Monthly Archives: August 2014

Drifting Along

“People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” -D.A. Carson

I read this quote and thought about being in a raft or canoe on the water. To get anywhere you would like to go on the water you have to put forth some effort and energy . . . you have to row! If you choose to relax, be lazy and not do anything, you are at the mercy of the water and the current. You are just drifting! Without any spiritual effort on our part and not practicing the spiritual disciplines, spiritually speaking you will not get anywhere. You will find yourself going nowhere and way off course to where you want to go. You will just be drifting!


The Eye Doctor

All of us at some time will have to go to the eye doctor and look at an Eye Chart. Back in the day, all you saw was a bunch of “E’s” and you had to tell the Optometrist which direction the “E’s” were pointing. Nowadays you go in and you have to read lines of different letters. For years as a kid I was doing real well with my eyesight. Then in the 10th grade I realized I couldn’t see the board from the middle to the back of the room so I went to the Eye Doctor and I found out my vision was not 20/20 anymore. I needed a vision adjustment. I needed something to correct my vision to where I could see like I should again. I needed corrective lenses to put my vision back to where it needed to be.

I have sense passed that trait on to all three of my children. They all wear contacts and are just like me. I remember Joshua in particular when he first got glasses. We were living in South Carolina and we had noticed him squinting to watch television. We took him to the Eye Doctor and sure enough he needed glasses and his vision was the worst of the three. The day we got his glasses we were driving to Columbia to visit a friend and Joshua was in the back of the van looking out the side window. He was taking his glasses up and down looking at things out the window. He was going, “Wow, look over there. Look at that bird! I can’t even tell there is a bird over there without my glasses.” Most kids don’t like wearing glasses but for him there was such a drastic difference, he was excited to finally be able to see. Debbie and I were thinking, “Man, we sure win the ‘Parent of the Year Award’ for this one. How long has he been like this and we didn’t even know it?” Sometimes spiritually we need to take a long, hard look at God’s Word and receive some “spiritual modifications and adjustments” to enable us to see God and His plan clearly again.

The church at its inception was essentially a movement. It was a movement built around a conviction that Jesus had died as the only Savior for sinners and that He had risen from the dead proving that He was who He said He was. He was the rightful Lord of the earth and all people everywhere were commanded to repent, to be in right relationship with Him and invited to come home to Him. They were not ashamed of that and their desire was to be sold out to Him for His purposes and His will in their lives.

“Church” is literally “an assembly or gathering of people around that idea. There is an imminent danger in the Church. There is the danger of the church in every age that it will cease being a movement and become a ministry that provides services to people, or even worse, a place where people simply attend. The question for us today is, “Are we as a church running an institution or are we a movement?” How did the church as a movement get started? The concepts are repeated in Matthew, Luke, John and Acts.


Trial or Consequence?

“Most people would probably look around at the world and say, “God did a great job in making the universe, but He made one mistake by allowing so much suffering and pain.” Phillip Yancey was called to speak to parents in Newtown, Connecticut after the Sandy Hook shooting. They wanted him to come and speak about pain and suffering. He was in the middle of research for a new book he was writing. He was thinking that often the question that people ask is, “Where is God when it hurts?”
 
But the harder question is, “Where is no-God when it hurts?” Phillip Yancey said, “Atheists are never asked to speak at places like Sandy Hook Elementary School because whatever they would have to say would never be comforting to the parents. They ask a Pastor or Christian Leader to speak because what they have to say is filled with hope.” They would say, “What happened was tragic and should not have happened. We should be angry at this kind of evil. However, we believe there is a good God who will make all things work together for your good if you trust Him.”
 
George Barna did a survey several years ago and asked people, “If you could ask God one question and you knew that He would give you an answer, what question would you ask God?” The number one question was, “Why would You allow so much evil, suffering and pain on earth?”
 
Jesus made it clear that believers would be persecuted. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). In Luke’s version of the Beatitudes He also said, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” (Luke 6:22). Paul also challenged Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12).
 
Peter is a good person to ask because he addresses suffering at least twenty-one times in this letter. Turn in your Bibles with us to 1 Peter 4. “12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him”

“So often we subconsciously buy into the lie that suffering should not happen to us if we are “living right.” We think that just because we are doing all the right things in the right way for the right reasons, we should be protected from suffering. In the aftermath of events 9/11, there was an article published where one of the wives whose husband was on Flight 93 called her to alert the authorities to what was happening. She said in the article her first thought when talking to her husband was, “No, this can’t be happening. We have good jobs and great kids. Things like this just don’t happen to people like us.”
 
We do that spiritually sometimes without even thinking about it. We go to God like the person in court who is “wrongly accused.” We tell God, “God, I am doing all the right stuff. I am reading your Word, I am worshipping You, I am sharing the gospel, I am praying, I am growing in my faith, etc. This shouldn’t be happening to me.” But the reality of it all is we are rightly accused and what is happening is justified because we are a Christ follower. Jesus said His followers were no different than Him. He suffered while on the earth so we will suffer as well.
 
If only “bad” people had bad things happen to them, we would think that makes much more sense. If the hardest of criminals, evil people, and people who are living in rebellion against God were the only ones who suffered we would probably see that as true justice. When we ask about suffering in the world and why there is so much evil that is just a sign that we know there is supreme good. For example, when an exam is given in class and one student makes a 90, one student makes a 70, and one student makes a 40, that means there is a standard of 100 it is .

“have been refined by God in the furnace of adversity. Following Jesus means suffering is the norm and not the exception. Suffering is not just philosophical . . . it’s very real! C.S. Lewis was asked, “Why do the righteous suffer?” and he said, “Why not? They are the only ones that can take it.” As believers we have hope and with our focus on that hope we will endure it differently than people who are not believers and do not have hope.”

“It is the theme of the book. In Chapter One he talks about being “grieved by various trials.” In Chapter Two he mentions that Christ suffered”. “When you suffer you have to discern what it is you are going through and why you are going through it. Discern The Source Of Suffering. There are three general types of suffering in the Bible. There is common suffering. We all live in a broken world and as a result of the brokenness in the world, there is suffering all around us. There is carnal suffering. “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” (1 Peter 4:15). When you are suffering you need to ask, “Is this a trial or a consequence?”
 
So often people will say, “We are going through a terrible trial right now.” But when you take a closer look, you realize that’s not a trial but a consequence for your actions. You need to take a hard look at the situation because the way out is totally different. The way out of a consequence is by making things. with God through repentance and making things right with others through restitution. You get yourself into a consequence but God allows you to go through a trial.