October 15, 2018

Stop and Listen...


When I was in infantry training with the Army, we were taught the value of a “listening halt.”  You might say, “what is that?”  Well, after inserting oneself into a new area, an infantry team will stop, create, and maintain security and just listen for several minutes.  Why?  To develop a mental picture of what are normal sounds, smells, sights of the location.  By doing this, one will be aware if danger is approaching as the change will register.

So, let me ask you, reader… are you aware of your surroundings?  Are you aware of the spiritual reality that exists?  You may wonder why I ask such a question.  Well, it seems as many people in the world today walk around as if God does not exist.  Oh, they may pay Him lip service and bring their false piety to God as a token of their love.  But their life shows a disregard for God if not straight out disdain for Him. So many people’s life live out the third chapter of Romans declaration that None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one… There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Yet these person walk around as if this does not matter, as if, in reality, there is no God.  

Yet, if one will just stop and really listen.  If one will just look with truly impartial eyes, he or she will see that God is all around them.  They will encounter a God who, as the author of Romans declares, loves in spite of  their shortcomings (Romans 5:8) and despite their condition (Romans 6:23).  So, let us all take time to stop and listen, for it is then we can see the reality of the fallen world and it is their where we encounter God.

July 24, 2018

TRANSFORMATION



“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed…”                  Romans 12:2



Are we about the business of transformation?  What do I mean, well, as the phrase suggest, I am asking are we as Christians about doing the work of our Lord?  Are we about making disciples, about changing people?

I was recently challenged to think about this and apply it to my life and ministry.  Too often, if we do not take care, we see the Christian life and church as series of transactions instead of a place of transformation.  We say, I have read my scripture, check.  I have spent time in prayer, check.  Or as a church, we have brought a person to a decision, check.  We have baptized them, check.  We have assigned them to a Sunday School or small group, check.  But this is not what Christ called us to be and do.  He called us to live different.  He called us to lead others to live different. 

George Whitefield, a English Anglican cleric and one of the founders of Methodism and the evangelical movement, spoke clearly about a church that full of the uninspired whose heart were unchanged and unrepentant.  He called his listeners to “Come to hear them, not out of curiosity, but from a sincere desire to know and do your duty. To enter His house merely to have our ears entertained, and not our hearts reformed, must certainly be highly displeasing to the Most High God, as well as unprofitable to ourselves. ...” 

His rebuke applies not only to those who first heard it but to us and it speaks to our tendency to desire a transaction and not transformation.  Let us not be observers of the faith but practitioners.  Let us say that it starts with us and let us live out the transformed life in how we speak and live.  Let us not have a check list to complete but a passion to follow Christ and call others to do likewise.