Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's Tuesday!

Good morning, Everyone! Just want to give a shout out to our college peeps who may already be homesick and are looking to this blog to give them a touch of home. Be assured that you are missed, and that your parents are already redecorating your rooms to be used for something else.

Our post today is something for you (and the rest of us)to ponder as you encounter new people, challenges, and worldviews in school. I came across this great post on the web that I want to share with you:

In his book "The Normal Church Life," (An Exposition of the First Epistle of John), P.G. Mathew states, the book of First John deals with four main themes: (1) orthodox doctrine (2) practical personal holiness, (3) the Christian community life of love, and (4) the assurance of Salvation.

This epistle flies in the face of today's secular society because our secular culture hates uncompromising imperatives. Our society has an absolute commitment to moral and philosophical relativism. The surprising thing is that today's churches have become like-minded. Few churches preach orthodox doctrine; even fewer require practical holiness. We hear very little today of sin, repentance, holiness, judgment, or hell. The prevalent view is that mere mental assent to the facts of the gospel constitutes salvation, so that one can accept Jesus as Savior yet continue to live in sin and still expect to be saved! Any call to obedience is labeled as legalism. "Carnal Christianity" has become the norm.

John writes with authority and clarity: "This is love for God: to obey His commands" (1John 5:1, 3). Unlike the "carnal Christian," the one who is born of God will believe sound doctrine, will live to please God and the brethren, and, thus, will enjoy assurance of salvation.

To say you "know God" (1John 2:4), and have fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3), yet not obey Him or grow in holiness, is patent, self-refuting nonsense. If you do not walk in the light of Jesus, you are walking in darkness. If that be the case, you are not living according to the truth (1John 1:6), you are lost because only the truth can set you free (John 8:32), and you have no fellowship at all with God because "in Him is no darkness at all" (1John 1:5). If you claim otherwise, you are deceiving yourself (1John 1:8), and accusing God of being a liar (1John 1:10)... -- Toby Miller


I have no idea who Toby Miller is, but what he says is central to what I have been struggling with for some time. When I started this blog, it was for the purpose of connecting and spurring on those who are hungry and thirsty for deeper fellowship, understanding of the Scriptures, and more of God in general.

I am coming to realize, that is going to be a very small number of people. Most people who call themselves Christians could not pass the test of 1 John. We have sent some of our graduates to Christian colleges like OWU and CFNI (my apologies to any acronyms I have forgotten). My guess would be that 75% of students on those campuses that claim to be Christians, probably aren't.

The worry I have for myself, and for those who just went off to college, and anybody else who rubs shoulders with people who claim to know Christ, is that we will be sucked into the contemporary definition of Christianity that is full of carnality, self-righteousness, selfish ambition and hot air, instead of love for God and His commands, and love for people. Go ahead - read 1st John, and see if most Christians you know would pass the test. See if you pass the test!

We were recently looking for Sunday School teachers for the youth and for two of the kids classes. What do you think the bible's qualification of that leader should be?

Consider Acts chapter 6 when the qualification for SERVING FOOD was to be someone who was full of the Spirit and full of wisdom.

A couple other well known leadership passages are 1 Tim. 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9.

Compare those qualifications to our qualification list most of the time:

1. Breathing (this is important, but not required)

2. Willing (again, this is desired, but not necessarily required for leadership)

3. They must at least claim to be a Christian.

4. Not an axe murderer. (We are pretty insistent on this one)

5. Charismatic. (If they are good with people - hey, they must be leadership material!)

We've accepted our list because the need is great, and there is a shortage of qualified candidates, and the ones who are qualified are already doing too much. Thankfully, we scored great teachers and leaders in all three of our classes - but if they had not come forward, what would we have done? We would have been glad just to have someone "cover" the class. After all, we can't afford to be too picky, right?

The list of people who truly "hunger and thirst after righteousness" is scary small. I'm afraid that we have accepted a "norm" for Christianity that is the opposite of the real definition of Christian.

I've said all that to say this (which I hate when people say that, because if that's the case why didn't you skip all that and get to the this right away?). This is what is on my mind this week:

Uno. We can't compare ourselves to other people who claim to be christians to see how we are doing. The people we are comparing ourselves to may not be Christians. They may go to a Christian college, they may listen to Christian music and they may even be studying for the ministry - that doesn't mean they are saved. To look at others for approval instead of God's Word is to accept compromise as a way of life.

Dos. one of the reasons we are in this predicament is because we are basically ignorant of the Bible. We, who claim to be God's children and even ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ probably couldn't quote 10 verses of the Bible if our life depended on it(The 10 commandments and Jesus wept don't count). I used to be an Elvis fan (some would say freak). I could tell you all of his movies and when they were released and a multitude of other facts that noone in their right mind should care about. Some of you are that way about a favorite sports team or TV show. Can you name all 12 of Jesus' disciples? I rest my case.

Three. I wish I was more afraid of offending God than I was offending people. We have to start lifting up and holding each other to a higher standard. That's why I started this blog. So we could learn together, sharpen each other, and, if needed, correct each other (in private, of course).

Only a fool despises a parent's discipline; whoever learns from correction is wise.
(Proverbs 15:5 NLT)


Mockers hate to be corrected, so they stay away from the wise.
(Proverbs 15:12 NLT)


A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.
(Proverbs 15:14 NLT)


If these verses are true, why do avoid confrontation like the plague? Why are we terrified to confront someone because of the possible repercussions of suggesting to a brother or sister that what they are doing/thinking is wrong? Could it be because they(we) aren't hungry for knowledge, and they(we) despise discipline and they might avoid us so they don't have to answer for their actions? We know they aren't going to receive it well and so we keep our mouth shut. On either end, that's a sad state of affairs for the Church.

So, wherever God may lead you - don't be afraid to be set apart and shine for Him!

Well, that's all for today. I'll post a new song tomorrow (I know you are beside yourself with excitement)and I'll be looking for what you have to add to the discussion!

With Love!!

Phil

9 comments:

john m said...

Great word Pastor. Important for all of us but especially for the new college students whose faith may be tested in the near future. Holiness and purity does not always make it to the pulpits in the churches of today, but it can not be for lack of scripture that calls for it. Matt 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God." Are we seeing God like we should, or is our(my) lack of purity hindering us? 2Cor7:1 "Since we have these promises(6:16" I will be their God and they will be my people")dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that cantaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." Heb12:14 "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." Are we making every effort to be holy? 1Peter1:14-16 "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy , so be holy in all you do; for it is written:" Be holy, because I am holy." This is just a few but the message is clear. I heard a quote that is weighing on my heart that said, " If purity does not characterize our living, either we do not belong to Christ or we are disobedient." Something to think about. Thanks for the blog Pastor, it is helping me focus on the things of God.
To Him be the glory,
john m.

Phil said...

Great response, John. You're a great brother in Christ. I think you should be posting and I should be responding.

Keith C said...

Wow, I am not sure I want to post after reading the origianl blog and Elder John's comments?

I read Psalm 24 very often, not every day but most days.

Psalm 24:3-5 "Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? 4He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully. 5He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation."

Keith translation? We can not experience God's pleasure, comfort, true love and closeness when we have hearts that are torn between the world and Him.

As spoiled evangelical Christians, we want to have the best of both worlds and it is not possible!

You can read lots of books that tell us we can have spiritual peace and they do not say much if anything about purifying our hearts and cleaning our hands to get this peace.

I know I have used these verses before on this blog, but the truth of them is scary for what I call Cultural Christians.

Jesus told us in Matthew 7:13-14" Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14"For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."

Narrow gate and Narrow way that leads to eternal life!

Jesus goes on to tell us all about many of the very "Preachers" we see on TV and in many mega church.

Matthew 7:15 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves."

There are many wolves that are leading many people to the slaughter.

Purity, Purity, and more Purity is what will bring the closeness with God that so many seek!

A Pure minds lead to pure thoughts, pure actions, and a brokeness for our transactions against a pure and Holy Creator, Savior and Lord.

With a mind filled with trash, how is a person to find God?

You can not be Repentant and have a unpure heart or dirty mind filled with ungodliness!

Blessings
Keith

david m. said...

Those pesky uncompromising imperatives sure do put the people of God at odds with the tide of pop culture and (and pop church culture)!

I read through 1 John very slowly a couple of times today. By the time I got to Chapter 2 verse 5, I knew I wasn't doing so well. God's love is nowhere near completed in me. I felt deep shame but also tremendous gratitude for His Truly Amazing Mercy. I should be a lot farther along than I am in the pursuit of "God's love made complete."
1 John says a lot of things I wish it didn't say, and quite a few things that are hard to understand, especially in the last couple of chapters.

Honestly I'm NOT satisfied with how much of God I have in my life right now. And if I'm not satisfied it's pretty certain He's not satisfied with how much of me He controls.

How diligent and persistent am I going to be? Am I hungry enough? I pray that I am willing to be made so!

Thanks for the blog, Pastor Phil. This is my first time on here but I read back through the earlier posts. Thanks for doing this.

david m.

Phil said...

Welcome, David! It is great to have a senior member on the blog! Ha! Seriously, I will look forward to your posts - this one was very thoughtful and helpful to me!

Charles said...

Hey peeps! New Peep David!!

2 Timothy 4:3-5

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths...."

Does this sound familiar. A validation to the large crowds that practically worship the tv evangelists.

As a previous memeber of a mega-church, I have to tell you, thats why some of them are so big. The truth hurts and there was not enough of tough love, the kind of "sharpening" that God wants us to do.
Here is how to sharpen YOUR knife. (yourself) Take a moment to assimilate them to how we should sharpen each other more:

STEP ONE----Look at the Edge (LOOK AT YOURSELF)
Get under a bright light such as the sun, and hold up the edge. You'll see reflections on flat spots and nicks.(WHEN YOU COMPARE YOUR EDGE TO THE LIGHT OF GODS WORD HOW MANY NICKS TO YOU SEE?) THIS IS THE NEED TO BE SHARPENED, EVERY ONE OF US...

STEP TWO----Thumbnail test the edge
Touch it to your thumbnail and see if it slides around or if it catches.If it slides that means it's dull, as in not sharp, at least in this area.
Safety note: Don't chop your fricking thumb off.(THAT IS JUST FUNNY) (IF ITS TOO SMOOTH, IT DOES NOT CATCH, GODS WORD IS GOING TO CATCH, SNAG AND EVEN CUT) (IF ITS TOO EASY TO DO THINGS LIKE GO THRU A DAY WITHOUT READING THE BIBLE OR PRAYING, OR SIMPLY HAVING SOME ALONE TIME WITH GOD, THEN YOUR DULL)

STEP THREE----Flatten the Stone (READING THE BIBLE)
Buy yourself a sharpening stone for a dollar in Chinatown. If your city doesn't have a Chinatown, get one or move somewhere civilized.

This is a "water stone" which means you put water on it while using it to float the sharpening dust off it. Some prefer an "oil stone" which means you put oil on it. Some stones are born oily. Once the oil is in there water doesn't work well anymore.

This particular stone has had some use so it's dished out in the middle. That makes it hard to hold the knife at the right angle. So we'll need to flatten it.
Actually it doesn't really matter for knives, but when you start sharpening plane blades you'll make a religion of flattening your stone.
YOUR STONE IS YOUR BIBLE, WHEN IT GETS DUSTY ITS NOT FLAT ENOUGH TO SHARPEN YOUR KNIFE. KEEP IT FLAT, KEEP YOU SHARP...

STEP FOUR----Flatten Away (WE NEED SOMEONE TO FLATTEN)
Splash some water on the sidewalk and rub the stone on it til the stone is flat. Use plenty of pressure.
(WE NEED OTHER CHRISTIANS, THE CHURCH, THE BIBLE, PRAYER TO KEEP PREPARE US FOR SHARPNESS)

STEP FIVE----Thin the edge (A WISE MAN TAKES A REBUKE)
Rub the knife on the coarse side of the stone at a 5 degree angle as shown. It doesn't matter what stroke you use or what direction.
You're just thinning the area around the edge a bit to save you some labor later on.
WE SHOULD BE WILLING TO THIN OUR EDGES WITH GOOD CHRISTIAN FREINDS, WILLING TO BE SHARPENED, PREPARED FOR IT CONTINUALLY.

STEP SIX----The Sharpening Begins (MAKE SURE TO GET BOTH SIDES)
Flip the stone over and stroke the blade edge forward at a 6 degree angle. First one side of the knife, then the other. You are cutting toward the stone.
WE HAVE TO DO IT ALL THE WAY, SHARPENING ONE SIDE WONT ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING. ARE WE TOTALLY COMMITTED TO GODS WORD, BEING A TRUE DISCIPLE? ARE YOU CUTTING TOWARDS THE STONE, OR THE WRONG WAY?

STEP 7----Take the microscopic hairs off (SHOW SOME LOVE)

Using a leather strap smoothly and softly rub the knifes edge away from you on the leather strap. This removes microscopic metal hairs, strengthens the knife and polishes the edge.
(AFTER ALL THE SHARPENING OF EACH OTHER AND OURSELVES, WE MUST REMEMBER ITS DONE IN LOVE, WE HAVE TO POLISH THE END RESULT)

As Iron sharpens Iron, so shall men sharpen men......

Ok hopefully that was not too dorky, I don't know what got into me but I just started typing away....
May the Lord bless you,
Charles

Phil said...

Good job, Charles! That's the whole point - how can we sharpen each other?

Keith C said...

Since we are not to get "Preachy" let me say this.

This typical new age Christianity!

This is very humanistic in its theology, practice and application.

Blessings,
Keith

Carman Wyatt said...

I know I'm a little late, but thanks for the word PP. The whole first week here at CFNI was exactly what you were talking about. It's my prayer that I will have the confidence and boldness that Paul had to stand up for holiness and purity in Christ.
"For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.(2 Corinthians 11:2-3)It is terrible how many people have been led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. "For our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you."(2 Corinthians 1:12)I would love for my confidence to simply be the testimony of my conscience. I am encouraged to hear you talking about the same thing that I'm dealing with here, and I am keeping Dayspring in my prayers. Carman Wyatt