Most of us have heard the term holiness in our lives. Holiness is one of the big words we use in church to describe God. It is also the term used to describe the Church and the life we are called to live.
However, I most want to focus on God’s holiness. What prompts this is the idea that we often separate God’s holiness from the other aspects we attribute to Him.
For example, God’s love and His holiness. We act as though these are two separate things. As though His love is void and separate from His holiness. Surely this can’t be. Holiness simply means “set apart.” So what if we looked at the attributes of God through His holiness.
God’s love is holy, because it is set apart. It is different that the love of the world or even the love of you and me. It is perfect. We are called to this type of love. A love that is holy and separate from the world.
What about His mercy? His mercy is holy. It is different from the mercy of the world.
His justice? It is holy. It is set apart from the justice of the world.
My point is that we while we may try, in discussing a particular attribute used to describe God, separate them, in reality we cannot divorce one of God’s attributes from another. God’s holiness is connected to His love is connected to His mercy is connected to His justice and so on and so on.
Truth be told, it’s the same with us. We don’t love enough or have enough mercy or show justice? Perhaps we aren’t set apart the way we should be.
How is your (or my) holiness going these days?
You’ve done it.
We have over-promised and under-delivered.
Maybe it was when someone asked us to pray for them. We had good intentions. Maybe we threw up a quickie and, just as quickly, forgot about it. That person continued to go through their situation and we continued through life as normal.
Maybe someone was moving into some sort of mission field. We told them we would help them financially. We forgot all about it and they had needs that went unmet.
Maybe someone was involved in a cool ministry. They appealed for help. We became excited. We offered help and never followed through.
Some would say that we should do just the opposite. They would say that we should under-promise and over-deliver.
I don’t think so. I think that is just as bad.
We should let our yes be yes and our no be no.
If someone needs prayer, we should pray for them and with them.
If someone needs financial help, and we feel like we can help them, we should help them.
If someone is involved in a ministry and we offer our help, we should go help.
No under or over-promising. No over or under-delivering.
You’re guilty of it. I’m guilty of it.
Let’s just do what we say we’ll do.
Are you guilty of over-promising and under-delivering?
For most of this summer, as in summers past, I battled fire ants. Several mounds of these pests from the bowels of the earth infiltrated my yard.
I did several things to battle these creatures. I bought a commercial product to spread near the mounds. This didn’t work. I spread rice around the mound in hope that they would eat and swell to death. No luck. Again, I bought a commercial product. Temporary at best, the ants and their mounds returned.
Finally, tired and concerned the mounds would multiply, I decided on a drastic course of action. I went to my outbuilding and sought my measure of last resort. I retrieved the only remedy of which I could think.
I grabbed my can and doused each mound with gasoline.
The mounds and ants are gone.
This was not the best method to rid myself of the ants. I have a few spots in my yard that are bare. Nothing will grow there for a while. I’m sure there are environmental risks.
The ants, though, were defeated.
You might want to know what that has to do with anything.
It has everything to do with everything.
You and I have sin in our life. We will do many things in an attempt to defeat sin in our lives. (Don’t get me wrong. Ultimately, if we are believers, sin is defeated by Christ on the cross. What I’m talking about are the sins that creep into the nooks and crannies of our lives.)
We try a variety of things to make ourselves holy. Or we don’t. Hopefully, we are all concerned with sin in our lives.
Some might call it the mortification of sin.
Sometimes it takes something radical to rid ourselves of sin.
Much like when Saul had disobeyed God and Samuel hacked Agag to death, it often takes extreme measures to rid ourselves of sin.
Here is the most extreme.
We need to love God more.
We need to fill up on the Holy Spirit more.
We need to put on Christ more.
In other words, God must be our aim.
Why does sin have a hold in our life? Why are our lives full of pride? Why do we lie or live lives of gluttony or lust or you (insert ) a sin here?
It’s because we aren’t doing the most radical thing that we can do. We aren’t chasing after God with all we have. We aren’t living our lives by reflecting on the gospel. We aren’t living our lives in the shadow of the cross.
How can I say that about you? Because that’s my problem. I’m just an ordinary guy. I’m nothing extraordinary. I’m just like you.
Do something radical today. Do something extreme in your pursuit of the Lord. Do whatever it takes to rid yourself of sin by gaining more of Him.
How do you rid your life of sin? Are you filling yourself up on the Lord?
On Sunday, I missed church and I didn’t mind it.
Here’s the situation.
Jan, my wife, had a family reunion. My son, Andrew, had not been feeling well the past few days, so I let him rest and we stayed home. My daughter, Lauren, went to Sunday School at the church my kids attend part-time. She came home and went to the reunion with Jan.
Church time came and went. Normally, I will have a feeling of missing something. This time? Nothing. I didn’t miss it at all.
That’s about as far as I want to go with this. I simply didn’t mind missing church at the church I joined a few months ago.
Have you ever missed church and not minded missing it at all?
My friend, Chad Gibbs, has a new book that releases today. I read his first book, God and Football, several months ago. I’ve been excited about this new book, Love Thy Rivals, ever since. I can’t wait to get my copy soon.
However, this isn’t the most exciting thing that Chad has going on. In conjunction with his release, Chad is teaming up with Samaritan’s Purse where rival sports fans can contribute to help build a women’s and children’s clinic in Haiti.
Below are the links where you can contribute if you can. If you use only one link, use the First Giving one. Please prayerfully consider if you can help in any way.
On a personal note, let me add that one of my neighbors just made it out of Haiti with her adopted son ahead of Isaac bearing down on the island.
Thank you for reading this and helping to make Chad’s and Samaritan Purse’s campaign successful.
Last week, we arrived at the empty tomb in John 20. This week, we see Jesus appear to his disciples.
Apparently, Mary’s declaration was met with a large dose of skepticism. We join the action with the disciples hiding out behind closed and locked doors. They are scared that the Jews may bust through the doors at any moment. Suddenly, Jesus appears. Does He walk through the doors? Does He just materialize among them? The text doesn’t tell us. However, we know what He says:
Peace be with you.
He knows what His appearance will mean and do to them. It can be rather upsetting to see someone rise from the dead. What Jesus is telling the disciples is to stay calm.
Joy. He showed them this hands and His side. And they rejoiced
Then Jesus does something that seems strange. He breathes on them and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit. This may seem strange, considering that the Holy Spirit comes upon them later in Acts, but it seems that this is totally different from that one. Here it seems that Jesus is breathing eternal life into them. Later, they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit.
Next, we run into Thomas. For whatever reason, he is not with the other disciples when Jesus appears to them. Naturally, since he didn’t see it, Thomas does not believe the word of ten of his closest friends. So, Jesus appears again for Thomas’ benefit. Thomas had already said that he would not believe unless he had seen Jesus’ wounds.
So, Jesus appears. Again, He says, “Peace be with you.” And He tells Thomas to touch His wounds.
Thomas’ reaction is priceless: “My Lord and My God!!!”
Jesus tells Thomas that he has seen and believed, but those who have not seen and believed are blessed.
That seems to be the overriding point of all of this. None of the disciples really believed until they saw Jesus. None of them went by the word of anyone who had seen Jesus. However, they are going to be commissioned to tell people what they saw and those who believe will be blessed.
Believing is seeing in this case.
Do you believe Jesus rose from the dead? Have you received this blessing?
Oftentimes when I’m in the shower, I worship. A song comes to mind and I sing it to myself.
The other morning I was worshipping to this song.
You just did a double take and wondered how in the world I could worship to this song. It doesn’t mention Jesus at all.
This song is, for me, the epitome of the “Outlaw” movement in country music when I was a kid. If you aren’t familiar with that movement, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and others rebelled against the country music establishment. Fed up with the cookie-cutter formula of the “Nashville Sound”, they decided to do their own thing. It was a risky chance to take. They could have failed and been blackballed by Nashville.
Instead, they hit it big.
Steven Taylor, from a different angle, takes on the Church in a similar fashion in this song.
Neither Waylon Jennings nor Steven Taylor are original though.
Jesus did the same thing over 2,000 years ago. He rebelled against the power base of the Jewish leaders. He brought the gospel of the kingdom of God to Israel.
He was rejected.
Today, we have a choice. Have many of our churches become like Nashville was in the early 70′s? Do we cookie-cutter our faith? Do we really need to do it the way everyone tells us to do it? Are we a little too comfortable?
Maybe we need some Outlaw Christianity. Maybe we need to be a little dangerous. Maybe we need to lose the comfort.
Are you following the establishment? Or are you an “Outlaw”?
Recently there was a bomb threat in the town where I work. Word spread quickly through the community. People were scared and frightened to go near where this occurred. Some thought that a bomb would explode in our area.
Me? I never thought anything would happen.
Someone asked me about that. I told them that whoever made the thread simply wanted to frighten everyone. They were basically a terrorist. Terrorists love causing others to live in fear.
I thought about that for a while and realized that is what Satan does.
Satan bomb threats us.
Satan wants us to live in fear. He wants us to be afraid. He talked Adam and Eve into fearing what would happen if they followed God’s commands more than if they disobeyed.
He tried it with Jesus. He tried to cause Jesus to fear starving to death. He tried to cause Jesus to fear the security and safety He had in the Father. He tried to cause Jesus to fear that he would not rule a kingdom.
He tries that with us. We fear that we will miss out on pleasure when God promises ultimate pleasure in Him.
He tries to cause us to be anxious, when God tells us to trust Him.
He tries to get us to have pride when we have nothing to boast in other than the cross.
We can go on and on.
Satan is a terrorist. He wants us to fear missing the life with him. Instead, the Lord wants us to live life with Him.
We have nothing to fear in Satan. In Christ we do not have a spirit of fear.
Do you ever feel like Satan is trying to cause you to be afraid?
I recently recognized that I left a church a year ago. My family and I had been a part of this church for seventeen years, though my wife had been part of it for most of her life before we married.
Perhaps you are thinking about leaving your church and searching for another. I want to implore you to stop and think about it. Wait. I waited a long time before I changed churches. All told, I waited approximately six years from when I wanted to leave until I did. Even then, my hand was forced a bit. I simply wanted leaving to be the last resort.
So, before you leave that church:
Be patient. Don’t leave just because something happened (unless it is some extreme issue). Take your time leaving. Don’t be in a rush. Just because things are tough or not the way you want them doesn’t mean you have to make a hasty retreat. It may be that the Lord is doing something through you being there. Make sure that it is the right time to leave.
Cool Your Jets
Don’t leave mad. If you are angry, cool off first. Let the heat dissipate. It might not be as bad as you think after the emotions are over.
Leave on good terms. Continue to make friends as you leave. Build people up through your leaving. Speak well of people.
Finish your commitments. Resign any positions that you have, such as being a deacon in the church. If possible, say goodbye to those you with whom you have made your church home. Don’t leave anything hanging.
I give this advice as one who has broken all of these at one time or another when leaving church. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.
What have you done when you have left a church in the past? Did you do these? What would you add?
At the first of the year, I proclaimed my One Word for 2012 to be Community. Community is something I longed for and something I needed.
I certainly have expanded the Deuceology community through more people following this blog and joining the conversation. I truly appreciate the support of everyone who takes the time to read, comment and participate in this blog. I have seen tons of growth this year in this area.
However, if you look at my personal life, I’ve had a harder time.
I truly do believe that the local church is meant to be a community of believers who are joined together by their faith and pursue a like-minded mission. There is no place where followers of Christ should feel more at home. There is nowhere else a Christian should be as safe or feel at home.
Alas, that is not the case for me.
In a less mature time of my life I would have blamed everyone else. I would have said that those people have a problem. I would have wondered why they are all unfriendly.
I’ve come to realize that it’s really me.
I’m pretty busy with my job. I work my forty-five plus hours per week. That doesn’t count the time I drive to and from work every day, which is another five hours.
I’m pretty busy with my kids. I have a daughter who is a senior in high school. She has activities. My son is a freshman. He has activities. I’m involved in those things.
I’m pretty busy with maintaining my home. There is always something to do, some chore to complete.
Then there is anything else I need or want to do. I’m pretty busy with that stuff too.
However, when it’s all said and done, I’ve decided that I really don’t make community a priority. I just really don’t want to “do life” together with other people enough. I might have to be vulnerable and let my guard down if I tried to do that. It would be dangerous.
You might say that I’m scared.
I’m the same guy who was too scared to let people get really close to him in high school and college. I’m just older and set in my ways. I just can’t seem to just muster up the effort.
So, I want community. And I don’t want community. All at the same time.
Community is my one word this year. Just not the way I thought.
Does community come easy for you?