Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Watered Down Christian

Watered Down Christian

2 Timothy 4:3(NIV)
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

I think we may live in a time like this now.  It seems to me that in recent years and maybe it has to do with all the media and technology we have at our fingertips(smart phones, tablets, laptops, TV's, etc)  today, that many in our world are living their own version of Christianity, meaning they do what they want, live how they want, and support what they want, and then try to label it as God approved. "God loves everyone", "God wants everyone to be happy", "God would be ok with what I'm doing or how i'm living", well last time I read by Bible that's not how God operates.

First, yes God does love everyone, He created each of us after all, but "LOVE" does not mean enabling, approving, or looking the other way while a person sins and goes against God's Will or Word.  God is love, but love always means correction, discipline, holiness, purity, righteousness, and obedience. God's love is not a license to sin or live whoever we want or do whatever we want or believe whatever we want and then namedrop God on it like He approves of it cause God loves everyone.  God does love us all, but His love will not hurt others, have negative consequences, approve of sin, or go against His Holy Word. Truth is many don't read their Bibles, yet try to use it to defend themselves? Kind of hard to do when you don't even read it or study it.

Secondly, this delusion that God wants everyone happy is as false as it gets. God wants us to have JOY and joy is only found in a faithful obedient relationship with Him. God did not create us and send Jesus to die for our sins so we can be "happy" on earth.  What we really are trying to say is I want to have no rules, live how I want, do what I want, because I think that is what makes me happy and I want to feel good about myself so I want to say God wants me happy to justify it.   If you truly want to be happy, then stop trying to make God follow you and start following God.  You are either for God or against Him, there is no in between.  Happiness is a temporary feeling/emotion and comes and goes and isn't meant to rule or guide our life.  Why I believe God didn't create us to be miserable and unhappy, He also didn't create us and send Jesus for us to live however we want with no set of morals, values, boundaries, and most of all guidance from His Holy Spirit or Word.

Finally, this false idea that God is ok with how you are living and what you are doing and what you are approving of, is another lie from the devil. It's call justification.  If we were honest with ourselves, we'd realize we want to do what we want and act how we want and live how we want, but at the same time we want the benefits of salvation and not going to hell.   We really are trying to mold and shape God around our lives instead of molding and shaping our lives around God.    We have too many opinions based on our own ideas of influences out there from friends, books, professors, media, or wherever you get your opinions from. I feel like many of us have our minds made up what we want to believe and we seek to find sources who agree with us or support what we believe or want to believe, to again back up an justify our beliefs, behaviors, lifestyles, etc..

Sadly, there are even churches and preachers who share this mentality and have watered down the gospel and the Bible to grow churches, make people ok with their sins, and continue the cycle of not following the Bible, being obedient to God's will, or guidance from the Holy Spirit.   So, what we have is a bunch of watered down Christians, who really are only part-time Christians, or putting on a form of Christianity that suits them or really not Christians at all, but living a lie to themselves.

We have got it all wrong. While God is a God of love, He is also a God of right, holy, and truth. That does not mean he's old fashioned or rigid, it means He has a standard and we need to follow His standard of right, holy, and truth found in His Word not our own. That isn't love, love is truth, obedience, respect, honesty, purity, and faithfulness to God, His Word.   Joy not happiness is what should guide us.  Happiness is mostly worldly and seeks to only please ourselves, our wants, our wishes, and live how we want and has little to do with God. God provides joy to those who truly surrender to Him, wish to obey Him, worship Him, and follow His Word even if there are some tough spots in it we struggle with. It doesn't matter what we think or want if it goes against God's Word its wrong plain and simply no matter how you try to twist it. In the end you will never be happy or find happiness or live at peace when you try to live against God and His Word.

Finally, if you want God to be "OK" with your life and how you are living, it's not complicated, but difficult to do, we must truly surrender ourselves to God to follow His Will. We must allow God to work in our lives through His Word and Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts, attitudes, convictions, values, morals, behaviors, and lifestyles. We must actually read and study God's Word and instead of trying to read it to justify our beliefs, behaviors, or lifestyles how about reading it and simply following or doing what it says and don't add to it or take away from it or twist it to fit your life, but instead let God fit you into His life.  We must be open to God's leading by being sincere and honest before Him. If we are, God will speak to us, convict us, show us, and lead us through His Word and through His Holy Spirit if we are truly saved.

Stop trying to be a "Christian" and yet live however you want, doing whatever you want, and sharing that watered down message in the world, and start actually being a Christian. The Word Christian means "Christ-follower" and too many people are wearing the name, but not following Christ, but their own selfish lifestyles, agendas, opinions, and desires.   Being a Christian is hard work, it takes discipline, time, effort, and a willing spirit to grow. You can to be faithful to read the Bible to know what it says and what God expects, you have to be faithful to His Church(the ones actually preaching the truth of the Bible), and you have to be willing to let the Holy Spirit guide you to truth and righteousness.

After all, we are talking about eternity here. Heaven and hell.  I would not be willing to gamble or risk my eternity for temporary, worldly, selfish pleasures or happiness here.  I know many of us have tried including me and I learned as I hope you have or will, you can't have the best of both worlds. You can't have 2 masters, and you can't please both God and yourself.    Don't water down God's Word, or your faith. Live for God.   Find Joy in the Lord.  Find peace in the truth of God's Word.  God loves you, but His love will correct us when needed. God is also "OK" with us when we are allowing Him to lead us and not just trying to take advantage of His grace.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Judging Others

Judging Others

There is a HUGE difference between "passing judgment" on someone and "making a judgment". We seem to live in a world where we say "only god can judge me" well that is true when it comes to your salvation and eternity choice, it's not a free pass to live however you want and justify your life choices.  There are places where it is appropriate to judge and be judged.

Passing judgment is something people do that is not fair, accurate, or is biased. Passing judgment is saying that person has tattoos they must be in a gang, or that person dresses bad they must be on welfare and won't work, I saw that person out late they must be cheating on their spouse, and things like that, passing judgment is making decisions based on opinions and not truth, reality, or fact.  This is what Jesus was talking about when he said "do not judge, or you too will be judged" Matthew 7:1 he goes on to say in verses 2-4 "for in the same way you judge others you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brothers eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"  You see Jesus was talking about passing judgment on others behaviors or things yet ignoring things in our life that may be much worse or bigger, that is placing judgment.

However, making a judgment is much different.  Jesus corrected the jewish people in John 7 for passing judgment on him for healing someone on their "holy" day, he told theme in John 7:24 "stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment".  He didnt' say not to judge, but stop passing judgment, instead make a right judgment.  Makin a judgment is different, that is when I have facts and truth at my disposal. If I see you cheating on a test and confront you, that is a right judgment you are a cheater.  If I see you being rude and cussing someone and call you out on it, I am making a right judgment on that.  If I see you misusing God's Word or speaking on things not backed up by scripture and bring it to your attention I am making a righteous judgment, not passing judgment, do you see the difference? Of course even in making a right judgment it still needs to be delivered and communicated in love and respect, not arrogantly.

There is also a distinct difference between those who are Christians and part of the Christians church and those who are not Christians and church members. If we are members and a part of the church we have a right to correctly make judgments about people in our own body who are purposely sinning.  In I Corinthians chapter 5 the Corinthian church had a man in the church who was what we'd call "living in sin" he was being sexually immoral by having a sexual relationship with a woman he wasn't married to but also happen to be his step-mother.  The Corinthian church was ignoring this behavior, as they probably had many of our attitudes, "It's not our place to judge", however Paul who wrote this letter to them rebuked them for ignoring this blatant sinful behavior and told them they must kick him out of church and not have anything to do with him.   He goes on if you read (I Cor. 5:12) to talk about what happens when we ignore sin in the church with our members, to deal with sin, and to avoid those who willfully and purposely sin with no remorse. I have been in churches where people were living in sin and supposed to be members and leadership ignored it, as to not "offend" anyone or hoping it would go away. Not the way God wants us to handle sin. If we had that attitude about all sin, then we'd not deal with or correct anything because "we don't want to judge", and it's a cop out. 

You may think that is mean or harsh, but the point of confronting sin or error and even not having anything to do with that person is that will motivate them to repent and get right with God again or get the infection/cancer out of your church body. So many times we think being a Christian is being nice, looking the other way, and not dealing with sin in our churches by supposed Christians, but that's not truth. Church leaders are to confront and deal with sin in the body of Christ.  But, Paul also closes with a clear statement in verses 12 What business is it of mine to judge them outside of the church? ?Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. "Expel" the wicked man from among you.

The local church has an obligation to make judgments on members, not passing judgment on opinions but making judgments based on truth. Truth is, sometimes even though people are Christians and go to church they purposely choose to ignore sinful lifestyles and habits in their lives knowing it's wrong, but not caring.  We also, need to realize it's not our job as the church to police the outside world, but God will deal with those outside the church who are sinning, not our place, but we should deal with sin in our churches, and if church leaders aren't willing to deal with sin, they should not be leading and should be dealt with as well.

My point today is simple, though God is our ultimate judge and He is only one who can determine who is saved and will be saved and those who will be in Heaven, there is still a place where sometimes as Christians we do have to judge people and situations.  Not on our feelings, emotions, preferences, upbringings, etc...but make judgments based on truth of God's Word.  We also much learn not to "pass" judgment on people where we are basing it on our own twisted truth or opinions because we don't like the way someone looks, or acts, or doesn't line up with our narrow mind. 

I think if we all would read and study God's Word more, we'd learn to see the differences between passing judgment and making righteous judgment.  If I am sinning, then my Christian brothers/sisters have a right to call me out on my sin, they do not have a right to pass judgment on me because they don't like my outfit, or my hairstyle, or my tattoos, or something I saw that is true from God's Word that they disagree with.  I also have an obligation and responsibility as a Christian to hold other Christians accountable for their sin.  As a church leader and pastor I have a responsibility to deal with sin in my church body.

I hope this blog opens some eyes today and encourages and blesses you to stop passing judgment on people and places that's not your place or accurate, but also will allow us to make right judgments in areas where we must judge correctly and properly within the church based on God's Holy Word.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Be Honest with Yourself

Be Honest With Yourself
Sometimes I think the person we lie to the most is ourselves.  At times we can be very self unaware and self absorbed people and we don't or won't acknowledge our problems, our faults, or put any blame on ourselves, or accept any responsibility for our actions.  This is no way to live because it doesn't end well.

I have been guilty of living with this attitude and I think most of us have on some level or in some fashion, but the only way we are going to change, grow, or be forgiven is to start the honesty with ourselves.

Too many people have constant drama in their lives, broken relationships, always make people mad, or stay angry and bitter because they can't see that maybe their attitude or actions are the problem not other people.  Some people go through their whole lives blaming others for their problems, yet if they were hones with themselves they'd see where maybe the blame is looking at them in the mirror, yet they choose to live self unaware so they don't have to "fix" or "work" or "deal" with themselves.

Others are so absorbed with their own selfish desires, making it all about them and what they want and what they think is best, or only caring about how they feel or what they want, it leaves little time or room for anyone else.  Selfish people like this never do no wrong it's always someone else. As long as they get what they want, can be in control, or are right and people agree with them they are fine, but watch out if they don't get their way or it's not about them.

The truth is if we lie to ourselves about our behavior, lifestyles, actions, or attitudes we are never going to change, grow, mature or get better.  If we aren't willing to put in the work and be honest about our struggles and problems we will see little change or growth but a continued cycle of negativity, blame, anger, etc...Also, no one can help you and especially God will not help you as long as you continue to live in this fantasy world of your right and everyone else is wrong, you are smarter than everyone else, or everyone is out to get you, or you're a victim mentality. 

God only helps those who help themselves and God won't work with lies.  We have to be honest with ourselves even before we can be honest with God.  God already knows our thoughts, motives, and hearts, but part of our growth is admitting to ourselves we have a problem, we are to blame, we have the bad attitude, or we are the one who messed up. We must humble ourselves before God an totally surrender our self-denial, self-unaware, selfish, arrogant, blatant, self-inflicting behavior to Him.

If we could only evaluate ourselves with honesty we could change our lives and probably those around us if you haven't done run off everyone that is close to you or tried to help you.  I don't care if it's addictions, mental problems, abuse, disagreements, or any type of problem, sin, struggle, etc...God will help us when we own up to being part(most or all) of the problem.   I also think if there is anyone left who can stand us and we've not burnt bridges would be willing to help us if they finally see us being honest with ourselves, God, and others. 

Remember, nothing changes when nothing changes. If you don't like your life, if you're miserable, can't seem to get along with anyone, always in the middle of drama, struggles, or problems, I guarantee the source of that is someone who is in denial or lying to themselves about their participation in whatever it is going on.

Be honest with yourself. Stop the lies.  Stop blaming others.  Stop making excuses for your behavior.  Stop being selfish. Stop being self-destructive.  Stop using people.  Stop hurting people.  Stop being so blind.  Stop the denial.  Stop lying to yourself. Be honest with yourself.   Next be honest with God. Finally, get help if you need it from a Doctor, therapist, or whoever it takes if your issues are that serious.   God works with honesty. It could change your attitude, your relationships, and most of all your life.

Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right.