Saturday, January 30, 2010

Spiritual Cesspool

One of these days, I’m gonna learn to say no to my kids when they ask for a pet. So far, we’ve shared our home with a bird, guinea pigs, cats, a dog, and 2 gold fish. The kids always promise to feed and take care of the critters they bring home, but I’m often the one left doing most of the pet care.

The most recent addition to our pet family is an African Dwarf Frog named Ribbons. Everything I’ve read about caring for this type of pet tells me that their care is very simple. As long as we feed it every other day and change out the water in it’s tank every couple of weeks, it should be fine. However, knowing already the level of dedication my kids are likely to show to taking care of Ribbons, the water in his tank will be a lovely shade of green and stinking up the rest of the house before I finally give in and clean the tank and change the water.

This stagnant, smelly water reminds me of what happens to our insides when we regularly allow ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but never do anything to pour into others lives. There is a dangerous inclination among us, as Christians, to be great consumers of Christianity, but poor disciples of Christ. This leads to spiritual death. Yes, Jesus is Living Water, when we drink of him, we will never thirst again. (John 5) However, I don’t believe for a second that this means we are to keep those eternal springs bottled up.

In James 2: 14-17 the point is clearly made that we are to give as freely as we have received. It says, “14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Pouring into others is a sure-fire way to keep your faith alive. Ask God today to point out opportunities to give, places to serve and people to love.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Trendy Christianity

Guess Jeans, Neon Shirts and Cabbage Patch dolls. These are just a few of the things that were fads when I was growing up. Every generation has it’s own set of trends that will define it in the years that come.

As a Christian, I’ve experienced lots of fads within the church as well. For example, churches used to have fellowship halls. Now we call them Family Life Centers, and they usually can be converted from a dining hall to an auditorium or a basketball court at a moment’s notice. Fish emblems on cars, WWJD and FROG bracelets and those little fish-shaped mints with scripture on the containers are a few more examples of trendy Christianity.

For the most part, these fads are harmless, and in many cases beneficial for the body of Christ. However, I think these things become a problem when religious trends are confused with theology. Think about all the controversy that broke out when contemporary Christian music started becoming popular. Protesters yelling and holding signs saying things like “Rock Music is from the Devil” were regular fixtures for many years at concerts featuring bands like Third Day and Audio Adrenaline. As I write this, the Newsboys are playing in the background, singing, “Amazing Love, how can it be, that you my King should die for me, Amazing Love, I know it’s true, in all I do, let me honor you.” From the Devil, eh?

I wonder if the people who so strongly stand against this music have ever actually listened to it. More importantly, I wonder if they have ever checked to see if there is any scripture that supports their opinion. And, that’s the real point of my message. Hopefully, all Christians hold deep convictions about certain things. But those convictions should be based upon scriptural fact and not just our own opinions.

In John 7:16-18 Jesus says, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

I encourage you to take some time to examine your convictions and compare them with scripture. Pray that God will help you discern those things that are in line with His truth.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

End of the Peer (Pressure)

This is a prayer request recently sent to the Morning Show:

Please pray for my daughter who is having a tough time at school. She is a great kid; respected by her peers, teachers and all adults in her life. In spite of all that, she still feels persecuted by the popular groups at her middle school. It’s tough when you’re that age not being popular or a skinny size 3. She needs to know that God’s purpose for her existence is perfect.

Does that sound familiar or WHAT?? I’m sure that this young girl feels like she’s the only one going through this. But, the fact is that Middle and High School is a tough time for most kids. Other kids can be so mean and it’s easy to start believing the ugly things being said about you.

I’m glad this girl has a mom who understands. Unfortunately, there are lots of parents who don’t take problems like this seriously, only adding to their kids feelings of isolation. But, imagine if every day, when you went to work, your coworkers made fun of you…loudly calling you names and making fun of your clothes, your hair and everything else about you. I don’t know about you…but I’d look for a new job. Our kids don’t have that option.

There is good news for this girl and others facing the same adversity. First of all, know that this will not last forever. Secondly, and most importantly, your value comes from a place much greater than the hormone-driven whims of a clique of teenage girls. Remember, you are a child of our perfect God. He makes no mistakes. He creates no “losers”. He understands your hurt and your loneliness and longs to be your refuge.

Psalm 71:1-6
1 O Lord, I have come to you for protection;
don’t let me be disgraced.
2 Save me and rescue me,
for you do what is right.
Turn your ear to listen to me,
and set me free.
3 Be my rock of safety
where I can always hide.
Give the order to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked,
from the clutches of cruel oppressors.
5 O Lord, you alone are my hope.
I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.
6 Yes, you have been with me from birth;
from my mother’s womb you have cared for me.
No wonder I am always praising you!

Please take a moment to pray today for young people feeling the pain of social rejection and bullying. Pray that they will find support from loving friends and family members and that they will discover their worth and value as children of God.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trust and Obey!

A few weeks ago, I came across some information about something that is none of my business; something that I was not supposed to know about. The way I discovered this information was not illegal or immoral. However, I felt the Holy Spirit urging me not to allow myself to become privy to the facts in question. However, I ignored that urging and allowed my human sense of curiosity to override what I knew God was telling me to do.

Now this knowledge has become a thorn in my flesh. It has caused me to doubt the sincerity of someone who I have always believed to be a rock-solid Christian. I cannot share what I know with anyone, even for the purpose of clarification. So I’m left with all of these questions and inner turmoil, which is exactly why God didn’t want me to know this information in the first place!

The moral of this story? Disobedience never offers a positive outcome. As I mentioned earlier, the way I found this info out was not immoral, illegal or even something that is specifically mentioned as sinful in the Bible. But, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me not to move forward and I did anyway. And, the result of my disobedience has been painful.

Sometimes, I still mistakenly imagine God to be some sort of control-freak, forcing us into compliance, just because he can. But, that is so far from the truth about God’s character. God wants us to be obedient for our own good, not his. He knows the outcome of our actions and choices before we make them He knows what will result in good and what will result in bad. He has given us his Holy Spirit to direct us to make the right choices because he loves us and wants what is best for us!

The Bible says a lot about obedience. I really like these verses from Romans 6:15-16 “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Let’s choose today to be slaves to obedience.