Thursday, November 01, 2018

How Free Are You?

Freedom is not autonomy. Freedom is liberation from the enslavement of self-interest. You might think of freedom as the liberty to do what you want. But again, that is just the ability to be selfish. Rather, freedom is the ability to give oneself to others.

Friday, September 21, 2018

A Church Full of Hypocrites

“I’m not going to church, it’s full of hypocrites.”
I’m sure you’ve either said it, or heard it said.
Well, then, if the church is full of hypocrites, you should want to come, because you’ll fit right in.
And if you’re not a hypocrite, then you should also want to come, because then you’ll provide the needed balance.
Either way, if you call yourself a Christian, you can’t use the “hypocrites” excuse. Christians want to come to church. It is the hypocrites who don’t.  

Monday, August 20, 2018

Church and the Secular Mindset

Secularism is the dominant idea today that guides peoples’ lives. Unfortunately, many professing believers are succumbing to a secular mindset in one very important way.

Exposing a secular mindset

First, you need to realize that secularism means “this age”. To the secular worldview, what matters is the temporal world. Any ideas about the eternal shouldn’t influence how we act as a society, and religion gets in the way of modernization and human flourishing. In other words, secularism isn’t concerned with cosmic ideas such as heaven and hell (expressed in John Lennon’s song Imagine). It is all about this age, and getting the most out of this life.

Exercising a secular mindset

This secular mindset is what professing believers are adopting, even if unwittingly, when they treat church as if their attendance or absence has no bearing on the life and health of the institution that Jesus started and is expressed in local assemblies. Your absence is a testament to your secular mindset. Your actions speak loudly, that church doesn’t matter all that much. You’ve got your ticket to heaven and that’s all that matters for the next life, so you can just go and live this life, you don’t need church. But you do need the church, and the church needs you. It isn’t some secondary matter, and to treat it as optional or occasional is to give into the secular mindset.

Your attendance matters

Jesus said that he will build the church, and the local church is the visible expression of the Lord’s promise being fulfilled. Do you want to the local church to die out? You can say “no”, but when you don’t go, you are contributing to the death of the local church expression. Church is important to God. Corporate worship is important to God. Corporate worship is important for you. Corporate worship is important for the life and health of the local church. For Christians, corporate worship is our most important hour of the week. Nothing else takes precedence over the worship of God. When you purposefully miss church, you are missing the most important hour of the week. What could possibly take priority over God’s ordained means? You need to make church a non-negotiable habit, just like eating or sleeping, something you skip only in the rarest of circumstances, and something you resume as soon as you possibly can.     

Think about it

When you are absent, what are you saying to the culture? What are you saying to new believers? What are you saying to your brothers and sisters in Christ? What are you saying to Jesus? When you decide not to go, are you contributing to the strength of the local church, or are you contributing to the decline of the local church? Do you think Jesus cares? Which matters more, what he thinks about it, or how you feel about it?    

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Answering The Big Lie

The Big Lie is that you will find true happiness and fulfillment by violating God’s will. Now it’s true that you may find momentary happiness and partial fulfillment in violating God’s will. But it’s fleeting, and you’ll just keep chasing the wind. What you need to learn is to sacrifice those fleeting moments on the altar of praise to God. And this is where the battle for sanctification is most real. People can be willing to praise God, but not willing to give up their sin. However, the more you learn the true joy of God over the pleasures of the self, the more sanctified you will become in practice. And this is how you progressively find true happiness and fulfillment in God. It is a life of worship that is worth the self-denying sacrifice. The presence of God is greater than the pleasures of this world. Renew your mind.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Trust Takes Time

We need to make a distinction between being forgiven of something and being done with something. This is a matter of justification, regeneration, and repentance. Transformation is a process. Just because someone has been forgiven of their sins by God, or forgiven of a particular sin, by others, this doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t still have a sinful problem.

The power of sin is not instantly fixed through forgiveness. By virtue of justification, the eternal penalty for sin, and being guilty in the eyes of God, that is “fixed”. But there remain consequences in this life. Sinful patterns must still be dealt with. By virtue of regeneration, Christians do have the power to overcome sinful patterns, but they must endeavor to do it. It is not automatic. It takes time, effort, and commitment. Christians should forgive, but they should not act as if their forgiveness of a person, or even God’s forgiveness of a person, means that person is fully and finally healed of their sinful pattern.

There is a difference between repentance proclaimed and repentance proven. Repentance proclaimed (a confession) begins in a moment of time. Repentance proven (a conversion) happens over the course of time. When repentance is proclaimed, we forgive. When repentance has been proven, then we forget. To do otherwise is not wise. Trust takes time.