Monday Motivation: You Can Only Wear One Pair of Shoes at a Time

You should see my closet.  Actually, you should see both of my closets.  I have one of my own and share half of my daughter’s just to have enough room to hold all my clothes.  Now, I will be honest and say that when I worked in the golf business, I got a lot of free clothes.  But I still have far more than I really need.  What’s really embarrassing though is how many pairs of shoes I own.  Everyone gives the ladies a hard time for having closets full of shoes, but I’m sure my collection surpasses most.

It may seem obvious, but I’ve come to realize that you can only wear one pair of shoes at a time.  The others just sit there taking up space in the closet, and in some cases, collecting dust because they haven’t been worn in so long.  It’s overconsumption at its finest.

I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one with this problem.  It may not be shoes, but I’m sure many of you have far more of something than you really need.  A far bigger and more expensive house than is necessary.  A huge garage full of over-priced cars that you don’t really need.  A long list of expensive hobbies that you participate in and then stop after only a few months.

Our culture says, “more, more, more.”  When are we going to say, “enough is enough!”  The Bible teaches about the Christian’s attitude towards contentment, and it’s a teaching we would be wise to adhere to.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

(1 Timothy 6:6-10)

-Joe

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Monday Motivation: The Kingdom of God

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“For something to be a kingdom, there must be a king, kingdom citizens, and a governing structure or way of life.  A lot of us have the first two, not realizing the last one come with it.  We take Jesus as our savior, we become citizens of his kingdom, but we fail to realize that for that to be true, our lives now have to come under his reign.”

(Jefferson Bethke- “It’s Not What You Think”)

Haven’t you noticed the general lack of responsibility in society today?  That’s painting with a broad brushstroke, but hear me out.  As any student who ever made it through a civics class would know, our rights are only our rights if they are followed by responsibility.  And too many people today try to claim one without fulfilling the other.  It doesn’t take long to turn on the news and watch people vehemently spout about their freedoms but typically in an uneducated and  irresponsible way.

All this is to say that Christians have a great responsibility as well if we are to live under the kingdom of God.  As the quote above mentions, we cannot graciously accept the good that comes with his kingdom if we’re not willing to live under his rule.  Again, it doesn’t take long to look around at the church and see that many are bending under the pressure of our culture and not living under the commands of God.  They want to have all the benefits with none of the sacrifices of submission.

So what can we do?  We need to realize that if God is who he says he is (and by the way, he is), then he is Lord and we need to treat him as such.  This isn’t the kind of freedom we have in America where we can bad-mouth our president and other leaders if we don’t like they way they do things.  Under the rule of the King, we accept together his grace and our responsibility to live according to that grace.  It means our lives reflect his majesty and that we have willingly picked up our cross to follow him.  Being a citizen of his kingdom means we come under his reign.

-Joe

Stand Firm

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Ive been a little disheartened lately by the general lack of disrespect towards God’s word by some in the body of Christ. I say some because it’s not necessarily a prevalent problem, but it seems to be growing as we see the church trying to mold itself to current cultural practices. I won’t delve into the specific areas where I see some in the church diverging from the word of God, but I do want to ask some hypothetical questions for us to think about.

Why do successive generations seem to feel more enlightened than the ones before?

Why do we sometimes believe we’re better, more informed, more savvy, and therefore smarter than Christians of past generations?

Why do we hear preached that God’s word is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow yet our understanding of it has somehow changed or been enlightened?  

I ask these questions because I see the church at a crossroads of sorts. I see believers accepting things that God has clearly said are wrong. I hear of Christians who attend worship on Sundays but live like the world the rest of the week. God has clearly instructed us that his ways are greater than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), but many in the modern church are not heeding his instruction. People are leaving the truth and are following the flow of the world. They are doing it to fit in or because they claim it’s fun, but whatever the case, God-fearing disciples of Christ are truly becoming “the remnant.”

So maybe someone can tell me, when did God tell us to fit in with the rest of the world?  I don’t intend that question to be sarcastic. But, if we have accepted the calling to follow Jesus and believe in him as our Savior, then in many cases we would look like the exact opposite of the world. I realize that it’s hard to live counter to the flow of society. It may, at times, leave us feeling very lonely and left out. We may be persecuted or ridiculed when we don’t concur with popular belief. Personally, I battle daily with the lure of the world and of the flesh.

Nevertheless, Christianity, by nature, is countercultural, especially considering the direction our culture is taking. We have very specific instructions in the Bible concerning our behavior and the love we should have for others and for God. Following Christ should result in a life lived in service to others and complete submission to God.  Whether we do or do not understand or agree with his commands, we are to follow the lead of God if he is really going to be the Lord of our life

Will it be difficult?  Yes!  Will others blow you off or treat you harshly becaus of your dedication to God?  Absolutely!  Just remember what Jesus told us in Matthew 10:22.  “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Keep your eyes focused on God and stand firm in your faith. Let your life be a light that shines in this dark world of selfishness and sin and God will follow through on his promise to save you in the end.

-Joe

Christianity in a World of “Church”

It appears we have it drastically wrong.   Church is being redefined in the 21st century to match the culture around us.  The church was designed to be a light to the world, but all too often, we just blend in with the rest of society.  Our human selves still desire the comforts and pleasures this world has to offer and thus there is no difference between us and our unchurched neighbors.  But God has called us, the church, to live differently than society.

what-is-churchThe 1st century church knew this well.  Without any human power to speak of, they grew from less than 200 believers into a movement that spread throughout the world.  But how?  Well it sure wasn’t by building megachurches and providing worship services to rival a rock concert.  They were transformed from the inside into individuals willing to sacrifice everything, even their lives, to preach the gospel of Jesus.  The cities that Paul, Peter, and the rest of the disciples preached to were no different from our cities today.  There was just as much sin in the world of old.  Yet the response to the gospel was tremendous because those Christians were decidedly counter-culture.

We must be wary that we don’t automatically assume we’re not the Pharisees of today, thinking we have all the answers.  We, in fact, may be far from what Jesus envisioned when he established the church.  We must follow His example of love and dying to ourselves not so we may simply live moral lives, but so we live a life worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1).