Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Foolishness Of The Gospel...

I’ve noticed that with advent of social media, and better yet, the addition of comment sections at the bottom of every Internet article, there seems to be more discussion (or argument) between believers and non-believers these days. My purpose now is not to address the utter foolishness of some believers who almost hatefully engage in these arguments with unbelievers, as if God needed them to come to His rescue – I’ll save that for another time. My purpose is to point out the foolishness of the Gospel itself.

*** Insert chirping crickets here ***

Now, one thing that both believers and unbelievers can agree on is that most unbelievers think that the belief system of Christians is foolishness. There are some very pleasant unbelievers who would never state it that way, but in reality, they think what we believe is absurd. This, by the way, is totally in keeping with what Scripture teaches:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

The truth is that at one time that message was also foolishness to those of us who are being saved. At some point we were illuminated and given the Spirit to understand the foolishness for what it really is.

Think of it like this:
I know how and when to blow my nose. It comes in handy. I have been trying to teach this amazing technique to my little boys. I don’t do it to make them laugh and giggle and roll around on the floor and mock me – I do it because I know it’s for their own good. I blow my nose for them in all seriousness in order to demonstrate how it is done. But they don’t see it that way. They just see foolishness. At this point in their lives, they are not able to see the wisdom in blowing their own noses, so they don’t explore it. They just laugh because they think daddy is being foolish. And so I stand there, looking at them with their runny noses, listening to them struggling to breath, wishing I could just make them understand – It’s really not foolishness once you get it.

Neither is the message of the cross.

So you believers: just as me arguing with my boys will not help them learn nose-blowing, neither will you arguing with unbelievers somehow magically convert them (as if that were really what you wanted, and not just to prove you were right). Have compassion and patience. I will return to this some other time.

And you unbelievers: just as my boys think that me blowing my nose is foolishness, you think the  Gospel message is – but I bet you eventually embraced the wisdom of blowing your own nose. That's hypocritical. Face the fact that you do not know everything. If you claim to be open-minded, then open your mind – and don’t be so quick to disregard foolishness as if you knew better.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Prepare To Be Mooned

There are some things that just intrigue everyone:
Trains, sharks, donuts, and the Moon . . . especially the Moon.

Honestly, have you ever heard anyone say, “I just really can’t stand that Moon up there”?
No you haven’t. And if you have, I’ll give you a refund.

Since the beginning of Creation, people have looked up at the Moon in wonder. It’s really easy to understand why too – it lights up the night sky. It’s because when we are experiencing the night, the Moon doesn’t escape the Sun’s light:

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible –
and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. (Ephesians 5)

This is true in the natural realm. Think about the Moon again. In not-so-scientific terms, it’s a big ole dead, dusty, dark, round rock. Sometimes it’s completely darkened and then it gets all lit up again. We call that a full Moon. What was darkened becomes exposed by the light of the Sun and clearly visible – illuminated. It becomes a light in even darkest night the sky.

All people start out like the darkened (New) Moon, receiving no light, reflecting no light.

This is why it is said:
“Wake up sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

The same thing happens to those who receive Him. They become illuminated by Christ. They are like the Moon when it is full of light.

Jesus Christ illuminates us much like the Sun illuminates the Moon:

Like the Sun, Jesus is the true light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind . . . to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1)

Honestly, I can only take this little allegory so far. But we all have to admit that no one ever gazes up in amazement at the darkened Moon. But when the Moon is fully illuminated, it is everything it is supposed to be in all its glory.

When Christ shines on you, and illuminates you, then you will be full.

And oddly enough, the next full Moon is on Valentine's Day.

***Thanks to David Phillips  for faithfully delivering an inspiring Good Word from the Lord and Chris Bloom  for the title of the post. Honored to know and serve alongside these brothers. Follow these guys on Twitter.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Show Me

Do your kids ever ask you, “where are we going?”
I bet they do, and I bet you tell them.

Next time, don’t.
Say “I’ll show you.” I think I’m going to start that with my boys today. It will be good for them, spiritually.

We are just like little kids. We really do have “little faith” you know. We want to know everything before we do anything. We want to be able to weigh the pros and cons to see if the outcome is worth the trip. And often, we decide before we take the first step if we will bother making the journey.

Well, unless you are an Old Testament prophet – which you are not – God will most likely not ever show you where you are going. Oswald Chambers even said, "Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you." He’s just not into the personal fortune-telling thing.

And before you argue, go read your Bible; God is doing us a great big ole favor in this. When he did tell the Old Testament prophets where to go and what to do, he often told them how horrible it would be, and how useless their warnings would be. Now, how would you like to know that before you moved – and still be expected to obey? Well, don’t worry. God isn’t going to roll out His full plan for your life for your personal approval (and we should be thankful for that) because we would surely make a mess of it. We can only handle little bits at a time.

And that’s just it, he moves us a little at a time – by faith. We all know about Abraham. He “obeyed and went even though he did not where he was going.” (Heb 11:8) He didn’t say, “LORD, show me where you want me to go.”

But that’s what we do. When we pray, we ask (tell) God to show us things, reveal things to us, give us this peace or that wisdom on this decision – and in reality, if we are honest, many times we are praying in the flesh because we have “little faith”; we are afraid of what we do not know or understand.

Instead we should pray, “help me overcome my unbelief!
We should pray, “Increase our faith!

It is an easy thing to sit in your chair, or lay in your bed at night, and ask God to show you where He’s taking you or what He’s going to do. It requires, and is indicative of “little faith”. That should raise some red flags. We should recognize that as praying in the flesh. Where in the Lord’s Prayer does Jesus teach us to tell God to show us the future?

We would be better off asking Him to show us --- Us. We’d be better off to ask Him to help us to really see our “little faith” so that we may truly and sincerely desire to follow and obey Jesus – and remain in him – rather than be consumed with what will happen next.

Besides, when you take time to think about it, where you’re going is really inconsequential. You can’t get there without the very air you breath.

And WHO made that?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Clean Up This Mess

I have two boys. By definition, boys are messy. Mine are no exception. As a matter of fact, they are exceptional.

As a father, I’ve learned how to deal with the messes they make (somewhat). See, if I just tell them to clean up their mess, they barely notice that I am speaking. So I’ve learned not to push it too hard all the time. The best time to bring it up is when they want something from me. That’s when you see results.

For little kids, it’s hard to make them actually see a mess, because they are messy. But when you say, “We’re not going anywhere until this mess is cleaned up” somehow, the scales fall from their eyes, and toys slowly begin to get picked up (very, very slowly).

We "Big People" are exactly the same way with our Father in Heaven. We tend to not see the mess we allow to build up in our lives: "petty little sins" that seem so insignificant to us that we forget about them. I’m talking about things like “white” lies, holding a grudge, and the entire spectrum of socially acceptable sins and ungodliness within the church (yes, I said it and it’s true).

When we want something from God, or when we want to get closer to God, He will remind us about the mess. He will tell us to clean it up. There are times we simply want Him to restore to us the joy of our salvation, but He will tell us to deal with the mess we’ve left behind first. Oh, you can come as you are alright, but that ain't the end of it. It may be that we need to spend some time in solemn confession, but it may require restitution be paid, or even more horrifying – a heartfelt apology to someone we've wronged.

If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. (Ps 66:18-19).

The first part of that verse can be translated many ways, but it literally means If I looked and saw sin in my heart, which basically means If I hadn’t dealt with the mess first.

If you read Psalm 66, you’ll see that almost the whole thing is a celebration – a very happy man praising the LORD. And then he gets to the end:

Come and hear, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.

He has good reason to be overjoyed:

Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!

Who doesn't want to be like that? 

Each of us may have a mess to clean up that we’re just not seeing. Ask the Father to show it to you and help you clean it up so you can get moving.

-- I know I can never refuse my boys when they ask me for help.