Tag Archives: exhortation

Order of Operations

The paradigm in Christendom for the past thousand years has been to make folks have a “Christian” life on the outside in order to encourage them to accept Christ on the inside. I’m going to be silent on the efficacy of that approach – I’m not God, and He’s the judge. However, excepting a brave few, I believe that the time for trying to arrange the world at large in a “Christian” fashion is over.

Yes, the world would be better off if it followed either the Law of Moses or the commands in the New Testament. Hello, God wrote those laws – of course they’re good. God is good. He tells us to do things for our best. Planet Earth would be a lot nicer if we followed the rules. Duh. But if we aren’t to try to make this world follow the Law, what are we to do?

What we must do is call people to a knowledge of Christ, to be saved. First saved, then sanctified. First we get you out of the muckpit, then we’ll talk about modesty and humility.

How do we do that? I’m not a great evangelist. I wish I were. I’m not a great apologist. I’ve been saved too long. But I have a theory. I think we have to stop pretending to be just like the Worldlings next door, just “nicer”. We’re quite often not so much nicer anyway. They’ve gotten a bit tired of being told that we are. And if *we* are, our sibling in the town over is kind of a jerk. But Christianity isn’t about being “nice”. Christianity is about utter transformation and total surrender.

We have to surrender to the transformation that God wants to make in each one of us. We have to give over ourselves and let Him shine out from our eyes. We have to understand that our strength isn’t the strength of our arms or our morals or our pasts. Our strength is the strength of God, or it’s nothing. What does the Scripture say? That our righteousness, done in our own strength, is filthy rags.

I am tired of talking to Christians the way I’d talk to Worldlings. Siblings, you aren’t limited by your temporal power. At any moment, you can ask the Creator of the universe to intervene on your behalf. He might choose not to – but if you don’t ask? Your chances go way down. * You’re not even mortals anymore! Why are you acting like this pitiful life is the only one you get? Heaven is real, and we’re headed Home! This is but a moment. We have eternity! This is *very* good news. This is, in fact, a good portion of the good news that we’re supposed to be proclaiming to the World. “Our Lord has taken your punishment, and He welcomes you into His family – if you accept His grace. He died. He rose again. For you. And you can join Him in paradise forever. Put your faith in Him”.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t enjoy the moment – in fact, in future essays, you’ll see that’s the very opposite of what I’m advocating. Wonder is a Christian emotion. Joy is a command. But – grabbing, holding, trying to get the “best” from this life? That’s not what this life is for! This live is for works. This life is to get the Word out to our potential siblings. This life is to show the World what God is doing, has done, with our lives.

We must be transformed. We must shine. We must put off these chains, because we have been freed.

We must, MUST, make the World wonder at what might be going on inside of us. Love us or hate us – and if you’ve read 1 Peter, you know the latter is more likely, at least at first. But wonder. We must let our old selves die, that the selves that Christ died to give us can live and shine.

Let His Light shine.

*If anyone thinks I’m advocating a prosperity gospel, know that I find the very though abhorrent. Having access to the Throne doesn’t mean I get a Mercedes. I’m a child, I’m not in charge.

Get up

For a long time, Christians in the West have been in relative power. We’ve arranged society – more or less – to make it easy to live the Christian life. (More or less. Mammon has always been a problem). We’ve allowed ourselves to slip into Laodicean habits. Thinking ourselves rich, we have become terribly poor.

That time is done.

It is too easy to slip into a romantic notion that American Christians are being persecuted. We aren’t. We *are* suddenly no longer the cool kids – but it could be argued that we never really were cool, because Christianity isn’t cool. (Too much obedience). What we have lost is the solidity of default power.

I don’t think this is a bad thing, for the Church. For the World, it is a terrible thing – and you can look up any number of statistics to back that up. But the Church has a beautiful opportunity to return to the core of her mission, to return to the source of her power. We’ve allowed ourselves to act like our power comes from our situation. How ridiculous! We are children of God – our power comes from Him.

Rev 3:17-18 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

My power is not my own. My strength is not my own. I am not my own. ALL IS GOD’S.

It is time to stop acting like our power comes from the flesh. We belong to Jesus, and He will give us the strength to do that which we have been commanded to do.

We the Church, the Bride of Christ, must differentiate ourselves from the World. We are to love one another radically, we are to love the lost, radically. We are to love Jesus, radically, and let our light shine. We are to tell the World the good news, and we are to live like we’re redeemed.

I do not own myself. I am *not* my own woman. Nor does my husband own me, although he’s got a managing interest. No. I am a slave to Christ, His servant, His daughter, His representative.

No half measures. And no more hiding my light under a bushel. No more cowardice.

Watch out, I’m planning to get you on your feet.

Apologetics and Evangelism

Why I suck as an apologist:

I was saved when I was four years old.  I didn’t have one of those big changes in life … I was four!  Four year olds are rarely known for their wicked ways and terrible habits.  I found out that Jesus wanted to come into my heart, and I had to invite Him… so after the flannelgraph (yes, really) I went home and got on my knees and did that.

I’ve always heard the Holy Spirit in my heart.  I got pressured to walk up the aisle and get baptized – and I did that.  I got pressured to surrender my whole heart … and I didn’t do that.  (‘Cause boys).  But the call? I heard the call.  Every summer camp for years … until I blocked it out with my own sins, I heard the call.

I talk to Jesus all the time, and He talks to me.  Not in words, usually – although it happens.  Not in voice, as of yet – but while I’d be overwhelmed, I wouldn’t disbelieve.  I just – I know stuff.

So, there’s never been a time in my life when I didn’t believe.  When I didn’t have Jesus in my heart, someone to talk to, someone who I *knew*.  It’s like disbelieving in your grandpa.  Like, really?  You can call him on the phone, of course you believe in Grandpa.  /eyeroll. 

The really great apologists seem to mostly have started out as atheists and other non-believers.  Not cradle (for lack of a better word) Christians.  It’d be like trying to prove that your chair exists.  Someone comes up and tells you to prove that you really have a chair.  You’re just looking at them like, “Huh? Of course I have a chair.  Can you not see my chair?”

As for evangelism, I care deeply about evangelism, and I give my darnedest to be a good friendship evangelist.  I *love* to talk theology with people.  Love it!  But the close?  Not my thing.  Well, the Lord said that some are give to sow the seed, some to water it, some to harvest.  Apparently I don’t have a sickle.  But my heart is for the gospel.  I can’t let myself be discouraged, simply because I have a watering can or a jar of seed.

I’m me – and I can only go out and be the best me I can be.  And if you want to know about Jesus?  Let me tell you about my Master!  Love to!  Prove Him?  Uh.  I can give you resources… but I’ve never needed to work that problem, so I can’t help you as well as I ought.  Resources, I’ve got resources – and again, I’d love to point you on the way.

Apologies – for my lack of apologetics. 

Exhortation

My primary spiritual gift is exhortation, and it seems like I should just get to work and start exhorting.  Welcome to the land of the rough draft, where I get my thoughts out in no particular order to be sorted through later. 

CS Lewis wrote, in Mere Christianity, that being a person in society was like being a boat at sea.  You needed to first be in good shape as a boat, second you needed to not hit the other boats, and third you needed to know where to go.

It seems like most conservative Christian blogs want to work endlessly on “good shape as a boat”, and so what Christians are known for is boat-maintenance, including minutia that is incredibly unimportant (or offensive) to boats not flying our Lord’s flag. 

I am NOT saying that boat-maintenance is unimportant.  At ALL.  Not!  I want to be super super clear on this. 

However.

There are fewer and fewer boats with our Lord’s flag running around… and we’re under fire. 

We need to start concentrating on “where are we going?” and “what can we do as a fleet”?  What’s the mission, people? “Go ye unto all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”  Oh.  Yeah.  THAT mission. 

I hate, just as much as the rest of you hate, that America (and the West at large) is no longer a nation where we can default and relax into our Christianity and concentrate on waxing our decks and getting the ropes coiled just so.  Oh well.  All God’s chillen got problems, we weren’t put on this earth to make it Heaven, God’s got that decorated already – He didn’t send us down here to duplicate His work, He sent us here to make converts.

Every one of us has a gift, and we need to get to work.  On ourselves, certainly – but we are a fleet.  A family.  And we’ve been given a job to do.  We need to light up that hill, be salt, show the way, and love one another like crazy people.  Work.To.Do.

Get to it.