05 November 2010

Where the Rubber Meets the Road...

Taken from Lide Magazine
James 1:22-25
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

The rubber meets the road today. The Christian churches in the area were asked several months ago to team up with Greg Laurie Sr. Pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship, a Calvary chapel affiliate from Riverside California, and support an evangelic outreach event called Seattle Harvest. The event is tonight, tomorrow and Sunday at the Key Arena in downtown Seattle. The event is free, and there will be musical concerts, an awesome array of speakers and guests, and the message of Hope and Salvation to be shared with tens of thousands of people by Pastor Greg.

We look at events like this, sort of a modernized Billy Graham Crusade for those struggling to put a face on the event, and we see this event is geared towards reaching those unreached people for Christ, and it certainly is. But it is so much more. And we’ll get to that in a minute.

This world is an evil and dark place. We have been called to do our part in taking God’s word and making disciples of people from all over the world. While great emphasis and ‘legitimacy’ has been assigned to Christian missionary work over-seas, and around the globe, for the most part domestic evangelism has ceased to be thought of as worthy, legitimate or even serious in comparison. ‘The United States is a Christian nation, why do we need to do domestic evangelism?’ Well excuse me if I hurt your little feelings here, but Christian brothers and sisters, have you looked around you lately? America looks to be far from Christian from here on the ground.

While American Christians have been funding 80% of world missions, we have spend little precious little time and effort or money here in this country. As a result, we are losing America. Not just because of the ride of unbelievers, and the accelerated growth of Islam and the popular cults, but because Christians here are no longer holding to biblical truths as the foundations to their faith. Christianity in America is now setting their faith standards on societal norms or the majorital opinions of their congregation, rather than the inerrant word of God. The bible is no longer truth; it’s just a ‘resource’ of a set of recommended guidelines. Oh, how far we have fallen.

This Harvest event may be designed to reach those for Christ that to this point in their lives have not had the opportunity to do so, to preach the gospel message of hope to a generation that needs it so badly, and it is. But like I said earlier, it is so much more. Seattle Harvest is designed from the ground-up to be an event to reach people for Jesus. That’s the result of that will be found by those who attend the rally as visitors, as those invited by friends and family, by those called and appointed by God to be there to hear the message of Jesus. But what is the effect on the others?

Almost a year ago, Greg asked the churched in this area and it’s members to help him in pulling off this Harvest event to reach the unreached. But what Greg was really asking of us the ‘church’ in this one of the most un-churched areas in the United States, was to put our faith and calling into action; to not be just hearers of the Word but doers of the Word. Greg has asked us to take our life in Christ seriously enough to be there when there is work to be done, to pick up God’s hammer of Grace, to pull the plows of peace, to share the hope that is in us, and to make war – not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Greg has asked those of us who call ourselves Christians to prove it.

Talk is CHEAP. Grace is not.

Will you join me?

03 November 2010

Sacrifice & Brokeness: Signs of Life

Hebrews 10:1-4

1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

I don’t think anyone takes great joy in being reminded of their sins. I know I don’t. But yet, this element of our Christian walk is important too.

If we look at biblical history the law in its entirety is designed to show us our sin, and to point us to Christ, who is our salvation from the penalty of that sin. This is just a simple gospel message, and it is not hard for us to grasp. While trying to understand why God would do such a thing (make a way for blatant sinners to find their way into heaven), and the mysterious and miraculous incarnation of Jesus and his atoning sacrifice - may be a bit more difficult But the fact remains, it has happened. What we need to concentrate on is not the why of God’s plan, but rather to simply be grateful for it.

Up to the point of Christ’s work on the cross, all things that happened in God’s plan for His people happened with a foreshadowing of things to come; not just ‘things’, but ‘good things’. We now live in the time of ‘good things”! It is good that the work of salvation is done. It is good that we live with the hope of things to come, knowing that all will be glorified by God. It is good that while we still live in a fallen world, the things of glory and eternal await our arrival in the presence of Jesus. But I also feel that it is good that we get the occasional reminder of our depravity before God.

James was good enough to provide us with the biblical truth that temptation in and of itself is not a sin. My good friend Justin Alfred is always kind enough to remind me that it is not the sin that defines the man, it’s the brokenness, or lack thereof, that will define a man ( or woman) of God. Getting back to James he knew that a life without sacrifice, sacrifice of self and the flesh for the work of the kingdom is a life devoid of the fruit of your salvation and appreciation to Christ for His work. A lazy spiritual life removed from being in action for the kingdom, is a life removed from the Spirit of God, a place none of us would choose to be. Getting back to Justin, his reminder is one of grace, practicality and truth. As long as we live, in spite of the Spirit being alive in us, we will have failures. But what do we do with that failure? Do we brush it under the rug without a word spoken, moving on to the next inevitable failure, or do we confess and repent? It is our brokenness in our sin before god that defines us as a Christian who recognizes his place before a pure and prefect righteousness in God.

While it may not be a great idea to seek out reminders of our sinful nature so that we are mindful of our place before a Holy God, it is good that we have them from time to time just the same. Just as the sacrifices in ancient Israel were reminders to the people of the sin before God, it was a regular reminder that we must have a saving relationship with our Creator.

In short, our sin should remind us of our separation from God, and our brokenness should bring us to a place of humble submission and reverence for a God that has done so much for us – when we never deserved it.