by being on the line and not committed to Christ, you have in fact picked a side. That may seem harsh, but it's the truth.

Be bold! Proverbs 28:1 says: 
 "The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion."
That's a bold statement in itself! You must remember that both God and Satan are compared to that of lions and for the righteous also to be compared to one too is no small thing. We need to be like lions! Why?
"So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:6

God speaks clearly in Joshua 1:9
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." 
Satan does all he can to stop us from doing what God commands. Through fear, doubt, confusion, all these are meant to keep us from moving forward. However with a boldness given by God, we shake off that fear and in essence look all evil in the face and say "You will not overcome." and then we just keep walking. If firmness is our resolve, than let boldness be our battle cry. If you ever want a passionate idea of that boldness, listen to You Never Let Go by Matt Redman. Whom then shall I fear? 

Finally beware. I used this wording because it's the way it is worded in 1 Peter 5:8. I've seen others argue differently, but I truly do not believe we are to fear Satan. When we fear God, we have nothing to fear of Satan. I believe when they use the term beware, it is meant as be aware, not be afraid. We are to be aware of him and what he is capable of, when we do not trust in God, and stay under God's protection. We must not try to take Satan on ourselves. Ever. You will lose, if you try.  Look at Jude 1:9:
"But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'"
Even the highest of angels, rather than trying to take on Satan himself, calls upon the Lord to fight for him. I'd say it's a pretty good idea not to try to go toe to toe with Lucifer, if the archangel won't go there. Better instead to go with your childhood instinct and tell your (heavenly) Dad that you have a bully picking on you. Let him help you out. He is more than willing to.

This leads to the pinnacle of the fight. We've talked of who we fight, what we are equipped to fight with, and how to do it. Yet we have yet to mention who we fight for, or better yet, who fights for us. That may seem like a pointless place to go, but there is no more important point to make.

Christ. He is the reason forces are up in arms against us. He is the giver of the protection via the armor of God. He is the one who calls us to submit and resist, to be firm, bold, and beware. He is the one that thousands of demons bowed down to and begged not to be tormented! Have you any idea how terrifying a demon might actually be? Yet they all shutter in fear of Him, and bow before Him.  When Jesus suppressed the storm, his disciple didn't cheer, they stood in FEAR of man, asking "who it was that the storm obeys?". While he may not look so intimidating, He is God. I can't imagine a more horrific idea than being on God's bad side. That would make a real horror movie. Thankfully He LOVES us. We are HIS! Remember that! We must also always remember that Christ has already won. With his horrific death on the cross, he died as a sacrifice for our very sins, and bore the force of God's wraith, intentionally meant for ourselves. By being a perfect sacrifice and dying, he in fact put Satan on the cross, eternally. It's those two points that should encourage you in this fight against Satan! Remember and be joyful you are the Lord's!

Now all of this is really just a broad overview of spiritual warfare. You could spend a lifetime going over every detail. Some of these things will end up being talked about later in more in-depth discussions, nonetheless this is a good launching pad for it. I hope this series encourages you, as well as makes you more aware of the things going on around you.

Much Love,
"Spread wide Your wings, O God,
Relieve this scarlet fever,
Catch every tear of mothers in mourning.
Bring life to tired hopes,
Buried in fields of flowers,
Bring many sons of battle to glory.
With every drop of blood,
Caged in this tired body,
I long to bring my father to glory.
I see a new day coming!
Maybe tomorrow...
Woe to the king of nothing.
I see a clean blood running,
Brothers of sorrow.
Here is your kingdom coming!" -Field of Daggers - House of Heroes

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Holy Outfit (Spiritual Warfare Pt. 2)

Okay maybe the armor of God, sounds better, can't blame a guy for trying though! It's pretty clear what this post is going to cover. Originally this was a two part series, but now I've decided to flesh it out into three. Just to much to cover to not make it that way. Let's jump in though, alright?

Gearing up for battle needs to be the first priority. Scripture tells us that we are to put on the full armor of God, directly for confronting Satan. The armor of God consists of the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the readiness that comes with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, all gifts given through salvation in The Son.

Now I bet you are asking yourself, what does that even mean? Let me give you a little perspective. First we have the belt of truth. Of all the parts of the armor, I understood this one the least. A friend a while back made it pretty clear though. The belt in the armor, holds everything else together, it connects every other piece and it is also the first in the list. Thus, here we see the truth as the foundation of our armor. Biblical Truth keeps us held in Christ much the same way a belt keeps everything held to us.

Secondly we have the breastplate of righteousness, it's our main defense. It protects more than any other piece. Righteousness can be defined as living a life of justifiable actions, a life pleasing to God. This makes sense. As when we stay in accordance to His will, as written in His Word, we are said to be righteous as well as that being pleasing to God. It's interesting to note here that all of God's Word is for our protection. Limits are set and directions are given, so as to protect us from ourselves, the world and Satan. See the connection there?

Moving along, we have the feet readied by the gospel of peace. I love this one. It shows that we are to be light on our feet and ready spiritually, because of the peace that we have through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We know what awaits us in the next life and what blessing are on us now, so we shouldn't have anything weighing us down in this fight. You might compare it to Hebrews 12:1 even.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
 We also have the shield of faith. It mentions it's ability to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Thiss bit of armor is telling us to be strong in faith. The devil loves to try to play on doubt and fear. However strong faith in Christ, will stop such attacks without fail. Satan attacks from all angles, but deep rooted faith works as an penetrable barrier in our defense.

Our second to last is the helmet of salvation. This one took some time for me to get anywhere with, but after spending a bit of time on it, I realized that a helmet has one job. Protect the head. The head is the most vulnerable area of the body, it gets hit, and you are done. So a helmet of salvation is a protection given by our salvation in Christ from the gravest of injuries, namely that of eternal separation. No matter how grave and ill things may become, but nothing separates us from God's love that we received in our salvation. A good reference is 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."

Finally, certainly the easiest of all the armor to understand, is the sword of the spirit, that is the Word of God. Here the sword is meant to be used both in an offensive and defense sense. Both to defend our faith, and also to attack that which is evil and corrupt. The Word shows time and time again, what the face of evil looks like, how to avoid it and how to instead follow a righteous path. That is the offense with the sword. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 lists the exact forms of combat in which we use our bible as a sword:
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete."
 This wraps up this part in the series. The last section will be more in-depth look on resistance and what else God's precious Word says about resisting the devil and all his influence.  Be looking for the next part in a few days.

Much Love,
“I often laugh at Satan, and there is nothing that makes him so angry as when I attack him to his face, and tell him that through God I am more than a match for him” - Martin Luther

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Plea on Behalf of Those Silent

Hello everyone. I will have the second part of that series sometime tomorrow hopefully. However I have something else I feel like talking about more right now. I went with my friends Thomas and Jessica and her amazing family to see To Save a Life. I'll tell you now, If you haven't seen it, then you need to, it's something that happens every day in many high schoolers lives.

It brought up some good points that I feel are necessary to repeat. We all skip over the little guy, the geeks, the oddballs, the misunderstood. It doesn't matter who we are. Saved or unsaved, friendly or not. We all miss them. We see them and we think at the very most, ugh, I'll go talk to them, so that way I'm being nice. We do it out of obligation or out of image. We want to look a certain way or it's something that we don't want to deal with a guilt trip over. To some degree it affects us all.

Maybe for some of you, you are like that at the worst, but maybe some of you are worse. How many of you have at some point made fun of someone for being different? For wearing something different, looking strange, having different interests?

I won't lie. I have. Sometimes I'm the one guilty of saying it, other times, I've laughed and joined in following friends lead. I even left a school system because of it. I realized what I was becoming and I left. I got rid of doing the wrong thing. I missed the part of doing the right thing though. I refused to stand up for the guy that was being made fun of and discouraged. I kept my head down wanting to stay out of the light. When I did help someone, I did as "charity". I was hoping to look noble from it. I'm sure all you have at least one similar story to that. It's something I myself have to work on. You see as a Christian I skimmed over some really important principles.

If there something that needs to be made clear. It's this righteousness isn't avoiding the wrong thing. It's DOING the right thing. PERIOD. I'm sorry, but we need to get rid of our pharisees' mind set and get off our butts and really be righteous.

James 1:22 "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."
Do what God commands. Not just avoiding what He says don't do.

He makes a truth we can't deny in Matthew 25:34-40.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Does that sum it up? That guy you feel "obligated" to talk to? That girl you laugh at for her looks? The kid who wants nothing more than to be liked? You might as well consider yourself talking to Christ. Would you feel obligated to talk to Him? Rather I would fear that I would be taking up HIS time. They say Christ looked unbearable to look at on the cross, yet you say you wouldn't dare laugh at him. Though you laugh at that girl? You want and beg for God's mercy and attention and he gives it openly, lovingly, and freely. Why wouldn't you do the same for another? Who are we sinners to pick and choose? Who are we to judge? We are people who have been adopted in our utter filth by the Holy of Holies, how dare us accuse anyone else of being lesser than ourselves. Do you do it because you are afraid of being persecuted like that person? Are you afraid of being alone? Well for being alone, I'll tell you, I'd bet anything that the person you stick up for clings to you harder than you could ever imagine. For persecution, look to God's word:
Matthew 5:10: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
I don't even need to explain that one.

I'm going to share with you a little story of mine, that happened not too long ago.

My dad got remarried last May, it terrified me. Last time I had a mom in the house, my life was horrible. I had been an only child for 17 years and suddenly I'm told to be a brother. I had no clue how to handle it. My dad was stressed out trying to make sure it all worked out that he never realized the toll it was taking on me. I was freaking out because I wasn't sure how to be a good brother to these two siblings and my dad kept telling me be a big brother Luke! He didn't realize it was tearing me apart like this. My dad also isn't an emotional man, he's very stoic and so we had issues of just being understood.

Then I did somethings with my girlfriend that I'm not proud of...and before long, her parent's found out. Within a week, it seemed like everyone I cared about had shunned me. It seemed like the church had shunned me, her parents (who I was desperately seeking their love) shunned me, and a few friends did too. I knew I had done wrong and I felt ashamed before God over it, then when the church wasn't talking to me, I felt as though I wasn't good enough anymore to be a Christian. I thought if the children reject me, then what hope do I have with the Father? Her parents who didn't know it, but I was putting all my hopes in receiving love from them, refused to speak to me, I went from being the cool kid, who was well liked, had his act together and was someone you would take home to meet the parents, to a broken insecure wreck who couldn't find hope, and remember I was saved. I always thought I was a good person until that day came and then suddenly I thought maybe I had it wrong, maybe I was a really bad person, I questioned if Paul was good the moment of conversion or if he had to earn it etc.

With myself being too ashamed to go to God about it, and with no one to turn to, I tried to kill myself by swallowing a bottle of hydrocodone. I was scared though and wasn't willing to take them all at once. I planned to take a few, then a bit later take some more, and then more and then more and so on. I took three and never made it to taking more, I fell asleep and woke up horribly sick the next day. I got really lucky that time. I never got the nerve to try again but for the rest of the summer I wanted to so badly. Then school started, and two things happened. One my girlfriend at the time (the one I got in trouble with) broke up with me and soon after she told me some potentially life-changing news (which we soon found out wasn't, thankfully).

I was down and I got kicked again, you can see. Instead though, something happened that saved me from where I was at. Rather than being content with standing by. Someone did something. Jessica Schneider was a girl who I was told wasn't the type of person to hang with and she might look down on me and she thought I was the kind of guy you that was asking for trouble. However, she posted a status update on facebook that I saw, and connected with over switching schools. I took a chance and just told her I knew how it felt. She even with her inclination to view me as the wrong type, invited me to a football game.

Before long I was at her bible study, and now she is my best friend. When I was worried about the possibility of dealing with BIG issues, she was getting me whatever I needed and willing to stand by me as much as needed. When I couldn't quit beating myself up over what I had done and been. She refused to let me settle with it and she insisted that I was a better person than that. She provided me with a person to talk to, she redeemed my faith in fellowship. I can honestly stand here and testify that she saved my life. Now we've come a long way since then. I'm back to where I was before I met those obstacles, smarter and wiser. You see there are a lot of things we could learn from what Jessica did, but one thing sticks out to me the most. The world wants to see miracles and wants to see Christ. Christ left 2000 years ago. He told us He was leaving, and He promised to send his Spirit until He returned. Christ is in us. What Jessica did was a miracle, they use to heal the blind and deaf, and she healed the heart of a guy on the path to destruction. You might say, well anyone could do that, and you're right they could. Yet she did do it. She reached out and offered a hand when it wasn't cool or beneficial. That's a modern day miracle. People miss the biblical heroes, I'll tell you now, people like Jessica are biblical heroes. We can all be one too. It just requires you to take a step and act. Be the hero in someone's life. I guarantee their are people all around you crying out for help, just look! Maybe they are the popular kid who is in a tough time in his life, maybe it's the teacher who is treated poorly by all the students, maybe it's the kid who doesn't have lunch with anyone or the pregnant teen. All it takes is one friendly, hello and you never know it could change everything. This goes for adults too. So as you go on with your day, just think about the difference you could make in someone's life. It had happened to Jessica, it can happen to you. Let God move within you, all you have to do is let him. I want to end with a verse from a song called Hero by Superchick, it's a remix of it actually. Think about this please.

Little Mikey D. was the one in class who everyday got brutally harassed
This went on for years until he decided that never again would he shed another tear
So he walked through the door, grabbed a four four out of his father's dressing drawer
And said I can't take life no more
And like that life can be lost
But this ain't even about that
All of us just sit back and watch it happen
Thinking' it's not my responsibility to solve a problem that isn't about me
This is our problem
This is just one of the daily scenarios which we choose to close our eyes
Instead of doing the right thing
If we make a choice and be the voice for those who won't speak up for themselves
How many lives would be saved, changed, rearranged
Now it's our time to pick a side
So don't keep walking' by
Not wanting' to intervene
Cause you want to exist and never be seen
So let's wake up and change the world
Our time is now

Much Love,
“It's not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity.”