Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Does It Make Sense?

Joe does not believe in holding elections, but instead advocates rule by a hereditary king. Does it make sense for Joe to claim that he is a democrat? Sally advocates war as a means of both settling international differences and as an effective means of limiting population growth. Is she also right to claim that she is a pacifist?

In most areas of life we recognize that if a person denies the fundamental claims associated with a given name, that person no right to the name they are claiming. But when it comes to the faith, this reasonable assumption is contradicted. According to some people, we should accept anyone and everyone who claims to be a Christian, even if a person denies the fundamental teachings of Christianity. According to these same people, we should accept anyone who went to school and received a degree in science as a scientist, even if he spins theories that demonstrate a clear rejection of the scientific method.

Sorry to be non-PC, but I believe in calling things, and people, what they are. Those who deny the fundamental teachings of Christianity (things like the deity of Christ and his resurrection) are not Christians. Those who spin theories unsupported by actual scientific evidence are not scientists.

As long as these people do not claim to be Christians (in the one case) or scientists (in the other) I do not have a big problem with them. But when someone wants to have it both ways, when someone claims to be a Christian while denying fundamental Christian teachings, or someone wants respect as a scientist while demanding adherence to theories that cannot be proven, it is time to break out different labels. Such people are imposters. They are liars. These are not labels that should be used lightly, but are words that must be used when they clearly apply.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Why Wait?

Why do we wait for God to open the way before us? He has shown us that he opens the way for his people only as they are willing to step out in faith.

He told the Israelites to "go and stand in the river." But when they did so he stopped the flow of the river so that they were standing on a dry riverbed instead of in a river (Jos 3). Jesus told the man with the withered hand, "Stretch out your hand." He did so and it was completely healed (Mk 3:5). We are told "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you" (Eph 5:14).

Of course, we do not have the power to raise ourselves from the dead. Of course, we know that the Lord must empower us to obey this command - but he has empowered us, that is just the point. He has enabled us to step down into the water, to stretch out our hands, to wake up, even to rise from the dead. When we do what he has enabled us to do, then we will see a fuller revealing of his blessing in our lives. But if we sit and wait to see his salvation fully revealed, we will never see it. He expects us to take action. He expects us to step out in faith. He expects us to do what he has enabled us to do. He will not enable us for more until we put to use the power he has already given us.

Is there not something that we could be doing for the Lord this week? Let us do the small thing that he has given us the opportunity to do and next week, very likely, he will give us a greater opportunity to serve. But if we refuse the small task at hand, greater opportunities are unlikely to come our way.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning used to be a standard event in most homes. About the same time we took the storm windows down (remember those?), we would clean the house from top to bottom and get rid of some of the less-than-useful stuff that had accumulated. Spring cleaning was always hard work, but when it was over we had a sense of satisfaction. It was easier to get things done, and to feel good about ourselves, once the dust settled.

Is it perhaps about time for some spring cleaning in our lives? Are there some habits, perhaps some time-wasting activities, which we ought to banish from our lives? Is it time to open the windows of our minds and let more of the fresh air of God’s love into our lives?

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21, ESV)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:7-8, ESV)

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14, ESV)