Friday, 14 March 2014

Very Thin Ice

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  Matthew 13: 1-9

It is with much concern that I post this particular blog.  I don’t want to offend someone who professes to be a believer in Christ, nor do I want to cause someone to doubt their salvation.  The above passage and Matthew 7:21-23 suggest to me that some of us consider ourselves to be Christians and perhaps on an intellectual level we are.  But God looks upon the heart and in the final analysis only He knows if we have truly been “born again”.

Scripture makes it clear that if a fruit tree is alive it should bear fruit.  We as born again Christians should exhibit fruit, be it the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5), and/or the way in which we love our neighbor.  We should cherish the time spent with the Lord, time in His Word, time in prayer, and time in meditation. We should ask ourselves:

1.     Do we have a thirst for God, i.e. a desire to know Him more?

2.      Are we governed increasingly by His Word? 

3.     Are we more loving? 

4.     Are we more aware of God’s presence in our lives? 

5.     Do we have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others? 

6.     Are we quicker to forgive? 

7.     Do we grieve over our sin? 

8.     Are we seeing a long-term pattern of growth?

9.     Do we acknowledge that all things are from God?

10.  Are we convinced that we are indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit?

Number ten is crucial for without God’s Holy Spirit it is highly unlikely that you can say yes to the nine questions above. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list but just some benchmarks along your spiritual journey.  The importance of being born again is to be indwelt by God’s Spirit which makes all the rest possible.  It is God’s Spirit that prompts me to obey God’s commands.  It is God’s Spirit that convicts me of my sin.   A couple who is born again should have a marriage that is filled with joy and a testimony to our God.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Colossians Marriage Test

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness.  Colossians 3:15   The Message

In one of his seminars Paul Tripp made the comment that any passage in Scripture that helps us to know more about God, more about ourselves and/or more about surviving in this broken world is in fact a marriage passage.

Hidden in the wisdom contained in the book of Colossians is this gem that could make married life so much easier.  Perhaps it would help if we were to start with the end of the verse, i.e. “cultivate thankfulness”.  The more thankful we are for the husband / wife that God had given us the more joy filled will be our marriage.

It seems to be human nature, we gravitate to the negative.  And Satan likes nothing better than to see a Christian marriage go down in flames.  You will find that over time you will begin to dwell on the negatives.  As your mind goes down that well-worn path, a rut will form and according to some recent neurological findings it will be difficult for you to change your thinking.

Notice that it is the “peace of Christ” that enables you to “keep in tune” and “in step with” each other.  The peace of Christ is the indwelling Holy Spirit who has taken up residence in the lives of born again Christians.  It is Christ residing in you.

I like those two metaphor, i.e. in tune and in step with.  The phrase “in tune with” reminds me of why the choir has asked me not to try out.  When the choir is singing in the key of “F”, I’m usually singing in a key somewhere around “C”.  It sounds so much better when everyone is singing in the same key.  In step with reminds me of the year I spent in ROTC, an army training program for college students.  One or the other of us was usually out of step particularly during the first few weeks. It is interesting how just one person out of step can be seen by an Army Sargent a football field away.  Don’t ask me how I would know that.
When your marriage is harmonious, i.e. in tune it brings praise to God.  When you are in step with one another you are aligned in values, the important things of life.  This is much to be thankful for

Monday, 10 March 2014

Fruit of the Spirit

22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.   Galatians 5:22-25 New Revised Standard Version

I have been reading and hearing a lot lately about the “Busters” and “Mosaics”, i.e. those ages 19 to 29 and their opinions about church and more specifically Christians.  The book unChristian by David Kinnaman, President of the Barna (Research) Group, goes into great detail depicting what this age group believes. 

What saddens me is that in many cases I agree with the perceptions of those in this age group.  I am also aware that many young people who grew up in a “Christian” home and go off to university do not come back to church.

Like many people I tend to get on a hobby horse and ride it until drops.  Stated another way once I form what is usually a critical opinion about something I keep talking about it until everyone around me is bored to death.

I’m convinced that the real problem lies not with us hypocritical, intolerant, self-righteous Christians but with the households in which these young adults grow up.  If as a young person your parents just dropped you off for church but didn’t attend or worse yet attended but did not live their life in a way that reflected Christ, no wonder you want no part of Christianity.

If these same young people grow up in a home where the father is either not present physically and/or emotionally: where the father isn’t a servant leader, protector and provider; and where the father fails to live out and instill Christian values in his children it is no wonder young people fail to see the relevance of religion.

If the model of marriage these young people observe is a highly dysfunctional, quarrelsome, and/or combative relationship it is no wonder that young people feel the Bible has little to offer in way of practical advice.

I believe we are losing the young people because they have not witnessed Christ in our homes..

Look at the list of the Fruit of the Spirit. In what ways can you say, “I’m a different person because of the impact God’s Word has made in my life”?”   Can we see the persistent, guiding, transforming work of Christ in our own lives?  Is it evident to those who live with us?