Must be counter-intuitive

I’m having one of those nights were it’s very hard for me to not seek someone out just so that I can rant about what’s rolling through my head; what’s been rolling through my head most of the day.

Yes, I am going to “pick on” Catholicism yet again.  (Blame Yahoo for running another story about Francis’ latest statement.)

“The Church, all of us should divest ourselves of worldliness,” a visibly emotional pope said, adding: “Worldliness is a murderer because it kills souls, kills people, kills the Church.”
“Without divesting ourselves, we would become pastry shop Christians, like beautiful cakes and sweet things but not real Christians,” he said.

So, I know that this is going to sound insane but, for the sake of argument, let’s consider this thought.

Lead. By. Example.

I am not saying that I do not agree with his statement that the things of the world should absolutely not be the focus of the church.  I agree entirely with that.  My complaint is that it is fine and dandy for him to say anything he wants from his position of power and influence.  I will even commend him for staying in a cheaper abode than the palatial residence usually enjoyed by the Pope.

But just not using it, does not mean that he is working toward a church that has left worldliness behind.

A much louder statement would be a papal decree ordering that all gold, silver and gemstones be stripped of the idols within each and every Catholic church around the world so that they may be used in tangible expressions of love to those that are hurting and in need.  I have no doubt that between Compassion International’s Water of Life filter and the worldly contents of even just a few cathedrals virtually everyone on the globe would have clean drinking water, (unless for some reason, they refused the gift.)

Words are empty without actions to back them up, and if you want someone to follow, then you must first be willing to lead by example.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
1 John 2:15-16

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Matthew 6:24

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1

 

CPB

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♫♪♫ Jesus Christ is on your side ♫♪♫

I realized earlier today that fits perfectly with the Nationwide jingle, which I find rather ironic because well, that’s what it seems many treat Him as; an insurance policy.

We all know those that when put on the spot and asked, will say, “Sure, I know Jesus, and He’s my savior,” but the remainder of the time, act as they always have, showing no outward signs of an inward change having taken place.  Could very well be that I am speaking of you.  (I know I myself was guilty of the above in my life.)

It’s as though they feel protected by having taken a single moment to pray for forgiveness but feel no need to really be changed and instead, continue as they had before, believing that because they told God they’re a sinner and need help, that they’re good.

What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Romans 6:1-2

You know the ones.  When life is good, you never hear them utter a word about prayer or church, but once they scrape along rock bottom for an inch or two, turn back to God and ask for guidance and help.

He’s not an insurance policy that you purchase, set aside, and only call on in case of emergency, and He is most certainly not a life insurance policy that you purchase while alive and only see the benefit of once you die.

“But why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”
Luke 6:46

See that?  It’s pretty simple, really.  If He is truly Lord in your life, you do the things He says, follow His example, and have a regular relationship with Him, thereby showing your love of the Lord.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
John 14:15

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.  And His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:3

But be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

“You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
John 13:13-17

The blessings don’t come merely by knowing of Jesus.  Even Richard Dawkins has heard of him.  The blessings come by following His example and living for Him.  By taking the steps necessary to move from being a sedentary hearer into the realm of actively doing.  Sure, if I stay inside, out of traffic, away from obnoxious drivers, I am most certainly not hating people (thereby committing murder in my heart because of the mere thought, Matthew 5:28) but I am far from showing God’s love for people.  After all, we were not charged with abstaining from becoming aggravated with others, but rather, to love others.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
Luke 9:23-24

So yes, it is a daily choice that each must make as to which master will be served each and every morning; the world or the Lord.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammom.
Matthew 6:24

Pretty cut and dried.  Not to be taken lightly as one does when they get an insurance policy.  Once the coverages and deductibles are set, the premium is oftentimes set up on a direct payment method, (just for the additional discount that grants,) and then not given a second thought.

Rather similar to those that realize at one point that they need God and willingly accept the gift of His salvation through the blood of Christ.  They will even confess their transgressions to God and, for a time, attempt to reconcile themselves not only with the Almighty, but also with others.  Soon, however, the premiums of regular fellowship with other believers, reading of the Bible, and prayer seem to be too expensive a price to pay.

What happens when you don’t pay your insurance premium?

Your policy lapses and no longer has effect.

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place- unless you repent.”
Revelation 2:4-5

If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.
Psalm 66:18

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
Isaiah 59:1-2

It’s a daily choice to follow Christ.  We are called children of God, and as with earthly children and their parents, there is regular communication and fellowship.  It is not to be any different between us and our Heavenly Father.

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
Matthew 22:37

The reality of the situation is that once you fully grasp what Jesus did for you on the cross, it is completely life altering and there is no way you can, (or certainly even wish,) to go back to the way things were before God.  Being on fire for God comes naturally.

You begin to see fellowship, both with other believers, and with your Savior as something that you look forward to actively participating in instead of something that you view more as a job that you are required to check into and punch a time clock at.  It’s the life altering difference between “have to” and “get to.”

“Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Matthew 7:14

“So the last will be first, and the first last.  For many are called, but few chosen.”
Matthew 20:16

“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:14

“For God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John 3:16-17

So again, it’s pretty clear.  God desires for all to be saved through His Son, Jesus, but clearly expresses that while He calls to everyone, not everyone will heed His call and find the narrow path to salvation.  One of the reasons not many make it to the narrow path is that they treat God as an insurance policy instead of as Abba, Father.

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
Matthew 12:30

“I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

This is not a situation where you are able to sit on the edge of the pool dangling just your feet into the water to obtain the best of both worlds.  This is either all or nothing.  Either you are fully committed to God, or you are still a slave to sin living in the world.  What happens when you try to mix a fresh pot of coffee and ice cubes?  You get melted ice and coffee that is cold in spots, but still hot in others; overall, a beverage that is neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm.

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
Revelation 3:16

Sitting on the edge of the pool is not going to cut it.  You’re either sunning yourselves on the lounge chairs, or cannon balling into the deep end shouting for joy all the way in.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as the lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Philippians 2:9-16

See that?  God loved you, the broken sinner that you are, so much that He became sin for you and died so that you may now turn to Him and choose to live.  You do not work to earn your salvation.  It’s already been given freely, the moment that you accept that gift from God.  Instead, you now go out and work because of the gift of grace you have been given.  Paying a monthly premium does not cut it, and God will not be treated as an insurance policy.

 

CPB

 

Two months and counting

Two months ago, I had dinner with a long time friend.  While she thought it would just be two friends getting together to enjoy food and small talk, I freely admit I had ulterior motives going into this.

There were some things that had been eating away at me for a while and I had finally worked up the courage to follow the prodding of that little voice in the back of my mind telling me that something needed to be said.  Whereas I will generally run away from any kind of confrontation, (especially any that does not directly involve me,) this time I was walking right towards it.

I’ve known her since elementary school.  We used to be in the same Girl Scout troop, and went to the same schools all the way through High School.  While we were not always the closest of friends, we were always able to talk to each other.  After High School, as oftentimes happens, we lost track of each other for a number of years.

Over a year ago, she tracked me down on social media and we started talking again.  Messages soon turned into texting which soon turned into regular phone conversations.  We caught up on what we’d done in our lives since High School and where we were now, what was going on in our daily lives, and all the small stuff in between.

It wasn’t too long before she mentioned that in the intervening years she had come to be a follower of Jesus, sometimes went to a good Bible teaching church locally to her, and when she was in my city, attended a church that my husband and I had been attending for a while before falling away from it for, (among other reasons,) a lack of content.

Awesome!  Someone else that I could talk Bible with and get a female’s perspective of different things on.

Several months ago, she ended up relocating to my city.  It took a while, but I was finally able to get her to come out to check out the church that my husband and I had found in the interim; an honest to goodness Bible teaching church with some amazing people to boot.  She was all smiles after as the three of us had lunch together, saying that she had enjoyed it and would “definitely come back again.”

Then she and a guy that she had been on-again off-again with, started talking again and soon, were ‘dating but not going to talk about it because that creates issues.’

Without going into all of the gory details, they were soon involved in a very dangerous relationship and soon essentially living together despite them both possessing their own apartment leases.  Not surprisingly, she suddenly had no time for church.  The amount we communicated dropped dramatically and it became clear that, in her mind, since she had a guy, everything was perfect and she neither needed anyone else, nor especially, God.

Therein lies where the feeling that came over me sprouted from concerning the need to talk to her.

As I mentioned before, I have been working my way through the Self-Confrontation course compiled by the Biblical Counseling Foundation for a while now.  During the few weeks leading up to the eventful dinner, verses kept jumping out at me and bringing to my mind my friend.  Eventually, I started writing these verses down on a note card.  Before long, I had a list of more than twenty verses and could not shake the feeling that something had to be said.  She professed to be a believer.  She was currently living in a very un-biblical way, and I felt as though I would be remiss to allow her to continue down this path without trying to help her turn back to God and do things His way.

And before you cite the core verses of the course, Matthew 7:1-5 asking who am I to say anything about how she lives her life, let me assure you that I have been there, done that, bought and then burnt the shirt.  I am not proud to admit it, but I have been where she is, and know too well the damage that comes from it.  Thankfully, God was strong when I was weak and has helped me past it.  Once I finally accepted that my attempts to run my life were in fact just ruining it and surrendered completely to His will, things began to fall into place.  I soon realized that I may think I know what I want, but He has better than I could ever dream planned.

So anyway, I continually prayed about this impending dinner and studied the verses I had on my note card.  It was clear there was a theme.

“But why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and not do the things which I say?
Luke 6:46

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We dwell come to him and make Our home with him.  He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
John 14:23-24

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.  He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him.
1 John 2:3-4

And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
1 John 3:22

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
Titus 1:16

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Romans 8:5-8

And the list goes on.

I had over 20 verses that I kept seeing over and over that did nothing more than bring her to mind.

So I tried as best I could to discuss with her that I was not judging either her or her boyfriend, but rather, doing my best to be a fruit inspector and that I felt there were several things that she should take a look at, pray about, and seriously consider.  I started by mentioning to her the fruit of the spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

I explained the importance of the fact that the word is fruit, singular, not plural.  That when the Spirit is present, all of those are as well.  Not just one or two.  And then I mentioned what she had told me about her relationship and how nothing pointed to any of the qualities of the fruit of the Spirit.  What she had told me about were lusts, strife, arguments, self-seeking, and the list goes on.

I told her that I had been where she was.  That I had thought I was doing fine running my life on my own, finding my own happiness, but that eventually I came to realize I wasn’t running it, but rather ruining it.  I pointed out to her that it’s not always that you immediately get what you want, but that by following God’s commandments and serving Him, He does provide what you seek.

And whatever we ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
1 John 3:22

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

But of course, she didn’t want to hear any of this.  So far as she was concerned, they were going to continue their relationship as they were regardless of what anyone else had to say about it.

I conceded that in the end, it was ultimately her choice and I could not change anything, but that I would have been remiss had I not spoken up, and that I would continue to pray for her.

She stated that they were going to proceed with their intents to purchase a house, (all on her credit,) and would likely at some point get married.  She said that she was perfectly fine with her and her boyfriend seeking out their religious paths together and attempting to find their own way; that they didn’t need help.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25

But by this point, it had become abundantly clear to me that she wanted nothing of what I had to say.  I will, however, give her credit for at least attempting to make it look as though she was listening and containing her eye-rolling for the most part.

As we parted, she said several times that she was not mad at me, and that the way I had addressed her was okay because I had not come off as “preachy and judgmental” as she alleges someone else had done with her when addressing the same things.  But I could see the truth.  She was pissed.  Maybe even livid with me.  But walking in, I knew that this was the likely response.  At one point, I had even addressed that with her stating that I knew what she was hearing was upsetting her but that in reality, she wasn’t mad at me but rather, mad at God.

So a few days ago was her birthday.  I hadn’t spoken to her in any depth since that dinner, and part of me wanted to reach out to he and offer to take her out to dinner for her birthday.

But I didn’t.

The lesson that I began, just days before her birthday, (which curbed my desire to reach out to her to take her out,) was on biblical responses to the sin of another.  Yeah, pretty directed, huh?

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner- not even to eat with such a person.
1 Corinthians 15:11

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
2 Thessalonians 3:6

And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15

So needless to say, I left it at a message wishing her a happy birthday and nothing more.  I know that when this relationship inevitably combusts I will hear from her again, but until then, I can only sit and pray.

 

CPB