Reprinted by permission
See more at http://kohd.org.
Reprinted by permission
See more at http://kohd.org.
by G C Forsman
Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks your
~ Casting Crowns
As Christians, we are doing an absolutely horrible job of sharing Christ with with world. I have thought this for some time now, and a recent post (An Open Rebuke… Er… Letter to the Western Church) by my friend Daniel M. Klem got me to thinking.
Certainly there are great people that God is using to make a difference, but what about each and every one of us who claim to be Christians? Are we doing our part? How many people have you spoken with about Christ lately? How many Gay people have you convinced that Christians do not hate them? How many times have you crossed the racial lines to show the love of Christ? Do your actions show others that Christ really does make a difference in your life? Do your actions make others want what you have, or do they drive people further from Christ?
Paula White said, “God doesn’t focus on your current state, He speaks to you from your future! He knows your potential!” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we saw the potential in each other instead of everything that’s wrong with a person. Maybe if we spent less time talking about people, and more time praying for them things could change.
Make an effort to love others through Christ as they are,
and leave it up to God to transform their lives!
~ Paula White
Reprinted by permission
See more at http://kohd.org/
The apostle Paul wrote:
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4
We are all susceptible to believing lies at any given time. The world is magical at presenting its counterfeit products as the genuine article. One would assume that because Christians are followers of the Truth, that we would be less susceptible to such lies.
The real truth, however, is that Christians believe many lies. We sometimes don’t even realize that they are lies because they are wrapped up so nicely with what appears to be a “Bible bow.”
There are hundreds of lies Christians believe, either collectively or individually. I chose these five lies because I have personally seen them infiltrate the church, the lives of my friends and family, and my own life.
Here are the Top Five Lies Christians Believe (according to me):
1. Church is not necessary.
In other words, it’s OK to be a lone Christian.
I was a lone Christian for many years. I knew no differently and I honestly didn’t know any better. Somehow in my daily reading of scripture, all the talk of the body and fellowship just flew right past me.
The saddest thing is that it was my lack of accountability and relationship that pushed me to my furthest point away from God. I would wake up every morning and feel hopeless and alone.
2. All Christians need to do is be “good” and act “nice.”
That is what a “good Christian does.” This lie is one of the enemy’s greatest weapons. He wants us to believe that if we just “act” a certain way and keep up appearances (i.e. do good works apart from grace) that we will be OK.
Satan wants to convince us that we are capable, in our own strength, to accomplish God’s will, thereby rejecting the Holy Spirit. We ignore the Holy Spirit and all of His available guidance, power and counsel. We treat the Spirit as either insignificant to create change in our life, or simply irrelevant. We believe wrongly that we can “make it happen.”
Yet, it is through the Spirit that we are empowered to do God’s work. Likewise, our salvation rests on knowing Christ, loving Him completely, nothing else.
God will not ask if you were a nice person when you stand before Him. He will want to know if you knew His Son.
3. God doesn’t care about your small things.
He is much too busy with all the big issues. I have personally struggled (and still do struggle) with this lie.
Somewhere along the line we convince ourselves that God has got a lot on his plate and so we don’t bother Him with our silly little lives. We pray for others, sure. Or make our own requests known only when they are “big” things, and even then we doubt He might care or actually hear.
But oh how He cares.
He knows the number of hairs on your head. He does not just tolerate you or put up with you. He delights in you. He is overjoyed to hear your voice, calling out to your Abba.
He cares about the details of your lives just as much as the “big picture.” He desires you to let Him into the small spaces where He can take up residence and bring peace.
4. We believe that only pastors or those in “leadership” can, in fact, lead.
Churches use words like pastor, counselor, minister of whatever or lay person. They are essentially stating that you must be a professional to serve or lead within the body.
The beauty, however, of the Body of Christ is that God calls ordinary men to do His extraordinary work.
You do not need a seminary degree, a certificate of training or a title from your church’s administration to serve, disciple or equip those around you. You need three things: willingness, faithfulness and the Holy Spirit.
5. God wants us to be happy.
Happiness in scripture is usually mentioned in terms of a fleeting moment or a temporal, earthly event. Neither the scriptures or Christ (or anyone else for that matter) ever tell us that God wants us to “be happy.” He wants us to be a lot of things: righteous, holy, godly, pure, sanctified, etc … but “happy” ain’t in the list.
It’s cliche, but man is it true: God is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness.
Americans tend to think more in terms of happiness and immediacy than joy and steadfastness. We want God to just rain down good feelings and good times.
The truth, however, is that being happy and content in our daily lives is a byproduct of following Jesus with an obedient heart, but it is not the reason we follow Him.
We give our lives to Him because His sacrifice demands a response. In turn, as we engage with Him and let the Spirit lead, He offers us the abundant life. Abundance in Christ, however, is not synonymous with happiness.
In fact, I would argue that in some ways, being a Christian is actually harder than not. The reward, blessing, peace and fruit, however, far outweigh our temporal sufferings.
I would say that #3 and #5 are personal struggles for me. I am constantly battling lies within my mind, either self-perpetuated or flaming arrows from the enemy. Either way, recognizing lies for what they are is the best cure. The result is freedom, and ultimately that is what I’m after.
Which of the five lies, if any, have you believed or currently struggle with?
What lies would you add to the list?
Quite some time ago, a reader named Alex Haiken asked me to review his blog and keep an open mind regarding what the Bible has to say on homosexuality. Alex had done some extraordinary exegesis, but I failed to find the logical trail from the interpretation to his conclusions. Alex concluded that since homosexual acts were only discussed as part of pagan rituals, and gay people are not participating in the rituals of the past, present day gay relations are not against Biblical teachings. The Bible clearly states “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” (Lev.18:22, NKJV) But let us not stop our discussion with this statement.
When it comes to the topic of homosexuality, or any sin for that matter, what is the role of a Christian? Certainly, if we are discussing the topic and asked what the Bible says, we should quote Leviticus 18:22. But what if we know someone who is gay, and they don’t ask our opinion, or what the Bible says? What if they don’t believe in sin? What does Jesus ask us to do?
Jesus told His disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35, NKJV) Jesus did not say love everyone, but sinners. In fact, Paul clarifies this a bit in his letter to the Corinthians “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?” (1 Cor 5:1-2, NIV) Paul was a bit upset. Even the pagans were upset, no one does what these “Christians” are doing!
But wait, how many times have we heard ““Judge not, and you shall not be judged.” (Luke 6:37, NKJV) It seems that Paul is judging the offender. In fact, he states that he is, “For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this.” (1 Cor 5:3, NIV)
Confused? Paul clears up the confusion when he goes on to say, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.” (1Cor 5:9-11, NIV)
So let’s see. Basically, if we were to stay away from all sinners we would have to leave this world. Since we are here, and we are all sinners, Paul further defines his statements. Stay away from “brothers or sisters” (fellow Christians) who claim to be disciples of Jesus but live in open rebellion to Him. But what about those who are not Christians? What is our role there?
Paul continues, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked person from among you.” (1 Cor 5:12-13, NIV)
Our responsibility is to be a disciple of Christ. As a disciple, we are known by our love for each other. Our actions should point others to Christ. We should be loving and helping our fellow disciples to adhere to the Biblical principles we have agreed to adhere to. If a fellow disciple should decide to live in open rebellion and will not repent, then they should be cast out as Paul stated above. But for those outside the church… they have not agreed to live by Biblical principles, and we should not be attempting to make them adhere to them.
Granted, we are called to be the salt and the light, and to go forward making disciples. But let us not do this by condemning others, but by bringing Jesus to them. If they cannot see Jesus when they look at us, maybe we should be examining ourselves closer.
By Frank Viola
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I wasted my time being a high school student.
I skipped classes, did the least amount of work required to skirt by, quit baseball my junior year, earned a Ph.D. in passing notes during lectures, and was never able to muster the courage to befriend the girl that I had a two-year crush on.
(Incidentally, I was a pitcher for my high school baseball team. And like many other young dudes, my dream was to play in the Majors. So when I saw this guy on TV for the first time, my first reaction was to pinch myself.)
Anyways, when the day came when many of my classmates were being rewarded with full-ride scholarships, I was crestfallen.
I had wasted my time as a high school student.
Well, dear Christian, you can do the same with your walk with the Lord.
You can waste your time as a Christian.
Paul exhorts us to “redeem the time because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16)
Make no mistake: It takes time to know the Lord. It takes time to learn to live before Him. It takes time to grow in His life. And you can easily waste that time.
In fact, there are specific things that you can do (or neglect) that will throttle your spiritual life.
10 Ways in Which You Can Waste Your Time Being a Christian:
Bitterness will destroy your spiritual life and take others down with you (Hebrews 12:15).
In other words, live life for yourself (and your immediate family) rather than for others.
Fill your life with all sorts of other activities. Stay busy.
They reveal Christ and contain God’s life (John 5:39; 6:63; 2 Timothy 3:16). They are food for your spirit. To neglect them is to starve your spirit.
Don’t go to them directly if you have a concern or problem and ask them for clarity. (And if you do go to them, don’t listen to what they have to say.) Be not deceived: To speak ill about or misrepresent another follower of Jesus is to speak ill about or misrepresent Jesus Himself. And He doesn’t take it kindly (Matthew 25:40; Acts 9:1-4; Titus 3:2).
…or listen to Christ-centered messages by other servants of God. Forget the contribution of the body of Christ, past and present. Throw out spiritual education. Live under the delusion that all you need is the Holy Spirit and your Bible. (If you want to tune-up in this area, I recommend all the books in the “Spiritual Growth” shelf on this list.)
Live as a solo Christian. Use the excuse that you can’t find any other Christians who love Jesus like you do.
Envy and jealousy is often the root behind slander. Incidentally, countless Christians don’t know what slander looks like and fail to recognize it when it’s right in front of them. So be sure to read this article so you know how to recognize it. Engaging in or listening to slander proves toxic to your spiritual life.
Blame others instead. And never apologize to the people you’ve wronged.
A crisis is a difficult and unwelcome opportunity to discover Jesus Christ in a new way. Don’t look for the hand of God behind the crisis and submit to it. Forget James and Peter who both said, “Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand, and He will exalt you.” (1 Peter 5:7; James 4:10) Blame God instead.
The above is in no particular order. And many other points can be added to the list. But each of these is a sure-fire way to hamper your growth in Christ and waste your time being a follower of Jesus.
In addition, I’d give this list to all new Christians as elements to begin focusing their lives upon (only I’d reword them to make them positives).
See also, Why I Gave Up Living the Christian Life
If you had to pick 2 or 3 on this list as the most important, which ones would you select and why?
My friend Daniel has nailed it. The truth had to be told, and he did a wonderful job.
Last week I offered some commentary on some of the turmoil caused over the Trayvon Martin shooting. The truth is that, while a lot of what I said was looking at Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, it was about so much more. Honestly, those two demonstrate symptoms of underlying currents of various other problems in this nation.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they…
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