Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Shaken--Also Stirred


A lot's been going on lately.

Today at St. Arbucks, Aaron and I were discussing salvation.

It's really difficult to describe to someone who's lost what it truly means to be saved. In this country, the problem of the "once prayed always saved" mentality is pervading people young and old. The problem is that people treat Christianity like a title, or a license, and then live life no differently than anyone else.

I prayed a prayer when I was 8 or so and became a Christian. Honestly I don't remember a whole lot about that time in my life because I was 8. The thing is, after talking with Aaron, I'm not entirely sure I even was a Christian back then. I don't know, I mean maybe since I was so young, it was a fear of Hell that made me want to be saved.

Here's the problem: Until about 3 years ago I had slowly slid into a sinful lifestyle, and looking back, I noticed there was more of a "license" attitude toward my salvation.

Friends, I have to say, now more than ever there's a desire to serve the Lord and to show His glory to everyone around me. I have no idea how this happened unless a) this change comes about after a certain amount of time, much like growing a fruit tree, or b) I never really was a Christian.

This spooks me a little bit... Partly because if the second option is true, then I was dangerously close to being doomed to Hell until VERY RECENTLY. It's also spooky because... how many people are in that same predicament, thinking they're saved when it's really manufactured security?

Listen, if there's something I need to tell you, it's this: Make sure of your faith. If you consider yourself a Christian ask yourself, do you show the fruits of the spirit like kindness, charity, patience, perseverance, all the others? Most importantly: Does sin bother you? I can't stress this enough, friends... if you're living a lifestyle where you're not actively seeking to eradicate every foothold sin has in your life, you are probably not a Christian. Sin, to the true Christian, should be just as offensive as it is to God. There is no way for a Christian to be able to tolerate much sin, and it gets to a point where even "small" stuff will anger you. The Christian life is not passive, it's active. It's impossible to be sitting idle, not doing any of God's work, not serving others in some capacity, and be for real about this.

If you feel like you can't go there, don't look away. Take a close, careful look at yourself. By God's standards, are you a Christian or aren't you? What are your motives for living your current lifestyle? Are you living as if you are being watched by the Most Holy God, or are you living as if you've got fire insurance? If there's any doubt here, then please, please don't rest until you know for sure that you truly are one of God's children.

Sanctify yourself, every hour, every day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I'm All Shook Up


So. Last Sunday a woman came forward at the end of the service and gave her testimony. She thought she'd been saved for quite awhile and only recently realized that wasn't the case, based on her mindset of a few things. All of us were really glad for her. I kind of noticed something weird about her before, like she was "out of phase" with the rest of us, but I guess wrote it off. I didn't know her well enough to make a call on whether she was a believer or not.

But then it had the effect of making me question myself. Am I really a believer? I mean, the only thing I know for sure is what's in my own mind and heart, and don't know what's going on in the minds and hearts of everyone else. What thoughts did she have in daily life before she realized she wasn't a true Christian?

So I prayed, and read, and was all over the place in the Bible today. Now I feel a little like someone who's just snapped out of a crazy fit and is sitting there wondering what just happened.

God is always with us, but is not always visible to us. I guess that's the main problem. But it's like being led through a dark place... if you can't see the one leading you, it doesn't mean they aren't there. They're leading you, so they have their hand on you or you're hanging onto a belt loop or something.

It's kind of funny, this happened to me right on the heels of me deciding I wanted to write an entry about 1 John for the people who questions whether they're of the faith or not. Surprisingly enough, all this ruckus has happened in the course of one day. I was fine yesterday, and the day before (Sunday) was the day I asked the pastor if he thought I was a Christian and he not only said he thought I was but pointed me to 1 John where I read and agreed that I showed the proper signs. There is absolutely NO reason for me to think, now, that I'm not a believer. With that out of the way, I'll start with the intended blog before something else goes crazy in me ;)

One of the best indications of true belief is found in Galatians 5:22-23. It says:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

This is hot on the heels of the idea that if you are not of God, you cannot have these qualities, since to have them flies in the face of the natural man hating God. It doesn't serve the non-Christian to have these traits since the focus of natural man is Self, and the focus of Christians is God.

Then I read in 1 John, how it says that if you are a believer, you cannot continue in sin. I mean, it's an automatic thing, you just will gravitate away from sin and toward God.

And then again, where it says that the believer knows that Jesus was the son of God, that He really *was* God, and died for our sins. That price was paid for us so that we wouldn't have to.

So I look at my own life... Do I show these fruits? Yes. Do I continue in sin? Well, to borrow a phrase from someone I can't remember, I'm not sinless but I do sin less.

The problem here is, if you think you might not be saved, be sure that you're not forgetting something. God is at work all the time in those who truly believe. I guess it's an issue of being human, being forgetful, sometimes being in some kind of mental fog, that people get like this. I don't know. It's part of the human condition I suppose. Anyway, the point is, if you get like this and you wonder... am I just faking it? Ask yourself if how you feel about the Lord actually can be faked. If you love the Lord, there's no way it's fake because we cannot love Him through our own emotions--it comes as a direct result of Him first loving us. So right there, if you do love Him, it's a pretty big evidence toward you being a Christian.

Also, God will never start something in you He doesn't plan to finish. Maybe you're feeling a little spiritually stagnant or something. I've been there. There's no foul in praying for some "rain" in your life to keep things fresh. Renew yourself daily, preferably multiple times a day. Stay in the word. Today when I was talking to a fellow brother I mentioned that right now it was like I was in the middle of a desert. Things are fine when you can look around and see all kinds of reference points, or can clearly see a destination... but when it's nothing but sand dunes in every direction it's a little harder.

Sorry if this entry seems a little disjointed but I just needed to throw this out there. It's my sincere hope that if you're feeling a little unbalanced with your faith that something here can help.

God bless,