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Lifeway Christian Stores carrying 'So Called Christian' 

Lifeway Christian Stores carrying So-Called Christian: Healing Spiritual Wounds Left by the Church This is an amazing blessing since we did not even market the book to them. It was presented in the proverbial 'stack of books' that many distributors place in front of book buyers hoping that one or two of them will be chosen. We are thrilled and honored that ours was selected! Praise to God!

To obtain your copy of "So-Called" Christian: Healing Spiritual Wounds Left by the Church CLICK HERE.

Check our Publisher out: http://ambassador-international.com 

 

 


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Entries in Fear (2)

Sunday
Oct112015

Stop Living Your Christian Life for the Approval of Others. 

  

Do we for one minute think that Jesus Christ is going to hold us accountable for winning the respect of others when we appear before him on that Great Day? 

The Scriptures say that God doesn’t show favoritism. God accepts all without regard to their identity. The Apostle Peter said that when God chose to save the Gentile Cornelius and his household. (Acts 10)

Peter then went on to say “but in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him.” There’s the KEY. The person who fears God and does righteousness is ACCEPTABLE to God. 

If God wanted to say, “The person who earns the respect of others is acceptable to God” He would’ve. He didn’t - so stop trying!

Sit and visit with that thought a moment - take a long slow mind-drink of the word ACCEPTABLE. Breath in the aroma and let it wash over your thoughts. Let it settle down into your soul. YOU are most likely a person pursuing righteousness in the fear of the Lord. YOU are a person who need not worry what anyone else thinks of you. You are acceptable to God. Why give a thought to how anyone else sees you?

Unpack that in your heart and in light of the people whose respect you are trying to earn. Does their respect have anything whatsoever to do with fearing God and doing righteousness? Probably not. Why? Because no man will be the ultimate judge of another. We are at best looking through a smudged and dirty lens when looking at someone else. 

Outward appearance may not show inward righteousness. We are alarmingly deceived every day by those who wear a veneer of righteousness, a coat of white paint, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones. We can’t always perceive who they are - even the devil himself appears as an angel of light. 

On the other hand, some appear to be religiously scruffy and unkempt. But they are crystal pure vessels of righteousness. 

When we look for the approval of others we are asking them to use their imperfect vision to judge our outward performance. They can’t see our hearts. Our actions often fall short of our intentions, even of our spoken commitments. Failing doesn’t make us bad people. 

When those people don’t give us their approval based on our outward performance we often make things worse by applying their disapproval to our person. We judge ourselves to be unworthy based on their disapproval when all along God said we are already accepted! Whose word are we going to believe - God or man?

 At best, all of our righteousness is as filthy rags to God. All of their righteousness is as filthy rags. We stand and fall before God alone and not before those who stand and fall beside us. The approval of men means very little.

 Our focus is never to earn the respect of others. Our focus is this, “Therefore, do not let your good be slandered, for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:16-17)

Here’s an amazing thing. We’ve spent all this time showing that seeking the approval of men is of little value. Then, as if God wanted to give us extra points on our homework, He says this. 

Verse 18, “Whoever serves Christ in this way is acceptable to God and approved by men.” When we pursue the right things without regard to the onlookers. When we live righteously, heedless of what others think, we get the double bonus!  We are acceptable to God and approved by men. 

When we do it God’s way, we get what we were looking for in the first place.

Note the emphasis is not on the result - it’s on the living out. When we live out our righteousness, peace, and joy we will ultimately see the result. However, the result is never to be our motivation to live this way. 

Apply it. These seven actions will help us stop the old habits of seeking man’s approval while we retrain our hearts to live in God’s acceptance.

  1.  We have to stop our brain when it starts wondering if we have another’s approval. Replace the thought with, “God accepts me. I won’t care if anyone else does.” 
  2.  Get up every morning, present ourselves to God, and say out loud, “I’m yours today Lord to do with whatever you please regardless what anyone thinks about it.”
  3.  Imagine often that Great Day and Know what Jesus will say to us who have lived in righteousness. (Matt. 25:21)
  4.  Pursue the meanings of Righteousness, Peace, Joy, and Fear of God. Make them our constant study. Let them infuse our moment by moment living in the power of the Holy Spirit. 
  5.  Learn to hear the voice of the Spirit of God. Learn to Obey that voice and none other. 
  6.  View those whose respect you seek to earn as fellow poor and redeemed travelers that have only a very little knowledge - much like yourself. 
  7.  Set your affection on things above and not on things on the earth. You are dead. Your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col. 3:2)
Sunday
May262013

Freedom’s just another word…

 

I had the opportunity recently to indulge one of my passions, driving a clear mountain road through pristine pines and glistening snow capped peaks in a spunky little turbo-charged hatchback. There’s something about the mix of modern technology and the majesty of creation that electrifies me. But that’s all an aside. My attention was drawn away from the outside surroundings to the interior dialogue flowing from my CD player (yeah, I still have CD’s). I was listening to a fascinating interview with a contemporary Christian author.

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” the interviewer quoted from the 60’s Janis Joplin tune. WOW, did that strike me. My first response – am I free? Do I have something to lose?

It might help to give the context. The interview revolved around the theme of transparency in our Christian walk. They were wrestling with the question, “What’s it like to have no secrets, nothing to hide, nothing to protect?” My thoughts went deeper – am I hiding anything, keeping secrets, protecting a favorite indulgence? I turned this over in my heart several times asking the Lord to bring any darkness into the light. Thankfully, I couldn’t discern anything I was consciously trying to hide from God or anyone else.

That hasn’t always been true though. I have bitter memories of lurking in the shadows with hidden demons. I, like the author being interviewed, know the guilt, shame, fear, despair, thrill, arrogance, and bi-polarity of that existence. Like the author, I’ve had my demons exposed, one by one in excruciating detail at the worst possible moments with the maximum of embarrassment…and grace.  Having the bright light of justice and grace uncover my personal failures was painful, not just to me but all those near me. I thought I was navigating life pretty well until God broke in to display my hypocrisies and my bondage. That was prison – what about freedom?

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” rings true to me. I had a lot to lose when in bondage - I’m free now. All my demons are out in the light. They don’t like that. Like water on the Wicked Witch, keeping them in the light shrivels them. So let’s talk about freedom.

Freedom means you’ve already lost everything – your reputation, your position, your family, your spouse, your income, your doctrine, your standards, your pride, your secrets, your indulgences, everything. You are free from calling or claiming anything as yours – it’s all subsumed in Christ. Everything not Christ-like is in the light to be shriveled. If I own nothing, I don’t have to protect anything. I don’t have to hide anything. If we haven’t lost everything we have something that can bind us.

Freedom is elusive. All those things we don’t want to lose keep shouting at us to stay in the dark alleys where our badness can’t be exposed. Our fears of what naked honesty would cost keep us cowering in the gloom. Our Christian community might cast us out. Our spouse might call it quits. Kids might be irretrievable. Job could be lost. Ministry shattered. People devastated. The shame and grief may be overwhelming. All these things are possible. We live in a cursed world. But, what if?

Ask yourself: What if I were to be transparent about my demons AND be accepted by my Christian community? What if I could confess to my wife and be forgiven (even if it means losing her trust and having to rebuild it over time)? What if God would save my children in spite of me? What if I lost my job but gained a crystal clear conscience? What if my church is devastated WITH ME and agrees to walk WITH ME to healing and recovery? What if I lose my reputation and position and GAIN Christ? What if God is still on the Throne of Heaven and knows the brilliance of what I could be if I would only come out of the darkness? What if He would bear His mighty arm, reach down into my pit, and yank me out with only the tatters of my destroyed life to cling to? Could He really make my life worth living if I respond?

That’s for you to discover. The Church is full of people like us. Lurkers in the shadows, players at religion, knowing truth without a clue how to live it, wanting a safe place to fall apart, fearing the consequences of a see-through existence. Tragic thing is that you are probably surrounded by fellow believers that share your reality but are equally fearful of honesty. Sad – but don’t let it stop you.

Take everything you’ve got and lose it. Endure the pain. Freedom is on the other side.

Here’s to all the losers! We count everything dung in order to gain Christ!