And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How Can I Obey a God I Do Not Fear?

We wrestle spiritually. It’s a Biblical truth. I believe much of our wrestling is because we have wrong priorities and values. In junior high I longed for a Les Paul guitar. The price was astronomical. But I wanted one. It was that which would make me a rock star. It was a grail of achievement. It represented status, power, influence. It was a trophy to be won. (Sounds like idolatry, but that’s another blog) Well for Christmas a few years ago I got my Les Paul. Now it sits in a box. Rarely is it touched or used. It may not even know what being in tune is anymore. Let me suffice to say that once again the illusion of happiness has only served to revealed the futility of things of this world. One good point is, now I do not need to buy that Ferrari.

But this was a wrestle. I would see a Les Paul and drool. I would spend time thinking on how to achieve it. Other issues would be set aside in my pursuit. James puts it well, What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:1-4)

Problem is that so often in the Consumer Gospel people see God as a god of vending rather than vengeance. They do not fear God. So little today is preached on sin, and even less is the preaching of judgment. Without fear of God there is no wisdom, no recompense for sin, not woe of sin. Fearlessness in the vision of God leads to treating Him as a common buddy and irreverent worship. This is what C S Lewis would describe as perceiving God as an old grandfather.

Without a fear of God there is no motivation to pursue God. Think about this; prayer is taken out of school. Then the Bible supposedly becomes irrelevant to those being taught. Then God is forgotten and that leads to delineation from morals. Mind you with this vacuum created something winds up filling in, we call this every whim of doctrine. What you then have is chaos in the classroom as there is no enforceable morality and discipline is removed for personal preferences. Thus the education levels are eroded to why Johnny can’t read but he can use a condom. We live in a Midwestern state that threatens the employment of teachers if their kids don’t pass a state test. So all year long the kids are drilled to pass this one test, all at the expense of real education.

I could go on but I am sure that you get the point.

You could say this same experience is within the church. Our people are looking for just enough to get by. They want motivation, self esteem enhancement, friends, music they like without words affecting them, All that matters is in the end that they pass the test. Jesus warned of this in Matthew 7, how at judgment the “faithful in things” would be absent from true saving relationship.

We need to know God. To know Him is to fear Him. The fear of God will also produce a love for God. I believe that as I read the old testament and see His wrath, and the wrath to come, that I have a thankful heart for a God who hates sin so deeply. It opens my eyes to His holiness. I gain glimpses of Him that bring my soul to worship.

There is much to be said of the Old Testament and its worship. We must not be so pharisaical as to say we would not have made the same mistakes as the Hebrews. For God does wonders around us all the time that are to hold us fast, and in this age we have the Holy Spirit. Those who worshipped God in the OT took time to be holy. They celebrated the history of God in festivals and they kept the Sabbath holy. They feared God such that their lives saw that everything was done to the glory of God.

So I ask, Can we worship a God whom we do not fear?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Should a Christian be Bored

Should a Christian be bored?

Last week I went out to visit a man who had visited our church. I received the directions to his place and proceeded the drive out into the country. It may have been the distraction of reading signs or whatever, but we arrived we were immediately awestruck at what we saw when we exited the car. All around us to the horizon were trees. Between us and the trees, freshly cut hay over 195 acres worth, with about 300 cattle grazing under an azure sky. The sun was at that point that things were golden and the clouds highlighted with areas of darkness and brilliant white. It was better than high definition TV. Awe and wonder filled my heart.
Boredom is a state of being tired mentally, but we ought to condition ourselves in meditation of God to have a continual sense of awe and wonder at God around us. Nature is better than a TV.

We often equate boredom with lack of peace. Without Christ as our focus emotions do run. With Christ we should never be bored but fascinated with the Glory of God.

The peace of God comes. Faith in Him is applied to us and it works a humbling within us that we joyfully accept.

Its true we often fight against boredom with entertainment (ask any little boy who’s sitting in a corner) America is the land of the greatest boredom and yet filled to capacity with entertainment devices. What is sad is the American Gospel of affluence has captivated the world in that they want what we have. We are the world leader in distractions. What if America had propagated the True Gospel?

We are distracted from the real issues of the heart. We explain away the awe and wonder of God with pseudoscience. Emotions are labeled by psychologists as brain chemistry. Sin is labeled a sickness remedied by greater self esteem, (read that gasoline on a flame)

The solution is the abiding in Christ. This gives us God’s perspective. Remember, we can’t expect to see God if we are serving two masters, such as self or sin. The Pharisees of Matthew 16 were of a wicked and adulterous generation that could not discern what was going on about them. Sin impairs our peace in that we can’t gaze upon God spiritually.

Seeking God is never boring, but a fulfillment of the joy for which we are created.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Deeper Thoughts Than I

I have been reading Thomas' book The Imitation of Christ. Here are a few quotes that I hope will spur us to persevere.

Why do you look for rest when you were born to work? Resign yourself to patience rather than to comfort, to carrying your cross rather than to enjoyment.

What, indeed, gives more trouble and affliction than uncontrolled desires of the heart?

Many often err and accomplish little or nothing because they try to become learned, rather than to live well.

Everyone, it is true, wishes to do as he pleases and is attracted to those who agree with him. But if God be among us, we must at times give up our opinions for the blessings of peace.

Dreams of happiness expected from change and different places have deceived many.

The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and little trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and yon by waves, so a careless and irresolute man is tempted in many ways.

There is adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is.

He who does not overcome small faults, shall fall little by little into greater ones.

To glory in adversity is not hard for the man who loves, for this is to glory in the cross of the Lord. But the glory given or received by man is short lived.

He indeed, is not worthy of the sublime contemplation of God who has not been tried by some tribulation for the sake of God.