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Posts Tagged ‘fundamentalist’

I have not gotten into any good debates (i.e. arguments) for quite awhile.  I have grown tired of them and don’t feel a burden to dialogue with the firmly convinced about anything.  Aren’t we all convinced? 

But in the last few days I’ve had some interesting and unexpected exchanges.  Okay, I’ve opened my typewritten mouth in some places where I haven’t in a long time.  And I was reminded of an interesting phenomenon among people who believe themselves to be supremely “right”.  They don’t have room for anyone who isn’t.

I ran across an interesting post on Craig’s List in the middle of the night, trying to amuse my insomnia.  The ad claimed to be a seeker of truth, asking to discover what a real Christian is.  I had a pretty good idea this was bait, so I bit.  I was right.  In fact I was even right about what kind of bait it was – a person zealous for the old paths, a “Nazarene watchman” as he called himself.  This is a unique brand of Torah observance (if you ask, most HRM followers will claim they don’t believe like the rest of them), but the premise is the same as the rest of the crowd; the Law of Moses is the final Word, not Jesus, as Hebrews 1:1 explains.  He was not a seeker of truth but a seeker of pupils.  I did confront him on the manner of his search, to which he humbly and surprisingly responded that he wouldn’t misrepresent his intentions anymore.  I admire his sincerity and his zeal.  However, he made it clear that if I wasn’t interested in his message, he was going to move on.  Aw shucks.  I thought we were going to be great friends. lol.  But it brought home to me again one of the fruits of false religion; selective love for those who agree with me.  I have heard several stories of families  being torn apart because a follower of the law starts to see that only those on his (or her) own path are really a part of the spiritual kingdom they belong to.  Those who don’t agree, even under their own roof, become less and less important.  What they think and feel don’t matter anymore.  No need to be kind or patient.  They see even their own spouses as disobedient and rebellious.

Organized cults nearly always drive wedges between their followers and their friends and family who are not converted to the “truth”.   They are taught to see others as less enlightened and holy.  But often those who don’t belong to an organized group (and often claim Divine revelation) are found to have the same fruit operating in their lives, even in the absence of human spiritual leadership.  They may have even stronger defense mechanisms because they believe their directives come from God Himself and no human agent.  But regardless,  we can bear the fruit of genuine love ONLY in the Holy Spirit.  If we do not, we are of another spirit, no matter how right we believe ourselves to be.

How we respond to those who do not agree with us tells much of which spirit we follow, or at the least our maturity in the Lord.  I have many many times throughout my life responded in a haughty manner.  While I may be blunt (as is my manner often) I pray to not be puffed up and arrogant toward those who disagree, or to see them as having no more value as human being.  I long to love with God’s love, not be moved only for those whom I know are aligned with my beliefs and preferences.  

I have recently decided to branch out and associate with people outside the Christian ghetto and I find it challenging me on many levels.  I have new friends who most certainly would not agree with me on much, but I am happy to say that God has filled my heart with love for them and shown me how much they matter, to Him.

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Yesterday in a book store I skimmed through the introduction to a book by a scholar who had studied himself out of the faith that I claim to believe in.  I did not get so far as to look at his evidence or reasoning, only the description of his journey through many decades of seeking the truth.  I have to admit that it rattled me – just to hear the words of a man with a giant intellect who claims to have walked in my shoes, yet come to decide that it’s not what he once thought it was.

I do not for a minute doubt his sincerity or his desire to know what the truth is.  I have been on a similar journey of my own for years as well.  I know that for Seventh-day Adventists, writings by former members can create many reactions;  fear, “what if”, mental scrambling for that piece of fact that no one can take from them, anger and blind defensiveness.  I found this mental confrontation giving me the same kind of experience, fueled by the fact that I have friends who have succumbed to doubt and fallen away as well.  Do I open that box and see what is inside?  Would I come through the other side victorious or defeated?  What IS my faith based on?  What does it depend on?  What do I ultimately trust IN?  One thing I know for sure is that I cannot base belief or doubt either one on the conclusions of someone else.

This morning I was wrestling with these questions and talking to God.  He’s my dad and I take everything to Him.  I apologized, after all He has revealed and shown to me, and done for me, that I could wonder if there was any validity to the doubts of another human.  I won’t claim this post is what He Himself told me in response (for those who should rightly question that claim), but here is what came to mind, and it reminded me a little of the Parable of the Sower.

I saw three traps that prevent people from really knowing Jesus.  They may overlap, or one may lead to another, but these three became so clear to me.  There are examples of these both in the unbelieving world and in “the church”.

The carnal person never gets beyond his own desires in this world.  Even if he hears the truth, it does not affect his direction, which is to seek his desire for lust, things, or power.  He may even try to use the truth to that end, but in the end, all he wants is what HE wants.

The mystic may not care much for material things, pleasures, or position, but he loves the supernatural.  However, he doesn’t consider that not everything that is spiritual is from a good source.  Lying spirits easily lead him off on a trail to do what the first man does, in a different way; seek happiness in self through discovery, actualization, or improvement through accessing the “higher self”.  Evil is not necessarily something that is ugly, scary, cruel, or sinister.  It’s simply wanting my own way.  It’s rebellion.  Spirits in the church are also teaching people to seek this path in the name of Christ.

The intellectual on the other hand has no time for shallow, worldly pursuits, nor is he silly enough to believe in the reality of the spiritual realm.  Some “believers” may live on knowledge alone and never consider that God is a Living Person who can speak and act in their own sphere beyond the pages of a book.  Neither do they acknowledge the reality of evil spiritual entities.   Eventually, the miracles may seem as legends, the stories allegories, and God Himself becomes a metaphor.  The man is left to worship his own mind.

A Christian can be assaulted from all three sides – his own lower desires, refusing to “discern the spirits”, or trusting his own intellect until someone raises an objection he can’t answer.  What person can keep himself from falling away with these dangerous pitfalls at every step?

Some believe it’s important to constantly warn Christians they can lose their salvation.  While scripture does contain passages that warn us, the Gospel (Good News) focuses on what God has done, not my potential for weakness.  The underlying message of the fear-based approach to faith (fear &  faith don’t mix by the way) is, “You better hang on for your dear life.”  I know the motives of these pleadings are genuine, but I also know that in myself, I can’t trust myself to be strong enough to hang on.  And even if I did – in the end I could say, “Thank you Jesus for saving me, and good thing I held on tight enough to not be pulled away by that tricky satan guy.”  The end of that equation is Jesus saves, but my ability kept me saved.  One thing my faith does NOT rest in, is my own strength or reason.  I am so thankful for His promises to us in that regard.  I get tired of the argument about whether or not I can choose to reject Jesus after He saved me.  I love Him and I trust Him with my life. (Jude 24,25)  I can’t speak for anyone else.  I don’t know of any other Love or ideal I could even begin to follow.  Who have I in Heaven or Earth but Him?

The beauty of Jesus is that He satisfies all three of the areas I have just described.  He gives us our desires, so that in seeking Him, we are fulfilled.  There is a feast in the here and now, amid the pain and trials.  We do not have to wait for heaven to taste of His goodness.  There is a joy, satisfaction, and a peace in walking in His Spirit that  the world never gives.  There is in this world, “no greater joy” than to be in communion with Christ and to be in His service.

His Spirit is real and alive, and active and personal.  He does not leave us orphans!  His Spirit testifies with our own spirit, that we are His children.  Does my little boy doubt who his parents are?  My heavenly Father is just as real.  He has so many ways to communicate to us His love and His direction, if we will listen.  He desires we come to Him as our little children come to us; love, need, trusting dependence for even the smallest of things.

He gives us knowledge of Himself, even if through the veil of human agents (the scribes and the prophets).  People could not believe Jesus was God because he was cloaked in human flesh. Some people cannot believe the Bible is the Word of God because it came through human agents.  Yet on the road to Emmaus, as Jesus opened up the Scriptures for two of His followers, their “hearts burned within them.”  When he opened their eyes, they truly knew Him.  My heart also burns as I read His Word and He opens my eyes to see Him in new ways every day, even as it challenges me.

My faith is IN a living Jesus, and even this is not from myself.  It is a gift.

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I recently entered a discussion with someone who expressed concern that I might be a little too heavy on grace and feel-good verses in the Bible and not heavy enough on the requirements of God. He is not SDA or Hebrew Roots, but an evangelical Christian who is zealously living out his faith in a way that puts 99% of us to shame. I have a great deal of respect for him and I understand his genuine concern for Christians to walk worthy of the Name they carry. I am very disgusted to see and hear believers justify their sin on the basis of grace.  None of us are perfect, but a believer should never justify himself in his sin. If he is not grieved, I also have to wonder if his faith is real. Our discussion moved into what defines legalism.  I am not in a position to discern if he is a legalist or not, but am responding here to some explanations he gave me.  I found it interesting to be having this discussion with someone in the evangelical world rather than with members of the various law-centered groups I have belonged to in the past.   I decided to post this so I can refer people here instead of repeatedly explaining my position over and over.

The interesting thing about legalism is everyone thinks they know what it is, but you can’t find anyone who will admit to being one. The very nature of the problem prevents people from seeing they have it. Only by looking to Jesus is this veil removed.

Your assertion that legalism is not defined in the Bible, as well as your own definition of it (that it is simply requiring more than God does) are both the hallmarks of how legalists often defend their positions. Using the phrases “what God requires” and “in order to be accepted by God” also are red flags to me that someone is confusing their legal standing with God, based on Christ’s all-sufficient work alone, and their own success in living up to the righteousness of God they see in Scripture. Even in your explanation that “what God requires is constant repentance for sin” in order to maintain His approval, you are creating an impossible standard that cannot be quantified. I can never know if I am even aware of every sin in motive, action, or omission. The fact that it may be hidden from me makes it no less a sin and no less in need of cleansing from my life. Our justification and approval before God however can be measured at 100% immediately in the moment of our salvation. It does not diminish to 80% or 25% on any given day based on our ability to keep our repentance up to date. If it is possible to fall back into unbelief (big if) then it would go from 100% to 0%. There are no in between states of being. You are in Christ, or you are not.

Legalism – which is coming to God through any other means than through faith (believing ALL He has promised) – is rebuked in its many forms all through the Bible in the Old and New Testaments. People do this in various ways, and for a wide array of reasons.  We often live by the natural reflex of our fallen nature.  We tend to think something has to depend on us, try to do God’s work in our own way, or accomplish what only God alone can do. We try to get around really submitting to God by looking like we love him on the outside, while still following our own agenda and keeping our secret sins. While it often does manifest as a focus on man-made traditions or standards, it’s definitely not limited to that. We most certainly can be a legalist attempting to obey only God’s commands alone. It can also come in an over-emphasis on God’s laws instead of the Lawgiver (a form of idolatry) and man’s efforts instead of God’s work.

The worst forms of legalism in my opinion are those that teach you cannot be saved (and/or stay saved) unless you successfully meet God’s requirements in your Christian walk. They say, “Yes Jesus died for your past sins, but you better toe the line from now on or He may throw you back out.” There is an element of uncertainty here that can never be overcome and does not bring the “full assurance of faith” described in Hebrews. First of all we can’t find a clear picture of how high the bar is because people come away from Scripture with so many different conclusions about what our obligations are; and secondly, we can never truly know if we have “arrived” or if we have fallen. Even if you do not believe “once saved always saved” there is still much more assurance available in our relationship with Christ than this form of legalism allows. The opposite danger is for the legalist who has not received Christ to take comfort in his obedience as his assurance, filled with pride at his own performance. He is the Pharisee who prays, “Thank you Lord that you have not made me like this pitiful sinner I see over there.”

The New Covenant is conditional only in the sense that God’s covenant with Abraham was. Belief. Read what happened when God made the covenant with Abraham. God did it all, promised it all, and performed it all. He made the oath with Himself. Abraham was involved only to the point that as a bystander, he believed what God had promised. God called it righteousness. He wasn’t perfect either in living out his belief. He fell into doubt and works and tried to make the Promise come about how he thought it should happen.  Galatians equates this action of Abraham with the Sinai Covenant.  Both of these examples are demonstrations of the failure of works.  Works can’t bring about the Promise of God, and works don’t ever hold up our own promises to God.   In Christ, we are of the faith of Abraham. We believe the promise of God, but neither are we always perfect in walking in the Spirit when we find opportunities to do it our way.

Sinai was a temporary covenant intended to show man he can’t fix himself, and to foreshadow the perfect finished work in Christ.  He made this covenant with Israelites and all those who would agree to be circumcised and join them. (God’s principles are not temporary, but this contract and many details within it were.) It contained conditional blessings and curses depending on their obedience – having to do with the temporary physical realm. Salvation was never promised through this covenant, only earthly blessings and the status of being God’s Chosen People.  (Even though Israel broke the covenant, God promised them they would never cease to be a nation before Him.  He has kept that promise.  He has also promised to completely restore them.  God never breaks a promise.) The conditional nature of this covenant based on performance is never implied in the New Covenant. Obedience in the New Covenant comes as a RESULT of an unconditional promise, not a prerequisite.  Some legalists see the New Covenant as nothing more than the very same terms and laws as the Old Covenant – except Jesus gave you the power to keep up your end of the bargain now so you have no excuse for failure.  This is completely out of line with Hebrews, Romans, Galatians.. Acts..    Short of quoting the entire New Testament, this is trying to live for Jesus under Mt. Sinai, still making promises we can’t keep because like it or not, we are still living in fallen human flesh.

What God requires is absolute and complete perfection. No less. To say He demands less is to find a loophole somewhere (maybe another form of legalism?) I fully admit I can never meet God’s requirements. Only in Christ are they met. In Christ I stand fully and completely forgiven, past, present and future. If this is a dangerous truth – it would be only to those who have not truly known Christ. No one who knows Him can take Him for granted and respond to this flippantly. Result, not Requirement. It’s what God deserves from us, and develops in us – our reasonable service – a living sacrifice. There is no fear of condemnation in failure, but hope and victory when we give it to Him. If we are stubborn, He is faithful to discipline, not reject. (speaking as one who has been more stubborn than submissive). Can I fall into unbelief and throw His gift back into His face? Theoretically I guess it would be possible, but I can’t imagine it. Paul says the “The Love of Christ controls us.” That’s a pretty strong power. It flows from Him to Him and through us to others.

Jesus commanded us to obey Him and He said if we abide (not strive) we will have fruit. I have heard sermons detailing the “to do” list of how to abide in Christ. But Jesus gave a very simple explanation of His own command. “And this is my command, that you love one another as I have loved you.” To have the love of Christ – that is our command. “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for each other.” But we don’t trust love. We run back to the many details of the letter of the Law, not realizing that Love IS the highest law. It covers morality, justice, compassion. It speaks to every situation. It raises the definition of sin considerably higher as well. I Corinthians 13 shows love is a more excellent way in every way. Self cannot exist on the throne in its presence.  It is the very essence of God Himself.  But this is not a reason to reject the Word of God which reveals He is also a God of wrath against wickedness and sin.  God is full of paradoxes we struggle to balance out. But children do not fear his wrath. We may need to stand in fear of his rod, but not his wrath.

We cannot be transformed to resemble the life of Christ by gazing at the ministry of death (the Law engraved on stones). It serves to show us our depravity, but does not offer any help or hope. (hence the name Paul gives it)

2Corinthians 3:17, 18: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

You cannot behold the Glory of the Lord and not be changed. Isaiah’s instant response was, “I am a man of unclean lips…” We realize our need AND we get the coals from the fire under the throne of God – to cleanse us – the power of our death to sin and a resurrected life!(Romans 7 & 8 )

The legalists in Judaism asked Jesus,

John 6:28, 29 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

The very next word a legalist says is “But…” There is no but. As with Abraham, so with us.

Everything else grows out from there, and the Promise of God does not depend on the level of maturity we achieve from this point onward. Our rewards in the Kingdom are, but not our destiny of eternal fellowship with God.

If we belong to God I believe we will love Him and bear fruit, but I also think we need to be careful in judging the fruits of others. Not only can we be fooled by fake fruit that looks real, but we can also sometimes miss genuine fruit and pass judgment when we have no right to do so. I do believe we need to be accountable to one another in humility, with a great deal of discernment and love, not being puffed up – remembering what we are without Christ. Very few people can hold others accountable in love and humility. Paul said he wrote to the Corinthians, those hard sounding letters, in tears. I don’t see that too often in those who wish to expunge sin from our midst.

I am deeply grieved as you are by “believers” who live as if they have been set free to sin. I don’t know how anyone who has truly seen Jesus and realized the gift of God could not care if they spit on Him an bring shame to His name by calling themselves a Christian. But as I’ve already stated and continue to be redundant, this horrible situation is not cured by placing external demands on people. They must see Jesus as He is and fall on Him in brokenness, either as a lost person, or an immature believer either one. The solution is the same. It is the only way the heart is changed.

Where the Spirit has fruit (Gal. 5:22) legalism also has fruit which is cold, hard, unmerciful, and demanding. It is also often arbitrary because when rules are the focus it becomes impossible to be consistent. It doesn’t understand “exceptions” as Jesus tried to explain to the Pharisees, reminding them of how David ate the bread that was only for the priesthood. It can’t bend for mercy. Judaism has written volumes of Talmud trying to clarify and protect the Law. Legalism of any form always has to do this. People react to the the FRUIT of legalism without realizing the root problem. That’s why they can’t put their finger on what it is.. they sense something amiss, but the root is hidden deep. Often people who are the most disturbed by it have the same problem and they don’t even realize it. There are few things more fierce than legalists battling each other! 😀

After I had lived as a believer for several years, I came to a place that felt like spiritual death, in spite of all my fervent religious activity. I was in misery and thought I must need to try harder. I lost all desire to worship, to reach out, and wanted so badly to just give up because I saw no transformation taking place in myself or anyone else around me in the group we were in. We were very proud of some aspects of our “obedience” but it had not done anything at all to change the things that mattered the most. Finally through reading the gospels and hearing the words of Jesus I was terrified to realize the fruit I valued and was striving to produce had nothing to do with the kind of fruit Jesus said His followers would have. Mine was based on performance, His were centered in having my heart motivated by love – no fake imitations. I was so far from what I saw there that I knew I couldn’t even claim to be His follower at all, even though I appeared very religious, and led a very upright, moral life. It was a time of intense grief and repentance, but I am so thankful God revealed this sin to both me and my husband independently and nearly simultaneously. My deepest sorrow was that I had put Jesus in the backseat and had my “obedience” riding up front with me for all to see, and I was driving!! Now I endeavor to let Him drive, and I try not to be a backseat driver.  (He is now my chauffeur.)

Since then I pray for real fruit and God is continuing to answer. He is changing my heart and attitudes. I love people I couldn’t love. I am becoming less cold, hard, and judgmental. Instead I say, “But for the grace of God, there I am. Father help them!” It’s not the old me.  Because of the love He is pouring into me and through me, I read I John’s words where he says, “I write these things to you so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.” and agree – not because of what I do, but precisely because I know I didn’t do it, and none of it has come from me. All of God, none of me. The litmus test in I John, in context, is love – over and over he says this. But for some reason, people see the word “commandments” and run back to a list of rules on stone tablets. Those rules fall so short of what God wants to create in us. We are not without law. We have a higher law and a better promise.

Some legalists are not saved because they have never trusted the work of Christ, but believe they earn their way to heaven. But I know some have received the gift, but are not aware of what they possess. Both the legalist and the freedom-loving antinomian spend most of their time pointing out each other’s faults, but both need to see Jesus and the fullness of the Promise and the Sacrifice.

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My four year old daughter and her younger brother excitedly ran to the playground they had been begging to visit for three days.  I sat on the bench watching them slide and climb.. for about 10 minutes.  When my mind stopped the habitual space travel of a lazy Sunday afternoon, my eyes and mind focused together on what my children were doing.  After dreaming of this place as if it were Disneyland, they were in fact playing around the playground on the landscape timbers that bordered the play area, trying to balance and walk around them.  Soon they tired of this and took to running and chasing each other around the wooden borders, wandering off to pick flowers, investigating a bird bath full of rain water and exploring the contents of a metal pail used as an ashtray in a nearby gazebo.  How could they so quickly tire of this thing they desired so greatly?  I saw a perfect example of human nature which demonstrated what the Holy Spirit began speaking to my heart over two years ago.  Two weeks ago,  the burden returned in full force and will not leave me in peace.  As the National Day of Prayer comes this week, what this picture symbolized to me will be the focus of my repentance and petition to God.

To be a Christian is a call to love and follow Christ in a very real way.  Our identity should never be in a subset of beliefs, often a name ending with an “ism” or  movement of some kind.  When we love HIM as we should, our focus becomes more clear.  Our desire is rekindled.   We find we cannot take one step without Him.  We realize all we do outside of Him is of no consequence.

I recently picked up a book my husband had purchased at a church planting seminar a few years ago.  I restlessly opened up to a random page as I often do trying to get  feel for what a book is about.  The page I turned to had this to say:

While I was an impressionable seminary student, I was given a definition (of church) that was really more of a description.  Church was explained as embodying these five characteristics:

1.  A group of believers that gathered regularly…

2.  That considered itself a church…

3.  That has qualified elders present…

4.  That regular practices the ordinances of baptism and communion as well as church discipline…

5.  And that has an agreed-on set of doctrinal beliefs.

These are all good qualities for any church to have.  Most of our churches, in fact, would meet these standards, but I think that this list is missing something very important.  I often ask groups what is missing from this description.  After a few minutes of responses, I generally tell them what I think is missing if they haven’t already found it.

Jesus is missing!

One of my most respected mentors, a theologian and career missionary, once told me that Jesus is assumed in the definition because it is believers who are gathered.  My response was, “Why would you assume Jesus’ presence but make sure that a qualified elder is present?”

This assumption betrays a problem in our churches, a serious one.  The church is often more about what we bring to the table than what God does.  I heard a Korean pastor who made a tour of the United States and at the end of his visit summarized his observations by commenting, “It’s amazing what you people can do without the Holy Spirit.”  I believe it was A .W. Tozer who once announced that if the Holy Spirit were removed from the churches in America on Saturday, most would go on the next day as if nothing had changed.”   (Neil Cole, The Organic Church p. 49,50)

This same Sunday that I took my children to the playground, our pastor preached a powerful message on Ezekiel 9-11 detailing how the presence of God had left Judah and his judgment was sure.  He asked if this happened to America, and the Church here, “Would anyone notice?  Would anyone care?”   Those are the questions burning in my mind as well.

My thoughts go back to Moses and the children of Israel.  After their sin of idolatry with the golden calf  they were punished, but still did not have the presence of God in the camp, but in the tent of meeting set up outside.  God had told them to go up into the Land of Milk and Honey, but He was not going to go with them.  Moses begged and pleaded with God,

And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”  Exodus 33:15, 16

Why do we, with a better promise and better Covenant,  so confidently march on with our agendas, not seeking the direction of Jesus, our Head, the Commander in Chief?  Why do we speak of the Holy Spirit as an abstract idea or theory, and have no expectation for the reality of His Presence?   We would not notice if Jesus left the building because we have not cared to invite Him into our affairs in the first place.

Why do we give God lip-service but behave as if He is not actually real or expect Him to move among us?

I could write pages on probable answers – but if we keep asking “why” after each answer, I believe we would eventually reach down past many symptoms and secondary failures to the ultimate source of the problem.  We love ourselves and our pride more than we love our Savior.  If we truly loved Him with all our heart mind and soul, as the first great commandment given, we would seek Him.  If we sought Him, we would love Him more and fervently desire to be in His presence.  We would be like David who longed for Him like a deer pants for water, a primal desire for life itself.  If we loved Him more, we would believe Him more fully in everything He promised.  If we believed Him, we would trust Him in all our ways.  If we trusted Him, we would follow and obey Him.  If we obeyed Him, the world would see Him through us.  If the world saw Him and not us, it would be drawn to also love Him, or hate Him, being confronted to make a decision.  As it is, we don’t bring anything of eternal value into the world when we promote ourselves and our “isms”.   The world may accept or reject us, our special message,  focus, or movement, our attitudes, our agendas.  But do they ever see Jesus?  Why did we stop longing for and earnestly following the one we call Lord?

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?   Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:  he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.  But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”  Luke 6:46-49

How many Christians have much of a grasp on the actual words of Christ?  I hear so little of Him in churches it astounds me.   Why do we find it more interesting to talk about anything and everything and everyone else?  In the gospel of John Jesus repeatedly draws attention to the importance of His WORDS.  They are life.  John says Jesus is THE Word, both in his gospel account, and in Revelation.   His Word is still alive and ongoing through His Spirit, and how many of us are listening?  Some don’t even believe it’s possible to hear it in the first place.  He is a resurrected living and active Word.  He called us to be disciples, not passive pew sitters.  Disciples follow and do as they are instructed, in all humility and trust of their loved Teacher.  He has called us to take up a cross and follow, but He also promised that the burden of His yoke was light, and He would give us rest.  Seems to be contradiction, but only if we have not been sitting at His feet to understand.  The cross is what brings the rest.

Jesus,

Forgive us for loving so many things and leaving our first love.  Draw us to fall on our faces in grief and repent of being self-willed, idolatrous, covetous, proud.  Restore us to our first love –  a desire for nothing but You alone.  Fill our mind’s eye with a vision of your love for us and teach us that our high calling is in You, not ourselves.   Forgive us for our unbelief as we go about our lives as if  You are a distant spectator from heaven and not in us or among us as You have promised to all who would call on Your name.  Forgive us for seeking you mechanically without faith and longing, and often, not at all.  Forgive us for being amused with objects of so little consequence.  Grant us the ability to forgive our brothers and sisters, remembering we are no better than any other and have received the same mercy.   Give us true sight – to seek genuine fruit of Your Spirit and not the false external performance men so often admire.

Jesus, call us, your people, to humble ourselves and repent.  Fall on us with a fire that cleanses and empowers us for the days ahead, unless we be like Israel in the days of their judgment who said,  “If the LORD of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah.”   Isa 1:9

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.

Rev 2:4,5

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