How to Spot a Comfortable Religion

Religion is for good people.

It has one central characteristic – to give you a bunch of laws to make your life work and to gain approval from its god. And the burden is on you. You have make it work. It’s your discipline and commitment that makes it or breaks it for you.

For example, meditation just doesn’t float down like a cloud and take you by the hand to your happy place. You have to work it. You have to set aside the time, roll out the mat, sit Buddha-style, inhale and exhale, clear your mind, breathe in, breathe out, and keep your back straight. After twenty minutes you get up, roll up the mat, tuck it under your arm and now you’re ready to check that off your list for the day.

On the other hand, Christianity is for bad people. That’s me. I have the mat, the exercise ball, and the twister thing, all with a heavy layer of dust on them in the corner of the room. I’ve walked away from many schools of discipline. I’m sure they would have worked had I been more consistent. But consistency eludes me, along with daily bible reading, prayer, and keeping my eyes glued to Jesus every day.

I can’t do it. IMG_5938

The slightest distraction draws me away from him. The weather. My spiritual temperature. The latest conflict with my husband. The boring aspects of my job. Those capture my heart faster than everything Jesus has done for me.

I tell others to be aware of looking inward because there’s nothing good there. Just sin and failure. That joy in life is found in keeping a closeness with Jesus. Except I don’t do it.

That’s why I’m a bad people. Even on my best days, my life is shot full of sin. That’s why Christianity is my kind of religion. It tells me I am bad, that I have no hope, and that I am lost and without God in the world. Sounds very orphan-like to me. No Father is heaven looking after me. No church to nurture and raise me. No brothers and sisters to live with. That’s as bad as it gets.

That’s why I need Christianity. That’s where I discover Jesus. He came to rescue me because I was that bad. He merited righteousness through his perfect obedience, and paid the price for my sins through his death on the cross. And both are credited to me through faith in him alone.

That’s it. It’s that simple, and yet it cost Jesus everything. My job? To believe him. If he said he did this, then you can trust him.

Which would you rather do? Believe in Jesus or roll out that dusty exercise ball?

Talk to me.

 

 

Who Cares?

Do we strive to enter God’s kingdom? Just because God has placed a ticket to heaven in our hands doesn’t mean we stay in the waiting lounge. We have to get up and walk into the plane.

Who are we listening to? Is it God through his Word or someone else’s voice?

How often it’s my voice I follow. It’s easy. It’s all too familiar.

Living the kingdom life is nothing short of brutal. It goes against the grain of self. It’s not the life we’re used to.

It requires humility, mercy, sincerity and loving our enemies.

Everything we don’t like doing.

Drifting is easier.  Bible4

Who wants to die?

Who wants to disregard his own ambitions?

It’s easier to profess Christ than to follow him.

I know. I’m an expert at it.

I suspect you are, too.

So what do we do about it?

Study. Pray. Respect.

Immerse yourself in God’s Word.

Pray God’s Word. Make it your own. Eat it.

Respect your teachers. Make sure they’re telling you about Christ and not themselves. Make sure they’re men of the Word. Humble. Accessible.

True followers of Christ are submitted to him, even in rejection and suffering.

As Christians we now live by the sermon on the Mount, but not by adhering to its rules, but by having faith in the preacher of the sermon.

He’s our Mediator. He’s the new Moses. He fights his battles for us.

Lean heavily into him.

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

How Big Is Your Love?

Do we believe the cross is our Father’s ultimate expression of his love for us?
Or do we think that having our dreams and desires met is the litmus test of our Father’s love?

If our sin is the biggest impediment to the Father’s love, then the cross is His supreme gift to us. Why is that? Because it’s the only way to his approval. Nothing else will do. Igor Mitoraj2

Our problem is that we don’t fully grasp how sinful we are and how deep sin goes. It has twisted everything about us – our minds, emotions, will, and bodies. We are bent inward on ourselves, which keeps God out.

Each one of us lives in a world of our own making. Whose voice do we hear everyday? What thoughts do we think? What lies and fantasies do we entertain? What willfulness do we exert on others? Every atom of our being cries defiance of the living God. We are rebels in the world God created.

Since we’re as deformed as the Scriptures say we are, then the cross is our only hope of rescue and deliverance. We deserve death, not a make-over. And for that reason God killed us at the cross in Christ. Then he buried us with Christ. And when Christ was resurrected he took us with him so we would live a new life in him. See Romans 6.

We are so united to Christ that we are now new creations made in his image. His holiness and the fruit of his Spirit are now ours. And that pleases the Father immensely.

Christ won it all at the cross.

Thank the Father today!

Talk to me.

Amazing!

Think about the creativity God uses to call you to Himself.

He sent His Son to earth to become like you, except he was without sin.

Christ lived his life obeying God perfectly for you.

Then He died on the cross to take away your sin.

He took God’s wrath that was meant for you.

He absorbed your guilt and removed it from you. lily12

He loved God perfectly because you couldn’t do it.

What a Savior!

If you can see how much you need Christ from reading this, then embrace Him with faith right now.

Thank Him for His overwhelming love for you.

And go out and tell someone about Him.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

Time to Pray to God About God

The first thing we notice in the Lord’s Prayer is this:

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name.”

He’s our Father, not our own personal possession.

He’s a Father, perfect in all aspects of fatherhood, completely different from all earthly fathers. Discover who he is by reading your bible every day.

We are to hallow his name. What does that mean?

It’s a petition. God himself is our priority. He is not a means to any end. He is the end of all ends.

How often do we pray to God about himself?  Lamb of God

Ouch! I confess it’s rarely, if ever. I’m more eager to unroll my long list of petitions that center on me and my desires.

Hallowed means to make holy, to recognize his holiness, separation, not common.

God is unlike his created beings.

There is an unbridgeable gap between him and me and you.

God wants us to recognize and treat him as uncommon.

He’s not our buddy.

He wants us to think worthy thoughts of him that reflect what he has revealed himself to be. (Have you noticed how often the devil gets you thinking unworthy thoughts of him, especially in the midst of trials?)

God wants you to live in his presence every day.

How do we do that?

By fixing our eyes on the cross. It’s there where we see his infinite hatred of sin and his justice.

Christ was overwhelmed by the wrath of God on the cross. And at the same time the cross proves God’s infinite mercy.

We are debt-free with God on account of Christ. Hallelujah!

Now we are fully accepted in the favor of God. Praise him!

We pray because we have tasted that the Lord is good. Yes!

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

Nothing Good Comes from Inside

How do you handle remaining sin in your life?

What does it look like? It’s what the Apostle Paul talks about in Romans 7:15.

“For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

And then again in verse 19: White

“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”

That pretty much summed up my Christmas vacation.

Stick around long enough with family and friends and eventually you’ll find yourself in Romans 7.

So what’s the solution?

Here it is:

Keep your eyes on the completed work of Christ on the cross for you.

Once that melts your heart, then confess your sins to him.

And don’t look inward for your sanctification – something I do frequently – because it’s not there. You’ll only find a mess.

Glue your sight onto Christ who is your righteousness, sanctification and salvation.

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com

 

 

 

A Funeral Is Better Than a Party

I attended a funeral yesterday for a church friend who died last week.

I was struck by this thought: Funerals are better than parties.

Why would I say that?

They remind me that I, too must die.  funeral

We all have expiration dates, but we don’t like thinking about those.

But it’s good for us. It forces the subject even for a little while.

The mortality rate has always been at 100%.

It doesn’t change from generation to generation.

We cannot mastermind our own exits.

That’s because there’s a time to be born and a time to die, and God holds the calendar on both.

So today is the only time we can be sure of. The past is gone, and the future is not certain.

Now is the time to renounce every hope of saving yourself and turn to the One who saved you. He did it 2,000 years ago on a cross outside Jerusalem. His name is Jesus and he paid the penalty for your sins and mine so we could be forgiven of our sins and given life.

That’s why you need a funeral.

We need that reality slap in the face.

According to Ecclesiastes, life under the sun doesn’t end well.

But life over the sun ends in triumph. It’s called eternal life and it’s a free gift if you believe in the work of Christ for you.

Won’t you take that step today?

Talk to me.

messychristians@gmail.com