As I write this post, the news channels are inundating our senses with the latest on the suspects from the Boston Marathon bombing. Ever efficient, reporters from every media outlet have descended on the Boston, Massachusetts area, in order that we might know every single gritty detail of the tragedy making front page headlines.
On my part, my heart goes out to those who were injured and the families who are also in the process of planning funerals for their loved ones.
However, there are a few things with which I am struggling. Please bear with me as I point out some deficiencies in what we are seeing and hearing played out in front of us. This article is not meant to demean the suffering of those injured or the grief of the families of those killed in anyway.
via To Love a Terrorist?.
Psalms 96: 9, “Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!”
Some folks, when they think about Jesus, get all warm and fuzzy inside. He’s good and even those who don’t profess Christianity know it. So, in a questionable effort to share His goodness with others, we, His professing people, inundate the market with Him. We sell Jesus on mugs, candies and t-shirts. We buy books based on His teaching, join small groups and internet groups to talk about Him and what He has done…for us. We profess Jesus but most of us don’t really know Him. We remember enough of our childhood stories about Jesus so that He hangs around our memories like a long-ago summer day, pleasant to think of but without demands.
We are drawn to the sweet baby Jesus lying in the manger and find it easy to get excited about Him. We hear a lot about the smiling Savior Who longs to give us a good life. We put the two together and we come up with something easy and comfortable: a smiling gentle Savior Who lives to please us. Marry this watered down view of Christ with a dose of modern thought and you have many of our modern churches: fun, safe places to go that don’t demand too much of us. They are, at best, Christian-based belief systems purporting to celebrate the Savior which are different enough from the world to make us marginally better morally (but even that is changing) but not different enough to make us stand out or cause us to be embarrassed (after all, Jesus wants us to be happy and He’d never want us to be uncomfortable, right?).
We get warm fuzzies when we think about Jesus when we fail to understand Who Jesus actually is. Jesus isn’t Who many folks want Him to be. He isn’t our buddy and He isn’t always a nice guy (in the way we consider niceness). He didn’t come to earth to give us a better life or make us happy. He is, however, always good and holy and He loved us enough to die for us so that we could live with Him forever. To that end He came to earth to be born and to die and to be raised again. While here He fulfilled the law by living a life of perfect obedience to it and He satisfied God’s holy and justified wrath by dying a substitutionary death on the cross. For us. He did this because, without it, we, sinful fallen creatures that we are, would have had no hope because sin, any kind of sin, is a vile thing in the eyes of God.
We don’t like to talk about sin today. The term sounds so judgmental and harsh to our modern ears. In our enlightened age, the concept of sin is archaic and old-fashioned. Instead of addressing sin in our lives and those of others, we talk about having addictions and problems. We speak of issues and failures. God sets out to slay our sinful nature; we put a band-aid on it.
Romans 6: 6 “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
Denouncing sin, even acknowledging our sinful natures, makes us uncomfortable so we just don’t. We figure that since Jesus is so nice He’ll forgive us for our failures. And He does–if we’ve truly repented. But not when we knowingly continue to embrace sin, not when we seek to downplay it and refuse to acknowledge it as the abomination to God that it really is. Most Americans who call themselves Christians are still in some way married to the world. They look like the world, act like the world, dress like the world and live like the world. There is no desire to be pure or modest, no longing for holiness, no self-denial, no aching over sin, no separation from the world. We go right on living for self, celebrating filth in our entertainment and uttering the same types of depravity worldly ones utter. Idle talk, idle chatter, idle activities fill up our empty minds and hearts because, even though we profess Christ, we don’t know Christ. If we did, we would be down on our faces before Him repenting.
God will not accept this. God demands obedience. God demands that we become like Christ. God demands separation from the world and its things. Most of us don’t know enough the Bible well enough to understand that. Because we don’t know the Word, we no longer know that we are supposed to fear God. We don’t know how to fear Him. It is doubtful most of us even want to (who fears a cute little baby in the manger or their best Buddy anyway?).
Maybe we don’t know the real Jesus and how to worship Him because our parents didn’t know. Maybe they didn’t know because it’s been a long time since God-fearing men filled most of the pulpits of our land. For far too long most American preachers have led us to believe that “God is love” without explaining that He is also that “a consuming fire” and “Jealous” and that He commands continued obedience to His Word. As God is, so is Jesus for He came to show us God.
Warm fuzzies for a false Jesus will never save us. Absolute devotion for the holy Son of God will. What will you choose?
The American people spent yesterday going to the polls and casting their vote for their choice for the next President of the United States. When all was said and done, President Obama swept to an easy victory. We who love and trust God should now relax in the fact that God is sovereign…even over elections.
This isn’t a time for “if only…then”; this is a time for all true Christians to trust in the Lord God Who does all things well. All things includes appointing our President.
America has long been the hope of the world. It really shouldn’t have been. The only real hope of the world is the Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly His commands have has been ignored, even by Christians, in the hope that politics can save the world. They can’t. Nothing can but Christ.
So let us not now dishonor Christ by asking “Why?”. We know why or we ought to. The church cannot marry the world without there being dire consequences. The re-election of Barack Obama and all that it means is, potentially, only a small portion of the consequences we will face if we don’t turn away from the world and back to Christ.
Though this election didn’t go the way we wanted it to go, it is time to put it behind us. What is needed now is for Christians to do what they should have been doing all along: getting on their knees and asking God to search them, try them and see if there is any evil way in them. That, along with a deepening study of the Word of God and a solid solitary determination to turn to God in obedience and seek His will in all things is the best, and only, hope we have.
So go home tonight and read what God has to say about obedience, holiness and living for Him and then get on your face before Him. Then pray: pray for yourself, for your family, for your church, for your hometown, state and nation. Not a quick “God bless him and her” type of prayer but a deep, lingering, agonizing type of prayer that actually accomplishes something even as it changes the one who prays. Then, get up and live like you really love Christ. If you do, you will do these things or something closely akin to them. If you don’t, you won’t.
And all of us who don’t, will deserve whatever judgement God sends on us be it through Obama or anyone, or anything, else.
May God bring glory to Himself through each and every one of us.
Soli Deo gloria!
A truly godly woman leaves off pursuit of the world’s definition of beauty and charm, casts aside the longing for wealth and fame, refuses to deal in self-comfort and pleasure, ignores the decay that this broken world offers and without waiver follows only Christ. It is His Word alone that matters. His glory alone that she seeks. It’s not a comfortable position, it’s one without personal honor and glory. One that will get her laughed at and ignored. That’s why there are so very few truly biblical women. And that’s why there are so few worthy teachers of biblical womanhood. Christian womanhood, as promoted by many churches today, is anything but truly Christian. We’ve so obviously lost our way. Of course, it isn’t just the women to blame but we’re more to blame than most of us want to acknowledge. “If only the men would lead…” we say, more than willing to pass the blame to our brothers, “then…”.
Then what? I’d like to ask. Then we think we’d follow? We’d listen? We’d be more than we are? Maybe. Certainly some Christ-exalting male leadership would be a welcomed change in most churches and in many of our homes. Still we can’t blame the situation entirely on our brothers. We’ve failed also.
We’ve failed to seek Christ as our all-in-all and only. So very few of us have been or are willing to lay aside worldly pursuits for the pursuit of the only One Who is truly worthy of our time and efforts. Blindly we pursue work, fame, fortune, comfort and acceptance thinking it will fulfill us, never realizing just how badly we are missing the mark. In our Christian lives (because we often separate the one from the other) we embrace any and every new supposedly Christian trend, every new teacher, that comes along and rarely do we take the time or make the effort to search the Scriptures for ourselves to see if what is being dished up is in accordance to the Word and will of God. That’s why there are so many teachers of the likes of Sarah Young, Ann Voskamp, Beth Moore or Rachel Held Evans. Publishers blindly print their teachings. Readers blindly read them. And believe them. Almost no one is willing take enough time in prayer and in God’s Holy Word, to determine “What does the Lord have to say? What does He desire? What honors Him?”
So how did this come to be? We lost our first love and, in the process, invited the world to come into our homes, our churches, and get comfortable. Because of that we now face a distressing situation where extremely few Christians are concerned only for the glory of Christ. Christianity then becomes what we make it, not what God says (for, as so many will say, who can really understand the Bible, anyway?; or, it’s just all so old-fashioned, you know?).Thus real biblical womanhood is more often than not a thing of the past. What is left of biblical womanhood often gets so confused with following rules and regulations that it gels into legalism. Or we throw it into a horrifying mix along with each and every new Christian trend that comes along until we have something more worthy of the devil than of God.
Thus I find only a smattering of women who are actually prepared to lead their sisters into a knowledge of the Holy things of God. Only a few who actually care about Truth. Instead I see lists, plans, groups and goals. Books, articles and speeches on sex, egalitarianism (and why the term biblical woman is passe), organizing, money, setting goals, depression, happiness and everything else under the sun (and not all of these are wrong to write about…it’s just that they are pretty much all that’s getting written about and, without Christ, they are nothing). Teachings on almost everything, in fact, except Christ Himself. I see far too many women (one would be too many) who claim to write and teach about the things of God all the while admitting that they “don’t know the Bible very well” or “have trouble maintaining a consistent prayer life”. I see teachers, writers, speakers and bloggers who are more than willing to lay out what they “think”, “believe” or “hope for” for themselves and for their sisters in Christ all the while basing their teachings on popular trends or what they think their readers want to hear. Rarely are their teachings resting securely upon the foundation of the Bible itself. Truly the landscape for biblical womanhood, and its teachers, is bleak and depressing.
Sisters, if we aren’t pursuing God as the One pursuit worth our time, our devotion, our effort and our love, we’ve got nothing. We’re achieving nothing. Our lives are worth less-than-nothing. And we have nothing worthy of being taught. Nothing worthy of being listened to.
Titus 2 womanhood, biblical womanhood, Christian womanhood or whatever description we wish to use must be firmly grounded in a knowledge of our Savior, a steady unyielding faith built upon an ever deepening knowledge of the Word and a prayer life that is so much of a part of us that we pray as naturally as we breath. In other words, true Titus 2 woman is borne of complete, unyielding, devotion to Christ in each and every aspect of our lives. Without that we’ve got nothing.
Without that we are nothing.
With it, we’ve got everything worth having. If more women would spend their lives in the pursuit of the only One Who matters, we’d have more godly women. More Titus 2 women who are able to teach the next generation. Saner families and better churches. It takes one to start. Will that one be you?
Just the other day I posted that Christians should be wary of God “experiences.” Although there are many prominent promoters of practices that claim to be ways to hear directly from God (other than by reading the Bible), it is my fear that these are really paths toward self-deception or worse.
As a follow up I’d like to share my thoughts about a book whose author purports to have received messages from God (which she turned into a bestselling book).
A couple months ago I was given a devotional book called Jesus Calling, and although I never read devotionals I began to examine the book. What I found shocked me. The author, Sarah Young, claims to have received revelations from Jesus through dialogue journaling (something she learned from two “listeners” who wrote another book called God Calling. I’ll get to that in a minute). Her book is even written as if Jesus is speaking those messages directly to the reader, which I personally think borders (or crosses into) blasphemy.
Alarm bells began to clang in my head.
Young writes that a year after reading that book, God Calling, “I began to wonder if I, too, could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more…”
The first question that I think needs to be asked. Is it Biblically appropriate to desire more revelation from God?
I had no knowledge of either the book or the author when I began reading Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling (having been asked by some of the readers of this site to do so). I had seen the book as a fixture on the Christian bestselling lists, but had never taken a look at it. The first thing I learned is that it has over 450 reviews on Amazon where it is holding down a 5-star average, something that is no small accomplishment. I downloaded it to my Kindle and began to read.
Sarah Young is the wife of a third-generation missionary to Japan who has earned post-graduate degrees from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, a Presbyterian seminary. Her book is a devotional, a year’s worth of short reflections on the Christian faith. But it has one major, all-important twist.
I will review the book under 2 headings: What She Says About What She Says and then What She Says. In other words, the first part will discuss the foundation of what she says and the second part will look at the actual content of the devotionals.
What She Says About What She Says
This is a book about experiencing the Presence of God (Presence is always capitalized in the book). It is about growing closer in relationship to the Lord, something every Christian craves. Young uses Presence to describe a very tangible feeling of God’s presence. Here is some background, the first time she encountered this Presence:
One night I found myself leaving the warmth of our cozy chalet to walk alone in the snowy mountains. I went into a deeply wooded area, feeling vulnerable and awed by cold, moonlit beauty. The air was crisp and dry, piercing to inhale. Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, ‘Sweet Jesus.’ This utterance was totally uncharacteristic of me, and I was shocked to hear myself speaking so tenderly to Jesus. As I pondered this brief communication, I realized it was the response of a converted heart; at that moment I knew I belonged to Him. This was far more than the intellectual answers for which I’d been searching. This was a relationship with the Creator of the universe.
Influenced by authors such as Catherine Marshall and Andrew Murray, Young continued to pursue this Presence of God, seeking to learn how to continually feel or sense God’s presence. She grew in her love for God and grew in her desire to spend time with him, speaking to him in prayer and hearing from him through the Word. It was in 1992 that she received a copy of God Calling, “a devotional book written by two anonymous ‘listeners.’ These women practiced waiting quietly in God’s Presence, pencils and paper in hand, recording the messages they received from Him. The messages are written in the first person, with ‘I’ designating God.” This book became a treasure and a textbook.
Young continues, …to read in full, please go to http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/jesus-calling