Thursday, June 30, 2011

In Fact, It's All Dung

It's hard to draw near to God, talk to Him, and hear Him, when there is so much stuff in the way. God wants us to know Him, know His will, and do it. This starts with salvation, continues with a life of humility and repentance, and thrives in worship.

God gives us a simple example to follow in Philippians 3:8-11. "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

I suppose there are things that, like Paul, I could boast about. What things do you have? Shall we get into a contest to see who has the best credentials? I used to do that in the online forums. We'd get into Scriptural debates that started out cordial with a point of view. Then we would defend our positions with Scripture. If one side didn't give, then things got nasty. Someone would then belittle the other by listing their credentials and demanding those of the other. I never went that far. The best I can throw into the ring is a two-year Bible degree.

But I have something more. I know Jesus. He knows me. We spend a lot of time together. I learn at His feet through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Everything else is dung.

At the end of the argument, do you know Jesus? Do you know His will? If suspect you'll find out as I did that these online debates are not part of His will. In fact, God tells us to stay away from them entirely. Imagine two sides arguing a spiritual point and using God's Word as the weapon of choice. Is that right division?

I am learning to abandon all and keep it that way. Life is much simpler. The rest is dung. I don't know about you but I find dung offensive. But Jesus is sweet.

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Not Enough

Yesterday I listened to a sermon by Mark S. Case, "God's People are not Prepared". For those of you who regularly read this blog and wonder where I have been, these messages are for you. Case's sermon is along the same lines as my blog message - wake up, be ready. As he says, it is not enough just to be saved and then go on living the so-called Christian life as we know it.

Pastors spend their entire careers teaching and preaching (correctly) the Word of God. But they may spend only a fraction of that time talking about what really matters most. We are in the last days. There are very specific things that we should be doing now. These are the things that we should know. These are the things that should be taught. In light of the fact of this present dispensation, spending much time teaching about other things seems like time not well spent.

The time is short. Life is short. Jesus may come at any moment. If He tarries, that does not mean we should fill in the time with other material. No. There are far too many souls at stake. And first I wish to address the souls who already believe themselves to be saved Christians.

No longer will I address this matter in terms of what you should be doing. That word "should" is too weak. It is evasive. It makes what I say sound like a suggestion. It makes what God says for these last days to sound like an option. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I say next is God's command. You may call me a fool but....

You know with what strong words I persuaded you in former times on this blog. I was zealous for God and His Church. And then, for a period of about a year, I have fallen away. It was all according to God's plan for me, then He might show me, and I in turn you, His commands for these last days.

They are in fact no different than what I have told you all along. But first I went through this period of sin to learn something important. The truth.

God says that Jesus came to save us from our sins, to deliver us from sin. Did He do that for you? Think a moment on the absoluteness of death. God says that the blood of His Son washed away all sin for all men for all time. His death was sufficient and never to be repeated. God says that we, His saved from sin children, identify with that death in that we are crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live by the faith of the Son of God in us.

The death in us is death to sin. The life in us is the righteousness and holiness of God whereby He calls us adopted sons and daughters in Jesus. While this death and life were guaranteed by a one-time Calvary, it is not enough that we sit idle and believe that we remain in this proper life and death state with God. There is a responsibility we must carry out moment by moment in reality.

God says we are to reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin. We are to awake unto righteousness and sin not. Listen carefully now. This means that we are to live a life free from sin in Jesus because he saved us from our sins and delivered us from our sin. He gave us the power through Him to live. It didn't just happen at the moment of our salvation; it must be worked out constantly in life.

In other words, stop sinning. Why? Because you can. God commanded it, gave you the power to do it, and ultimately, He receives the glory from it. There is no glory in a Christian who sins.

Read through the latter epistles of Paul and you see this theme over and over to Timothy, the Thessalonians, the Hebrews. In the last days even Christians will fall away, teach false doctrine, and lead many astray. That's right. The evil in these last days will be more profound on the lips and actions of saved people than it is from the world. Christians can and will be wicked, evil, deceptive, deceived, and wretched.

I know. I went through it for a year just so God could convince me. But it is all there in black and white for you to read in His Word.

The only salvation is Jesus. It was good enough the moment He saved you. It is good enough for each moment of your life. But are you alive? Are you free? Are you holy and righteous? Are you?

This is not about whether you sin or not. Of course you do. But you can stop. And when you go through with it, the remedy is the same. The blood of Jesus. Confess, forsake, repent. Judgment will begin in the Church. I know the horrors of that judgment for a year of my time. That will be wood, hay, stubble, dead works.

Hear the words of life. God saved you from your sins now to be free now to glorify Him now. The instant you sin again after salvation all but your salvation is lost. God is merciful and gracious in His goodness to keep calling you to repent. But that is entirely up to you.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Sun Shines Brightly on The Muir House

I just finished reading Mary DeMuth's latest novel, The Muir House. She uses the symbol of the sun, almost always golden and dancing, as a metaphor of hope, even in the darkest moments. For me, the sun shone brightly thoughout the entire read. It was a five-star brightness sun.

This is the first time I have ever read a book in this genre. Kinda strange since I secretly love chick flicks (even if my wife isn't watching with me). But The Muir House is not just a chick book. It is for anybody who is searching for life, for hope, for dreams. They are always closer than we think.

I "met" Mary through Facebook and frequent her blog and newsletter. The themes there are strong in The Muir House. That's what makes this novel so good. It's personal. That was the power that came through in the words. The power of the sun came through Mary's words because they are real to her. And that's what made it real to me. Over and over I read in her blog comments about how real her words are, how the readers can identify with them through personal experience. I think you'll find yourself and some reality in The Muir House.

Now, I will pass it on first to my wife, and from there, who knows. Hopes and dreams and prayers will find the next reader who needs a little sunshine in their lives.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Money Saving Secrets

Book Review

Money Secrets of the Amish: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving, Craker, Lorilee, Thomas Nelson, 2011

I live in the most densely-populated portion of the United States. One hour east of Philadelphia, two hours south of New York City, and three hours north of our Capital. Less than two hours west is Lancaster County, PA, homestead of one of our nation’s largest Amish communities. If ever one was trapped in between irrational exhuberance and old-world abundance, that would be me. You can read the same thrifty tips in the stuffy Wall Street Journal as Craker wrote in her humorous book. But Craker’s take is personal. And that’s what makes the difference. You can live nearby, read all about it, and truly believe these are great ideas – for someone else. Or, like Craker, you can take the time to become a true doer by taking a short drive across the river and spending some time with the Amish, getting to know them personally, blending into their community, and thereby coming away with a trans-cultural union that will yield the simplicity, sharing, and saving that Craker knows and writes about. It’s not just about the money and Craker gets the point across in fun, personal, and enticing ways. Enticing enough to make this densely populated reader encourage his family and other readers to give up and give in to a lifestyle not driven by driving, bugged by plodding buggies, or longing for good schmeck instead of show.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.