Category Archives: The Christian Life / Holiness

Thoughts – 3/30, 2:01p

You accepted Christ? Congratulations! You get to be broken!
– More Random Thoughts by Shai Linne

What a true statement this is. The Christian life is not easy. Who said it ever was? It’s a beautiful thing. By no other means would one pray that his / her sickness, trials, and hardships be used to conform them to the image of Christ.

I work a job where I get yelled at and have profanity hurled at me on a regular basis. I get insulted and often feel like I’m ‘beat up’ by the end of the day. And you know, last night as I drove home, I thought – God is sovereign. And if He wanted to stop those calls from coming in, He totally could have. But He didn’t. And He doesn’t. So there’s a reason for it. And on days like today, when I feel worn, tattered, and tired, it’d do me well to remind myself of it. As my friends often remind me – God wastes nothing. I know it’s making me more like Jesus. I often think of 1 Peter 2:

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

I am definitely not enduring what Jesus endured.

Lord, help me.

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The Black Church

When I think about the state of the Black church, it grieves me. Growing up in a Black church, I heard people say that the preacher wasn’t really preaching unless he was ‘hooping’. No one ever actually applauded the Word of God going forth. They applauded the antics of the pastor. The more he yelled and screamed and pranced about the stage, the more you saw the waving of hands, the yelling of “Amen, Pastor!” and the more ‘holy ghost dancing’. That was when I was in my pre-teens. Now, at 30, I can’t say much has changed; I can almost say that it’s gotten worse.

Now, not only does the above happen, but everyone is rebuking everything “in the name of Jesus”. Everything from issues with equipment, coughs, colds, check engine lights, bad drivers, and more is attributed to the devil. Sunday mornings have people running around the church like Flo-Jo, screaming, speaking in ‘tongues’, and greetings of ‘sister’ and ‘brother’ abound. But, let’s fast forward 1 or 2 days. These same people are at work with poor work ethics, involved in fornication, their mouths spew profanity like broken fire hydrants in the Summer time, and the only time you hear about Jesus is when they are upset about something. You know what adds to this? There’s no conviction of sin (1 John 3).

Why is this the common theme of the Black church? Christianese, yet no Christ? So many Blacks in the church think they are ‘in’ with God because they attend church and serve on the usher board. The Gospel is rarely preached, and when it is, Jesus’ death is shown to have been so that they can have riches, prosperity, and perfect health. We hear that ‘by His stripes, we are healed’ and we cling to it as a promise that Aunt Jackie won’t die of cancer and Paw-Paw won’t die of emphysema although now 89, he’s been smoking since he was 16. And when this promise doesn’t ‘work’, Jesus becomes an object of anger as if He let us down, though this is never what He promised in the first place.

When Truth is attempted to be shared, it’s ignored. You’re frowned upon. You’re accused of being a tool of the Enemy. You’re even told you’re ‘too serious’. But – isn’t Christ the One we are to be the most serious about? The Black church perishes in its ignorance, showing it to truly be bliss, and attendees don’t know Jesus and don’t really believe in the Gospel. Solely attending church never got anyone anywhere. It actually desensitizes us to our true need.

It’s a man centered theology. Well – it’s not even really theology because if God was truly the object of this study, lives would be changed. But they aren’t. And there’s no desire. It’s basically, “Let me get my Word”, “I hope they sing my song today!”, “I paid my tithes; I’m good”, yet Jesus isn’t grasped for. He isn’t reached for. He isn’t treasured. He isn’t loved.

This is why men like Creflo Dollar, TD Jakes, Eddie Long, and Rickie Rush thrive in the Black church. It’s everything people want to hear. It’s a feel good message, and motivational speaking at best. There is no talk of sin, wrath, holiness, judgment… The Gospel isn’t preached in its fullness. What is ‘preached’ is what makes people feel good. But, you will feel good and be on your merry way to Hell without truly knowing God, trusting in Jesus, and being forgiven of your sins, which you need to be. We all need to be.

The Gospel is not that Jesus died to make me rich and healthy. If that were true, I’d BE rich and I’d BE healthy. But this is the Gospel – Jesus came to save sinners. Who are these sinners? Every human being alive on this planet. Sin is breaking God’s law, and sinful is the state that we are born into. We are sinful. None is good, not one, and none of us on our own seek to know this Holy God who created us. Because of our sinful nature, we stand condemned before God. We need an ‘out’. We need a way to be set free from this sin. We need a way to be made right before God so that we no longer stand condemned, but forgiven and free. Enter Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God, lived a perfect life – the life that we should live – yet died a gruesome death, absorbing the wrath of God. This is the death and the ending that we should all have. We should all incur God’s wrath and anger in its fullness. But Jesus was hung on a cross, and as He died on that cross, He, the perfect Son of God, absorbed the wrath of God so that for those who believe in Him by faith, there’d be no wrath left. This is good news! What is required of us? What we must do is repent of our sinfulness and wickedness and turn to Jesus. We must place all of our faith in Jesus Christ, and depend on Him for our forgiveness and our right standing before God. We cannot depend on participation in ministries, church attendance, or grandma’s faith. It’s you turning AWAY from your sin and turning TO Christ. And because Jesus lived the perfect life that we should have lived, when we place faith in Him, because He died our death, we receive His life. Isn’t that beautiful?

Satan is thriving in the Black church due to ignorance. Please trust in Jesus and be truly saved, lest you be like those in Matthew 7:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Recommended Post: Recovering the Gospel… in the Black Church

Killing Pride

From “A Gospel Primer” by M. Vincent:

Nothing suffocates my pride more than daily reminders regarding the glory of my God, the gravity of my sins, and the crucifixion of God’s own Son in my place. Also, the gracious love of God, lavished on me because of Christ’s death, is always humbling to remember, especially when viewed against the backdrop of the Hell I deserve.

Perspective in Trials

From “A Gospel Primer” by M. Vincent:

More than anything else I could ever do, the Gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby position myself to gain full benefit from them. For the Gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God because it serves His Gospel purposes in me. When I view my circumstances in this light, I realize that the Gospel is just not one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere along all the bad. I realize that the Gospel makes genuinely good news out of every aspect of my life, including my severest trials. The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His Gospel purposes and do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ.

Preaching the Gospel to myself each day provides a lens through which I can view my trials in this way and see the true cause for rejoicing that exists in them. I can then embrace trials as friends and allow them to do God’s good work in me.

Scriptures referenced:
Romans 5:1-5
Romans 8: 28-29
James 1:2-4
2 Corinthians 12:7-10

What are you so upset about?

Timely for me. May be timely for others too.

Colossians 3

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Not I, But Christ

Taken from: The Center for Biblical Spirituality

Lord, bend that proud and stiffnecked “I,”
Help me to bow the neck and die,
Beholding Him on Calvary,
Who bowed His Head for me.

The following are some of the features and manifestations of the self-life. The Holy Spirit alone can interpret and apply this to your individual case. As you read, examine yourself in the very presence of God. Are you ever conscious of:

A secret spirit of pride-an exalted feeling in view of your success or position; because of your good training or appearance; because of your natural gifts and abilities. An important, independent spirit?

Love of human praise; a secret fondness to be noticed; love of supremacy, drawing attention to self in conversation; a swelling out of self when you have had a free time in speaking or praying?

The stirrings of anger or impatience, which, worst of all, you call nervousness or holy indignation; a touchy, sensitive spirit; a disposition to resent and retaliate when disapproval of or contradicted; a desire to throw sharp, heated flings at another?

Self-will; a stubborn, unteachable spirit; an arguing, talkative spirit; harsh, sarcastic expression; an unyielding, headstrong disposition; a driving, commanding spirit; a disposition to criticize and pick flaws when set aside and unnoticed; a peevish, fretful spirit; a disposition that loves to be coaxed and humored?

Carnal fear; a man-fearing spirit; a shrinking from reproach and duty; reasoning around your cross; a shrinking from doing your whole duty by those of wealth or position; a fearfulness that someone will offend and drive some prominent person away; a compromising spirit?

A jealous disposition, a secret spirit of envy shut up in your heart; an unpleasant sensation in view of the great prosperity and success of another; a disposition to speak of the faults and failings, rather than the gifts and virtues of those more talented and appreciated than yourself?

A dishonest, deceitful disposition; the evading and covering of the truth; the covering up of your real faults; leaving a better impression of yourself than is strictly true; false humility; exaggeration; straining the truth?

Unbelief; a spirit of discouragement in times of pressure and opposition; lack of quietness and confidence in God; lack of faith and trust in God; a disposition to worry and complain in the midst of pain, poverty, or at the dispensations of Divine Providence; an overanxious feeling whether everything will come out all right?

Formality and deadness; lack of concern for lost souls; dryness and indifference?

Selfishness; love of ease; love of money?

These are some of the traits which generally indicate carnality in the heart. By prayer, hold your heart open to the searchlight of God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:23-24).

The Holy Spirit will enable you, by confession and faith, to bring your “self-life” to the death (see Romans 8:12-13). Do not patch over, but go to the bottom. It alone will pay.

Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord,
Oh, to be lost in Thee;
Oh, that it might be no more I,
But Christ that lives in me.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

-Author Unknown

Prayer’s Importance

If we think we can do life on our own, we will not take prayer seriously. Our failure to pray will always feel like something else — a lack of discipline or too many obligations. But when something is important to us, we make room for it. Prayer is simply not important to many Christians because Jesus is already an add-on. That is why… suffering is so important to the process of learning how to pray. It is God’s gift to us to show us what life is really like.

– “A Praying Life”, Paul E. Miller

Sunlight

Sunlight is never more grateful than after a long watch in the midnight blackness; Christ’s presence is never more acceptable than after a time of weeping, on account of his departure. It is a sad thing that we should need to lose our mercies to teach us to be grateful for them; let us mourn over this crookedness of our nature; and let us strive to express our thankfulness for mercies, so that we may not have to lament their removal. If thou desirest Christ for a perpetual guest, give him all the keys of thine heart; let not one cabinet be locked up from him; give him the range of every room, and the key of every chamber; thus you will constrain him to remain.

– Charles Spurgeon

Notes from Matthew, Chapters 16-19

During my reading in Matthew tonight, I was convicted in many areas, and grateful for the Lord God teaching me His Word. Tonight’s reading was Matthew 16-19. In tune with my usual, I am sharing my thoughts and application from those chapters.

Matthew 16:15-17
To know and believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the Living God is not something that we’d just know in the flesh. This is revealed to us by the Father.

Matthew 16:23
We become a hindrance to God when we set our minds on the things of man and not on the things of God.

Matthew 17:16-21
My faith in Jesus must function properly or it will be weak.

Matthew 18:3-4
To be humble like a child, this consists of childlike trust, vulnerability, and the inability to advance my own cause apart from the help, direction, and resources of my Heavenly Father (taken from the notes for this verse in my ESV Study Bible).

Matthew 18:6
Causing others to sin is a SERIOUS matter.

Matthew 18:8-9
Making war on sin is serious and sometimes drastic measures must be employed.

Matthew 18:15-17
This passage lays out the proper way to deal with sin, offense, and conflict in the Body. Step 1: Go to your brother or sister ALONE. If they do not listen – Step 2: Take 1 or 2 others with you. If they still do not listen – Step 3: Tell it to the church. If they do not listen to the church – Step 4: Let them be as a Gentile or a tax collector (one who is deliberately rebellious against God). How many times have I seen this NOT be the case in the Body. Fleshly works are more often the resolve than the route that God gives us to follow. Gossip runs amok along with backbiting while holding grudges that cultivate bitterness.

Matthew 18:24-35
The believer in Jesus has been forgiven of SO MUCH SIN! What we have done to God and against God is absolutely heinous! How dare we have an unforgiving heart against a brother or sister?! We’re COMMANDED to forgive. It is NOT an option. And not only are we commanded to forgive, but to forgive from the HEART.

Matthew 19:14
The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to children.

Matthew 19:25-26
There’s no one on earth that is too far gone to the point that they cannot be saved.

I pray this is of use to any readers of this blog. May Christ be seen, may He be glorified, may we pursue Holiness.

Grace & peace.