Emotionally Fat but Spiritually Famished

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were driving home from Church. We pulled into our driveway, stepped out in our nicer clothes, guitar in-hand, and proceeded to walk up the driveway.

For some context, there’s a church across the street from us, so there are usually cars parked beside the road sunday morning.

Anyways, an older lady was walking back to her vehicle and she noticed us.
Seeing our clothes and guitar she deduced we had come from church. She asked us if we had, and we said that we just came back. Her reply at that point was something that’s stuck in my heart for weeks now, not so much for her motives (which i’m sure were pure), but rather for the deeper significance behind it.

What were her words you ask? Just two – “Good job!”

Why is this significant? Because, as a Christian, going to church isn’t a “good job”. Church was never meant to be something that you do once a week, you get a pat on the back, and then you live your week like the rest of the world (Colossians 3). Stepping foot in a building doesn’t automatically make you a Christian, or even a “good” christian, if there ever was one (Romans 3).

The real question is “what is a Christian”?

-The American churchis emotionally fatbut spiritually famished-.jpgThis american “christianity” has shaped us into a lifestyle of comfort, materialism, and godlessness under the guise of “i-go-to-church-a-few-times-a-month-so-im-a-christian” mentality. This is not Christianity. The buttery-smooth speakers who entice the flesh with little regard for Christ and him crucified. Never mentioning death to self, never mentioning that you could die for being a christian, only plopping you down in a seat and allowing you to consume until you’re emotionally fat and spiritually famished.

And before i’m misunderstood, attending church is VERY important in the Christian life. Or, i should rephrase, meeting at a church house and having fellowship with THE Church is essential to the christian life (Hebrews 10:24-26).

From scripture, there’s an interesting connection that i noticed while teaching the 7th and 8th graders a few weeks back. I asked a trick question, “what’s the difference between a christian, and a disciple?”.

***dead silence***

Me – “Nothing!”

If you are a Christian you will be a disciple. Matthew 28:19 equated sharing the gospel with making disciples. It’s not different. If you want to see people saved you MUST see them discipled. It’s not a “come to the front” moment, it’s a “lay down your life, give everything you have, and submit to a Christ into a life of godliness”. This doesn’t sound comfortable!

We want our cars, our houses, our boats! We want security! But Christ says to lay them at his feet. Don’t cling to them. Having a house or most anything isn’t sinful. But our hearts can so easily entice us into relying on them for our joy rather than Christ.

As one of my favorite songs says “You possess your possessions or they posses you” (Switchfoot – “If the House Burns Down Tonight”).

And I think that’s the danger of so called american Christianity. We love being comfortable, rich, and fat, more then we love Jesus. And this is an eternal error.

Sure, there’s a whole lot more to being a christian then what I’ve mentioned, but I want to make this clear – If you are a Christian, you are a disciple, and you are to die to yourself and make disciples. Don’t neglect fellowship with the saints. Don’t just go, sit down, and leave. Fellowship is building each other up, maybe encouraging, maybe rebuking.

But either way. I think the American mindset of Christianity has it all wrong.

So, as you see the myriad of people coming in tomorrow for Easter Sunday, welcome them with open, loving arms. But don’t sugar coat the gospel message. The Christian life isn’t easy, but it’s so very worth it.


Key Verses:

Matthew 28:19
Colossians 3
Hebrews 10:24-26

 

 

 

The Worldview of Materialism (Part 1)

Materialism is wildly popular “ism”. It takes the shape of many different things, but ultimately revolves around the want and need for more “stuff” to feel better, be more comfortable, and ultimately to be fulfilled.

Materialism, according to Google is defined as, “a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.” wallet-401080_1920So it’s not about owning stuff, it’s about stuff owning you.

In today’s “get it now” culture, we see ads saying we can be the coolest if we own a Jaguar, or we can be worth something if we own the nicest house with the nicest yard. The world is constantly berating us with all this “stuff”, and we fail to see the devastating effects of making these things supreme.

According to one Huffington Post article, Americans today as opposed to 55 years ago, own twice as many cars and eat out twice as much. The article goes on to cite Matt Walsh, an accomplished writer, saying that this culture is consumed with buying. And i would agree with this. We buy everything, we as Americans (and Christians!) in large part have lost the ability to cut back, to save, and to give. All we want to do is buy. Even if we can’t afford something, we can still buy it. This is insane.

Later on in the article the writer says “It seems that it may not be the money itself that leads to dissatisfaction, but rather, the continual striving for greater wealth and more possessions that is linked to unhappiness.”

This is by no means a new discovery. The Bible spoke on this through King Solomon thousands of years ago when he aptly wrote, “ He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity” (Eccl 5:10).

Who knew that this supposedly “archaic” book would come up with the fact that loving money won’t give satisfaction. The question then would be, who gives satisfaction, not what. I’ll address this in my next post.

This has been a worldview project assignment for my schooling.

James 4

In James 4 he writes quite a few things that might catch us off guard, “cleanse your hands.. purify your hearts, you double minded…” and he then goes on to say that we should put our laughter aside and mourn. What does he mean? Stop being happy? Put joy aside?

I don’t think James is trying to tell us that we shouldn’t have joy in Christ, or that we shouldn’t laugh. This is one of those passages you need to read the previous verses and those after to fully understand.

James begins the chapter with where all fights and quarrels come from, namely us! Our hearts want what we shouldn’t and ask with evil intent which then creates a discontent in us that puts our wants and needs above God’s sovereignty.

There are some very strong words throughout, “whoever wishes to be a friend with the world makes himself an enemy of God”, “You adulterous people”, and many more. Take the time to read James 4 if you haven’t already.

In today’s day and age “friendship” has become a very shallow term, if you meet someone for the first time, you can find them on Facebook and become “friends”. Everyone has a lots of friends, but compared to Bible times, we all have a lot of acquaintances. Back in the first centuries there wasn’t any internet or Facebook or Twitter to follow what our “friends” were doing, they had to seek out and actually invest in other people’s lives.

So that puts a whole new definition of “friendship with the world”.

Though as a Christian I’m blood-bought in Christ, this passage still says he “yearns jealously over the spirit who dwells in us” so even a Christian can and will struggle with the woo’s and temptations of the world. But take heart! The Holy Spirit dwells in us and gives us light to see our sin and turn and seek Christ again.

And that brings us back to the main point, why so grim? Why not fight sin with joy, not mourning?

I think this kind of “joy” is a superficial joy. If the recipients of this letter had complete joy in Christ, then there wouldn’t be a point to this! So they must have had a superficial joy that stemmed from a lack of conviction and a lack of seriousness over sin.

So James is telling them and us to stop trying to be so superficially happy in the midst of struggle. If you’re not taking sin seriously, you need to mourn over it, grieve that you’ve sinned against an infinitely holy God who loves you despite your shortcomings. That sin nailed Jesus to the cross, and all we’re doing is laughing it off?

Taking sin seriously isn’t always gloomy, though initially it hurts and our hearts are pained through it, we then can see God for who He is. We read and see that He “opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” which is such a hope for us!

He gives so much grace, and because of that amazing grace, I don’t want to sin against Him, I don’t want to be friends with the world.

Why would I settle for murky sludge when I have an infinitely beautiful savior demonstrating His amazing love on a cross?

Thanks for reading some of my various thoughts on James! I wrote this because of a great sermon I heard by Matt Chandler titled “Worldliness/Godliness” click on that or the picture for the link!

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A Few Good Quotes

I love quotes. Just today my pastor coined a nice one saying:

“Even though you have the right to do it, doesn’t mean it’s right to do it.”

Very true! I see the scriptural backup up when Paul said: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.” (1st Cor. 6:12)

Quotes have been very helpful to me in years gone by. For example I still remember 2nd Corinthians 5:17 from the first year of Youth Group where we memorized scriptures throughout the year. Though I admit I forgot many, I still remember a lot to this day.

That single verse that’s ever so clear in my mind and heart really showed me the value both practically and privately of knowing the Bible when it’s not readily available. For instance when I would struggle with a certain sin I would quote that verse, reminding me that Christ has changed me and has made me new. I still quote it to myself today!

So in honor of the way God wired our brains to remember little thoughts better than longer ones I’ve compiled a list of 3 quotes that I’ve either heard or found that I’ve been encouraged by. I hope you will be encouraged also!

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”
-John Piper

I absolutely love this one. John Piper has been an inspiration to me in the last year, teaching me that God wants us to love Him and therefore glorify Him by being satisfied in Him and enjoying Him for who He is. Just as Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for not loving God with all their hearts, God is not most glorified in us when we don’t want Him. So genuinely wanting God is the key to all of the Christian life and ministry. If we genuinely want God (which is miraculous in of itself!), then everything else will fall into place (generally speaking).

“The idolatry that exists in a man’s heart always wants to lead him away from his Savior and back to self-reliance no matter how pitiful that self-reliance is or how many times it has betrayed him.”
-Matt Chandler

Quoted from one of his books I’m currently reading: “The Explicit Gospel” Matt Chandler tells things like they are. Yesterday I listened to a sermon where he preached out of Acts talking about how blunt God is with us. He tells us that we’re sinners and never once lies about the human condition. One great point from it was this: Would you respect a God that said while you were desperately wallowing in your sin: “nah man, you’re doing great! Just keep on keeping on, you’ll be fine!” No! God tells us who we are. We’re sinners. We need God, not ourselves. (See a theme in these?) We tend toward self-reliance when really what we need is reliance on God which ultimately satisfies.

“Stop looking for the path of least resistance and start running down the path of greatest glory to God and good to others, because that’s what Jesus, the Real Man, did.”
-Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll holds a special place in my heart. His sermon on dating being the very first sermon I had every listened to other than my local pastor. He opened me up into a world of good teaching on everything from life, money, marriage, dating, etc. This quote is so true because life isn’t about the “least resistance” the wasted life (as John Piper says) is not how hard it was but rather how much God was made glorious in it. Mark Driscoll has empowered many boys to be men (myself included) and to treat women with love and dignity and absolute purity. Though somewhat controversial as a pastor in some areas, his doctrine is solid and I’m thankful to Jesus for giving me a great resource early on in my walk with Christ.

So that’s all for today! I know many of these quotes aren’t a 3-point sermon, but I’ve found it helpful to have little quotes that represent God rightly in my head as nice little reminders of who He is and what He’s able to do through me. So I encourage you to memorize something. Maybe a verse, a chapter, or a quote from a Pastor. (hey, that rhymed!)

Anything that would bring you back to the Truth in Christ is something you should always have in your mind, reminding you how amazing He really is.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to “like” the Facebook page (on the right-hand side if you’re on a computer) for more updates and quotes like these! A few have and I’m encouraged by that!

 

 

Made To Be Tired

So as i lie awake last night, i was restless. I couldn’t sleep.
I’ve been asking myself a lot lately what my problem is. Is it thinking? Is it not letting my guard down? Well, those may have something to do with it, but it always goes back to the heart.
Because for me, I can work all day, get some exercise, be a little tired, but then still feel like nothing worthwhile got done. I know that contentedness is something Me (and everyone else) needs to have more of, but sometimes i just can’t grasp it.
And then i realize,
I Can’t.
Keyword? I

“Apart from Christ [I] can do nothing” -John 15:5

Sometimes i just don’t trust. At all. I’m a bit of a control freak in that i like to know what’s going on, not so much calling the shots, but making sure i have everything specifically diagrammed in my head so i never get caught off guard or surprised.
I’ve found this trait to be both a gift, and somewhat of a downside.
A gift, because i can think quickly about something and organize and prioritize fairly well.
But as a downside, it creates intense over-thinking on anything. Whether it be life, relationships, career, etc.

So how do i tie that into sleep and being tired for Jesus?
Well this morning as i was working i listened to a great Matt Chandler sermon on “Persevering in the Pursuit of Joy“.
One thing He pointed out was that he believes that we as men are meant to be tired. Not a lazy tired that doesn’t produce anything good, but a sincere “i’ve worked hard and i know i’m being faithful to what God wants me to do” kind of tired.

And i haven’t been that lately. I’ve been more lazy. Not getting into scripture like i should, not working hard to conform to Christ. Though i’m not saying there isn’t any Grace for those struggling as i am, i’m just saying i haven’t been letting Christ live through me, letting His thoughts be mine by studying the Bible and living it out by working hard and being faithful with what he’s put in front of me.

I want that kind of rest that comes from working faithfully. That joy that comes when we know we’re being faithful to the calling He’s set before us. And with that tired joy comes a new energy that is from Christ that gives us peace to love our families, sleep peacefully through the night, and get up the next morning ready for a new day.
Only when we are being faithful to Christ as he reveals himself in Scripture can we get the Joy that is from Him, the Joy that we find in Him, and Him alone.

Thanks for reading!