What Have We Become?

This question has been on my mind over the past couple of months, and the more I try to shake it, the more I tend to think about it. What have we become? As a nation, community, etc. But it has brought me back mostly to one question that has outweighed them all…what have we become as children of God?

We have bought in hook, line and sinker to the world around us. We are living double lives and we don’t even know that we are doing it. On some level, we all tend to give ourselves over each day to the ways of the world in our own little ways, and it is high time that we begin to truly do a self-inventory of what God would want from His people as we seemingly approach what could be the final days of this world we are in.

I am not trying to use scare tactics, but this thought has been coupled with the verse out of Revelation 3:16 that says, “Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

This verse has sent chills down my spine lately when I think about the American church and how we have become quiet on issues of faith. We are beginning to back away from the tough arguments because it might upset someone and we are letting the trends of the world become a norm within the body of the church. We are called to be the bride of Christ.

What have we become? We have become lukewarm. We refuse to take a side or a stand. We have allowed ourselves to become fence sitters, watching both sides and occasionally jumping off to what seems to be the most popular opinion at the time. Sometimes stepping down on the side of tolerance, even if the scripture says that God would not approve, we show approval because it might offend someone.

Other times, we jump down on the side of scripture and take a short stand, until someone comes along and presents an argument that puts us right back on the fence where we are content to ride it out and stay neutral as to again, not offend anyone with our stance.

Today, I challenge you to filter your life through the words of God; test the things around you with the scripture and if God says no, take a stand for God in a world that will try to pull you down to their side. Riding the fence is a dangerous thing, especially when God has already told us that He will spit us out if we are lukewarm…What is God leading you to take a stand for today? Stand up and be counted, do not sit by as the world continues to fall farther away…show them the love of God in a way that will lead them to the cross of Christ.

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True Love

When I think about true love a couple things come to mind…first is the love that a man and woman share when it comes to marriage. It reminds me of a story that the AP ran in December of 1994 that I once read:

It was a wedding like none he had done before, and when the minister talked about the importance of giving, the bride smiled and groom could not hold back his tears.

The couple, with their patient ID bracelets on, Victoria Ingram and Randall Curlee tied the knot in a hospital chapel.

They were about to enter surgery together and she was set to give a kidney that could save his life. The 45 year-old Ingram believed she was doing nothing more than anyone would.

“If someone was in need, wouldn’t you give your kidney? He’s my pal. It’s our life,” the bride said of her new husband, surrounded by family and friends.

Her kidney likely saving her new husband from blindness, heart or blood vessel damage, and possible circulatory problems in his legs.

This giving love brings me to the second thought that comes to mind:

Jesus gave us more than a kidney. He gave his life for us, and, in doing so, He provided more than life—He gave us a life that is abundant and a life that is eternal. This life He gave we did not earn, nor is it one that we even deserved…yet one He gave freely.

In John 15 we see Jesus address this mindset in verses 12-17:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (John 15:12-17 ESV)

This is a command from Jesus, a love that is true. Jesus wishes for us to love each other with a love like He gave us…a love that is true and sacrificial. He tells us to love like He loved us…meaning we would die for one another. Meaning we would die for Him…so where do you stand today? Would you die for the cause of Christ? Would you die for one another?

Today, examine your heart; see if you would love others like Christ. Remember, He chose you…choose Him today!

Deceptive Nature

Deception has always been a part of life, and it is something that many of us have dealt with, whether against us, or using it to get our own way…Deception can be one of the most evil things we face in the world.  In the Civil War General Nathan Bedford Forrest used deception to earn an unconditional surrender from Union troops on his way to Nashville.  In WWII a major part of the Allies’ D-Day victory was due to deception by the 23rd Headquarter Troops of the Allied forces, which would sneak in and take the place of different brigades and allow them to move elsewhere to fight.

In 1212 a young French Shepherd boy named Steven was convinced that he had met Jesus dressed as a pilgrim, and was certain that he was now to bear a message to the Holy Land.  He drummed up the support of more than 30,000 children who began the trek to the Holy Land, but were cut short when they reached the edge of the water at Marseilles.  Two men used deception to get the children on boats, “bound for the Holy Land,” but were, in fact, bound for Northern Africa to sell the kids into Slavery.  Two men who were willing to turn a dollar at the expense of a number of youth who never made it to the Holy Land, and likely never made it back home.

We see that Deception is not a good thing, and when it comes to our speech we tend to try and deceive people constantly through our words and actions.  In James 3:9-12 we see that James is addressing this issue, “with your mouth you praise the Lord, and with the same mouth you curse men; my brothers, this ought not be…”  With our mouths we sing praises to God, we sing Hymns, we give credit to the Father of Lights…but with that same mouth we slander our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Not only that, but we often get so frustrated with someone who has wronged us that we wish harm on them, and never realize the implications of what we are doing.

James addresses this by saying that “fresh water and salt water cannot flow out of the same source” to emphasize that there is nothing we can do as follower of Christ to convince the world that we are changed if our actions don’t prove it.  Think this week of what in your life is causing you problems, and see if you are handling life with the attitude of Christ.  How do we expect the world to think we are anything but a hypocrite if all we ever do is say one thing and do another?  If we want to change the world back to a God fearing place, it has to start with you and me! And for everything to start with us…we have to let go of ourselves, and grasp the newness of what God has to offer.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come”  — 2 Corinthians 5:17

Off to See the Wizard

I’m a huge fan of anything Wizard of Oz.  I know, I’m letting folks into a little secret about my life…but that being said, I have spent a couple of days thinking about the story and realizing that life is very much like that book (or for some of you, the movie).

We all live in a world that is full of fantasy…sometimes carrying ourselves off to a place that is full of excitement and awe, but also many times is full of destruction.  We face many adversaries along the way, and sometimes we find ourselves overcome by the circumstances, but along the way we have friends who can help us or enemies who will lead us away.

Yes, I do realize that life is not about finding some magic wizard and having him work a spell to help us find happiness…in fact, the similarities to the story end at the path and destination.  I mean, sure, we could speak metaphorically about the story and life, but God is not a wizard that we call on when we have a need and it doesn’t take a journey to find him, he is right beside us all the time, as we travel the path.

In fact, we should stop viewing God as something that we control, and realize that all he wants from us commitment to his way.  I find that life throws us curveballs along the way and that we struggle to see which way to go.  Sometimes it takes us sitting down and focusing to find what we can see.  Sometimes we have to remove distractions from our lives…maybe it means putting down our cell phone or turning off the TV…maybe its picking up God’s Word and reading what He has to tell us….

Maybe…just maybe…all he wants us to do is be quiet and listen.  Sometimes he is telling us things but we do not hear them because we are too focused on trying to find out, using our limited knowledge, the explanation for something when God isn’t finished talking to us yet.

I would encourage you to be alert, seek for him to speak in unexpected ways, and realize that sometimes you may not have to explain anything…God will reveal his answer to you in His time and in His way.

Has he not promised to never leave us or forsake us? Has he not promised to give us all we need in this life? Has he not promised that the ending of our story is taken care of as long as we follow the path he has set ahead?

Don’t follow the Yellow Brick Road….follow the path that God has laid out for you…it isn’t a road to nowhere…it’s a road where He is beside you all the way home.