Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do what is right; master sin

As a follow-up to a previous post on sanctification (the continuous infilling and inward spiritual growth from the Holy Spirit; post-salvation), I wanted to expand a little on the role God can play in our lives when we continue to earnestly seek Him and by faith, live for His will in our lives.

The Lord came into my life in a very profound manner. It happened on a Friday evening; Friday September 5, 2008 at 4:40 P.M. to be exact; maybe 4:45. There was a feeling of warmth; new breath; a new beating in my heart; a newly revived purpose in life that can only be somewhat explained via the limited vocabulary of this sixth-grade spelling bee runner-up.

Once this sinner was cleansed (saved) and thus forgiven for the things of old, I began questioning seriously whether the temptation(s) of this world was going to be the new status quo, or whether I could “master” sin in my life? Even deeper: were the buzz words and phrases I heard from those, in church, claiming to live a holy life – that is to say, set apart by the Holy Spirit from  sin or further yet, the mere tempation of sin, in this world – really possible? Or was that just lip service? Were they just wanting to stand out from everybody else, and not really wanting to do the dirty laundry they had been ignoring?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A new prescription

“We live in a fallen world and we’re all sinners; we just need to keep remembering that,” said the host of the morning Christian radio broadcast I recently heard. While the belief is that the world is fallen and we are all born into sin, the tone and manner with which we approach and discuss this topic is what is concerning to me. The tone that was in this broadcaster’s voice was a tone of defeat. And quite frankly brothers and sisters – I don’t want to subscribe to it any longer.

John Wesley spoke of Christian Perfection. In his book A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, right from the beginning he says:

“Let us strongly and explicitly exhort all believers to go on to perfection. That we may all speak the same thing, we ask once for all, shall we defend this perfection, or give it up? We all agree to defend it, meaning thereby (as we did from the beginning) salvation from all sin, properly so called, by the love of God and man filling our heart."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Realizing the importance of family

Often times I gloss over things like: talking to my parents, in-laws, even really close friends, because of our ‘I had somewhere to be 20 minutes ago’ way of life. While praying with my son the other night before bed, I asked him if he wanted pray for us. He did, and quickly began rattling off names of his friends from Sunday school, his playgroup, classmates from his preschool, even our house and dog!

His innocence made me stop and realize that too often I overlook the important thing in life: family. I asked him, "Do you know why it is important to remember and be thankful for our family?" Two year olds don’t have much theological or introspective analysis for a question like this. Perhaps the real reason is: because there are so many people – young and old – that don't have a close network of friends, family, or even a place to call home. All of this in some way makes up what I call FAMILY.

What are you thankful for? Now think of your answer like this: if your answer were taken from you today, how would it affect your life tomorrow and going forward?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I fought for you

Here's a great video -- paying tribute to our service men and women; past and present.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Under New Management

I received the following story from a professor this week. I thought the message was so great that I wanted to share it with all of you. It resonated with me as I celebrated my TWO YEAR birthday of being a Christian this past Sunday. I hope you enjoy it.

For a few years I had the privilege of working with The Salvation Army where I heard a story of an illiterate man who was converted through the work there.

This man went regularly to the Salvation Army citadel. One day he came home rather disconsolate. His wife said, "What’s the matter?" He said, "I’ve just noticed that all the people in the Salvation Army wear red sweaters, and I don’t have a red sweater." She said, "I’ll knit one." So she knitted him a red sweater.

The next Sunday after he went to the citadel, he still wasn’t happy. His wife said, "What’s wrong this time?" And he said, "I just noticed all their red sweaters have yellow writing and I don't have any writing."

They were both illiterate, but she said, "Don’t worry about it. I’ll embroider some writing for you." The man’s wife had no idea what the letters read, but began copying a sign from a store window opposite their home. She then embroidered the words of that store sign onto his red sweater.

When he came back the next Sunday, she said, "Did they like your sweater?"

"They loved my sweater. Some of them smiled at me when they saw my sweater."

What neither of them knew was that the copied sign off the store window read:

“UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT!” Says it all, doesn’t it?

God is still in the life transformation business!

Courtesy of Rev. James Carder

Friday, September 3, 2010

Great site for Nazarene blogs: aptly titled

It's not as if there aren't enough websites and blogs for you to find exactly what you're looking for -- I still thought I'd share this one with you.  Cleverly titled "Nazarene Blogs" (blogs for nazarenes) this site offers many blogs that range from: Scripture devotions to holiness, God and theology -- you get the idea.  If you get a chance, stop by and check it out.  God bless.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Acts church as a paradigm? Part 2 of 2

Speaking as one who has not been a pastor, I think pastors are afraid to speak biblical convictions to their parishioners. Afraid how exactly? Let's keep in mind the pressures pastors are under these days: 1) worship attendance, 2) Sunday school attendance, 3) tithing, 4) meet and/or exceed missions giving goals, 5) spiritual council for their flock, 6) building maintenance, 7) vehicle maintenance, 8) meet and not exceed a budget, 9) prayer requests, 10) hospital visits, 11) nursing home visits, etc. What happens if you begin seriously holding people biblically accountable by saying, “Stop gossiping, that’s not biblical!” Or, “Hey! Ananias & Sapphira, you didn’t tithe this month!” Either their parish will go bye-bye, or they could be in jeopardy of losing their job.

Do we have a biblical example for my second point? I say “yes we do” – and I think that example is found in John 6 – the feeding of the 5,000 miracle. However, it’s not the miracle to which I’m comparing – it is what happens after the miracle which is where the analogy comes into play; the example is Jesus’ response. Let me explain and analogize.

Once Jesus feeds the crowd, and only once the crowd is happy with what Jesus did “for them,” do they recognize Him as the Prophet (v. 14b). Then, He flees to the mountains and then to Capernaum. Suffice it to say, that’s the gist. The crowd travels to Capernaum & finds Jesus, where He tells them (in a nutshell) they are following Him for the wrong reasons (v. 27). After a thorough rebuke, what happens? “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it’” (v. 60)? Now, a thorough analysis on the different use of the word “disciples” and the phrase “the crowd/people” may be necessary here, but semantics aside the larger point remains: what Jesus truly requires of us is a hard teaching; one that most cannot do or drill a finer point, are not willing to do.

Is our church today the 5,000 crowd? Are pastors today capable of doing what Jesus did? Are we as a church spiritually not getting it? I understand that pastors are not Jesus, but in light of how the American culture has softened people, this further supports my reasoning for stating it is “virtually if not completely impossible” to be the church of Acts.  What are your thoughts?