Remember, Watch, Hope

As Christians, we are called to live and minister in a fallen world while not becoming a part of it.  That anyone succeeds at this is a miracle.  The world around us is so “real,” our needs so strong, and the promise for which we labor so ill-defined, that to walk the narrow path that leads to salvation is impossible.  Thankfully we are reminded that what is impossible with men is possible with God.  To succeed in this journey, He gives us three imperatives:  Remember.  Watch.  Hope. Make no mistake, each of these is a command by itself, but they do not stand alone.  The life well lived in Christ requires all three, because each of them speaks to a different part of our life.  They are three legs of a stool supporting the sanctified life by directing us how to live and relate to the past, the present, and the future. The command to remember speaks to the past as in Ephesians 2:11-12, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles in the flesh and called uncircumcised by the so-called circumcision ….. remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” We remember so that we never go back.  Once you set your shoulder to the plow, there can be no retreat, and remembering where you came from is the key to knowing where you are going. We are commanded to watch in the present.  Watch not just for his coming (Mark 13:35), but also...

Why?

Psalms 77:19 Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. One of the first questions a young child learns to ask is “Why?”  They ask it repeatedly and relentlessly, eager to learn about the world around them.  Even as adults, it is the question we all want to know.  About everything.  Always.  Why did this happen?  Why did you say that?  Why am I being taxed like this? And on and on and on until we die.  But even then, we ask it – why am I dying now?  And we reserve special questions for when we’re actually dead.  “When I get to see God, I’m going to ask him why….” While meditating on the nature of curiosity the other day I was struck with how dangerous a question it is.  As a young child, we ask it primarily to explore and learn about the world around us.  As we grow older however, the motivation for the question changes.  We begin to ask it to understand and manipulate the motivations of others “…but mom, why can’t I have a cookie?”.  Eventually we no longer ask it seeking understanding of God’s universe at all, but rather control.  Understanding something is the first step to controlling it, and the question “why? is the key to understanding.  How is this dangerous?  Chiefly for two reasons:  it assumes we are equal with God in understanding His infinite ways and demonstrates a subtle attempt to control His providence. Job spends chapter after chapter establishing his innocence but also seeking to understand why tribulation...
Sacrificing Truth

Sacrificing Truth

Throughout Scripture we are exhorted to follow, believe, do, understand, speak, know, trust in, and be in, the truth. Our post-modern understanding of truth is a funny thing, though, and we’ve gotten far off the mark these days. R.C. Sproul’s definition of truth is “…that which conforms to reality as it is perceived by God.” This simple definition works for me and in this context, I am the chief of sinners. Certainly, most believers see this problem as it exists in the world today, but I contend that this is even more prevalent within the church than without – which may be a much greater evil. Here are five ways in which I’ve witnessed my own the sacrificing of truth: 1. Call it cultural. If it wasn’t meant for me, I don’t have to do it. 2. See No Evil. If we intentionally ignore evil, we aren’t accountable for it. 3. My Truth, Your Truth. There are many “truths,” and one is as good as the next. At the heart of this deception is the “figurative vs. literal” debate. I do not want to live in a world where I get to determine what is true. 4. The Sliding Scale. Perhaps the most prevalent, easiest to adopt, and hardest to recognize, this deception suggests that some “truths” are more important to God than others. 5. Love Conquers All. “Loving” others while disobeying God is to hate God, clear and simple. J. C. Ryle once quoted “Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of Peace.” I do not know how narrow the gate...
Protect Your Thoughts

Protect Your Thoughts

I was driving along behind a truck the other day when I caught a strong gasoline smell.  The first thing that popped into my mind was “I hope that that’s from the guy in front of me and not me.”  On the surface, this is a natural thought and one to which I wouldn’t give any extra consideration.  What I really said in the quiet of my own heart is “I hope that guy has a problem rather than me.” What I desperately want to think (automatically) is “I hope that guy doesn’t have a problem, and I don’t want one either, but will accept it if it’s God’s will.”  What a sad commentary on the state of my soul when I hope evil rests on another in order to protect myself.  I had little thought for this man’s safety, life, or soul – only my own. There are those of you who may say that this isn’t important and is such a small thing.  True enough; I have not robbed a bank or murdered anyone today (yet), but the longer I walk with Christ, the more convinced I am that we are undone more by the small things than by the large.  We ignore these at our peril.  Consider the following quote: Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny Consider these verses from scripture: A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out...
A Study in Obedience

A Study in Obedience

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. I became aware recently of a beautiful real-world example of the promise in 1 Cor 10-13 and am relaying this with permission as I thought it a rare glimpse into the true day-to-day struggles, trials, and temptations we must overcome if we are to be true obedient disciples of Jesus Christ. The scenario went like this: “ …I was purchasing something online from a vendor and using PayPal to pay for it. They asked me to select the “Friends and Family” button on PayPal so they wouldn’t get charged a fee for the transaction. “ What would you do? This may seem like a simple thing not worthy of God’s attention, but with obedience, the devil is in the details, literally. I think the most common reaction among Christians and non-Christians alike would be to just select the “Friends and Family” button to avoid any conflict. If the Spirit tweaked our conscience, we might justify it as a good thing by feeling we’d done the person a favor by saving them the money. This person, however, felt differently. A man with a pretty clear sense of his own depravity, he was aware of his desire to simply do as they asked, but also aware that this would be a lie and therefore an abomination to God. Not...