I am not yet sure what all will be entailed in this ordeal, and it will undoubtedly be a work in progress. What I know is that too much of the world’s culture has been allowed to creep into my life and I want to expel as much of it as I can. So it is time to do just that.
A Summer of Sacrifice
This summer – definitely during the months of June and July, I am going to make some changes. Some will be more painful than others, and yet whatever the case, they will all be changes made toward the end of reaching a goal. That goal is one of transformation in my outlook.
Satisfied with Dissatisfaction
You see, at least in my life, I see a great ill. I see it in the lives of most people, but I know not the cause. In me, the problem is simply a matter of being dissatisfied with what I have. I am not happy with what God has divinely ordained for me to have. As a result of this dissatisfaction, I seek something better. The whole “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome. The grass only appears greener.
STUFF DOESN’T SUFFICE
My life experience, limited though it may be, has proven to me over and over again that when I acquire things, when I achieve recognition, when I accomplish tasks, and when I attain goals, I am always left with a sense of lack. That sense of lack is there for a purpose! Jesus advised us to, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).
Did you get that? Life is not about stuff. When our lives revolve around stuff, Jesus calls that covetousness. That’s greed. That’s one of the so-called Seven Deadly Sins. Ouch. So what does that mean?
This will be a summer of spiritual conquest in my life. It will be a summer of overcoming the flesh. I do not know what all will be entailed in this. I will assume that there will be some fasting involved. I am waiting on the leading of the Holy Spirit in some areas. What I do know, is that I am going to go on a “Fast Food Food Fast” this summer. That means, I will not eat anything from McDonalds, Jack In The Box, Wendy’s, whatever. I may still do the occasional Subway or Quizno’s, but we shall see. This goes in line with my “Total Money Makeover” (ala Dave Ramsey) in that it helps me save money. It also will help me to avoid overindulgence in really unhealthy foods.
God is the source of all true satisfaction. Not stuff. Not food. Not video games. Not television. It’ll be a fun ride!
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
Have you ever wanted to sit down and have a good old fashioned conversation about basic theology? Why is it that more people don’t understand some of the theological basics? I mean, how can you go to church for most of your life and yet not understand justification? How can you not understand the basics of salvation? What’s up with that?
It is disappointing that so many people in churches know more about Jabez in the Old Testament than they do about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. More people could tell you how to be blessed than could tell you how to be saved. And I don’t even want to begin tackling the subject of hypocrisy. “Hey! I’m a Christian, too! Want to go clubbing tonight? I’ll buy the drinks!”
Shallow people disappoint me. <sigh>
Posted by Joel at 4:43 PM
Saturday, May 20, 2006
I went to a friend’s house last night and we listened to Chuck Smith teaching through Ephesians 1. We discussed again the phenomenal power of God’s grace. It boggles the mind. God has given so much and asks so little.
Then we started talking about churches
So many churches simply do not teach doctrine. It’s like pastors are afraid that if they teach doctrine, they will bore their congregations or something. I guess it’s a tough decision between boring people or sending them to hell. We see so many people working for their own salvation. I think so often people don’t know that they are doing it!
So where does this works thing come from?
Whenever we try to maintain our own salvation or take responsibility for our own actions, we are working. When we understand the New Covenant, we are freed from the stress that comes from TRYING to live according to the Law of God. The Law is good because it shows us our desperate need for Jesus Christ, but it reminds us of just how inept we are. Isaiah says that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). The grace of God is great because it shows us our desperate need for Jesus Christ while, at the same time, freeing us from the disappointment that comes so often from the realization that we cannot fulfill the Law’s requirements. Bob Hoekstra writes:
When a person struggles and struggles with a major medical problem, it is agonizing to go on and on, not knowing what the problem actually is. It is glorious when someone is able to reveal what the problem actually is. Part of the glory of the law is that it reveals the basic problem of human struggles: sin. Yet, it is a far more glorious matter to have a remedy for a problem revealed. Grace is that remedy.
Trying vs. Dying
Louie Giglio says we need to do a lot less trying and a lot more dying. That is a good preachery kind of way to put it. In the opening chapters of Hebrews, the Holy Spirit says that Jesus Christ has sat down at the right hand of the Father so that we might enter into the true rest that is typified throughout the Old Testament by the Sabbath Day of rest. Our High Priest has sat down to rest (meaning there is no more work to be done) so that we, too, might enter into that rest. Later, I will write much more on the subject of losing one’s salvation. For now, suffice it to say that when we labor to maintain our own salvation and fear losing it, we miss out on the rest that God has provided once for all for us through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Glory be to His holy name.
Posted by Joel at 6:15 AM
Monday, May 15, 2006
Dead fish float
I was listening to a sermon message by Chuck Smith tonight. Something he said really jumped out at me, especially in light of the last post I made. He said that when he was younger, he would always complain to his mother when she wouldn’t let him to go parties or movies or whatever. His argument was always “But everyone else is doing it.” He said that her response was something to the effect of, “Any dead fish can float down the stream. It takes a live fish to swim against the current.”
Dead people float
By the same token, any spiritually dead person can float through life. It takes the life of Christ within us to resist those things that are “normal.”
Posted by Joel at 5:20 PM
Saturday, May 13, 2006
I just realized something today.
A few days ago, I got a myspace account because I have heard a lot about it and I have a handful of friends who put pictures on there or whatever. Well, I finally bit the bullet and jumped in. What I have begun to discover disappoints me. So many of the profiles I see on there are so carnal; so worldly. They put Christian as their religion, but then they proceed to put half-naked people, playboy bunnies, raunchy songs, profanity, and all sorts of other things on there as well. “Where,” I asked myself, “are all of the normal people?”
Then it struck me.
The normal people are the ones whose profiles I am looking at. The normal people are on there looking for dates. Looking for friends. The normal people are the ones who go to bars on Saturdays and church on Sundays. The normal people are the ones who live to pursue pleasure. The normal people are the ones who go through life without a vision for progress.
Then it struck me.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: be he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18).
Normal people don’t have a vision for life. I have a vision for my life. Therefore, I am not like normal people. I am different. I am called to be different. I am saved to be different.
But being different makes it difficult to make a lot of friends.
This also is true, but that in no way justifies going back to doing normal people stuff. But they might think I’m weird. They might not be my friend. They might shrug me off and never invite me to hang out with them. Dave Ramsey says that when broke people are criticizing your financial planning, you are on the right track. I say that when normal people are criticizing my lifestyle, I am on the right track.
Pursue Jesus at all costs
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
“Looking unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
No other pursuit in life is more prosperous or beneficial than an all-out abandoned pursuit of the Messiah. The Redeemer of Israel is also the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. The righteousness of Christ is unbelievably pure and it makes me stand here in utter amazement.
So where are all of the normal people? They are on myspace. Where are all of the different people? They are on their knees in prayer. Lord, that I might be separated more from the patterns of the world! Direct me, Heavenly Father. Lead me in right paths.
Posted by Joel at 9:30 PM