Monday, April 6, 2009

Black, Gray, or White Part 2

In my last post I talked about how some things may be clearer in the Bible than we sometimes pretend. If we are commanded to live in purity, consider what that is and live in purity.
But there will always be issues that God will call you to and never, ever call someone else to. My dad read this to us at our family devotions last night and I wanted to share it because I thought it was so good

Others May––But You Cannot
If God has called you to be really like Jesus in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life
of crucifixion and humility, and put on you such demands of obedience that He will not
allow you to follow other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other good
people do things which He will not let you do.
Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful may push
themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans, but you cannot do it;
and if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to
make you sorely penitent.
Others can brag on themselves, on their work, on their success, on their writings, but
the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it He will lead
you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good
Others will be allowed to succeed in making money, or having a legacy left to them, or
in having luxuries, but it is likely that God will keep you poor, because He wants you to
have something better than gold, and that is a helpless dependence on Him, that He
may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.
The Lord will let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hid away in
obscurity, because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming
glory, which can only be produced in the shade.
He will let others be great, but keep you small. He will let others do a work for Him,
and get the credit for it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how
much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious, He will let others
get the credit for the work which you have done, and this will make your reward ten
times greater when Jesus comes. The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a
jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feeling or for wasting your time,
which other Christians never seem distressed over. So make up your mind that God is
an infinite Sovereign, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and He will not
explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with
He will take you at your word, and if you absolutely sell yourself to be His slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love and let other people say and do many things that you
cannot do or say. Settle it forever, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit and
that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing
your eyes in ways that He does not deal with others. Now when you are so possessed
with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this
peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit
over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven.
––The Biblical Evangelist

I have felt this way many times yet, in God's mercy He has brought me to love His will more and more so that it seems much less bothersome but joyful. The more we submit the more He will ask and the more we will be made like Him, which means our desires will change to be more like Him and we will love this change in us.
I was asked about clothing and honestly I can't wait to deal with it. I wanted to pray about what to say for a few days and then I'll do another post.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Black, Gray, or White

As New Testament Christians, we are not under the law that Israel was under. We are under grace. And while I am grateful for that in many ways it can be difficult to understand what is black, gray or white. What do we do about issues that are not necessarily bad? What is wrong? And what is right?
There are three ways to deal with this, two of which are wrong. There are those who make a long list and on it put everything they can and can not do. This is legalistic and not good for one to do to oneself and definitely wrong to try to conform everyone else to their list. This is not to say that making rules for certain occasions isn’t good. When you go to summer camp you want everyone covered. When you go to a class you don’t want to have to look at something inappropriate. But to make a list of do’s and don’ts for your life and then decide this is law is wrong. It doesn’t help you or others do anything but be legalistic and degrading.
Another solution to throw the list out to window and live like God will forgive everything. Do whatever you want and if your fall into sin God will forgive you. It’s a, “I’m saved by grace and only need John 3:16,” theology. Welcome a life of spiritual complacency. You never seek God's will of His character which is perfection.
We are called to be holy and to conform to His will.
“That each one of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.” Thessalonians 4:4
If you don’t understand or think holiness is that important I suggest you spend time every day for the next week going through a concordance, looking up, and writing every verse that talks about holiness. It will really cause you to see how important it is to God because He is holy and isn’t this pop god that wears cool T-shirts and speaks like a punk. If you were to see His face you would fall dead. That’s how holy our God is and if you are seeking to be like Him, you will find the pleasures of the world become less, and less appealing.
But where do you draw the line? How do we know what T-shirts are fine and which one’s degrade God’s holiness? What is the too much TV and is it even ok? How do I know what to pull out of the Old Testament and in what ways am I no longer bound? Some of you may think the Bible is vague but maybe you just need to read it and think. To look at the big picture; which includes the Old and New Testament.
Man sinned; we are no longer holy but made enemies of God. God knew we could not obey all the laws so he showed us. His standards are just too high for us to even imagine keeping. So he promised a Messiah, in His awesome grace and mercy. He sent His son, who died and rose and command that we be His witlessness over all the earth. Are the shows you watch, clothes you wear, activities you participate in, behaviors you represent, bring others to God, or draw them astray. I think most Christians who think they are trying to just, “connect” are really bring a stumbling block and that’s why we have so many mediocre Christians in America.
“Do not be conformed to this world,” conformed – have nothing to do with. Different. Called out.
“But be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passion of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16
God is big enough to bring those to himself without you lowering your standards and trying to please men and attract them to faith. He calls you to be different and strive for holiness. Holiness, holiness…
“And one called to another and said, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is filled with His glory!” Isaiah 6:3
Love the lost, pray for them, but don’t conform. And yes, they will think you are judging them and that you are legalistic. But that is what is going to draw out the true Christians from flakes that are swayed by every wind of doctrine. Speak to them in love, faith, and purity, and talk to them of things you enjoy. But Please Do NOT be close friends with then and DO NOT conform to their dress, behaviors, or hobbies. That is Satan’s lie that he wants to use to stray you away from the pursuit of holiness. And if God wills he can us you to bring the lost to Him when they see that you are dead serious. You have the precious privilege of being a child of the King of Kings. Don’t be ashamed or lower that privilege to something less than it is.
Gray areas – I’d like to finish with the gray areas. God has everyone in different places in their life. That’s ok. Don’t look down on someone if they don’t know as much as you and despise someone who knows more than you. We are to teach each other in faith and love. That’s why God set up the church. Because He knew we needed each other to function. Be teachable and be willing to teach others. There will be things that others are not ready for and God may never bring them there. Different people stumble from different things. My family does not have cable TV in our home. We can only watch movies that we bring in. This is to protect us and I think it’s wonderful. Whenever I go somewhere and watch a little TV in a hotel or something I thank God we don’t have TV in our home. I don’t know of another person in our church that does the same. I can’t go around and tell people that they should get ride of cable TV because it helps my mind stay pure. I can share it in testimony but then have to wait for God to move the way He wants in their lives, not the way I want.
But I believe there are lots of things people just place into this category because they feel like it and don’t what to risk giving it up. But the Bible is a lot clearer then we sometimes pretend. I’m just going to close with sharing a few things I’ve heard people say are a matter of conviction that I think are not.
Body piercing, tattoos, drinking, chewing, smoking – The Bible never says, “Do not do any other these things. But people are sinful and prone to sinful things so they say it’s ok and make up dumb excuses like “Rebecca was given a nose ring. IN that culture it was not a sign of rebellion as it is in ours but an adornment. It probably wasn’t even pierced. Abraham’s servant did it to bless her like putting on a necklace. Don’t be fooled into thinking it was just like what girl’s sport around on their face today.”
“Jesus drank wine,” which was probably similar to our punch.
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1
And we must remember that as Christians our bodies are the temple of the holy Spirit. Not some dummy we can carve up. The Bible commands us to take care of our bodies. I think if Jesus thought that kind of thing would help bring people to the Lord or was ok for His followers to do He would have done it himself. Please don't degrade your body in that way.
“God doesn’t day you don’t date. It’s just a matter of conviction on how much you touch before your wedding. As long as you don’t have sex or anything.” I totally disagree with this because,
“It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 1 Corinthians 7:1ESV
However the NKJV goes as far to say, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman!”
Paul is talking to a troubled church. Sound familiar? It was a church in a very lost city with corruption and legalism and those who are not seeking God’s holiness but their own standards. Before marriage, which is a picture of Christ’s love for His bride, the church, he wants us to stay pure in every way.
(It is all over the Bible. There are too many verses to mention.) When we take the intimacies, from least all the way to sex, out of marriage we are distorting this beautiful picture and being a horrible witness.
“Let no one despise you because of your youth, but set an example to believers in speech (that’s your language) in conduct (how do you present yourself) in love (are you loving to the lost as well as your family) in faith (do people see you as a young person of faith) and in purity (do you give an example to purity to the older and younger in your church).
Do people look at you with respect or are you just another young person older couples shake their heads at. Let not one despise you, but set an example.
The last is clothing. This is so important. The Bible tells over and over again in the New Testament how women, especially, should behave and dress. In my post several months ago, “Girls,” I share theses verses with their Greek meaning. I have heard girls say over and over again that it’s ok to be stylish and wear the newest trends but I think the Bible is very clear that it’s not! I don’t promote dork squad but how can you be immersed in fashions and spending all that money and still dress in a modest, feminine, manor. As Stacy MacDonald says, (paraphrased) “If you dress like a police officer, don’t be surprised if people think you are a police officer. If you dress in maternity clothes, don’t be surprised if others think you’re pregnant. If you dress like you’re loose, people will think that of you. You may be a virgin and a woman sincerely seeking after God but when you dress like the world you are lying about God’s character to the world in which you are trying to witness in.”
You can be sincerely wrong. Choose not to be. Immerse yourself in God’s word and listen to those who have gone before you so you can present yourself like Paul commanded Timothy to. Do nothing that would cause another to sin and do not lower the standards God has given you in His word. Yet do not judge, lest you yourself be judged. In all submission seek holiness and in all love be a shining light of God’s grace to the world. If I am unclear please tell me.