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Friday, March 20, 2015

The Practicality of Christendom

Hello & Welcome!

I hope you're doing well today. I would like to briefly touch on a very necessary (and practical) use of our Christian walk. Whether you're new to the faith, been devout of most of your life, or even if you choose not to profess any faith in Jesus Christ, I encourage you to read this post through. I hope you will find it helpful. 

I would like to start today in the book of James (go figure, right!). If you know me well, then you know that this is my favorite book of the Bible. You would think that I favor it because of the namesake, but that's not quite true. I love this book because it is the most practical. While we know James is the name of the author, it is disputed as to which James it is. Authorship is commonly attributed to the James, the half-brother of Jesus (Galatians 1:19). For the sake of time, we will assume this to be true. Regardless of who wrote the letter, it's few words speak a full meal worth of putting you faith into practice. 

We will focus on one passage, in particular, today. 

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
                                                                                   -James 1:22 NIV (bold and italics are mine)

There is a common saying that I have heard since becoming a Christian, "Fat, Baby Christians." While some of you may consider it to be off-color, I would stand behind it's intent. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul is addressing the church of Corinth. While they were new to the faith, Paul says he gave them, "milk." We know that he is referring to his delivery and teaching method in this passage. You would not give AP, College-Level Calculus homework to a kindergartner. We need to learn that 2 + 2 = 4 before we learn the, "Limits To Infinity." Where the, "fat baby," saying comes into play is when you're a 25 year-old student who is still learning 2 + 2 = 4. You learned this 20+ years ago. It is time to move on!!! It would be appalling to see suckling grown man, so it is with Christians who are 25+ years into their relationship and still have to be bottle-fed.
(FYI...I wanted to add a photo & I Googled pics of man babies. I DO NOT recommend it.)

There is a time for "childish" things. They have there place and serve their purpose. Eventually those childish things need to be put away. Like Paul said (1 Corinthians 13), and I am paraphrasing, I don't want to reason as a child while I am a man. I want to put those childish things away as I mature and grow. So, I must encourage you (and me), to use sound biblical teaching as a chance to, "grow up," in our faith. If we come in Sunday looking to be fed spiritually, then let us come in starving because we have spent ourselves practicing our faith the previous week.

Let us DO as the Word says!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Content of Our Character Pt. 2

Yeah, Yeah I know I'm a little late at getting this posted. I don't have an excuse. So...yeah.....

I left off last time talking about a statement made by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and how weighty that can be. So, please check that post out it you haven't already!

Before I really dive in, I want to remind everyone that I do not stand on a moral high ground here. I do not consider myself better than ANYONE. In fact, quite the opposite. I am deeply flawed, and it's only by the grace of Jesus that I write this today!

Ok, let's go!

To put yourself in a position to where you are know by the content of your character may seem fine at first thought. But, what about if you have to lay-out everything you've EVER done? No matter how big or how small. You put it all on the table, and then by those actions is how you are known. How would that make you feel? I have done things in my life that I am not proud of, and would shutter to be known by those actions/failures to act. Would you shutter? It would be hard not to. You may decry that this wouldn't be fair, and I may be inclined to agree with you. However, in keeping with being known by the content of our character, it seems that this is the ONLY fair thing. Why would we consider it unfair? Maybe you have done things that you want to no longer define you. Recently, I have learned that JNCO jeans are making a comeback. I never owned a pair a JNCO jeans because I thought they were ridiculous, even at age 12. But there are some (my wife included) who are excited that they are coming back. As adults now, even those who wore them, agree that 50" pants legs are just too much. I mean, c'mon! 50" pant legs!! That would fit around the waist of a fairly large man!!! Nostalgia man! It has a strong hold on us, me included. How often do we look back on what was, and even though we may hate it, we have a somewhat fond memory? I would argue that we look back fondly because those thing are not what defines me/you. You may have wore some ridiculous jeans back in middle school, and while you can remember them well, that's not what defines you as a 30 year-old adult.

Like JNCO's, there are things that happened in the past that were done for that time. I'm sure AquaNet's stock plummeted with the opening notes of, "Smells Like Teen Spirit." So, how do we reconcile what was done in the past and how it defines us now? Paul, empowered by the Holy Spirit, had something really similar to say to the church of Ephesus. (Ephesians 5:8a)

                           "For you were once darkness..."

While this was written to the church of Ephesus, it still has a parallel and is relevant in our lives today. To give some context, the subject matter starts back in Ephesians 4:17 (I'm not going to post the entire segment. If you don't own a Bible, is a great website to check out).
I feel I would be remiss if I did not point out something it this passage. This is passage does not say that we where, "in darkness." It states that we, "were once darkness, talking about a time where we did not know Christ. If you take this passage back the original Greek, you get the word, "skotos." When you put that next to the various adjectives for this word, you get things like:
Not to beat a dead horse, but DARKNESS! The absence of light. In philosophical terms, if white (light) is every color, then black (darkness) is void of color.   

There is nothing satisfying about darkness. It is a race we run to wit there is no end. An insatiable hunger that we constantly feed with anything we think will pacify, only to be left at the table hungry and wanting more.

So, how does this tie-in the our character?

Based off Paul's definition, then my time before Christ was darkness. I would be inclined to agree. To any skeptics, I appreciate your opinion, but I believe this to be true. No one is paying me to say this. This was my life. Even as a kid who grew-up in a churched family, it wasn't until I was older before I really understood Jesus. I am still trying to figure out Jesus. Jesus challenges my conceptions of Him daily. Sounds weird, but it's true. But as it stands, my actions laid bare before King only stand prove of the glorious salvation and sanctification that are found in the person of Jesus Christ.

Wait...wait...what about the bad stuff you've done? You're just not accountable for those things now because you're, "saved?"

Again, if my time before Christ was darkness, then my time in Christ is light! (Ephesians 5:8b)

       "...but now you are light in the Lord. Live as    children of light."

Based on that, my life in Christ is not a cop-out. There is no darkness in Christ! Like I said, everything is laid bare. Jesus exposes & saves from sin. He does not cover it up! I can choose to be perpetually crippled by my imperfections, or I can give into the freedom that is found in Christ!

Whether you feel as if you don't a savior, or if you feel that you're too far-gone to be saved, Jesus still wants and pursues you. Romans 5:8 says that while we were/are sinners, Christ died for us. It's an open invitation. We should long to be known by the content of our character.

Does your character hide in darkness, or celebrate in the Light?

Please fell free to leave feedback. Good, bad, or indifferent.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Content of our Character Pt. 1

During his famous, "I Have A Dream," speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. longed for a day where his children would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the, "content of their character."
Thankfully, I know nothing about unjust discrimination because my skin color isn't a certain shade. Sadly, many have and continue to face similar prejudices based on nothing more than genetics.

While the focus of this post does not fall on racial discrimination, I would like to talk about the content of our characters. 

Like Dr. King, I hope that people will judge me by the content of my character. As I type that, there is a certain amount of pressure that I feel weighing down on me. To make a claim like that is to put yourself on trial...EVERYDAY! That is not a, "Whoa is me," claim. Rather, it is a call to remain steadfast! 

We all face some type of judgement everyday of our lives. As a Christian, I believe that a judgement of my character is only magnified because of my faith. However, I don't consider this a bad thing. Whether a self-assessment or someone bringing something to my attention, I want my character to parallel that of Christ's. Do I mess up? Yes! Do I mess up a lot? Sometimes! So, with that out of the way, no one (even myself) can claim that I'm perfect. Hopefully, and with sincere humility, I can learn from my mistakes and not fall prey to my own devices. 

There is a great adage, that pertains to character, that I love! It goes something like, "Character is who you are and what you do when no one is watching." This adage takes on different paradigm when you're a Christian, as your believe that God is ALWAYS watching! Then it takes on a even deeper level of intimate knowledge when you believe that God is omniscient. He knows every thought we have, or could have had. He knows every word, spoken or unspoken. He knows every action, whether acted on or not. When you place the content of my character in the hands of a God like this, then you can't help but feel a LOT exposed.

I can fake it for everyone person that reads this. My, "character," may seem to be impeccable, but in private your opinion of my character would do a 180.

So, what do we need to do to keep our character in check? Keep an eye out for part #2...