ARE YOU AN EFFECTIVE CHRISTIAN?

salt2I’m reading through Matthew. Whenever the voice of the enemy or the activity of the enemy starts escalating, I run to my commanding officers standing orders. Whenever Lucifer starts influencing the world I operate in, I turn to Jesus. What did HE say? What does HE expect? What is has asking of me? That’s what I need to know.

THIS MEANS WAR!

I believe as a result of reading Ezekiel 28 and Genesis 1-2, that I exist and have my life behind enemy lines; that every day I get up I need to be quiet, and spend time on the “Horn” with the home base. I need to stay in touch with God. He sees me down here and he has work for me to do. Now, I get that I need to be bold, and no one ever accused me of being too gentle. (God forgive me that is not always a positive, sometimes it is a sin.) But as I go about my calling, I recognize that the enemy is coming after me, just like he is coming after you. How’s your day going by the way?

WHAT GOD SAYS

So a lot is transpiring and not all good, but I would agree necessary. So I’m sitting in my office and I think the answer is to be with God. So, I turn to Matthew 5 and I begin to read.

POOR ISN’T ALWAYS MONEY

Blessed are the poor in spirit – for theirs in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The economic poor, the spiritually poor, the relationally poor. The depressed, the anguished, the abused, raped, jobless, cast aside, the mean, the ugly, the loud, the hiding. The poor. The drained, the empty, the “don’t have anymore” kind of people. Blessed are those, Jesus is saying, who have come to the end of themselves. Enough of the lies, the belief you are more than you are, or that you have more than you have. You are wrecked. There is nothing. God here I am. A leper. A cripple. An Oil-less virgin, waiting, crying, now fallen asleep waiting for the bridegroom. The less than, the least of these, those mourning.

MOURNING CAN BE GOOD

Blessed are those who mourn – for they will be comforted. They are crying out, they want to be heard, they have no voice. They are beaten down and oppressed. They are those who are imprisoned; rightfully and wrongfully. Imprisoned in a skin color, imprisoned in a sexual orientation, imprisoned in racism, imprisoned in hate, imprisoned in the need to be a victim, to be important and stand on a stage, imprisoned in a besetting sin that will not go away, or be healed, or be satisfied; so they cry. They mourn inside, they are weak, they are scared and meek.

MEEK MEANS FREEDOM

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. They recognize their situation, they finally come to the end of themselves and they wait. They are waiting on God. They want to rise up on wings of eagles but they are willing to wait. They don’t chase their education and then wave it around like a flag. They don’t come in and pretend to be humble telling you all the while how humble they really are. They know their calling, more importantly their role, and they long to play it. They move forward seeking those that they can move forward. They don’t want things; they just care. As a result of caring, the world is at their feet. They aren’t easily offended and they aren’t easily robbed. They just love. Jesus showed us this character. In their obedience, they hunger for more of God.

HUNGRY MEANS VICTORY

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – for they shall be filled. Not gluttonous, not covetous, but hungry. They are not satisfied with the status quo, they believe things can be better. Not through hate and violence, but through hunger and meekness. They want a better marriage, so they serve more, give more and leave more: like Jesus did. They are hungry for a chance to serve the less fortunate, hungry for an opportunity to give to the needy. Their hunger is a godly hunger, not the perverted hunger of the prince of the power of the air. As a result, they just long to be filled: filled with the Spirit, filled with the presence, filled with the opportunity, and filled with love for the lost and the despised. They will be filled.

The list goes on and it goes through the merciful who will receive mercy, pure in heart who will see GOD himself in all that is around him, the peacemakers who shall be called sons of God (no gender intended from me), and then it lands on the persecuted.

WAIT, THIS ISN’T FUN

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness – for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. They have already received the Kingdom. They are already citizens of the glorious home we long for.

IT GET’S REAL

You know all the other “blessed are’s” feel good, feel spiritual, feel like God is up there just caring for us all, watching over us. Feel like he is keeping us from all harm; and then there is this. Blessed are you when you are persecuted. When you read that word, don’t think of the professor that mocks you in class, the fellow students that make fun of you for being a “goody-goody.” No, this is persecution for doing what God called you to do. This is being harassed by the enemy to the point that things break, sickness is thrown at you, people show up to lie and deride you, even take credit for what you did. It is THE ENEMY!

We know the enemy is coming. Shoot, we started this with the understanding that he is here and we are in his territory at war. Of course he is going to get mean and nasty, and ugly; he is the father of lies. But you are blessed when he takes notice of you. Jesus says you are blessed when you are so involved in the kingdom they the enemy persecutes you and falsely says all kinds of evil against you because of Jesus, for your reward in heaven is great AND they (enemy) also persecuted those prophets who went before you. You are in good company.

BEGIN AGAIN ……

So, back to the top. When the enemy starts lying to me I run to Jesus, get on the horn with the home base. Today, I heard God, through a recent message I preached, remind me that it is “principalities and powers pushing people’s buttons to get at you.” See the goings on as the father of lies pushing people around to distract you from the calling, the mission, the vision! Then press on!

WHERE’S THE SALT?

The next statement is, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

ARE YOU BEING EFFECTIVE?

And in the margin of my Bible I had written a while ago, “Are you an effective Christian?” After all the “Blessed are’s”, and all the, “You shall receive’s” the question I am left with is, “Are you being an effective Christian?” And as I read that I have to say, not if I am whining and complaining. I cannot be effective if I am focused on people and things and comfort. I cannot receive the blessing and help if my goal is not the Kingdom of Heaven here and now!! If for just a moment the enemy makes me believe that it is people and ME, I am most vulnerable to attack and depression.

Are you an effective Christian? What’s your salt quotient and what are you doing about it?

Advertisements

Why I won’t post the 10 Commandments at Church

CHICKENS I SAY!

You ever seen a yard full of chickens? You know, all those white and orange and red birds, walking around pecking the ground, hunting for a kernel of corn, or feed?

chickens

It is interesting to me to see Christian people acting like chickens in a yard, as they start quoting one or two scriptures that they demand people live by. I’m not against scripture, but usually it is their favorite hammer to beat people with. You know that one scripture that defends against a particular pet peeve of theirs. I used to do this a lot in my spiritual youth: “Hunt-N Peckers” I call them. They hunt and peck around the Bible finding that one verse, or a passage they can bend and take out of context, to force someone to conform to their understanding. It really gets sad when “Christians” reach back into the Law and bring it forward to “Hammer time.” Cue the music, close your eyes and see MC Hammer dancing sideways, back and forth across the screen of your mind.

The LAW

10 commandments I refuse to post the Ten Commandments in the church we planted. I won’t do it. (well, we will for a children’s lesson or a sermon series, but that’s it) I also don’t get real upset when it can’t be posted in any local court house, except that some of the judicial ideas this country were founded on are found in them; or so I’m told.

I just can’t get past the idea that these represent the Law from which Christ died to set me free.

 Wiped them out he did

Colossians 2:13-16 (NKJV)
                         13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with
Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us,
which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed
principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. 16 So let no one judge you
in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,

Jesus himself said in

Matthew 5:18 (NIV)
                            18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by
any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

nail-punctured-hand-of-christIn saying this he let us know that the Law was in effect UNTIL he paid the price. Once he paid the price, it was over. Done! Finito!! No mas!! Nailed to the Cross. I am not subject to it. That is exactly what he said when he said on the cross, “It is finished!” He wasn’t talking about the beatings, or the nailing, or the living, he was talking about paying the price. The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away the sins of man, nor can the annual sacrifice of those animals, they only serve to remind us that we are sinners.

Think of it as a debt that you owe God; you can’t pay the principle because you are a broken human being. You aren’t perfect. You can only pay the interest each year with your sheep and goats, and bulls and doves. You need the principle paid in order to stop the interest from accruing. Jesus lived a perfect life. No sin! He can pay the price if he is gracious enough. And he is. Who but for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, scorned it’s shame and is seated at the right hand of God the father (Hebrews 12:2) What possible joy could he have been talking about while looking towards Calvary? YOU! He was looking through the cross to you. He wanted to save you. He saw you there. He wanted to make the debt that you owed God stop!! HE LOVES YOU!

So after he goes through all that to do away with the regulations of the written code, the Law, the Law of Moses, the Law of sin and death, why would I post them on the walls of the very place you should come to find freedom?

The LAW just holds you down and reminds you that you were a sinner separated from God. The Law served to condemn us, to teach us we are sinners. Not any more.

Galatians 3:23-25 (NKJV)
                          23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be
revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith
has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

And what about those people that still reach back into the Law for one Law to control others with? The Bible says when you reach back to use the Law to control the free, you prove that you don’t know God.

Galatians 5:4 (NIV)
You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Because once you reach for one Law, you have to keep all 613. Oooops, you thought there were only 10? No, there are 613. And if you reach for one you get all of them; they are inseparable. One unit.

Galatians 3:10-11 (NIV)
                    10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not
continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before
God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”

You have been set free, why would you hang the shackles up for everyone to worship? Why would you threaten to put them back on people whom Christ died to save?

I do believe that freedom is not my excuse for low living, no doubt. But then, You and I aren’t the judge or jury, we share an invitation and the Word: Jesus set you free from the Law, so I will not hang them in the church.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” This is what Jesus said was the greatest commandment, “and the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I’ll hang that everywhere!!