January 2, 2008

New Year's Resolutions Worth Keeping

I must admit I am not one for making New Years Resolutions, as I always say why wait until New Years to change something in one's life. But I received a list of resolutions from a colleague on a Yahoo groups I belong to promoting Revival Theology. This is a list of resolutions I think are worth keeping not only all year long, but for all eternity.

1. "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life" (Deuteronomy 30:19). The Bible says that God's ways lead to life, but man's ways lead ultimately to eternal death. Jesus said, "I am the Way the Truth, and the Life; no man comes unto the Father except by me" (John 14:6). God gives us the freedom to choose which way we will go. Choose life in 2008.

2. "Choose you this day whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15). After the death of Moses, Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land and helped them conquer it. Then he called all the people together. Joshua reminded them of what God had done for them, and that they must remain faithful to Him. Like Israel did later, we often play games with God. We figure we can do our own thing now, and serve God later. But later is often too late. God calls us to choose--get off the fence, get in or get out. God hates lukewarm believers (Revelation 3:15-16). Resolve to serve God in 2008.

3. "Repent and be baptized . . . and you shall receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood and told the crowd that Jesus, whom they had crucified, was in fact the Son of God. It was Jesus, now exalted to the right hand of God, who produced the miracle of speaking in tongues that they had just seen and heard.

Troubled, the people began to ask, "What are we to do?" Peter told them, that they must repent of their sins and undergo a conversion experience; and about 3000 were saved that day. Even saints need to repent now and then. Resolve to be repentant, to live a holy and righteous life, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit in 2008.

4. "I do not want you to be ignorant!" (Romans 11:25, etc.). Again and again, both Peter and Paul admonish the Church not to walk in ignorance, but in knowledge and truth. The Bible and the preaching of God's Word are readily available to everyone today. Willful ignorance of God's will is inexcusable (Romans 1:18-32). Resolve to study God's Word faithfully and to know God's perfect will for your life in 2008.

5. "Present your bodies a living sacrifice . . . and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:1-2). Someone has said that the problem with a "living sacrifice" is that it keeps crawling off the altar. God does not call most of us to die for Him, but He calls all of us to live for him. Resolve to keep sacrificing your selfish will and lending yourself to do God's will in 2008.

6. "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16). Paul recognized his own physical weakness and inability to be perfect before God in his own strength, try as he might. He said, "What I want to do, I do not do; but what I hate, that I do" (Romans 7:15).

Paul knew he needed the power of God to work through him in order to overcome sin. Desire to obey God and willpower are not alone enough. Serving God absolutely requires the power of the Holy Spirit working through us. How do you let the Holy Spirit work in and through you? It involves: choosing life in Christ, choosing to serve God faithfully, being repentant and undergoing a real conversion experience, being knowledgeable of God's will for your life, offering yourself up to God continually and sacrificially to do His will, and much more. Walking in the Spirit means being motivated by the Spirit of God rather than by your own desires. Sure, it's hard, but it must be done.

There are many more great resolutions which we can draw from the Bible. For instance, just look at those listed in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22. We can learn a great deal from these admonitions. So let us resolve together to walk by God's Spirit, not by our flesh,
in 2008.

December 31, 2007

Instead of Fishing Boats, we now have Cruise Ships

(Please note that my comments here about "the church" are not directed to any particular church or body of believers, but that I am speaking in generalities of the Modern Day Church as a whole. Please realize there are some good churches out there, but it is my opinion they are fewer in number than the Modern Day Church (MDC) mentioned in this post)

In recent months several of my fellow Christian bloggers have written about the issue of being overly "busy" in their various roles within their respective churches. Blogger Dean Lusk has written several good posts on his site about this subject matter over the past couple of months. Over the Christmas Season I had a chance to reflect a little further about this subject matter (as this is the season of being busy).

As I was pondering this whole issue last week when something struck me. It was one of those moments of irony (it reminds me of that 90's song "Things that make you go Hmmmm"! So here it goes: The "thing" that is supposed to draw people closer to God (ie. the church), is turning out to be the the very thing that is causing people to be separated from Him! Here's what I mean. Most people come to church with the idea that they are going to obtain knowledge and understanding of God and the church body is there to oversee peoples spiritual growth and maturity (at least thats the general concept). Instead, they become "saved" and the next thing they know their being shuffled off to Nursery duty or being asked to teach Sunday School. Next thing they know, its years later they are no better off spiritually than when the first came to know the Lord. Why does this happen? Because the very entity or body that was supposed to assist them in growing spiritually, has instead hampered them from growing by keeping them "busy".

Recently I have been reading Leonard Ravenhill's "Why Revival Tarries". In his book he writes about the "Present Day Church" where he sites the following:

"What a fever of church building there is just now, yet without unctionized preachers these altars will never see anxious penitents. Suppose that we saw fishing boats with the latest in radar equipment and fishing gear launched month after month and put out to sea only to return without a catch - what excuse would we take for this barrenness? Yet thousands of churches see empty altars week after week and year after year and cover this sterile situation by misapplying the Scripture. "My word . . . shall not return unto me void." I

For one, I think Leonard's comments really applies to the whole issue of busyness and our churches. Instead of seeing empty pews or alters these days, we see all sorts of activities going on, plenty of to and fro, but yet yielding no true harvest if you will..... Today our "ships" are large and full of people and we have plenty of activities. But instead of fishing, we are now nothing more than cruise ships, party barges if you will. Churches today have become nothing more than a religious community center where one can learn to have "financial peace", be entertained and see a floor show on the veranda deck! We have taken our fishing vessels and transformed them into ships of busyness. All the while countless souls are perishing into Hell and the Modern Day Church is not sitting idle. Oh no! instead it has lulled itself into a false sense of accomplishment. Along the lines of Ravenhill's comments - our ships return to the harbor with no yield in its hull! The boat is speeding in and out to sea, but yet it yields no fish! My point here is if we were to know of such a vessel, would we not inform the ships captain that their operation would soon be bankrupt or even worse shipwrecked?

So maybe the real issue here is not busyness in of itself, but that the church has lost its real purpose. Instead of the church being a place of spiritual growth and knowledge, it has preoccupied itself with being a Cruise Ship and not a fisher of men as Christ instructed his disciples.

Joel Osteen needs to read Galatians 1:8-10

It would seem Joel Osteen has once again forgot to "prep" before his recent interview on Fox News. When asked about the authenticity of Mormons being a part of the Christian faith, Joel in true "Seeker Friendly" fashion answers with a resounding YES! The apostasy that exist in the Modern Day Church is just overwhelming and is a sign of the times we are living in. Watch the clip below and see how Joel addresses the whole "golden plates" and Joseph Smith issue. It would seem Chris Wallace knows more about the Christian faith than Joel does.

Galatians 1:8-10 states: But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. 9 As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema. 10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men? if I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.