Friday, June 27, 2008

Casual Christianity

"When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." Matthew 13:21

Casual Christianity is an oxymoron. There is no such thing as a low-commitment version of our faith. It is impossible to say, "I'm a follower of Jesus, but I'm not prepared to lay down my life for the Gospel." Both of those assertions cannot be true. "When Jesus calls a man," to quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "He bids him come and die." Ours is a faith that demands our entire allegiance; it can be no half-hearted thing.

Church history is filled with martyrs. Missionary kids have seen their parents executed. Many Christians have lost a spouse or child to persecution. Whole communities have been tortured or imprisoned. And many have given their own lives. Whether this is a tragedy or the glory of the Church-and it is, in fact, both-is not the point. It is a given. It is assumed of Jesus' followers that they will follow Him where ever he goes. And He goes to places like the Cross.

Martyrdom is not something that confronts most of us. Few of us are persecuted. Yet all of us can say with assurance that sometimes following our Savior is difficult. He asks us to make sacrifices. He asks us to be obedient, even when obedience is painful. And though He doesn't ask all of us to die for Him, He does ask all of us to live for Him. When we were bought by His blood, we became His possession. Gloriously, joyfully His possession, but His nonetheless.

One of the great weaknesses of today's American church is our unwillingness to humble ourselves as our Savior did. We are often consumer Christians, shopping around for a faith that suits us well. But when we really encounter Christ, we face a choice: Stand firm in our faith, despite our many tests and troubles, or settle for a lukewarmness that can barely, if at all, be called "Christian." We must be prepared for the trials. They will come. And how we respond will tell us-and others-whether we are His disciples.

Chris Tiegreen

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I wanted to make these resources available for anyone who has not seen the advertisements of this new movie called Fireproof. It's created by the same people (Sherwood Bapt) who made the movie "Facing the Giants". Fireproof is a movie about marriage....and it is definitely needed today as we watch the enemy go after our marriages and families. I hope that you'll be able to see this movie when it comes out. Our marriages are worth fighting for!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Worship God with my mind

Here are some thoughts I jotted down back from April that I meant to blog and never got to it.

I went for a run yesterday. It was a beautiful afternoon and I was enjoying the sun on my face and the cool wind that helped to soften the blow of the growing April heat. Lately I’ve been running with a group of girls to help motivate me and push me in getting the exercise I need. But this time I was prompted to run all by myself. I was proud in that fact that I stepped out (in what I thought) was my own determination of some much needed cardio. But I quickly understood that cardio wasn’t the only thing needed. I needed some time to free my thoughts… worship God with my mind.

In our running group the one thing that is always running (beside my legs) is my mouth. This time I was able to also run my mind. Rarely is my mind on anything but the LORD Jesus and so it was this day as well. However, this time the LORD led me to pack a little punch into this thinking. After some appropriate praise to the only One worthy of my thoughts, my mind was flooded with the WORD of God. Oh how God’s word satisfies my soul. But even more it pushes me to be who God has called me to be. There is no way I can read it/meditate on it and be left unchanged.

The Lord immediately shifted my focus to the word “holiness”. It’s no wonder. I jut got through teaching on this topic the week before in my monthly women’s bible study. Don’t think for a moment that I teach on things that God does not want to do a number on me in the process. So, here I am at holiness. As a disciple of Jesus I am called to be holy. To be set apart for Him. So because this is what is required of me, this is what I desire. Heavy thinking went on in my brain as I further meditated on its meaning in my life.

“Oh God”, I cried out, “I desire to be holy as you are holy. And as this prayer filled my mind, even the song on my iPod sang to the heart of the thought process. “Holiness is what I long for. Holiness is what I need; holiness is what you want from me. Take my heart and form it, take my mind transform it, take my will conform it, to Yours” This desire was so intense it had me bent over at the waist (still running of course) all the while lifting my hands to the God who was calling me to ponder and act upon such an awesome calling.

Again, “Oh God, make me more like You”. I want to go where you tell me to go, say what you want me to say, be who you want me to be and do what you want me to do. I want to follow You at all costs. I am so sick of allowing my life to be entertained by vain things. Empty things. I want you and only you. Satisfy me with your unfailing love. As my run came to an end, I was thrilled that I was prompted to go. I was given a special opportunity to worship God with my mind. I was pushed in my discipleship to the LORD by the LORD Himself! I resolved once again, I will live for God and God alone. I will be holy, I will be set apart. I am not trying to proclaim that I am the example for anyone. I am just saying, “here I am LORD, send me, use me. Anyone care to join me?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bean Dip and Jesus

Yes, I realize this is a strange title, but tonight while cooking supper, I opened up a can of refried beans to go with our Mexican meal and the minute I opened the can, the smell captured me and transported me back about 28 years or so to elementary school. It reminded me of all the days that I would sit in the cafeteria at lunch or just after a gymnastic meet and crack open my bag of Frito's and my little individual size can of Frito-Lay Bean dip. Anyone remember those?

I don't know if they still sell them at the stores, but that used to be one of my favorite snacks of all! Oh, it was so good and the memory of it took me back to the sweet days of childhood. The care free days of play and innocence (or in my case, probably not so innocent) But either way, sweet, sweet memories!

So, why on earth am I telling you about Bean Dip? Well, because it is such a great reminder of life that we live as believers. (Bear with me here) There are many people who are going through a tough time in life right now. Your relationship with the LORD may feel distant or dry. When we encounter those times, we can sometimes doubt or wonder if God really loves us or if He even cares. We may struggle and start to give up or throw in the towel. But, we have a precious gift from God. Our memory.

Our memory can serve us in many different ways. Sometimes it can cause pain and hurt as we reflect on a very difficult time. Or, it can remind us of times when we made serious mistakes and the consequences were high. We may never make that mistake again because of our memory. But, our memory serves us best when we go back to a sweet time and remember how things once were. This is so important.

While we go through dark or dry times in our walk with the LORD, we must remember the sweet times with Him in the past in order to persevere. It is our nature to forget get and begin to doubt. That's why I think it is so important to keep a journal or some sort of a record of your times with the LORD. Make notes when He speaks to you through His Word or when His presence was so heavy that you could barely breathe. We must remember the good times with the LORD in order to make it through some of the harder times.

God is good all the time and He never does us any wrong even when we may be going through the roughest time. It is always for His glory and our good that we journey on such a path, but why is it that we can so easily forget God’s goodness and His love for us and quickly find ourselves discouraged. So, today…if you find yourself in a dry place with God, go straight to your source of memories with Him and bask in the gift of remembering how good Jesus is and with a fresh wind of faith, press on.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

What's the difference between living for the Kingdom and living for the American dream?

What's the difference between living for the Kingdom and living for the American dream?

by John Piper

The essential difference is, What are you trying to make much of? Do you want to make much of Christ in the world, or do you want to make much of yourself, your business, or your family? What are you passionate about seeing exalted, praised and enjoyed?

I want to put that central because if we don't ask the question day by day–What am I going to make much of today?–then we will gravitate towards making much of the same things that everybody around us is making much of, like sports teams, food, or a new computer program. None of these things are sin unless they become the thing that we're driven by.

The difference between a Kingdom mindset and a worldly mindset is the King. What place does the King have? Is he central in our affections, our vocabulary, and in what we want to see happen at work, church, and in our leisure?

Does the "wartime lifestyle" come easily to you?

No, and I don't think it comes easy for anybody. If it starts coming easily then it may result in pride. That may not always be the case, because the things we work hard at are sometimes the things we boast in the most. Pride is a very insidious and subtle thing.

When I say "wartime lifestyle" I mean something very complex. That's why I say "wartime" and not "simple" lifestyle because of this complexity. In wartime you may need to build a B-52 bomber, which costs millions and millions of dollars, in order to win the war. In a simple lifestyle, however, you wouldn't fiddle around with bombers. Instead you would just move out to Idaho, plant potatoes, and be irrelevant.

In a wartime lifestyle you always ask yourself, How can my life count to advance the cause of Christ? And if it means buying a computer to keep in touch with your missionaries through email, then you're going to invest several thousand dollars into a computer and software. That's a wartime lifestyle. But you might not eat out as often, or you might buy a used car so that you can buy that computer. That's what I mean by wartime lifestyle. The alternative is to just go with the flow. Everybody gets his toys: bigger house and car, more clothing, more fine food, etc., without even thinking about how the war effort is advancing.

Personally, I must battle everyday against drifting. It isn't about making choices so much. The battle is primarily against becoming comfortable with things that aren't essential to the war effort. So you have to check yourself. Sit down with your wife and ask, How are we doing with our spending? How are we doing with the use of our discretionary money for leisure?, etc.

I admit that this is difficult. I don't have any laws to lay down about what specific things you should be doing either once a week or never or whatever. It's just tough, which is why it is tough for me.

How does what you're saying accord with the prosperity gospel–the belief that external signs of wealth are a key testimony to the world of God's blessing?

It doesn't accord. We must reject the prosperity gospel. It's just dead wrong. The world is not impressed by the prosperity of Christians. What the prosperity of Christians says to the world is nothing redemptive.

I'm not saying that all prosperity is necessarily wrong. I'm just making the point that the prosperity of a Christian says absolutely zero about Christ to the world. Christians who simply follow the American trend of "moving up" financially and materially causes the world to simply say, "They're just like us! They love the same things we love and do the same things we do." This has zero witness to the world.

The person who follows the prosperity track must find other ways to testify to the world about Jesus, because their wealth, health, and prosperity are not saying anything redemptive.

My way of remedying this lack of witness is to identify that the prosperity gospel is wrong. Don't go that direction! Don't believe that prosperity is our evidence to the world that we belong to the King. It doesn't work that way. In fact, if you look in the New Testament you'll see that the things that bear the clearest witness to our faith are the occasions when we're willing to suffer for him.

A little child can understand that. Something is valuable to you to the degree that you're willing to suffer in order to have it, not to the degree that it gives you other things that you really like. God is not shown to be valuable because he gives us other things that we like more than God. God is shown to be valuable when we're willing, for God's sake, to let certain things go which we wouldn't let go if he wasn't so precious to us.

Our testimony to the world works precisely opposite to what the prosperity gospel says. When Christians are willing to suffer for the cause of the unborn, for racial justice, and for spreading the gospel, then the world is going to say–just like it does in 1 Peter 3:15–"Where is your hope?"

Our answer will not be, "In houses, cars, and lands." Rather, we will say, "My hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is going to take me to himself. To live is Christ and to die is gain. I'm here on earth to spread the gospel. I'm going to keep my life as wartime as I can in order to maximize my effect for showing Jesus as valuable, not things as valuable."