Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Purpose of the Christian Journey

I have been reading the book "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction".  It is chalked full of things to ponder.   It is funny how things come about.  I had just finished a study on Real-Life Discipleship about making disciples who then make disciples who then make disciples, and so on and so on.... in other words the process should be repeatable.  Obviously it worked if you look from the first century church to now.

So all this reading, studying and pondering made me begin to do a word study of disciple.  As I did, I noticed how similar the word disciple is to the word discipline.  Have you ever noticed that?  So here is what I found:

Disciple and discipline come from the same root word discipulus (plural is discipuli)

Disciple  - pupil, student, learner

Discipline -  to train, systematic instruction intended to train a person,  training that corrects, molds, perfects the mental faculties or moral character.  Training to act in accordance with the rules.

I personally find this all very interesting.  

Why has the word discipline become such a negative term.  It is what it takes to become great at anything.  Discipline is what takes the potential talent or intellect of a musician, athlete or student of any kind and develop that talent or intellect into greatness and usefulness.  Without it there is so much loss of potential.

With that as the preface, in chapter one of the book by Eugene Peterson, he talks about the journey of discipleship.  He says the purpose of this journey is to mature in the faith (which takes discipline.)  It is a journey from the world toward God where we are led and taught by Christ because he is our road map on the journey.

The book is about the Songs of Ascent which are Psalms 120-134.  These are the songs that would have been sung by the Israelites on their long journey to Jerusalem to worship God three times per year.  It was their travel songs that they would carry with them as they went to remind them where they were going, why they were going and whose they were.  In the preface, Peterson notes that "these 15 songs of ascent provide the text here for developing "discipleship in an instant society""  He notes that "following Jesus could never develop into a "long obedience" without a deepening life of prayer and that the Psalms had always been the primary means by which Christians learned to pray everything they lived, and live everything they prayed over the long haul."  It made me think how great it would be if the essence of these Psalms could be set to modern day Christian travelling songs that would encourage us to remember whose we are, where we are going and why we are going; even help us remember where we have been and that which we have been rescued.  I do recognize some of these Psalms already partially are in songs.

The first chapter begins with a quote from Fredrich Nietzsche's "Beyond Good and Evil" that I will summarize:  the essential thing in life is a long obedience in the same direction which makes life worth it.    In Long Obedience, the author notes that "the current spiritual atmosphere in which we live erodes faith, dissipates hope and corrupts love, but it is hard to put our finger on what is wrong."  OK ain't that the truth!!

So if this is the case, I believe if you are going to move forward in a journey of faith in Christ and travel in the way He has laid out for His people, it will have to be intentional and done with determination.  It will take DISCIPLINE.  It will require us to be discipled by the One that did it correctly and do it for a life time.  Peterson describes it as a Disciple and Pilgrim.  These are biblical descriptions for people of faith.  You see these are the things that will help us "recognize and resist the world's ways."

So as I have talked about the disciple, I have only touched on the pilgrim.  But anyone who is on a journey by definition is a pilgrim.  The answers to these questions determine your pilgrim type; why are you on the journey, where are you going, and who are you going to see?  In the case of the disciple of Christ, we are on the journey/pilgrimage to become more like Christ by following His road map in order to draw others to travel with us on our journey toward God.  So we are as Christ's Disciple a Christian Pilgrim.

However, it is noted by Peterson that until someone is enlightened to the corruption of this world and becomes dissatisfied with the world, they will not recognize the benefits of being on this journey of faith. However, we long for peace and truth, if and when we develop a dissatisfaction with the world, this longing can motivate us to get on the path with God.

So I wrap this first chapter up and leave you to ponder this:  If life is a journey and you are the pilgrim, what is your destination?  Most of your life is spent in transition from point A to point B.  Are you fixated on the destination so much that you are not enjoying the journey?  As summer is here and many will be going on a vacation, I want to challenge you to not only be excited about the destination but enjoy the journey there.  (as you go)

Be blessed today.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

From My Morning Devotion


Some Christians have learned little of a daily devotional life. Some time ago a policeman asked me what the secret of victorious living was. I told him that there is no magic formula that can be pronounced. If any word could describe it, I would say surrender. The second word I would say would be devotion. Nothing can take the place of a daily devotional life with Christ. Your quiet time, your prayer time, the time you spend in the Word, is absolutely essential for a happy Christian life. You cannot possibly be a happy, dynamic, and powerful Christian apart from a daily walk with Christ. Christis calling Christians today to cleansing, to dedication, to consecration, and to full surrender. It will make the difference between success and failure in your spiritual life. It will make the difference between being helped and helping others. It will make a difference in your habits, in your prayer life, in your Bible reading, in your giving, in your testimony, and in your church membership. This is the Christian hour of decision!

Daily Prayer

I long for a deeper devotional life, living Lord. May I consecrate myself completely to You.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Are You Being Cooked by the Culture?

Lately I have been feeling the decay of this world all around me.  It makes me sad at times.  I see what is happening to this amazing nation.  I see a high level of sin all around me and see evil being called good and good being labeled evil.  Right is wrong and wrong is right.  We are in strange times.

But it is not for the world to identify this.  Until one is in Christ, it is truly not their fault they think the way they do.  However, those who are in Christ are at true fault.  If you are in Christ and the spirit of the living God has taken up residence within you, you have the capacity to discern that which is sin and that which is good.

So here is my story.  There was a frog that was placed in a boiling pot of water.  The frog immediately jumped out of the pot and that was the end.

But there was another frog that was placed in a pot of water at room temperature and the pot's temperature was slowly increased until it was boiling.  The frog was cooked and never jumped out of the water.  So why does one stay and one leave?  Because the one that stayed was immersed in comfortable water, and as the temperature was increased it was so gradual the frog didn't notice.  The frog was desensitized. Eventually it was his undoing.

So isn't that Christians and sin.  If we are immersed in this culture where we are participating in its sin, evil practices, and pleasures, we loose our sensitivity to its effect on us.  We were called to live in this world but not to look like it.  We were called to draw those in darkness to the light in Christ not to live in the darkness with them.

I believe the moment we start saying yeah, but...  we are at the start of justifying our reason for staying in the pot.

I believe Christians as a group have lost their effectiveness in our society because we are enjoying the same boiling water as the world.  Truth be told, this culture can wear us down.  We are constantly bombarded with sin to the point we are picking and choosing what to be offended by.  Our culture is the pot of boiling water.  The water was turned up so gradually, most Christians don't even notice it.  We sit there being fed the lies that we need this or that to be happy, we must be liked and popular by the world's standards to be of value and to be able to affect the world.  We dishonor ourselves and God by our actions to fit into this culture.  We do it under the assumption we will be able to witness to the world.  Yet if we look like the world, sound like the world, how will the world know that we are not of the world.  Where will we be able to be effective.

We live in a world where young Christian ladies dress provocatively.  Words like gentlemanly and lady-like behavior, virtue, integrity and modesty are now old fashioned  (even common decency).  Dances mimic fully dressed sexual activity, and resemble orgies with clothes on.  These dances have names like humping, jerking, twerking and both male and female isolate and shake their pelvis.  A dance where crotches are frequently grabbed.  (that use to be something someone would do out of necessity and usually discretely)  Most of the couple dancing is done where the male is behind the female.  They don't even have to look at each other face to face  Wow!  Where a female is sandwiched between two males, (of course the gender choices are optional) So basically dances have turned into fully dressed sexual acts set to music.

This is certainly not honoring to God, it is not lovely, it is not pure, it is not of good reproach.    Unfortunately, there are some who remain on the dance floor and take these acts to its full completion right there on the dance floor.  And how this comes about I will not dignify with details or give more light to it. I am amazed at the lack of shame, the lack of outcry, or disgust by the Christian community.

So what does that reveal about our Christian culture?  I believe it is revealing the pot is boiling, and we are fully immersed in it.  If we cannot recognize the prevailing sin that is all around us, perhaps we are involved in it, or just desensitized, but by our silence are we not condoning it.  If fitting in and being popular is more important than character development, virtue and decency, we are in the pot of boiling water and we may not even be aware.

At this point, this culture is winning in infiltrating our hearts.  This culture corrupts.  If we look at these activities directly and cannot see them as offensive, we have been cooked by our culture.

My prayer is that God will open the eyes of our hearts and sensitize us once again to see sin as sin.  That God would open our eyes to see that we are fully saturated by the boiling water, and we need to take action to first off jump out of the pot.

Little by little we are compromising until we look just like the world to whom we were suppose to be offering the good news.  But we are no longer able to affect it because it has fully infected us.  You will either affect the world or it will infect you.

According to scripture, the world may believe in Christ by our unity and  they will know we are his by our love for one another. Jn 17:21 & Jn 13:35  We need to learn how to walk in this culture and not be desensitized by it.  We were placed on the earth at this time in this culture, for such a time as this to not be infected but to to be a light at this dark time in history.  Don't be cooked by the culture but be one that helps rescue others from the pot.

This link will show a demonstration of the boiling water on a frog.

Please know that I am not endorsing condemnation of sinners nor am I calling Christians to go on a sin warpath. (please love sinners but do not condone or love their sin)   I am calling Christians to simply wake up to see we are all immersed in a sinful culture and that it wears us down.  Let this be a wake up call to Christians to no longer be duped by the enemy and his tactics to desensitize us from the sin that is so prevalent around us.

Sin will either bring death to the individual who is not in Christ or death to a testimony for those who are in Christ.  We are called to go and make disciples.  So if that is the case, we need to look like Christ's disciple first before we can go make disciples of others.

Be blessed today, reflect Christ to the world and for crying out loud, get out of the boiling water, NOW!!!!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Grow up Spiritually and Stop Drinking Spiritual Milk

1 Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, … through the living and enduring word of God.

2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander ... 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation

1Peter 1:22-23; 2:1-2

John 17:17 NIV

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

You have purified yourselves (HOW)

By obeying the truth (the proof this is happening will be because)

You have sincere love for your brothers, (YOU) love one another deeply, from the heart.

By it you may grow up in your salvation

Ps 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.

Wisdom vs Integrity

Wisdom is knowing the right thing to do. Integrity is doing it!

I saw this the other day and posted it on Facebook and I was suprised at how so many people "LIKED" the post.  

I also have heard that true character is revealed when you chose to do the right thing when no one else is watching.  

Let's study to know what the right thing is to do, then let's do it because it is the right thing no matter if anyone ever knows about it in this life.  I guarantee you that it will not go unnoticed by the Father.

How tough does it have to get

Have you ever been going thru life and hit a rough patch? Do you start wondering how long can this last?  It seems that when things happen they just keep on happening.  I am wondering when it is going to let up for me currently.  In the difficulties of life, we really have the opportunity to reflect the character of Christ to others.   I am trying to praise the Lord in my current difficulties.  I wonder when the sacrifice of praise will turn into genuine praise though.

I am reading a really good book right now.  "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction" by Eugene Peterson.  It is challenging me and reminding me of a study I did several years ago by Beth Moore, "Stepping Up".  She quoted this book a great deal in the study and piqued my interest.  I have for some time been mulling it over in my head and the challenge I walked away with is sort of a dare.  "I dare you to take God at His word and live your life according to His principles and commands."  I really wonder what a long life lived in a manner that follows God's word would really look like.  I mean really follow it without excuse!

It would be full of love, compassion, long suffering, integrity, holiness, righteousness, faithfulness, merciful, patience, kind, etc.  Wouldn't you love to be around that person.  What would be the down side of being with someone like this?  Comment on your thoughts below.