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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Personal Holiness

There is much to be said this day and age about personal holiness though few of our church leaders ever touch the topic. Our churches are often filled with people that may nod and shake hands with church members during the greeting time, but who will then speak awful slanders towards those very same people once outside the church walls. We are a people of unclean lips amongst a people of unclean lips. We don't have to go very far outside the four walls of church - down the pew, or in the mirror for that matter - to see the perverting effects of sin.

Though we are capable of identifying sin where it stands, we dare not label it out loud for that would mean we would have to separate ourselves from playing in it. Though the Spirit has enlightened us, our flesh continues to suppress the Truth in unrighteousness. We must die daily to the flesh and daily be renewed by the Spirit; moving from glory to glory, constantly renewing our minds and being washed by the water of the Word.

Our whole existence has been marked by rebellion. For most children one of the first words they learn is "NO!" Or it is at least the most used word of every toddler. When your mother said to chew with your mouth closed, you began to once again chomp like a cow when she wasn't looking. She said sit up and when her back would turn, you slouched. You wore your mother out and if you were anything like me perhaps a couple of wooden spoons too. We are told to arrive to class at a certain time and we come late. We are told to raise our hands, and we blurt out. We are told to brush our teeth, comb our hair, and wash our faces, and we just splash a little water on our cheeks. "Make sure you scrub behind your ears," your mother says, and we don't even grab the bar of soap.

For most of us, only the bare minimum was what we were willing to put forth as children. Unfortunately that rebellious attitude is coupled to our flesh and has followed us into adulthood and even into our new birth. It must be brought under the submission of Christ (Col 3:5). The Scriptures are clear that we are save by Grace and sanctified by Grace. In fact all that we are or are allowed to do is wholly by the Grace of God (Eph 2:8-10). Yet we are still personally accountable for everything we do (good or bad) even as believers (Rom 14:12).

There is a balance that the Word calls us to. God's sovereignty is always coupled with man's responsibility such as in the passage Phil 2:12-13, "...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." God is the reason why we desire good and the only reason why we can do any good, yet He commands us to work at this thing called personal holiness. "Put to death therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." (Col 3:5)

I am currently reading through Jerry Bridges The Pursuit of Holiness in which he gives some guidelines to apply when questioning whether or not to partake in certain activity based on a few passages of Scripture.

  • "Everything is permissible for me--but not everything is benificial" (I Cor 6:12). Question 1: Is it helpful - physically, spiritually, and mentally?
  • "Everything is permissible for me--but I will not be mastered by anything" (I Cor 6:12). Question 2: Does it bring me under its power?
  • "Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall" (I Cor 8:13). Question 3: Does it hurt others?
  • "So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (I Cor 10:31). Question 4: Does it glorify God?
Hopefully by asking yourself and others these 4 simple questions we might all continue to grow in the likeness of His great Son. But first we must pray to God for the courage to confront the fact that we even have a problem with personal holiness.

May the Grace of the Lord be with you as you continue to wage war over sin.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lift Up Your Voices!!!

It has been said that an open air preacher can reach more lost people in one short sermon than the average church can reach in a year. However true that statement truly may or may not be, there are lost people everywhere and the typical Sunday morning service is not the place for evangelism. Soul-winning is to be done primarily in the streets, at the neighbors house, in the laundromat, or the local grocery store.

Like most people, I fail in every aspect of evangelism in part if not in whole. There are those occasions however, that I get to go out with a friend and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost. With the colleges and universities back in session, we have been able to go out on Friday nights and witness to students wandering around on campus. This has been a wonderfully rewarding experience and we have seen some great professions of faith being made in those situations, but as the Lord saw it fit, he began working on my heart last May to do some open air.

The first time that we decided to do open air we were not prepared or really planning on doing it. We simply went out on our normal Friday night outing and saw a crowd gathered around Old Thompson Field (the old football field) at SRU. We immediately grew excited in seeing so many people in one location that were simply walking around the track. They were all participating in the Relay for Life event being held at the school and were planning on walking through the greater part of the night. We had in our midst a captive audience.

After getting into some on-on-one conversations, my friend Mike suggested that we do some open air. Given that the purpose of the event was to raise awareness for cancer, we hesitated as many people there were morning the death of important people in their lives that had been taken by cancer. We didn't want to be inconsiderate toward those who were hurting and needed that time to heal. We spent much time in prayer in deliberation and then finally felt no hindrance from the Lord about going forth. We then spent some time shaping our message. Mike was the only one who was supposed to preach that night. After more prayer and spotting the best location to lift up our voices over the crowd, Mike began to preach. Chad and I held him up in prayer on and off as we eagerly peered out among the people to see the crowds response. Immediately a few young ladies protested and threatened to call the police. I attempted to speak to the kindly and assured them that we had every right to be there as this was a public campus. I then spoke to the ladies about our motives and that I too had a father taken by cancer. They let me return to my post after that but began to hurl insults and cuss words at us.

I soon leaned over to Chad and whispered "what were we so afraid of." Just then Mike stepped off of the box and said, with a slap on my chest and a smirk of satisfaction on his face, "you turn brother." I moved into position and tried to speak but nothing came out. I then took a deep breath and said another prayer and began to preach. It was thrilling. There were times that felt as if the Lord was guiding my tongue and then there were times when I liked hearing the sound of my own voice. It was a battle staying on track and shunning away fear. Toward the end I simply began preaching as if to myself.

After I was done, we ventured back into the crowd to see what people had to say. Surprisingly we were able to spark up quite a few conversations. Many people were curious as to why we were there. We were able to witness to a few small groups of people. In the short time of evangelism that night, we were able to share the Gospel with about 500 people in the open-air.

Since that experience, we have proclaimed the Gospel in the open-air on two other occasions, of which I will write about in the near furture...Lord willing.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Reader Response vs. Authorial Intent

Okay, so I have been posting a lot of videos. At least I'm posting. What are you doing with your life?

But seriously, this video clearly displays the state of our culture here in America. This is often how the argument goes from the "spiritualist," "new-ager," agnostic, or atheist. There are even those that call themselves christian that would argue with me this kind of empty-minded thinking. The encouraging part here is that though these kids are young, they are capable of defeating such bogus arguments of pseudo-intellectualism.