Identity Theft: The Case of the Missing Christian Church

Have you ever read the Bible and wondered, “Why do Christians of today look so completely different than the Christian church of the Bible?”

 

Stories from the new testament, such as those from the book of Acts, as well as many others, share of a people who devoted themselves to one another in brotherly love and took care of the needs together through the body of the church (Acts 2:42). The problem that many non-Christians have today with Christians compared to those in the Bible mainly revolve around one word: #hypocrisy (Luke 12:1-3).

 

As Christians we speak of a God who loves others, enough so much in fact, that He gave His only Son (Jesus Christ) to bare the burden of punishment for all humanity—for each one who would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved (1 John 4:9-10). As Christians we speak of a God who forgives others and are sure to point out that we have been forgiven by this God, but are slow—if at all—to forgive those who wrong us (Matthew 18:21-35). As Christians we speak of a changed heart loving God more than anything else; while many non-Christians only watch us on an endless pursuit of more “stuff” and never being satisfied with what we have (1 Timothy 6:6-11). Can we see the sincere thoughts of hypocrisy coming from the non-believer? I mean, really, can you blame them for holding such a view?

 

In addition to these observations, many non-believers will note that many Christians do not value sexual purity before marriage and partake in the same drugs, alcohol and slanderous online sites as non-believers—all hoping to get the most “followers”, “likes” and additional peeps added to their “tribe”. Each egging one another on to get the next best and most jaw dropping photo…no matter the risk…no matter the cost. And the question then begs to be asked, how are we different from the world as we are called to be?

 

I mean, seriously. If Christians are just as concerned about getting followed, rather than following Jesus Christ—we have a problem. If the Christian church is more worried about getting “likes”, rather than aligning our hearts to what God likes—we have a problem. When we are more consumed by our digital platform, rather than the platform of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we have missed the mark completely. What am I getting at? It’s time for the Christian church to take an honest assessment of priorities by looking at what consumes our schedules and our finances. From conversations with non-Christians, the feeling is that they hear us speaking of political positions more than caring for the status of souls. Further stated, rather than sharing of Jesus to those who do not look, think or act as “we” do, often times the non-Christian feels marginalized from the start and is repelled from wanting to have anything to do with anything we are in fact associated with.

 

Ladies, may we ask ourselves honestly, what has happened to us? Dare I say that we have forgotten what our Lord Jesus taught us in Luke 12:15. It’s time to realize that our identity is not found in our things or even our temporal relationships; our hope and identity is found in Jesus Christ our Lord—and that is a message that all people, of all nations, from all backgrounds NEED to hear. May we close today with the words of Jesus Christ:

13Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” 16And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. 17“And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18“Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21“So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

      22And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23“For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26“If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28“But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! 29“And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. 30“For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. 31“But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

      33“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. 34“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:13-34 (NASB)

 

 

 

Artificial Flowers: The Acceptance of Other

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 

   2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NASB)

 

In recent days, it has become clear to me that many of those who claim Jesus Christ as their Savior, do not like to hear much about the reasons for which He came. For example, the topic of sin is uncomfortable, for it cannot be covered in name brand apparel or given a prescription drug to forever numb the pain. Another such topic of discomfort is that of hell. The point that really strikes me is that these topics should indeed cause discomfort. These realities should indeed cause each soul to pause and ask God Almighty where we stand regarding sin and hell. You see, to act as if one has never sinned—is to lie to oneself—and forgo the offer of eternal life.

 

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)

 

One must see their own depravity and their own shortcomings in order to more fully realize the sheer weight and gravity of the offense of our rebellion against the One and only Holy God of all things. The Bible assures us that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This is why we must understand that because of God’s amazing grace and unabashed love for His creation, humanity, He sent His One and only Son, Jesus Christ to rescue us from a course bound for destruction that was never intended for us.

 

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

Romans 3:21-26 (NASB)

 

The Bible clearly teaches, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). And as the pages unfold and the vast beauty of God’s detailed and complex creation is brought to life, we are first introduced to Adam and Eve within the perfect land called Eden (Genesis 2:7-10, Genesis 2:21-25). God had perfect fellowship with them and would daily walk in the garden with them, but as rebellion entered this perfect place, through the free will of Adam and Eve, guilt and shame also entered (Genesis 3). Only perfection could be in the presence of Almighty God. Thus, as Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, the epic and celestial rescue operation, of God sending His own Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16) to atone for the screw ups and rebellion of each and every human heart (Isaiah 53:5), was set into motion.

 

Hell was never intended for humanity, but rather for the devil and his minions (Matthew 25:41). Thus, we must be burdened, as believers in the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, to tell others to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from a place that was never intended for them (Acts 16:31). Jesus clearly spoke of the reality of hell and the excruciating torment of hell for all who do not believe (Luke 16:19-31, John 5:39-47). Ladies, remember that the devil and his minions are determined to destroy all joy here on earth and cause each heart to reject God’s offer of eternal life through the penalty paid in full, on our behalf, by Jesus Christ the Son of God.

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10 (NASB)

 

Allow us to bring this point home: Ladies, rather than settling for an artificial flowers of carnal love or the inaccurate depiction of romance, may we repent from deception committed through smart phone screens and exploding text chains and return to the Lord who sees the value of each precious soul and poured out His own blood to rescue and redeem (1 John 4:9-10). Rather than believing that our culture or Hollywood knows best how to align our priorities and the allegiance of our souls, may we repent and return to the Lord for He promises plans filled with hope and a future for all who trust in Him (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Rather than settling for fashion that depicts the female body as a playground and shows the onlooker that the one wearing such articles only sees herself through the eyes of sex, may we repent and return to the Lord for He has so much better in store for you (Isaiah 61:10, Romans 13:14).

 

The time is now, Ladies. Let us not accept artificial lifestyles any longer. The King of Kings has called and created us for something much grander than simply updating an internet feed or chat chain; we have been called to righteousness as we advance the name of Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection to all people (Genesis 1:26, John 4:24, Matthew 28:18-20). The time is now. Let’s go.

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift–not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 2:8-10 (HCSB)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturated Fats of the Heart

Have you ever looked in the mirror while trying on new clothes and wondered, “Did that nasty comment make me look fat?” Or as swimsuit season is approaching, “Do these excuses make me look bloated?” Sound crazy? Allow me to explain. Excuses, grudges, nasty words and blame shifting could be described as high saturated fats of the heart. “Oh wow, can you even believe how ridiculous…” or “I wouldn’t have had to act that way, if…” or “I cannot be blamed in this because…”

 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

 

Whether we realize it or not, excuses for not obeying God’s word is much like carrying extra weight. When we are unwilling to follow God’s lead, and rather, hold onto an excuse, grudge or shift the blame to justify our own actions—we gain weight, spiritually speaking.

 

Walk with me here. If we are unwilling to “pick up our cross” (Luke 9:23) and follow Christ, we will experience the same atrophy spiritually, as we do physically from not treating our body right. Our body is called the “temple of God” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). In the same way, the most sacred part of us would be our heart—the very essence of who we are. Thus, if we are not willing to obey God in the inner most parts of ourselves, it will show in every other part of our lives. From our spoken and written words to the friends we hang with to even include the kind of guys we are willing to date. It all comes back to obedience to the Lord.

 

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

 

If we are willing to be obedient to the calling of God on our lives, even when it is inconvenient, or even down right annoying, we are honoring God—and keeping in good spiritual health (Acts 17:28)!

 

When we encounter stressful and unexpected circumstances, rather than grabbing a less than healthy snack option or calling a friend to vent, may we be women whom are willing to take our issues to the Lord and lay bare the ugliness of the circumstance before Him (Psalm 37:4-5, Psalm 62:8, Proverbs 3:5 & 1 Peter 5:7). May we be a generation of Christ followers who are willing to pray things out with the Lord on long walks or runs, even before we turn to others for advise. As we are more exposed to the world that the Lord created, we will be reminded that He works all things out in His creation for good (Job 12:10). Thus, we can be assured, simply by observing the natural world, that He will in fact do the same thing in our own stories; no matter how complicated the details may be (Romans 8:28).

 

Sometimes we all just need to hit “pause” on the world for a little while and regain our focus on what really matters. When I am stressed, I need to get alone with the Lord and hash things out. Through long drives or mountainside journaling sessions, I feel free to lay all things bare before the Lord; the good, the bad and the ugly. Sometimes I am balling in anguish. Other times I am screaming in frustration. And sometimes still, I am worshipping and laughing so loud, I think creation itself may be joining along in celebration!

 

The point is, regardless of how you do it, make time to get honest before the Lord—just the two of you. When you do, you will experience a great weight lifted off of your shoulders as you give your circumstances to the Lord through honest communication (Psalm 68:19 & Isaiah 46:4). It is in those private moments with the Lord, that we can then realign our will to His. In doing this, we can lay our excuses down and shatter the blame shifting that may be holding us back from experiencing the spiritual fitness that God has for us. By letting go of the excuses that have been used to justify our behaviors and thought patterns, we are then able to experience life in abundance (Jon 3:17).

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (NASB)

 

Jesus Christ promises us that He did not just want us to experience life—but to experience it in abundance (John 10:10)! So, when we find ourselves and others we love focusing on excuses or grumbling, let us check ourselves in love. Why? Simply put, our focus should not merely be on the physical world and outward beauty; but on keeping our whole body (e.g. body, mind and spirit) in good health (Deuteronomy 6:5). How do we do this? By keeping close to God through prayer, reading God’s Word and plugging into a Bible study where real life can be shared with other like minded followers of Jesus Christ. With Christian sisters at your side, you all can cheer one another on to memorize encouraging scriptures to recall in hard times (Psalm 23:4, Jeremiah 29:11-13, Jeremiah 33:3, Philippians 4:13, 2 Corinthians 12:9, 1 John 4:9 & Revelation 12:11), work out together, go on missions projects together that bless the hearts of others and just share life together in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

Summer is just around the corner and we all begin to look in the mirror to see if we need to shed a few pounds. In the same way, may we consider if we also need to loose a few excuses, drop a few grudges, and detox our hearts and spirits from blame shifting and nasty words. In its place, may we then pick up a little extra compassion, tenderness and responsiveness of heart! Let’s enjoy this approaching summer with a newfound spiritual fitness that is found in Jesus Christ alone (Psalm 27:14, Psalm 33:20, Psalm 62:1, Psalm 62:5 & Psalm 130:5)!

 

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)