Archives For obedience

Over the last couple of decades in ministry, I have noticed an alarming shift in thinking…or not thinking as the case may be.

Here’s how it goes…As we’ve talked with people about various areas of their life that God is addressing over a wide range of topics…gossip, pre-marital sex, judgment, giving, forgiveness…{insert difficult topic here}, we’ve noticed that 20 years ago people just took the pastor at his word about what the Bible had to say.

That alarmed me way back then because, while hopefully the pastor is accurate, people should dive into the Bible themselves and not put their Christian belief system solely in the hands of a man.

But frequently in this recent generation, I am even more alarmed by people’s response.

Now it seems common that when we, as pastors, let people know about what the Bible has to say, we often hear, “I’m not convinced that the Bible really thinks that’s wrong.”  At first I was impressed…people are actually questioning a pastor’s Biblical authority and finding out for themselves.  But then the conversation always continues the same way…”So, what scriptures do you find that back up your belief system as a Christian?”

And here’s where I start shaking…the answer is always, “Well, I haven’t really read the Bible to find out about what God thinks on this particular topic.”  This is usually followed by a circular conversation that starts with, “A loving God certainly couldn’t REALLY mean….”

I always think to myself, “Well, if your Christian belief system isn’t backed up by the Bible, then it’s not a Biblical Christianity and therefore, it’s not Christian at all.”

I am concerned that we, as a people group, are leaning toward creating a form of “Christianity” that is based on our fleshly logic rather than obedience.

Listen, I don’t like some of God’s standards either.  They are difficult and stretching for me in my faith.  But if instead of knowing and grappling with what the Bible has to say through a repentant heart, I instead create my own belief system, then I am replacing God with ME.

And if I am obedient to my own flesh and not to the all-knowing power of God, then death and destruction are right around the corner.

The bottom line is that true faith has a response connected to it.  That response comes as you drag your wretched corpse to the foot of the cross, get God’s forgiveness, and then go out into the world aiming to be obedient to a God whom we should trust because He just gave us LIFE.  When we leave the foot of the cross and write a gospel that feels good, is convenient, or non-controversial, we will ultimately find ourselves right back to our rotting, dead life.

Bottom line: while we don’t earn our salvation, we are responsible to honor it.

And you honor your faith by KNOWING WHAT IT IS.  You can only really do that by diving into the Bible that He wrote for you and living out the pages even when it is difficult.

So, get a plan.  Listen to your pastor, but then read the Bible to see if what he is saying is true.  Read daily, obey when it’s difficult, and live out the faith that Jesus made look so amazing!

Get Off the Counters

stacynewell —  February 1, 2013 — Leave a comment

Recently we got two kittens for my two little girls.  They are both boys, both orange, and both full of energy!  They brought with them some cute personality traits that we have very much enjoyed.  Hooper plays fetch with pipe cleaners all day long.  Tiger is the responsible one and meows when Hooper needs something.  It’s been a fun addition to our home…

…for the most part.

They also brought with them some challenges.  They keep us up at night with those same cute antics, my curtains are permanently pinned up due to being climbed, and they committed the ultimate sin by spending as much time as possible on the counters.

If you want to really see Mark’s blood boil, that will do it.  I’ve watched over the last two months as he has painstakingly tried to train them that the counters are off limits.  He just kept saying, “Why won’t they stop?  They clearly know it’s not OK, but THEY JUST KEEP DOING IT!”  Sounds like raising kids, doesn’t it?

CatsThe other day I walked in after the kids got on the bus and there was Hooper, on the counter.  He was licking the jelly on a bagel that Kennedy hadn’t finished.  He looked at me with a shaking guilt, but didn’t quit licking the jelly.  It was like a lightbulb went on in my head!

They know it’s wrong, but the benefit of getting something good on a plate or in the sink, is worth the risk and consequence of getting caught.

They just simply don’t care about the consequence because they want what they want and that’s all that matters.

Sounds a lot like our obedience issues with God as well, doesn’t it?  We know the boundaries, but if the pleasure is worth the consequence, we’ll risk it, too.

Mark and I’s only choice at this juncture is to remove the benefit from our kittens so that they realize there’s no point in disobeying because they will leave empty handed.  We now make sure there is not a scrap of goodness left anywhere they shouldn’t be.  I’m sure that our discipline plan will go much smoother from this point forward.

If you feel like God is taking away “good” things in your life, maybe you should evaluate it from a different perspective.  Maybe God is trying to help you learn something completely different, but all you see is Him taking away things that bring you pleasure.  My guess is that God would love to fill your life with more pleasure than you can imagine….just in the appropriate context.

So, get off the counters in your life.  Not because God just finally took away your jelly, but because you love Him and trust Him.  And then wait and see just how much God wants to bless you!