Thursday, June 29, 2017

Religion or Relationship?

Jesus never called us to be good people. When we attempt to live a life good enough to be worthy of the calling of Jesus (or, more detrimental, when we attempt to be good enough to earn our salvation) we are like the rich young man who was so close, but missed eternal life because he thought it depended on his actions.

We are also telling Jesus that He is not enough. His living a perfect life is not enough. His sacrificial death on the cross taking the full punishment for our sins is not enough. His resurrection revealing the power and glory of God is not enough. His free offering of grace, mercy, and forgiveness is not enough. His fulfilled promise of indwelling us with the very Spirit of the Lord, Creator, and Sustainer of the universe is not enough.

It sounds good to say that we are good. That we follow the rules. However, this causes some major problems (other than the main problem of essentially slapping Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in the face).

One of those problems is rebellion. Remember, some people embrace rules. Others fight them with every ounce of energy they have. They rebel, run, and live reckless lives because rules are not enough. The church trying to be perceived as good and reigning down judgment on those perceived as bad have kept many, many people away from the kingdom.

Another problem that’s created is an atmosphere of “how much can I get away with.” When rules are clear and people believe they just have to follow the rules, there are going to be many who want to know how far they can go and still stay within the technicalities of the rule. They will push boundaries and limits just far enough to still be “good.” This mentality is dangerous because if something isn’t found on the list of rules, it must be okay. Or it’ll be okay until someone decides otherwise and I’ll still be “good” because I didn’t break a “rule.”

I’m reminded of when a certain artificial sweetener was released. This is the mentality I had. It was a great replacement for those other artificial sweeteners that studies had shown could have adverse effects. I’d use it until they found something wrong with it. And they eventually did. I’ll never know how much damage I did to my body by ingesting that substance for a period of years in ignorance.

A rules oriented way of thinking lead to the same problem. We will still be looking out for our own interests and changing our actions only, not our hearts.

So, if God’s desire isn’t for us to be good, as we’ve seen in scripture and other examples, then what does He want from us?

The answer is much, much more difficult than a black and white list of do’s and don’t.

What God wants is for us to be totally and completely surrender our very life and every aspect of it.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Lord is Trustworthy - A Prayer

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
Proverbs 3:5-7

Thank You for being trustworthy. I praise You and lift up Your holy name to be honored and glorified throughout the earth. Thank You for being a loving guide. Your love, wisdom, grace, and mercy go beyond my comprehension. Your faithfulness abounds. Your shelter and protection never fail. Let me never forget who You are. Continue to teach me more about You. Forgive me when I allow other things to pull my gaze off of You and distract me from the details of Your plan for my life. Help me to not trust in or act based on my own understanding. Forgive me when I don't acknowledge You. You alone are worthy of all praise! Give me the strength to turn away from all evil. Let it not get as much as a toe-hold in my life. Let me not compromise or be complacent. Help me to be committed to the things You've called me to do and love well those You place in my life. Let every day of my life be filled with service and love.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Closer Walk

Do you ever feel like there's something holding you back from a closer walk with the Lord? I think everyone I know on the journey of faith has felt a barrier at some point. I most certainly have.

As I've moved along my journey, I've seen a variety of things inhibit digging deeper in my faith, growing more mature, and becoming more intimate with Jesus. One of those things is our very own sin. Another can be life challenges. Ignorance of Biblical truth is yet another. And one that I've noticed more and more is deceptions:

* About what the Bible actually says
* About who God really is
* About our standing without faith
* About what faith adds to our lives
* About how our relationship with God is to impact our lives

When we're talking about eternity, these things are essential. Yet, even those of us who have entered into a relationship with God through faith in Jesus can also be deceived and robbed of an authentic, vibrant, abundant life here on earth. We can also miss the great blessing of sharing the gospel with and seeing others come to faith.

This particular adventure and endeavor is to tackle many of the myths that Christians have integrated into our thinking. These myths negatively affect our faith walk and by busting them, we will also bust down barriers to drawing deeper in our relationship with the Lord.

A bit scary, but better than the best roller coaster or vacation in the world, it will lead to peace, joy, and transformation that will outshine the sun.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

God and Your Journey

One thing that I absolutely love about social media is the opportunities to access encouragement throughout the day. I know it depends on who your friends are, but I have very strategically placed almost all positive people in my social media sphere. And it benefits me greatly!

However, once in a while I come across a saying or platitude that's meant to encourage but in reality drives me crazy. This is usually because it's not grounded in biblical truth. It may sound good, make us feel good, but if it isn't based on scripture (accurately), it's worthless and may even be damaging.

I came across one of these sayings today. Someone posted something to the effect of: "Don't forget, God is with you on your journey."

This sounds so encouraging! But it fosters a wedge between us and God. It is based on the premise that the journey is ours and God's just hanging out, along for the ride. Yet that's not His greatest desire for us. Or what's best for us.

His best for us is for us to be completely and totally surrendered to His will. He wants to be the guide on our journey, not the passenger. And wouldn't we want the all-knowing, perfectly-loving, ever-faithful Lord to lay out our steps for us? 

So, yes, God is with you! But not for your journey. He is with you to lead you into a life beyond what you could imagine or steer yourself into on your own.