Thursday, June 27, 2013

Christianity Is War

Christianity is war, plain and simple.  If you are a Christian and don’t know this—you are in trouble.
This war is far more real than you think.  The fighting is intense, lasting and real victories are hard won and more rare than you think, casualties abound, retreat is commonplace, and taking and holding ground far more costly than ever imagined.  This war is the ultimate reality all earthly wars point to.  They are but a picture of this war, as real and terrible as they are.   Our spiritual war is the reality as unreal as it sometimes appears to be. 

In this fight, our weapons are not made of metal and plastic but are divinely powerful designed to destroy all that is in us that is opposed to Christ.  Our enemy is a brutal, savvy, treacherous, highly skilled, and unbelievably enduring foe whose greatest strength is his close proximity to us....for our enemy is always with us 24/7.  It is none other than our sinful flesh, our old man, if you will, whose nature it is to oppose, fight, and if it could, destroy the spiritual life within us that is becoming more and more glorious everyday as it is being conformed moment-by-moment into the image of Christ 24/7 whether you realize it or not.
Our enemy will never quit, be reformed, tamed, surrender, tire of fighting, or concede.  Its fight is to the death and only in our death will its head never rise again.  But while our flesh presents itself as such a formidable foe it can be defeated even if not yet destroyed.  It can be resisted and it can even be used to encourage our battle hardened and weary souls when seen aright for what it is and why it is.  You see, the mere realization that we have a sinful flesh that opposes us in our desire to pursue Christ assures us that our pursuit of Christ is real and something the enemy of our soul finds worthy of opposing. 

The truth all Christians must learn and can only truly learn through spiritual hand-to-hand combat with this enemy who seems to prevail against us at every point is that the mere fact that we are being opposed by as well as opposing our sinful flesh provides us with an assurance of salvation we could find nowhere else.  For you see before salvation, we were at peace with our sin but at war with God.  After salvation, we are at peace with God but at war with our sin. 

Listen, I know firsthand how ugly this battle can get.  I also understand how demoralizing and discouraging it often becomes to lose battle after battle.  But don’t diminish the value of the battle whether won or lost.  Only believers are at war with their sinful flesh and thus, the greatest value may not lie so much in your success as much as in the fact that you’re in the fight.    

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Church--And Could She Be?

The church should be a healthy, vibrant, fruitful vineyard that brings honor to Christ whether she is gathered on Sundays for worship or scattered throughout the week for evangelism and ministry in the community.  She should be a church after Christ's own heart where He can look at the sufferings He embraced and endured on the cross and be satisfied that they were all worth it.  Furthermore, if she is a church that makes much of Christ she will make much of the Gospel by believing it and preaching it to herself for her progress in holiness and to the lost for their salvation.  Risk-taking for the sake of the Gospel will be the norm rather than the exception and the desire of every heart will be to see Christ receive the reward of His sufferings.

When gathered there should be a feeling of humble reverence as well as an air of joyous familial informality, where each one esteems others better than himself or herself, where everyone is willing to serve but no one jockeys to serve, and where all recognize Christ as Head.  Among the people should be a beautiful simplicity and a radiant Christian love that makes no room or provision for gossiping, talebearers, and those who produce discord.

Childlike candor without duplicity, dishonesty, or disharmony should mark Christ’s church.  Power struggles and power plays have no place within this Body.  The seeking and the granting of forgiveness should be as common as eating, drinking, and sleeping.   And at all costs and as much as is possible, strained and broken relationships must be repaired and restored for the sake of Christ’s honor. 

All that is done within Christ’s church is to be done “in the Spirit” rather than “in the flesh” and if this is the case the presence of Christ will be felt by His beloved.  Sunday’s worship will be entered into, experienced, and enjoyed because Christ has been entered into, experience and enjoyed Monday through Saturday.  The singing of praise must be passionate because Christ is worthy of our passion.  The reading of God’s Word should be honored and done honorably because of the honor of God’s Name.   And the sermon should be anticipated as that time when our Lord speaks to us through His Word utilizing the sincere simplicity of a man He has called to be “a fool for Him”.  Prayers offered before the Throne of Grace should be sincere, simple, and straightforward realizing God is not only able to answer but willing.  Prayers should be offered and answered so regularly that it is understood as normal rather than abnormal.   And when necessary, miracles would not be uncommon.  

Is all this, in the light of Scripture, unreasonable and undesirable to expect of and in a church? . . . Is this impossible?  Is anything impossible with God?  Is anything impossible where the Lord Jesus Christ is on the throne and His people live like it?  Is this unscriptural?  No!  The only thing that is unscriptural about this vision is that as biblical as it is—it is not yet BIG enough.  The scriptural standards are higher still.  God not only is able but desires to do far more abundantly beyond all that we could ever ask or imagine, according to the power of the Spirit that works within our church and He desires to do this so that He would be glorified in and through His church (Ephesians 3:20-21). 

If you believe in this vision for the church— if you would like to see this kind of reformation, this change toward the better, this recapturing of the ancient power of God in the souls of His people, then there must be a radical restructuring in our minds and hearts as to how important this “thing” called the church is to the Godhead.  Chosen before the foundation of the world by the Father, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ and called His Bride, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit—the church is important and it is only as we see her importance and begin treating her as the bride that she is that this vision for our church will become a reality.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Is Drinking Diet Coke A Spiritual Experience?

According to 1 Corinthians 10:31 it is!  Let me explain.

None of us would disagree with the fact that God is absolutely supreme. He is the greatest of all Beings. He is the first and the last. There is none like him. He is infinite, eternal, and unchanging in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.  And yet If he is supreme, if he is the most important reality in the universe, creating all, upholding all, governing all, calling all to account—then his virtual insignificance in our culture is the most appalling, terrifying, heart-breaking thing in the world.

In this appalling setting, our mission is to lift a banner and blow a trumpet and live a life that glorifies God and His unrivaled supremacy in and over all things.  This is what 1 Corinthians 10:31 is all about.  “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  Eating and drinking are representative of the ordinary, mundane, everyday things of life.  And the point the Bible is making is this: Don't think that glorifying God and recognizing His supremacy only has to do with church. worship services, Sunday School, missions, or Bible teaching.  It also has to do with Diet Coke, bagels, sports, homework, going to work, flat tires, used cars and the internet.

Our mission as believers is to soak life with the supremacy of God. Our mission is to bring all of life into connection with God. Our mission is to exult in the fact that there is not a square inch of this planet, or a single moment in time over which God does not say, "Mine!" Our mission is to live in the presence of God every moment of every day, everywhere we are, and savor his supremacy there no matter what we are doing or where we are doing it.

We cannot afford to categorize our lives into compartments which are either spiritual or secular.  For the believer everything is spiritual even our eating and drinking.  This means every act, every endeavor, every task, everything we put our hand to is to be an act of worship in which we do our best, give our all, and leave it all on the field for God’s glory and praise.  In this sense, the truly biblical sense, we strive to glorify God in everything so as to enjoy everything in  and with God, even a cold diet Coke.

Pursuing the Glory of Christ as though He were the most important pursuit in all the world--Because He Is!

" Looking for the Blessed Hope and the appearing of The Glory of our Great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Titus 2:13