6/2/2015 Brief thoughts: A matter of the heart

“Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and remove the foreskins of your heart.” (Jer 4:3-4)

“The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick. Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart.” (Jer 17:9-10)

There is only one thing that matters to the Lord. No matter the endeavor, no matter the task, no matter the effort we expend or the time we take, what God cares about is the heart with which we do it. We can pray until our knees give way, preach until our voices rasp, and serve until our hands hang limp, but if the motivations of our hearts are not right it is not pleasing to Him. Isaiah said even our most righteous deeds are as filthy rags in His sight (Isa. 64:6). Our deeds will never be righteous in the sight of a God as far holier than us as the heavens are above the earth. Paul said if he displayed faith to move mountains, knowledge to astound the astute, and service to humble the contrite it would all be meaningless without the love from a heart in the right place.

The heart of man is desperately sick, deceitful, and fickle to a fault. This is why the disciple knows he must become “a new creature in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17) by allowing Jesus to transplant His heart [via the Holy Spirit] in to him through the process of death at the cross, and sanctification through suffering and God’s pruning thereafter. He knows he must return daily to that cross, deny “his heart,” and come to abide in the only heart that truly loves, truly heals, truly gives, and truly serves: the heart of God beating within him. God will not sow into thorns, nor cast His pearls before the foreskin of a hard heart. It is the disciple’s quest that, through all of the joys, sorrows, victories and defeats of this life his heart is slowly removed from him and Christ’s heart takes its place.

5/18/2015 Brief Thoughts: Finishing the Race

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.” (2 Tim 4:7-8)

 “[Jesus] said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30) 

In the Greek, the word used in both of the above verses for “finished” is “teleo (tel-eh’-o),” and it means to complete, execute, conclude, or discharge our responsibilities. Paul reached the end of his life and was able to confidently proclaim he had discharged fully the responsibilities God had given him. Jesus, with His very last breath breathed on this earth, did likewise.

The disciple realizes this was a message Jesus and Paul felt important for him to fully grasp because of three realities that seem to have been lost to modern Christendom: 1) there are absolute responsibilities God places upon those who wish to follow Him; 2) all Jesus did on this earth was to make it possible for him to fully discharge his responsibilities, and this to set an example for us to follow so we would be without excuse and, lastly; 3) to choose a disobedient, lazy course that fails to fully complete, execute, conclude, and discharge our responsibilities is not optional, and will not be covered by grace. This is why disciples are constantly engaged in a tireless, relentless pursuit of the fulfillment of their ministries, and are constantly found doing the good work God created, and then saved, them for (Eph. 2:10, 2 Tim. 4:5). They understand whether they succeed or fail to fully accomplish their responsibilities lies solely with them, because God has empowered them, and given them everything they need to make and then complete the right choice (2 Pet. 1:3). They desire nothing more than be able to confidently say at the end of their time on earth, “It is finished,” for they know the response from their Lord to this will be, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter in to the joy of your Master” (Matt. 25:21).

5/5/2015 Brief Thoughts: A moment and a process

 

 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Rom 10:17)

There is a moment, and there is a process. There is a specific point in time when faith is revealed. There is a point in time when we receive Jesus Christ, and are “given the right” to become His children. It is that point when faith first “comes” because we heard, and were convicted by, the Word of God. We call that moment in time “conversion”.

But the disciple recognizes there is also a process that must take place after the moment if life on earth is to be abundant, and heaven thereafter assured. He knows even those “in Jesus” who bear no fruit in this life will be “taken away” (John 15:2). It is during that process that the inseparable commands to abide in his Master and bear fruit will come together so that faith begins to work with his works, and thereby his faith becomes perfected (Jas. 2:22). He understands without the process, the moment cannot suffice to increase his faith, nor can the grace he experienced at the moment, without obedience to the process, grant him life abundant on this earth. Can the moment without the process assure him of eternal life? Having come to be a man who fears God, that is not a hill he chances to die upon.

4/49/2015 Mike’s Blog: True and False amens

 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt 7:21-22)

“Each man’s work will become evident, for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire. And the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.” (1 Cor 3:13-14)

Many years ago I started a service ministry through a men’s Bible study group I had led for a number of years. When I brought up the concept of putting some of what we had studied for so long in to practice through getting out and serving in our community, I got hearty “Amens” from most in the group. We started out with all hands on deck, but within six months of our first day I found the only volunteer left was me and the Bible study, which had met for years prior to that, had disbanded altogether.

Anyone who has even a rudimentary understanding of the Bible will absorb certain given truths about what Christian life should look like. It is a given we should love God and our neighbor (Matt 22:37, John 15:5), and flesh that out (1 Jon 3:18, Matt 25: 34+, Jas 1:27). It is also a given we should sacrifice the world’s wealth to serve Him (Phil 3:8), and live a life of faithful obedience to His commands (2 Tim 4:7). If you asked those who claim to be Christian, most would say this is what a Christ follower should look like. Yet precious few of them these days [fewer than 10% according to the polls] actually engage in these “givens”.

The definition of “superficiality” is an inability to align what we say we believe with who we actually are—with our practices. It is a term that has rightly come to define modern Christendom. It does not matter what we may believe to be true, or even what say we believe to be true. There are many people who claim Christ, and truly believe they believe He is God. They also believe He wants them to follow Him. All give hearty amens to the truths of God’s Word, but their deeds prove their beliefs, like their amens, are false.

So what exactly is it that reveals the truth about us? Michael Wells, a beloved mentor now in heaven, used to teach disciples are revealed and not proclaimed. Recent discussions with my son have brought what this means back to the forefront of my thoughts. To be “revealed” simply means whatever of Christ that is in us, and whatever the Spirit supernaturally has shown us, naturally pours forth from our every pore. It utterly captures every fiber of our being, and motivates and moves us with every heartbeat. It is what is “true” about us, and regardless of our beliefs and perceptions, whatever is not true as revealed in the way we live is rendered a delusion.

Furthermore, we engage in what is true about us because we are not in control of what is revealed. We simply “are” where our journey with God has taken us, and could no more deny that than we could stop breathing. Paul said, “Woe is me if I do not preach this Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16). Why? He also said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20). It would have been unconscionable to Paul to not be where His journey with God had taken him.

Likewise, false beliefs are revealed in who we are. The Bible is full of people who lived in an illusion while claiming to believe in the truth. Many of these “followed Jesus” around while He was here. Of one group of these followers He asked, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and yet do not do what I say” (Luke 6:46)? Of another He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matt. 7:21). The Laodiceans of Revelation 3 obviously thought they were standing on truth, when in fact what they had done was to concoct a god who blessed their illusion. The true God beheld their deeds, and came up with a decidedly different observation.

When the going got tough many of Jesus followers withdrew, never to walk with Him again (John 6:66). Only those Jesus revealed as His true disciples from the outset remained with Him. Many people will dip their toes in to the waters of the deeds that reveal who we are, because they know it is what they should do. But if engaged through some sense of obligation, or through their own power and not revelation, their dedication will not last. Their energy, like the men in my Bible study who were so on fire when we began, will wane and they will withdraw back to what is revealed to be, or not to be, about them.

Why is it so important to understand what is revealed? Times are coming upon us, and soon, where Jesus will return to separate the wheat from the chaff. The wheat will be those the Bible quantifies as “few” that truth reveals to be His authentic disciples. The chaff will be those the Bible quantifies as “many” that truth reveals to have been living in an illusion, whose beliefs did not align with their practices. The time is growing short to decide which side of the fence we stand on, and to stop trying to straddle the paths between the kingdom of men and the kingdom of heaven on earth. It is time for men everywhere who claim to know Christ to stand and deliver with the truths of their lives, not delusions about what they say they believe. The truth will be revealed, for it stands regardless of belief.

What has the Spirit revealed you to be? It is not who you hope to be, give a hearty amen to, or say you are. It is simply where your journey with God has led you to at this point as revealed by your deeds. If you ask that question and don’t like the answer there is still hope, for we serve the God of transformation who never wants us to stop short of full-fledged citizenship in the kingdom of heaven on earth. But if you want to change, you must change. You must get to the point of desiring change, and Jesus Christ, more than anything else in this life. It is not He who needs to change. He is “the way, the life, and the truth”, and that is why He is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb 13:8). That is why He will stand when all else crumbles and falls. Only those revealed as true will stand with Him. That is the truth.

Thanks to Michael Wells and Adam Wolff [http://therevelatorblog.com/] for the inspiration

4/20/15 – Brief Thoughts: Sacrifice or Obedience?

“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” (1 Sam 15:22)

 “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” (Isa 64:6)

It is not about personal sacrifice to the disciple. It is about simple obedience. It is not about being righteous, but about obedience to a righteous God. If life following Jesus were about personal sacrifice and good works, apart from obedience to the leadings of His Spirit and the goodness of His commands, then indeed both the sacrifice and the works would be personal. Even our most righteous deeds, if they are ours, are little more than filthy rags in God’s sight, for the very best man has to offer is not worthy to loose the sandals of a perfect God.

But if it is about obedience to the commands to follow Jesus and bear His fruit in this world—if they are done in obedience to the guidance of the indwelling Spirit, then they are not the works of God’s disciple at all. They are the works of God done through the disciple. How could God not be pleased with His own works? How could He call them “filthy rags?” To obey is better than sacrifice, because anything done in obedience to God is from God, through God, and comes back to God in the form of worship and renown among men. When obedience leads to sacrifice, as it always does, then it is good, holy, and pure sacrifice because it is a natural response to a good, holy, and pure God who calls us to it, empowers us to do it, and completes it all that He might be glorified on this earth.

4/14/2015 – Brief Thoughts: The Faith and Perseverance of the Saints

“Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea…And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority…There was given to him…authority to act for forty-two months…It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them…If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes. If anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.” (Rev 13:1-10)

 “And the devil said to Him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory, for it has been handed over to me and I give it to whomever I wish.’” (Luke 4:6-7)

There is only one ultimate authority in this universe. Satan did not create himself, God did. Satan did not create this world, God did. Satan has no authority in heaven or on earth that is not either granted or allowed by God, and if God did not grant him power or allow him reign he would have none at all. Therefore any of the power, good or evil, seen in the above verses was not granted by Satan—not ultimately. When Satan’s unholy trinity is set loose by God to plunder, deceive, and subjugate mankind, it will only be those disciples who have been “given an ear to hear what the Spirit says” who will understand and live by Romans 8:28. They will not try to fight the power of righteous judgment God has granted, or bargain with it, or escape it.

The disciple knows nothing whatsoever that comes in to his life is coincidence or happenstance. Every day is an appointed day. Every appointment is a divine one and every circumstance: seemingly good, bad, or indifferent has been allowed or placed in his life for his pruning, guidance, or testing. To them all he says, “Amen”, and goes about his business following His Master who took every arrow without complaint, bore every oppression without revolt, foiled every attempt to deceive, and said with His last breath, “It is finished. As I have always done, I now commit My spirit into Thy hands.” This “is the perseverance and faith of the saints.” *

4/6/2015 – Brief Thoughts: Thoughts and Works

“Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” (Prov 16:3)

“Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom 12:1-2)

Works follow thoughts, and thoughts follow works. They are all one in the same to the disciple. One cannot be segregated from another, any more than Christ’s works could have been separated from His thoughts. Yet modern Christendom has attempted to do just that by divorcing grace from command. Most who claim Christ refuse to do the good works Jesus prepared for them to do, and then wonder why their thought life is confused and unfulfilling.

Paul said, “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). Could Jesus have possibly done the works He did without having the thoughts He did? Likewise, He couldn’t have had the thoughts He had without doing the works He did. Thoughts begin good works, and good works confirm and create more good thoughts. They either work together, or neither function as they should at all. Jesus said kingdoms divided against themselves cannot stand (Luke 11:17), and those who did not gather with Him scattered (Matt 12:30). The disciple’s deeds and thoughts are one in Christ, and he could not conceive of it being any other way. The kingdom of heaven on earth is not divided to him, and he is constantly gathered unto His Lord in an abiding relationship the powers of darkness cannot scatter. He presents his body daily to God as a living sacrifice, and therefore his thoughts follow. He also is transformed by the renewing of His mind to that of Christ daily, and therefore his works follow. They are one in the same, therefore there is never any conflict concerning grace and works, or faith and deeds.

4/1/2015 Mike’s Blog: The Gospel of Accommodation

THE GOSPEL OF ACCOMMODATION

A while back a brother sent me some quotes from David Wilkerson’s archives. Among them I read the following from a sermon he preached in 1998:

 “A gospel of accommodation is creeping into the United States. It’s an American cultural invention to appease the lifestyle of luxury and pleasure. [It is] influencing ministers of every denomination, and giving birth to mega-churches with thousands who come to hear a non-confronting message. It’s an adaptable gospel that is spoon-fed through…nonabrasive sermonettes on how to cope-called a seeker-friendly or sinner-friendly gospel.”

The very next morning I was preparing a study for the men at Open Door, and I came across three verses in 2nd Timothy 2, where Paul seemed to be illustrating the stark contrasts between what Wilkerson was saying and the true cost of discipleship. Modern-day Laodicean Christendom has massaged the true Gospel to provide its coveted seekers with what Paul would have called “a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6). Wilkerson saw it 17 years ago and it has grown exponentially since then. To wit:

“If we died with Him, we will also live with Him.”

Paul begins where the journey must begin: by talking about the price of the cross of Christ, which he described as a matter of first importance (1 Cor 15:3), the power of God (1 Cor 1:18), and a stumbling block to the world (1 Cor 1:23). Jesus said it was where we are to come daily to deny and die to ourselves, that we might live unto Him (Luke 9:23). It is a bloody, stained, and somber place where Christ gave up all and demands we do the same. It is not the place we come to “get”. That is where it will eventually lead to, but not if fail to fully run its gauntlet first.

The cross is that place where we must be willing to sacrifice everything—that hill that stands above all hills we must choose to die upon. It is the proverbial pearl of great price for which we must be willing to sell all. It is God’s exchange booth where we cash in everything the world ever meant to us, or could ever offer us, and be willing to embrace an entirely different kingdom: the kingdom of heaven on earth. It is not comfortable, it is not secure, and in fact leads to a total, chaotic undoing that must occur before Christ can begin doing anything transforming in us. It is only those who truly come to understand the price of the cross and die there, both initially and daily, who will live in the kingdom of heaven with Him.

The Gospel of Accommodation erects crosses as symbolic ornaments on the top of its temples, which have come to symbolize everything it is not: comfort, security, and “safe places” from which to worship, but not follow, Jesus. It makes the cross a trinket to be worn around the neck or the wrist, symbolizing faith and obedience in Christ regardless of whether they truly exist or not. Our modern evangelists proclaim it a place we casually visit for a brief second or two on the way to our heavenly shopping spree they proclaim as salvation. Afterwards they preach it as something that cost Christ all, but needn’t cost us much because after we “observe” it for a moment the idol of grace takes over and carries us the rest of the way to heaven.

The Accommodators teach us we can have Jesus and worldly success, Jesus and our former life, and Jesus and whatever we want to retain from who we are, and the life we live, now. We don’t need to shed anything, but rather add Jesus to our comfortable mix of wealth and security, and we can have it all. The cross is a brief, painless visit on the way to getting what we want in this life, and thereafter eternal reward. This is the cross of the Gospel of Accommodation.

“If we endure, we will also reign with Him.”

 Paul then moves to the price of endurance, for only those who endure with Jesus on this earth will reign with Him in Heaven. Jesus lamented while with us, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Mark 9:19) and said only those who endure to the end will be saved at all (Mark 13:13). The mission His Father called Him to was more often than not thankless, long-suffering, and frustrating. Living amongst sinners, not to mention unbelieving believers, takes enduring love and faithfulness to the enduring model Jesus set for us while here on earth. This walk of the disciple is not a sprint. It is a marathon, and anyone truly wishing to follow Jesus in this world must also share in His sufferings. In fact, Peter said we should not be surprised at all with trials and ordeals we must endure. He said they were not strange to those who truly followed Jesus, but rather the norm. Then he said to the degree we share in those sufferings, to that same degree we will rejoice with Him when He is revealed (1 Pet 4:12-13).

One of the greatest promises, if not the greatest promise, in all of Scripture is found in James 1 where we are encouraged to let endurance and perseverance have its “perfect result, that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” What could be more “complete” than that? It comes not as a result of how much we pray, how much we preach or evangelize, or how many people we teach, but how well we endured the same frustrations Jesus endured, with the same patience and love He showed, because of fealty to his mission and purpose in this life. Why endurance? Because it includes every characteristic Jesus said would mark those who truly followed Him. To endure you must love the unlovely with Jesus’ love, believe when everything around you says it can’t be done, pray without ceasing, and follow when all others turn tail and flee (John 6:66-69). It is only in the fields of endurance the flesh is shed, eyes of the spirit are opened, and we are pruned and refined in fires nothing else can provide. Ministry, like the cross itself, is a gauntlet that must be run before discipleship can possibly become a reality.

The Gospel of Accommodation renders the need for endurance irrelevant, because the need to share in the sufferings of Christ doesn’t exist. This gospel teaches Christ suffered so we wouldn’t need to, not so we could have a model to follow or sufferings to share in. The Accommodator’s god suffered to bring us the grace, love, forgiveness, and peace they sing about so often in their worship services, and preach, as being all we need. The one-dimensional god they proclaim, the idol of grace, seeks above all to keep its worshippers comfortable so they keep coming back. It does not want to confront them with the truths of the real Jesus He promised only the few would endure, for the few cannot fill the coffers of the Accommodators or their temples, pay their salaries, or make them look successful to the world. The concept of endurance does not exist in the Gospel of Accommodation.

“If we deny Him, He also will deny us.”

If, at any point along the process of discipleship, the follower decides to deny Jesus as a practice, he stands on perilous thin ice indeed. In the kingdom of heaven on earth there is a word that determines who we truly are, and therefore our eternal destiny. It is found in the word, “practice”. We are all sinners, before and after conversion, and will be so until the Lord takes us home. From the most naïve convert to the most mature disciple, all will slip into transgression. The question is, will slipping be slipping or a lifestyle? Will transgression be a momentary diversion from an otherwise obedient, faithful life, or will righteousness be a momentary diversion from an otherwise worldly life? The concept of denial of Christ being a momentary diversion or a practice is not one that is an answer to the question of is one saved or not, but how one did or did not live. Peter denied Jesus three times and was welcomed back. Those who abandoned Jesus in John 6 are never heard from again.

In Hebrews 5 and 6, the writer discusses the differences between babes in Christ and the mature. It is only those who practice their faith who are able to discern good and evil, and there is no other reason than practice given. He goes on to state both what leaves babes in their infantile state, and the answer to what would mature them: leaving “elementary” teachings about repentance and faith in God, and pressing on to “better things—things that accompany the salvation message those elementary principles constitute. Those better things are defined as the work and the love they show toward Jesus by ministering. What is working, loving, and ministering if not practice?

It is our practice that will gain us access to heaven as much as our words, because what we practice separates the genuine articles from the hypocrites who only talk a good game. 1 John 1&3 tell us those who say they follow God, and yet do not practice His teachings, are deluded and not His children. Revelation 20 teaches us the dead will be judged according to their deeds. In Matthew 7, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” He rejects those who practiced lawlessness, even though they seemed by their words to be following Him. Further on in Matthew 7, Jesus says those who hear His words, and practices them, will be like a house built on rock, enduring to the end against all the storms of life. But those who hear and do not do practice them will be known as the foolish whose “fall was great”. We will all “deny” Jesus at one point or another, but the question remains will it be a temporary diversion along the path of discipleship, or a lifestyle of hypocrisy?

The Gospel of Accommodation teaches there is only one time we can deny or accept Jesus, and that is at the point of conversion. Once you have “prayed a prayer” you are forever saved, and this regardless of how you live. Once you have had an “I repent of my sins and give you my life” conversation with Jesus His love that you can never be separated from takes over, and no matter your conduct after that moment the idol of grace will see you through to the end. There is only one practice necessary, and that is to be as involved in temple meetings and activities as possible. What you do outside of its walls is of little concern.

You can deny Jesus all you want during the week. As long as you come and acknowledge Him for an hour or so on Sunday morning you are forgiven to enjoy whatever lifestyle you wish. Your “practice” 167 hours a week can be following your addiction to money or medications, abusing your wife and family, cheating and lying at work, and ignoring the plight of the widow and the orphan, as long as you come to the temple to sing endless worship songs reassuring you of grace at no cost, partake in the grace of Communion without the cost of examination and accountability, and hear endless sermons about grace at no cost. This is the Gospel of Accommodation: that Jesus will never deny you after one simple prayer uttered earnestly or not, followed by practice indicating it was sincere or not.

“If we are faithless He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

When taken in the context of the former verses, and the verses immediately after this one where Paul reminds Timothy to “solemnly” admonish his flock to, among other things, “be diligent to present themselves approved to God as workmen who do not need to be ashamed,” and speaking of men who had already gone astray, this verse is not the get-out-of-jail-free card the Accommodators have made it. In the verse immediately preceding this one, Paul says Jesus will deny those who deny Him, so it is foolishness to believe this verse means no matter what we do, how we live, the lack of fruit we bear, or the impact upon the world for Christ we have Jesus remains faithful to us.

When approached by any number of people in the Scriptures who wanted to follow Him, and were turned away because they wanted to do it leaving their own personal agendas attached [apart from death at the cross], Jesus made it clear He would not change who he was to fit our agendas. When approached by a man the Bible calls a “rich young ruler” who kept much of the law of God, certainly enough to be a temple elder or deacon today, Jesus peered in to his heart and said, “Not good enough. This you lack. Go and take care of it, and return if you want to follow Me.” Jesus turned away more men like these than the number He called for discipleship, because He remains faithful to Himself and His mission. We are instructed to be conformed to His image, not to try to conform Him to ours (Rom 8:29, 12:12). When we do that, He politely but firmly responds to us as He did the young ruler. He is completely faithful to Himself, regardless of who may deny Him and who may not. Jesus was never about conversion and numbers, but about making disciples of men: His Great Commission to us.

The Gospel of Accommodation uses this verse as the catch all for their idol of grace. If they haven’t said it loud enough in other ways, they employ this verse to shout of cheap grace. It does not matter how you live because it’s not about you at all. There is absolutely nothing you have to do with your salvation, absolutely no action you must take as an act of obedience, and absolutely no command of God you need heed. For no matter how worldly, “faithless”, and godless your life may be Jesus is faithful to Himself. That means He is required to save you because at some point in your life you gave momentary allegiance to Him. He is not the “hard man” of the parable of the talents (Matt 25), the One who will judge us according to our deeds (Matt 16), the One who will reject many who voice the words, “Lord, Lord” (Matt 7), or the One who is to be feared by His followers because He has the power to cast both body and soul into hell (Matt 10). No, the god of the Gospel of Accommodation—the idol of grace—just wants to forgive you, love you, carry you, and whisk you off to heaven regardless of the way you live.

God save us from the Gospel of Accommodation.

3/15/2015 Brief Thoughts: Striving or Trusting?

“Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength.” (Isa 40:30-31)

 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life.” (Matt 6:25) 

When young and immature in the faith, like Martha, we worry about a great many things. We know in our minds the Lord is in control, but we don’t believe it in our hearts. We know Jesus says He’ll provide if we just wait and trust, but we think He needs our help to pull it all off. We spend years tiring ourselves, stumbling through life ahead of God, and chasing the dreams we think to be His when they are in truth ours. Or worse yet, we spend our time seeking careers rather than mission. We go after this and we pursue that. We try to align ourselves with the people who can further our agenda, and we trust in them rather than God. We expend ourselves with much effort and years of anxiousness in these pursuits, but in the end only to come to Solomon’s conclusion: “all is vanity and striving after wind.”

While certainly not passive, the disciple’s one pursuit is to simply be obedient to the present calling of God upon his life. Then he waits, watches, and marvels as the Spirit brings everything he used to chase and more to his doorstep. Rather than going after God’s plan as he did when young the disciple simply trusts, and witnesses God bringing it all to him. One of the most difficult things to come to understand in this world is what total trust in God can accomplish. This is not only because the world is constantly telling him he needs to set goals, strive, and achieve, but also because the path of the disciple is a balance of resting and striving, and of trust and discipline. To reject the world and live in the kingdom of heaven on earth that balance must be struck, and finding that balance and then living there is his true work. When he does, He walks in God’s commands and finds “they are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

3/9/2015 Brief Thoughts: Availability and Obedience

“For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…And these whom He predestined He also called, and these whom He called He also justified.” (Rom 8:29-30)

 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit.” (John 15:16)

Apart from the Holy Spirit leading a man to Jesus (John 6:44) there would be no man saved. Apart from Him then continuing to perfect that work through challenging us and empowering us to reach for the ever-higher callings of the faith (1 Cor 12:31), there would be no man discipled. If God saves and then makes disciples of men, why evangelize or disciple? This is a difficult question, because in truth “we” do not convert nor mature any man.

While the disciple knows God alone holds the power in His hands to draw the sinner or sanctify the believer, He also knows it’s not about or his power but his obedience. It has been said the greatest ability is availability, and when it comes to the disciple’s mission this is true. God does not need our glibness of speech nor perfection of witness, for He always uses the weak things of the world to shame the strong and the foolish things of the world to shame the wise (1 Cor 1:26-27). He needs us to be available to stand in the gap between Himself and a brother in need, and that because He wants both me and my brother to experience His power, and what it means for one human being to love another through obedience. Jesus came to save and disciple men, and that to model obedience to the Father and love for one another.