MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.

Trust Me

June 5th, 2014 Viewed 811 times

Adam Ford has a comic up today that goes right along with what we’ve been talking about entitled “Trust Me“.

Conclusion

June 5th, 2014 Viewed 809 times
This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Living In Reality

Living In Reality

In The Silver Chair (The Chronicles of Narnia #4) , the green witch is trying to convince the Narnians who have come to rescue the captured Prince Rilian that there is no such thing as Narnia, Aslan, or even the Sun so that they will not be free. Puddleglum, a Marshwiggle, gets to the point where he says that although the witch paints a convincing picture under her evil spell, and though reality may only be what she says it is—underground, no Narnia, no Aslan, no Sun—yet the reality that he believes in is stronger and more real and therefore he will choose to believe in that and live like it exists, rather than believe her reality.

How about us? We claim to believe that there is more to this world than what we see. We claim that we are bound for Heaven, slaves of God doing His will. If we live like those that are slaves to sin, preoccupied with this reality that is only a shadow, what does that say about what we truly believe in our heart of hearts?


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Scripture from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Image by Vangel_PL used under Standard Restrictions

Are You Following Jesus This Close?

June 4th, 2014 Viewed 815 times

In response to the bumper stickers that ask this question, Jon Acuff quips:

Or perhaps it’s just the opposite, you actually want me to back away from you in traffic and tail gait Jesus instead. Is he commuting today? Are you intimating that should I but crane my neck I might notice him in the right hand lane, driving, what I can only imagine is a burro, and I should follow him instead? But that’s unlikely, because once you’ve ascended there’s no way you’re driving on the Interstate again. You think Elijah or sah, whichever one got the fire chariot ride, is ever getting in a Kia after that? You can’t Sorento after you’ve fire chariotted.

Read the whole post at A Response to the “Are you following Jesus this close” bumper sticker.

What Reality Are We Looking At?

June 4th, 2014 Viewed 824 times, 1 so far today
This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Living In Reality

Living In Reality

Will We Be Distracted?

This present life attempts to present to us countless distractions from reality in an attempt to make us forget who we are and why we are here.  Some of these may be rest, our job, our classes, looking for a mate, material possessions (like your house, car, or belongings) and entertainment.

These things, in and of themselves, may not be wrong, but as believers we cannot let any of these things distract us from the reality of who we are in Christ.

Rest is good…

…but we are called to work for the night is coming when man’s work is done.  Solomon in the book of Proverbs recommends that we look to the ant as one that toils all the time, without delay.  We will have opportunity to rest later, we have work to do now.

Our Jobs are good…

…in that it should allow you the opportunity to reach lost people, provide for your family and bless others, but it’s not an end—it’s a means.  American culture makes us slaves to our jobs as we strive for more money to pay for things that we’ve already bought on credit.

Nowhere in the Scripture is accumulation to oneself praised, but giving to others, to the poor, and to the cause of Christ.  Jesus confronted the rich young ruler to sell all that he had and give it to the poor and then he could be Jesus’ disciple.

Academics are good…

Paul was certainly trained academically, but some of the other apostles were just fisherman.  God does not place as high a value on “education” as the American people do.

When the Bible talks about education, it talks about making disciples of others, bringing them up in the faith.  When the Bible talks about training, it talks about being present in another’s life.

What the American society and what the Bible talks about in as much as what is important for a child or adult to know is totally different, even as it relates to men and women! (see Titus 2)  God seems much more concerned about the content of a man’s character than he is in what degree hangs on the wall or rests in the bookshelf.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t learn to read, write and do math, what I am saying is that we should not let the pursuit of education be a distraction from us growing in Christ.

Lest you think me radical, consider that Jesus told those that would follow Him that they should leave someone else to bury their father, not say goodbye to one’s parents, be prepared to be homeless, and sell all that you have to give it to the poor.  Jesus told his followers that compared to the love they had for Him, it should appear that they hated their families.

Finding a wife/husband is good…

It’s hard for a young adult not to be consumed in the pursuit of a mate, yet Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7 that a single person has an ability the married person does not—the ability to be single in focus in serving God.

We have many single today that are doing one of two things, they are pining for a mate or they are living to themselves.  Neither of these things should be where a believer finds themselves.  They should be singular in purpose while praying for guidance about the single or married state.

Houses, Cars, Belongings can be good…

…however, if you get so focused on these things, and the upgrades and seeking out the next big thing, we can be distracted from service or inhibit our ability to reach out and help one another.

Debt is a big deal, not only because it keeps us having to work the jobs that we have to afford our lifestyle but that it prevents us from using the money that God has entrusted us with to help others.  It warps our perspective of our funds because we’ve already spent it, rather than having it to help the needy or poor around us.

Entertainment can be good…

But we need to be aware of what we allow to entertain us.  Entertainment seems innocuous and many use it as escapism, and yet it is very powerful in influencing our opinions of events and righteousness because it presents a false reality to our senses.  Some innocuous looking entertainment can intentionally twist us to making the bad seem good and vice versa.

One of the interesting examples of this is the Disney movie Mulan:

In this movie, a young girl disobeys her father, lies to her comrades, gets involved in a battle she should not be in, and she is told that she is the most worthy female in all the land. Disobedience and lying is praised, and because it’s a “princess movie” and it has some really good music, many will allow themselves to be entertained by this without question.

This is not the only example of this—just compare where television started with today, and then realize that even when it started there is an agenda, and that because we internalize more what we see than otherwise, we are choosing to allow the world to indoctrinate us in its beliefs. And even movies with the Christian label can teach things that are not reality or history under the guise of trying to attract an audience.

The Second Commandment

This takes us back to the second commandment—anything that takes the place of God is an idol.  We can make an idol out of a distraction.  We can make an idol out of anything that you believe that you cannot live without.  Our life needs to be free of these idols in order to perceive reality.

Focus on Things Above

When it comes to thinking about priorities in our lives, do we view our decisions through the lens of how our decisions would impact the cause of Christ, or something else?

A.W. Tozer stated:

“Not only does a Christian believe in the invisible world but he also counts on it. He acts, plans and lives as one who counts on the reality of the invisible. … The invisible actually shapes his plans, determines his habits and comforts, consoles and supports him.”

This world and its defeated ruler want you to believe that this is it, this is reality.  This is what the Atheist and Secular Humanist believe is true, but all too often Christians behave as if it is truth for them as well.  Many things in this world beg for our attention and seem to be pressing, yet they are eternally useless—can you take that big television, car, house, etc. with you?

The most sobering reality in the world today is that people are dying and going to Hell today.  While many believe that this is something we say to scare unbelievers, I challenge you that this is something that should scare believers.  As the ambassadors of God and ministers of reconciliation, the fact that people are entering a Christless eternity should be a sobering wake up call to us.

Are we too busy with this shadow, this vapor, to understand the eternal significance of this ministry of reconciliation that we are called to?

Revival does not come from without, but from within.  Revival comes when God’s people realize that this world is not enough, that their belongings are not enough, that only God is enough, and that desire to please God comes before everything else.

Believer, what have you allowed to come between you and reality?


Scripture from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Image by Vangel_PL used under Standard Restrictions

What Are You Looking At?

June 3rd, 2014 Viewed 504 times
The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart – 1 Samuel 16:7

Our True Identity

June 3rd, 2014 Viewed 870 times, 1 so far today
This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Living In Reality

Living In Reality

If we are to live in reality, that means that we need to see things for what they truly are, which starts by seeing ourselves for who we really are.  Because we were born in this world and this world is what we interact with, it is easy to believe that we are people of this world.  That being the case, the Bible has some very interesting things to say about who we are:

We Are Pilgrims

The Bible states that people are more than just their physical representations, but are actually spirits with a body.  We are not of this world, but like Abraham, we are pilgrims, headed to a land whose builder and maker is God.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. – Hebrews 11:8-11

A.W. Tozer states: “Abraham had faith and was able to carry on because he could see that which was not seen and could not be seen. And in so doing, these Christians mentioned in 1 Peter experienced the invisible so vividly and so satisfyingly that they were able to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

The truth is that we don’t belong here, we’re citizens of another location.  We’re visitors, strangers, or aliens, whatever you want to call us, and because of that, we can rightly claim that this world is not our home, we’re just passing through.

2 Corinthians 5:16 and following gives us the key to understanding this truth:

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

This passage states that the believer has been made a new creature—the old has passed and the new has come.  This is further underscored by the new mission given the believer—he is now an ambassador.  The Christian mother at home with her kids is an ambassador.  The Christian factory worker is an ambassador.  The female Christian executive is an ambassador.  All believers are ambassadors—which we understand as a representative from one land to another land.

But besides being an ambassador, we are all called to the ministry of reconciliation.  What is this ministry?  It is the ministry of telling others about what Christ did on the cross for everyone—the Good News that there is salvation from sin!  Paul states in 2 Corinthians what Jesus ends His earthly ministry with—that we are all called to go and tell all the world that there is salvation.

We Are Running a Race

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

One of my family’s favorite games to play is the game of LIFE.  It’s always a race to see who can get to the end the fastest, and it’s interesting to see what twist and turns life takes.  Like the game of LIFE, our lives are races that started the day that we were born and finish the day that we die.

The believer has a goal in life, a way to define success, and it’s not the same as the world’s.  God, the giver of life, set out the rules, and He alone can state what a successful life looks like.  Those that are running a good race, are running toward the high calling of Christ.  This doesn’t mean perfection.  I’m not perfect, your pastor’s not perfect, Mother Theresa wasn’t perfect, etc. This means that we’re striving to be the best that we can for the glory of God.

Just like running a race, the believer sometimes must set aside every weight—and this sometimes means something that may seem good, or others may seem to enjoy.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:12-14

Paul stated that because of what Christ has done, he will never stop his pursuit of that high calling.  He strives never to see another reality and to never take his eyes off the prize.

We are Dead to the World

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

The next thing the Bible tells believers is that they are dead to the world.  Paul states that we died with Christ at the cross, and we are now alive in Him—or He lives in us.  Does this mean that we no longer have to struggle with sin?  Paul covers this as well.

18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. – Romans 7:18-19

Paul states that though he wants to do right, he does not always do right—his body wars against his spirit doing things that we should not.  This is the reason that Paul states that he dies daily, and that Jesus told us that we have to take up our cross daily and follow Him.  It’s something that we consistently need to point back to.

We are Slaves to Christ

22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:22-23

Slavery is a bad word in modern times because of its link to the slave trade and the American War Between the States (or Civil War).  However, Paul here states that the reality is that all men and women are slaves.  We are born slaves to sin, and salvation makes us slaves to Christ.  There is no middle ground, no opportunity to not choose sides.

In chapter 7 of Romans, Paul compares the slavery each person is under to the way that a wife is under ownership of her husband and is free to remarry when her husband dies.  Christ is our spiritual husband and we are the bride of Christ. We belong to Him.

A Christian Cannot Be Harmed

The last thing about our reality is that a believer can not be harmed.  This is a weird statement to make, because surely the body can be harmed through all sorts of means.  Possessions can be lost, family can turn away, jobs can be lost, and all of these things, but like a lot of other places in the New Testament, what is needed is an understanding of perspective.

In Christ, the believer has everything.  God has stated that even if family leaves you, He never will.  Paul stated that to live was Christ, to die was gain.  If this is true to the believer, what harm can be done?

This is one of the difficult concepts, as no believer wishes himself harm, or seeks physical pain, and yet if a believer understands the reality—that he is at war with forces more powerful than himself, the prince of the power of the air—he cannot expect things to be easy for him.


Scripture from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Image by Vangel_PL used under Standard Restrictions

Biblical Perspective

June 2nd, 2014 Viewed 504 times

“One of the greatest benefits to be gleaned from the Bible is perspective.  When we get discouraged, we temporarily lose our perspective.  Focusing on God’s word for even ten or fifteen minutes allows you to put daily issues into perspective.”  – JA Lacy

The Enemy Wants Us Distracted From Reality

June 2nd, 2014 Viewed 737 times
This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Living In Reality

Living In Reality

God wants us to live in reality, but all too often we are so focused on this world that we cannot imagine that there is anything else.  As believers in a supernatural God that came to Earth to die for our sins, this is a big dilemma.  We claim to believe in something that we’ve never seen, and in a Book that not only tells us that God is real, but that there is an active demonic host that is also real.

Furthermore, we learned that we are at war, even though everything around us looks like we’re at peace.  That is because the Enemy wants us distracted, so we will be ineffective.

Be concerned not with what you have accomplished…

June 1st, 2014 Viewed 466 times

“Be concerned not with what you have accomplished, but over what you might have accomplished if you had followed the Lord completely.”

Reality Is Not What We See

June 1st, 2014 Viewed 890 times, 1 so far today
This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Living In Reality

Living In Reality

In C.S. Lewis’ story The Horse and His Boy (part of the Chronicles of Narnia) we find ourselves following the story of a boy named Shasta that doesn’t realize that he’s the prince of Archenland and a horse named Bree that knows he’s Narnian and pretends that he knows a whole lot more than he does. At one part in the story, Shasta is now off on his own, and has left his travelling companions behind and a discussion ensues among the three of them as to Aslan and just what he is.

Those of you who have seen the movies or read the previous books know that Aslan is a lion, but to a horse that was taken from his homeland as a child and had not been raised properly, well, the idea that Aslan could be a lion is just too much for Bree the war horse to comprehend.  When he’s challenged that all the old stories refer to him as a lion, Bree tries to say that it is because he’s “as strong as a lion” or “as tough as a lion” but that doesn’t mean that he’s a real lion.

Of course, Bree gets a first class education when he finds Aslan behind him!

Like Bree, we tend to have a distorted view of reality.  We see the world around us, and we can get convinced that this world is reality, but it’s not.  Oh, the things that we see are tangible and real for the purposes of being able to manipulate objects, to test things and to interact with the environment around us, but it is so much more than that.  Our senses cannot comprehend the spiritual world around us.  We’re also told that there are those that are spiritually blinded and cannot see the truth of the Gospel.  It’s not that it isn’t truth, it’s that it’s not perceived as truth.

MInTheGap

Standing in the Gap in a Society that's Warring with God.