Category Archives: Uncategorized

Suffering Injustice and Christian Divorce

Image result for divorce

“Therefore, to have legal disputes against one another is already a moral failure for you. Why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather be cheated?”

In Corinth there were Christians going to the Roman authorities to settle disputes. This has to be rather awkward because if these Christians were in the same assembly (houses) they would have to see each other rather intimately. Sometimes you wish you were a fly on the wall to these early believers, but then again we only need to be a fly in our own homes.

I often wonder if other members move Christians who are deciding to split away from moralism towards a Christ centered approach to work out disputes. When I see Christians who split over irreconcilable differences I am often left scratching my head. Not because I don’t think things fall apart. But I wonder how they continue to interact with other believers under the umbrella of grace but not with their one flesh.

To get more pragmatic. Divorce is an ugly stain on the Gospel of Christ. Much like these lawsuits that Paul rebukes the Corinthian believers for, we should be rebuking divorcing Christians with the same veracity! For two believers who promise to love one another, even more so than your brothers in sisters in Christ, to go before unbelieving lawyers, judges and arbitrators to settle disputes is ungodly! Yes ungodly! They fight over property, lie, fight for custody of the children, hide assets, try to protect assets, and pray they win to a God who hates it all.

Paul asked “why not be wronged”. Even if you have a non-believe spouse and they decide to leave. Paul asks “why not be wronged”. But for believing couples, how do we refuse to extend grace, yet expect it when we go to our knees. How do we willfully disobey the command to forgive, to be kind, gentle, patience, long-suffering…..sing all those good songs, hear all those good sermons, then turn to nonbelievers to settle disputes the Church should be able to handle.

Why the congregation is not more tough on this is also beyond me. We are tough when adultery happens (though droves of Christians divorce and remarry without any conviction). Why pastors don’t challenge their congregation in this area is also beyond me. We have more divorce care than we have divorce prevention.

Anyway….why not be defrauded, what is it that couples who are in Christ can’t settle amongst other believers? The only thing I can say is they prefer disobedience of Christian submission.

Advertisements

Some Thoughts on Some Things

Image result for thoughts

 

I read a ton….maybe too much…but what this has lead to is back where I was. I am starting to think I am not interested in taking a position on most things, at least outwardly. Internally there are things that shape me and there are “preferences” that I have related to Christianity. But for the most part I really think those things are preferences.

Because of this, over the last few weeks, it leads me to a disposition on openness or ecumenicism.  I will tell you that for my heart and life with Christ, smaller gatherings, non-authoritative leadership, unpaid leadership, free-range (though submitted to the Spirit in all believers), politically free, Christianity is my leaning.

That does not mean that, big buildings, senior-pastors, big budgets, hands on leadership and those who believe in Government cooperation are wrong. I have just landed in a space of not dying on any hill related to these things.

I want to spend the rest of my Christian walk, loving and serving, surrendering and leading, teaching and learning, giving and receiving Christ with other believers. I do believe that some of the things in the previous paragraph raises unnecessary barriers, but I also believe that if we desire, Christ would eradicate these barriers, though it will take 100% dependence on His Spirit in us to do such.

I can say in a way that I am exhausted on such topics (again). If exhaustion is necessary, I want to be exhausted in ways that bring us to together under the headship of Christ and not tear us apart due to divisive topics.

So when a brother or sister approaches me with such things from this point forward, it will be a nod and smile, a listening ear and then a question “how can I love and serve you today”?

The Illusion of Pleasantries..Especially In Christian Gatherings

Image result for pleasantries funny

Talking to my wife the other day (who puts up with these things that run through my mind), I brought up jokingly about how “pleasant” we are at “church”. We see someone who we have not seen since last Sunday (by choice of course but more on this later) and we hug and we smile and we go through a ton of Christian Pleasantries such as but not limited to: how are you, good to see you, how was your week, what you been up to, long time no see (though we were probably in the same building 7 days ago), hope things are well and the most comical (in a sad way)…..we got to get together soon (I suppose they mean heaven).

These statements are flaky at best or disingenuous at worse. That may seem harsh, but we have not only the means and opportunity but also the uniting Spirit of Christ that should cause us to “trudge through the mud” as it was, to be together.

“Let the teaching concerning Christ remain as a rich treasure in your hearts. In all wisdom teach and admonish one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and sing with grace in your hearts to God.”

Who wouldn’t want to share this “rich treasure” with their “brothers and sisters”? However our endless pursuits distract us from moving pass pleasantries. It is much easier to be polite than to be committed. It is much easier to “act” excited to see each other than being excited when we get together. It is much easier to pray for someone than it is to get in the trenches of life with them to either: a) help them get through it or b) comfort them if they must remain.

In the words of a famous rapper we are “not compassionate only polite..so who the nicest”?

I read an interesting article  in it talks about how we can compare to the story of the Emperors Clothes to our Sundays:

“The institutional church is being humiliated before the world today for the “fool” that it is. It is deluded into thinking that it has something that is spiritual and invisible, and everyone pretends they are enlightened ­ when in reality it is unclothed, and everyone is “playing the fool.” Rather than being “clothed in righteousness”, the institutional church of Christian religion is naked in its hypocrisy. But it continues to “play the game” of “churchianity” and to engage in “denial”. “The procession must go on!” “Crank up the organ; bring on the robes!”

Lets move pass pleasantries to deep, meaningful, multi-cultural, diverse socioeconomic, inter-tribal, multi-generational fellowships (not talking about the buildings which keep us distracted). Where compassion trumps our life distractions and Christ binds us together in loving unity!

 

Christian Parenting: Stewards of God’s Grace

Image result for parenting

What if Jesus lived with us, taking residence in a spare bedroom? What if this same Jesus woke up with us in the morning and watched how we interacted with our children? What if this same Jesus saw us make breakfast, get them ready for school, send them off from school, pick them up from school, help them with homework, got them to their sporting events, got them home, fed bathed and clothed and ready for the next day? What if Jesus was there when had to meet their teachers because they misbehaved? How about Jesus being with us at a sporting event watching our children play sports and how we interacted with them before, during and after the game? What if Jesus was there everyday until they went to college and became adults?

What do you think Jesus would think of our parenting, HIS children? Well…. you know they aren’t ours right? Everything and person belongs to God. Anything that we encounter and every person we meet and every person and thing that we are responsible for belongs to Him, thus making us but stewards. Here is what Jesus’ view on stewardship is…….

“24 Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? 27 Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! 28 Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. 29 For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless slave into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’”

There was a specific issue here but I think universally applied. For this specific application I want to deal with parenting. If Jesus were physically in my home (more on that later) over the last 11 years of my parenting I think He would be considerably disappointed. This is especially true since Christ lives in me and “I take Him wherever I go”.

The times of discipline when I was angry, which really should be defined as retributive justice. There were times I disciplined them because they “embarrassed” me. There were times where I just had a rough day, a disagreement with my spouse, or wasn’t feeling well, tired, and they took the brunt of that frustration. Doing nothing that warranted such a response but helpless or maybe more accurate… powerless to do anything about it. They have been yelled at, spank with a paddle or belt, snatched on in front of their friends, talked condescending to in front of peers and other parents, yelled at in the morning, at the dinner table, at night….not to mention the time I have withheld affection or nurturing as a form of punishment…..What if our Heavenly Father treated us like that? Jesus asked me “what if I treated you the way you treat them”. I cringed in fear and was heartbroken.

I sat last night repenting of the way I talked to them (what if they talked to me that way), many times I am upset with the way they talk to one another, only now God showed me myself in them. It was convicting to say the least, but even more heartbreaking. Understanding that the Christ they will know will flow from their initial encounter with Him in me.

So as earlier stated “what if”…Christ resides not only in my home but more importantly in my heart. He lives in my through His Spirit and I misrepresent Him and become an unfaithful steward of His grace by the way I interact with my children.

The great thing about this is that Jesus has extended grace to me to allow me to see my unfaithfulness in this area. Repenting to my children is the first thing I will do by telling them I have mistreated them and been unfaithful to God in the process. I am now in full dependency, relinquishing any self-reliance on my own ability to parent (steward) God’s children. I have them for a short period, God owns them for eternity.

The Unbearable Yoke of Sin Management

Image result for yoke

Matthew records this beautiful exhortation from our Lord

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.””

 

We (I) often turn my nose up when I read the writings of the Gospels as Jesus is addressing the Pharisees of His time. He is often challenging their position that they are the mediators of God and man. One area of constant tension was in the area of “sin management” (legalism, man centered righteousness, moralism). You can see them often talking about things they do or don’t do only to validate their (own) righteousness.

But after careful reevaluation I also noticed that the same self-based righteousness motivates me to do “good”. I would delude myself by saying I am not doing to “earn” God’s favor, quoting Paul’s famous words “for you save by grace through faith, not of work…” but but to approve of my own favor, still attempting to earn what I cannot.

Anything that we attempt to offer God apart from Christ is as filthy rags. Any pats on the back or accolades that I attribute to my good deeds, or sin avoidance is stench in His nostrils and is no better than sinning. Ultimately it is Christ in work in me to offer up works that is pleasing to Himself.

Now back to the Yoke thing…..self effort is exhausting, ambiguous and often confusing. It is a sliding scale based on my lifelong biases and experiences. It usually leads to one of three Christian dispositions (I read some of this somewhere)

  1. Self-righteousness (see the Pharisee who beat his chest at the alter)
  2. Perpetual Rededication (I am going to get it right this time-ism)
  3. Antinomianism (defeatism that just embraces sin as a way of life)

None of these are the life Christ would have for us as those who are united with Him in the Spirit, seated with Him in the heavens, and who have died and lives are now hidden in Him. I am not saying the Christian life will be a breeze, we have decades of unfaithfulness and sin to unwind and orient from, we have daily temptations throw at us from the tempter, we have sinners around us who test our patience and love, and then we just have the daily struggles of being in Christ yet struggling through life in a fallen world whose god is our adversary (lose loved ones, lose jobs, have physical deficiencies, always in harms way).

However one thing that we should not be burdened by is a yoke of law and subsequent sin for breaking that law. Or trying to carry the weight of sin management with our own legs. Jesus says “come to me and I will give you rest for your souls”. Jesus has rest for us today, He is that rest (Sabbath and Promised Land) that we enter in through faith (remember it was only by faith was Israel to enter in the physical picture of Christ). Just as Israel was powerless to rid the land of people without God giving them full victory (they tried it and failed miserably) we too are powerless in our strength to rid ourselves of Sin and the burden and guilt that comes with it.

Come to Him in faith, let His life conform you, let his power transform you, let Him please Himself by working in you for His glory. He will offer sacrifices pleasing to Himself through His union with you. Rest, trust, become helpless, take on His yoke because the creator of the universe says “my burden is easy and my yoke is light”!

Evil And Why We Are Always Caught By Surprise

Image result for evil

“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”

I don’t know if we are uncomfortable, to enlightened or deceived my modern pop psychology. What I do know is that one thing we don’t talk about is evil in our world, especially when events like Las Vegas are happening more frequently and even scarier, more randomly.

We try to dismiss evil in our world by passing it off as “psychological” and believe that counseling and medicine are the remedies. However what if we take God at His written word and attribute such things to Satan “the god of this world” who desires to “kill, steal, and destroy” and who also desires to warp and distort human relationships through the influence of human’s slavery to sin??!

Evil is present, Satan is real, those who do not have New Hearts are capable of all types of evil. That could be corporate greed (Enron), “terrorism” (Las Vegas, 9/11, Boko Haram, Nazism, Chicago violence, KKK, to name a few),  a mother drowning her children, a man shooting his family because he is mad at his wife……..

Evil is ever present and we can’t medicate it away, nor can we incarcerate it all. I am not saying those things can’t give us a smidgen of safety (illusion?), but it should not give us hope. I would lie if I say that I have any confidence in either as remedies for evil. The only remedy for evil is a union with Christ. Unless the Spirit of Christ has a union with our Spirit and so being regenerated (born from above), our propensity towards evil is immeasurable. If you don’t believe me just listen to the testimony of families who say “I would have never believed, my son, daughter, husband, brother, sister… would do something like that, they have never shown signs of such behavior

So as believers we should not be caught by surprise. A fallen heart is capable of all types of evil and many times this heart can lead other hearts to do the unthinkable (genocide).

The Christian response to evil is prayer and allowing Christ’s light to shine forth from us. We have to take a forgiving disposition against all forms of evil, because we know that humans are fallen in Adam and have the propensity to wreak havoc on the fallen world we reside in. We have to hope that through our faithfulness and dependency on the risen Christ, the second Adam, that indwells us that we can stand boldly against evil but with a Christocentric response. “Love those who hate you”, this is the disposition of our Master (not was, His crying out “forgive them” didn’t stop on the cross, it now lives in us). Paul says this:

“the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.”

There is a restraint on the “lawless one” it is the only thing that prevents us from being consumed by evil totally!

It is okay to be disappointed, heart-broken, even feel anger and pain. But after that it is then time to raise our hands in dependency to our Father because our only hope in truly conquering evil is through the risen Savior who lives in us.

 

Christians, Politics, Social Justice, And Our Current Relational Climate

Image result for gotta be quicker than that

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

Aliens, sojourners, citizens in heaven, seated with Christ…..brothers and sisters, ONE BODY! These are the words that describe Christians in scripture. So things like patriotism, nationalism, political affiliation….and the such have no place in the Body of Christ if such things cause us to be divided! Paul asks “is Christ divided”. If those who profess Christ are fighting over things that are not about Christ (we have enough problems there) how do we then present the “ministry of reconciliation” to those who have not been united with Christ?

If anyone can prove to me that such things don’t grieve Christ I will publicly repent. We actually believe our economic policies, social policies and political issues are of Christ! As if Christ is concerned with such worldly powers! I am saddened by so many “Christian” blogs that attempt to reconcile the world powers with the Kingdom of Christ.

Don’t take the bait. I will argue that such things are Satanic as he is king of “this” world. He has done a mighty good job putting his kingdom bait on a rod and having Christians chomp at it with full confidence they can get it and not be reeled in!