Saturday, December 30, 2006

Quote of the week...

"One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed." --Leonard Ravenhill

The God of those who try

One of my favorite authors wrote a book titled God Tells the Man Who Cares. I've always loved that title, and I think it can also be said that God helps the man(and woman and child) who tries. As I study the scriptures more and more, I recognize that they are not just a collection of disconnected writings, but they have threads running throughout each book, historical chronicle, letter, and proverb. I suppose the literary phrase for such a thread is a common theme. One of those common themes is this idea of the crucial nature of "trying" on our part.

In the Bible, there is a parable of three servants who are each given an amount of money to be the stewards of while the master who gave it to them is away on a journey. Each is asked to give an account of what they did with their time and money while the master was away. The first two invested theirs and are rewarded for their commendable investments, but the third is taken to task because he simply buried his. One of the keys to the passage comes when the master reveals that the servant could have at least kept it in the bank and allowed it to collect interest there. The conclusion is that the servant is actually found to be wicked and LAZY. I have to kick my rear into gear sometimes when I remember that God is not a God who requires “success” as we define it, but He does require our wills and will not abide a LAZY servant who gives excuses but ultimately simply chooses not to even try.

As the year begins, many of us will try to establish new habits. We will most likely all fail. Period. This is not a forecast for doom and gloom on my part, but an honest appraisal based on the many times of flopping on my face in the past. I also know from past experience, however, that if I maintain the pursuit of Him that victory will truly come through His strength AND because I was willing to step out and try. I pray that we realize that we are on the right track IF we are trying to change because we feel He has called us to change. We must not allow feelings of despair or frustration to keep us from seeing this, and knowing that just as He helps those who try He also promises that, "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it."

May we all recognize that no matter how hard we try, we cannot grow in any way except through His empowerment, but may we all also recognize the crucial ingredient of our will in this as well.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Quote of the week...

"For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required:"


Blessed and thankful

I want to take this blog to relate how intensely blessed I know myself to be. I have been given an insane number of gifts like my beautiful, funny, and loving wife, and my sweet, beautiful, healthy daughter. My health, many opportunities, my family, my many amazing friendships, the chance to live here in the U.S., and the ability to use my mind to read, converse, consider, and appreciate are just a small handful of gifts in my life that not everyone on this planet has been blessed with. One of my many chief failings is that I so often lose sight of the most important fact about all these things I just listed: in spite of how many times I used MY they are not mine. I pray that my eyes would get better at staying on the giver and not the gifts. I pray that I would grow consistently aware of the fact that these gifts are meant to be responsibilities and tools as well as blessings. I pray that these gifts would not be idols. Finally, I pray that rather than allowing them to become idols, that they would be ripped from me if that is what it takes to worship You alone as God. Thank you, Father. Please teach me to walk in Your ways.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Just Say No to Shallow Conversions

This is a concept that is very different from many current churches and spiritual leadership. It is an understandable desire to want to focus on getting people to make a decision of commitment to Christ and worry about the depth of their conviction and understanding later. This is what spiritual growth is all about, but I believe we are doing ourselves, the new believers, and most of all, Christ Himself a great disservice because of this.

We often deliver an environment of peer pressure, emotional manipulation, and a message that is heavily weighted to salvation through faith by the grace of God without bringing in the other part of salvation which is crucial, a repentant heart. It can be a great thing to be "seeker sensitive" which is a commonly used phrase nowadays, but if the real demands of God on those who would follow Him are not made clear BEFORE someone chooses to make a public commitment, disillusionment and bitterness are sure to follow.

I know I have and still do struggle with trying to live a life that is increasingly surrendered to Him and characterized by holiness, purity, and obedience. Knowing how much I have struggled with this in spite of being raised to know of God's call to repentance and obedience, I can only imagine the disillusionment that some have experienced.

We also have the example of John the Baptist. He turned away the crowds and referred to them as a brood of vipers when he knew their motivations were shallow and not of God. How many converts have you seen challenged in any way recently. For the record, I'm not advocating this, but using it to make my larger point. There comes a point where watering down the gospel is no longer just watering it down but fundamentally changing it into something other than the gospel. When that occurs, what are people converting into?

Quote of the week...

"There are five gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the christian, and many people will never read the first four."

Gypsy Smith