Tough Words

Judging from my readership, some of the things I say here are pretty unpopular.  Of course, I’m not doing this to be popular.  I started this blog at the suggestion of friends and family members for the benefit of fellow believers.  I saw fellow believers falling or living in the same traps that snared me for so many years, so I have endeavored to share my insights and opinions with you.

As I’ve stated before, I recently had a revival of my Christian faith and started going back to church.  Once there, I realized that my assumptions about the scriptures and what they meant were incorrect in many instances.  I realized that living life as a Christian and living life the way I was living it wasn’t the same thing.  I finally understood what repentance really was.  I have made significant alterations in my behavior.

To run down a list of all the things that I’ve tried to change in my life would run the risk of sounding self-righteous.  Just suffice it to say that some people who know me noticed the difference almost right away.  I feel more at peace, although temptation is always present.  I’m hardly ever comfortable with it.  However, I feel his Grace in my life so much more now than I ever really have.  I want you to feel it too.  That’s why I write this blog.

I’m not here to condemn anybody or criticize their lifestyle and behavior.  I only point out what, to me, is the biblical standard of behavior and let you make your own decisions.  If you don’t like what you are reading, then I suppose you don’t have to read it.  I make no judgement about that either way.  If you do find this blog helpful, please let me know if I can help you with any questions.  That’s why I’m here.

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We Have It So Easy Here

I think one of the biggest reasons we have so many lukewarm Christians in this country is that we have simply become too comfortable.  We find it too easy to live like unbelievers while professing our faith.  We credit God for our achievements in one sentence and then curse men with another.  We forget how we got here.  There was a time when being a Christian called for real sacrifice and courage.  In some parts of the world, they understand what it means to be a Christian and to face death for it.

Read this.

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On Sorrow

I was doing some reading this morning and ran across this:

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”–2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)

This passage brought to mind a conversation with a young woman that I met some time ago.  She and I were discussing church attendance.  She explained to me that she hadn’t been to church in awhile and would love to go again.  I invited her to join us one morning.  She told me that if she went in there with us, she would more than likely start crying a lot.  I understood very well.  After not attending a church service for five years, the first time I went back, I spent the entire service in tears.  We both were speaking of sorrow for our sins once we were confronted with them in such a setting.

When we try to explain sorrow, we usually speak of sadness.  In the case of being confronted with our own sins, we understand the depth of our guilt and it emotionally breaks us down.  We are saddened by our own actions.  So, why the distinction between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow?  It all boils down to what we are motivated to do next.

Godly sorrow is brought about by Grace and is centered on God and what we must do to make things right with Him.  It leads to repentance of sin, which in turn leads to salvation once we also believe that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for us and was resurrected three days later.  Repentance means we take concrete steps to live a more righteous life.

Wordly sorrow is self centered.  While we may feel genuine sorrow and guilt over our sin, we are more saddened by the consequences of our sin and how those consequences affect us and those around us.  We acutely feel the guilt of our sin, but we do little to rectify it.  For some, it may be hard to hear that this situation could indicate a lack of saving Grace in our lives.  His Grace makes it easier for us to change our lives.  Without it, we just continue living our lives like nothing has changed, even though we know it’s wrong.

Many professing Christians live their lives in perpetual sinfulness.  I know, because for a long time, I was one of them.  I felt the pull of God’s Grace, but was stubborn and made excuses.  I eventually wound up back in church and have started a new way of living.  But some of us try to live our lives in the worldly way while we profess the name of Jesus.  Habitual sinfulness while calling ourselves Christians could mean that our profession of faith is merely superficial; we may not have actually received salvation.  Forgiveness of sins comes with repentance of sin and repentance means actions, not words and a guilty conscience.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self control; and to self control, perserverance; and to perserverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”–2 Peter 1:5-7 (NIV)

Later, in the same chapter:

“Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.  For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”–2 Peter 1:10-11 (NIV)

Godly sorrow tears us down to our foundation so that we can rebuild our lives along the path of righteousness.  Wordly sorrow just tears us down and leaves us in darkness.





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Situation Comedy Night

Ever since Roman theatre brought us the situation comedy, the format has been largely successful with western audiences.  Since the earliest days of television, it has been a staple of American entertainment.  Like just about everything in America, the situation comedy has degenerated into something our grandparents would hardly recognize.

Last night, I took the night off from the computer to watch the comedy lineup on CBS.  The most anticipated season premiere of the year happened last night in the form of “Two and a Half Men”.  Like many Americans, I watched the show out of curiosity.  Killing off the character of Charlie Harper and replacing him with the character of Walden Schmidt gave the writers of this weekly series an opportunity to do something different to a show whose weekly presentations had managed to produce nothing new in a very long time.  Instead, the writers took what could have been a charming new character and turned him into Charlie Harper 2.0.  Throw in the predictable bathroom humor, implied nudity, and blatent objectification of women, and the final product is profoundly disappointing.  The advertisers on this show should ask for a refund.

As for the rest of the lineup, “How I Met Your Mother” is getting very stale, and is running out of material.  The new comedy, “Broke Girls” has charming moments, but is yet another situation comedy set in New York featuring New York attitudes and worldviews.  In other words, it’s more of the same.  Most of the country doesn’t live in New York City or Los Angeles.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a comedy set in a smaller city in a different part of the country.  However, the creators and writers in entertainment media live in these large cities and their limited scope and life experience limits their ability to deliver a better product.

One can always hope for better, but when it comes to American entertainment today, I’m not holding my breath.

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When Light Shines Furthest

I’ve been trying to find the right words about setting the proper example for those around us.  As Christians, I feel it is very important that we not show anything to the world that would be used to call us out as hypocrites.  Face it, we all do things that are not in keeping with God’s word.  Doing those things while openly professing our Christianity tells the world that Christianity is not to be taken seriously because we are no different than anyone else.

I’ve done plenty of sinful things in this world, sometimes alongside fellow Christians.  Rather than face charges of hypocrisy, I kept my Christianity to myself, unless somebody else brought it up.  Now, debate that behavior all you want, but I shouldn’t have been sinning in the first place.  It bothers me to see “I Love Jesus” bumper stickers on cars in a strip club parking lot.  I am troubled when I see a drunken reveler with a cross hanging from their neck.  I am disturbed by aggressive drivers with personalized plates professing their faith flipping off other drivers.

For those who say that Christians are just like everybody else, I say that if that’s the case, then we’re doing it wrong.  We are supposed to be different.  We are supposed to live more righteous lives.  We have entered into the light, which means that we are supposed to let the light of Christ shine in our lives, not become consumed by the darkness which surrounds us.  Even as the world becomes increasingly darker, we must not become like the world.  We must set ourselves apart.

That’s not saying we can’t have relationships with those who live within the world.  We should love and befriend our neighbors and let our integrity be our witness.  We can live morally upright lives without living in judgement of those who do not.  We should have compassion for them and accept them as Jesus accepted us.  We don’t point out our righteousness to others, for that is self-righteousness and a sin, we let others point it out for us.  People notice how we behave, even if they don’t know we’re Christians.  The righteous life is more easily identified when it is surrounded by unrighteousness.  That life will serve to bring more people to Christ than anything else.

The Light always shines further in the darkness.

See also:  A Perspective on The Great Commission

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In the Wilderness

Some of you may wonder why I haven’t posted in awhile.  Some of you may not have even noticed.  If my statistics page, which only I can see, is to be believed, there are very few people reading this blog.  For a time, I wondered if it was worth the effort to keep it going.

Lately, we’ve been in a busy season at work.  The week of Labor Day, I worked past 11 p.m. most nights.  The following week was spent recovering from the sleep deficit and catching up on all those household things I had been putting aside because of work.  Going for so long without posting also got me into the bad habit of not posting regularly.

After going through my statistics–number of views and comments–I felt like I was a lone voice in the wilderness.  There were numerous days with only one view, most likely my wife, and at least three days where there were no views at all.  The blog is barely two months old and already is suffering from a lack of interest.  I gave serious thought to shutting it down.

It’s not time for that yet.  Recent events have led me to believe that I still need to keep posting regularly and that means that the blog will stay open for the moment.  I’ve had something happen to me that assured me that even though nobody is listening right now, that won’t always be the case.

So, I’m still here.  Stay tuned.

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A Feline Illustration

In our personal lives, we have various contacts with a transient population of cats.  We also have three fully domesticated cats living in our house.  In my reading about cats, I discovered, without any real sense of surpise, that domestic cats live much longer, healthier lives than feral–wild–cats.  The reasons vary, but it all boils down to one thing–dependency.

Domestic cats are fully dependent on the humans who care for them, while feral cats are not.  Feral cats go it alone most of the time, coming to humans for food once in awhile.  Domestic cats get food, water, health care and love from their human caretakers.  On average, their lives are much less brutal and uncertain than the lives of feral cats.  Feral cats are at the mercy of the elements and are in much greater danger from predators and other cats.  This situation provides me with an illustration of our relationship with God.

Most of us are like feral cats.  We are independent and go about our daily lives without much thought of the role that God plays in our lives.  Once a week, some of us go to church for a little spiritual snack and then can’t wait to get out in time for the next football game.  We only seem to reach out to God when things get bad.  Then we turn to him and say, “Why did you let this happen?”, like somehow we have no responsibility for our own behavior.  Our lives are filled with drama and heartache.  We are deep in debt because we try to center our lives on material things like houses, cars, cellphones, and clothes.  We make bad choices because we don’t allow for God’s imput.  Then, we find ourselves trapped in the lifestyle in which we have placed ourselves.  We are reluctant to change because we have trouble trusting God, just like feral cats who don’t trust humans who just want to take care of them.

Like domestic cats, when we give our lives completely to God, we are much better off in the long run.  We learn to live according to his rules and fare much better for it.  That’s not to say that we don’t ever suffer.  We suffer because humans brought suffering into the world, so it is always with us.  But, we don’t have to suffer alone.  Eventually, we will be in fellowship with God without the barrier of sin between us.

When one brings a feral cat into their home, the feral cat continues with some of its untrusting behavior.  The transition can be tough, but eventually the cat calms down and becomes a loving member of the family.  When we make a transition from a worldly life to a more righteous life, there are struggles.  Trust me; this is something I know only too well.

I mentioned God’s imput earlier.  The best place to find it is in the Bible.  If you don’t find it there and you honestly know the difference between right and wrong, the default position is to “do the right thing.”

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