Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Thought of the Day

"Power controls, but Wisdom leads."

Something I Read

I am currently reading From Creation to the Cross by Albert H. Baylis. At the end of each chapter, there's a "For Interaction and Discussion" section. One question asked at the end of the first chapter is:

Check out each of the following mythical beliefs. Is each mostly "ancient" or "modern"?

- astrology
- materialism
- polytheism
- idolatry
- sun worship
- belief in the irregularity of nature
- culturally approved perversion and violence
- "chance" as the cause of life

The first chapter talks in great detail of Moses' written account of Yahweh's creation versus the creation accounts of Babylon and other ancient cultures. In contrast to the Genesis story, the other cultures include deities who create the world and its elements out of chance and human-like flaws (jealousy, lust, etc). Though most people in the world today would neglect the concept of a goddess getting butchered by a jealous competing deity in order to create land and sky, we see polytheism (or actually pantheism) in effect when our modern philosophers, politicians, and celebrities say that the God of the Bible is also the god of the Quran and other religions. Just look at all the "Co-Exist" bumper stickers.

Really, you can find all eight mentioned beliefs quite active in our society today. We may have more technology and civil advances in the modern world, but oddly enough , man is still living in mental futility (Romans 1, read the whole chapter) just as he was in the days of yore. 

Interesting, isn't it?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Beholding and Burden Lifting

Plastic Holiness

I know that I am guilty of this. We all are. In my opinion, I think it's why the church has not been fully effective as agents of redemption to a lost, chaotic world. When we look at God's statement of "be holy for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16, the apostle himself possibly referencing several passages in Leviticus), we can easily do what we can to generate our own holiness. The problem is that it falls short and it's not exactly holiness, though it may mirror it in some fashion.

I know a lot of ex-Christians and burned-out Christians. I too have been burned out by Christianity many times. Some have left the church completely, others have a few traces left of a prayer life. Some say "I just can't do it anymore" and others may say, "It just wasn't for me." Another may state that "I just don't see the world through that kind of lens anymore." The list goes on.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULSFor My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30).

When we look through the Scriptures, in both testaments, we see a need and a want. God's people need God's providence, but God wants them to seek Him and know Him. When you read through the Bible, you see that God's people's needs are met when they choose to seek Him. Read the book of Haggai. After years of captivity, the Israelites begin to return to Jerusalem and begin reconstruction of God's temple. They build a foundation and then they stop. They go about their own lives, building their own homes and farms. But they then notice how the labor, intended to be fruitful, has become toil with shortcomings (Haggai 1:5). Their self-sustaining lifestyle has become ineffective. So God tells them to finish the construction of the temple because his house had been left desolate (1:4).  So the people went about their own business, encountered severe lack, because they didn't seek the Lord in His temple because there wasn't one.

Now that's God's providence and blessing resources, what about character transformation, heart change, and holiness? These things come by seeking as well. Look at Paul's words here:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

By beholding the Lord, we become changed. When we choose to seek Him, we begin to see fruit in our lives. When we knock on His door, He answers. Remember, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. The key to so-called "holy living" is realizing that it requires an entry and that entry is the Lord Himself.

Somebody close to me once said, "the worst mistake I made when I first became a Christian was going to church." I can understand why this person would say this, even though I believe assembly is important and vital. But let's get real. When you're a new believer, you have not settled in the ways of a church culture. You don't know the buzz words and terminology, the proper handshakes, the proper stance to pray for somebody. In fact, you're an organic mess. Or the better illustration would be that you're a blank canvas. At this newborn, fragile state, a new believer has the opportunity to allow God to mold them, form them, and shape them as He wills. 

In fact, a new believer can probably behold the Lord more clearly than say somebody who has served a congregation 40 years and has a firm grasp on doctrine. God likes the mess and making something out of it. He will make something genuinely holy and onto Himself.

In conclusion, I think seeking the Lord should be a priority of all churches and individual believers. Every ministry, mission, and program would be fruitful, because they would be yoked to Him. In our individual lives, through success and trial, by pursuing Him we would see fruit in our triumphs and struggles. When God spoke to Abraham before the special covenant was made, He said "I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward" (Genesis 15:1).