Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ruthless Christianity

I hate un-health. It makes no difference to me whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual. Un-health is sickness and I hate it.

Please note, for the record, that I do not hate the un-healthy person, just the un-health. If someone has physical cancer, I don't hate them...just the cancer. The same principle is true with emotional and spiritual sickness. Also, please note that I hate un-health in me as much as anyone else.

And while I'm being honest, it drives me nuts that people choose to stay unhealthy. Why would anyone choose to stay sick? If your friend came to you and said, "I've just broken my leg (see that bone sticking through the skin), and I've decided not to go to the doctor," you'd call them on the carpet. You'd make them get into your car and you'd drive them to the ER yourself. Why do we just put up with emotional and spiritual broken legs?

For the purposes of this blog entry, let's set aside sickness in the physical sense and focus on emotional and spiritual un-health.

I know people who used to be unhealthy and refused to stay stuck there. Over years they've applied the principles of scripture (which is the best place to find healing) to their lives. They've done the hard work of scrubbing out the dark areas of their souls, inviting the Master Soul Cleaner to disinfect and deodorize. I'd like to think that I am one of them. (Though like everyone else, this is a lifetime'd be surprised at how many cracks and crevices there are in your soul!) But freedom, hard won, is sweet...and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

On the other hand, I've known people who have been "healthy" (or have they?) and slipped slowly - sometimes quickly - into the sea of unhealthiness. Their thinking slowly shifts away from the truth of God's Word, and they seem to lose their way. Why? Why would anyone give up freedom and health, and exchange it for sickness and bondage?

Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" The human condition never gets better. The flesh never gets better. There is no cure for our hearts which have mastered the ability to be deceitful.

We have an incredible capacity to lie to ourselves about ourselves. Pause and think about that statement for a moment. Don't miss the point.

Because there is no cure for the heart, we must be constantly working to keep the heart healthy. It will always move toward sickness. People get unhealthy when they either stop trying to stay healthy OR they stop using the Word of God - which is unchanging - to measure their health.

In an orchestra, the concert master (usually the first chair violin) tunes their instrument to a standard pitch (440-A I'm told...I've never been in an orchestra). The oboe (which is the only instrument that is never out of tune) usually provides the pitch. Then, the orchestra tunes to the concert master.

The Word of God is our concert master. We must constantly adjust our instrument (heart) - which has trouble holding its pitch - to the pitch of the concert master. When we use any other standard, we get sick...infected by the siren lure of sin. And any thought or pattern that doesn't align itself with scripture is ultimately sin.

I believe God calls us to be RUTHLESS CHRISTIANS. We are called to ruthlessly - relentlessly -  attack the un-health in our lives. The enemy is constantly on the prowl, deceiving...usually a pretty easy job because according to Jeremiah we have a natural bent toward self-deception.

It is a constant battle and too many Christians have given up...or are lying to themselves (that danged deceiving heart) about their spiritual health.

What about you? Can you take a moment to be ruthlessly honest with yourself?

But don't stop there. Do something about it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Psalm 101:3 - I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.

"Can I watch 21 Jump Street?" asked my 15-year-old son. Hmm. We have a general rule that rated R movies aren't appropriate for under 18 year old children (and most adults). I say general because, I must admit that I do have some R-rated films (for action violence) that rank in my favorites list.

I had my suspicions about the film's content. So I looked up a movie review from Focus on the Family's To say the least, there are about 125 f-bombs and more than 70 s-words (and much, much more. How could one f-bomb per minute ever be beneficial to one's soul.

Sadly (for him), we had to decline our son's request. Though he'd argue that the words don't affect him, we know that to be false. His argument is common to man, Christians included. We live the lie that we can compartmentalize our lives and swim in the mud and not get dirty. Every decision we make moves us toward Christ or away.

I was reminded of a book I recently read, Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World, by Craig Groeschel. In it he addresses this issue and asks how many f-words would be appropriate in one of his sermons? Where do we draw the line?

We live in a culture that makes it increasingly hard to avoid, as David says in Psalm 101, "anything that is vile." Like the fog in a horror flick, vile is seeping into the cracks and crevices of our soul and mind everyday. It warps our view of right and wrong, and blurs the line between the holy and the profane. It contaminates us and pushes out the Holy God we love and follow.

Then we wonder why we feel so distant from God.

Shouldn't we be more like David? What would our worship look like in our churches if all of our worship teams and the worshipers they lead refused to take part in that which is vile during the week? Why should we expect God to find his way through the mud just to touch our spirits when we take a few minutes away from the evils of this world on Sunday morning? Would you?

May we live by verse 4b: "I will have nothing to do with what is evil."


Monday, July 9, 2012

The Mooing of Our Culture

I was visiting someone in jail recently. He told me he had been reading some of the Bible...the gospels, Acts. Then he went into, and read, some of the Old Testament and decided that it was all bull* (his word not mine). I was thinking, "You're in jail for making stupid decisions, and you are rejecting the one thing that could change the trajectory of your life." He will stay stuck in the life he has built for a bit longer it seems.

I am reading a book that talks about the signs of judgment falling on the United States of America. It seems that our slide into immorality has caught the attention of our Divine Creator, and beginning with 9/11 we have been given warnings and judgment for our errant ways. (It may seem like I disagree...though I'd like to, I'm afraid the author may be right).

Apparently my friend in jail isn't the only one who thinks that living life God's Way is bull. All around us we see the consequences of a culture that is rejecting the One who gave them the blessed life they have and are so quick to discard for the lure of the dark side. Whether we are coming under judgment from the Almighty or not, our culture has been fraying at the edges for some time, and is now unraveling faster than we can imagine. The lines between what is true and right have become blurred beyond the point of recognition.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Psalm 91:1-3 says, "Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare of the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from the fatal plague."

I love the thought that he will protect me from the fatal plague. The Message Bible says "deadly hazards." The King James Version says "noisome pestilence." In the original language, pestilence refers to a cattle disease.

Our culture is stampeding like cattle to a certain death.

He will protect me from the fatal plague. I just need to live int he shelter of the Most High. I need to live a life of everyday worship. All for my King. He is my refuge and safety.

How will you live? Will you moo with the rest of them?