The Rock

I was reminded this week, and encouraged, by a message I heard. The message was by no means the best I had ever heard, the delivery, as far as that goes, was ok. But the truth within the message was glaring, inspiring and a good reminder for me, in my life as a Christ follower.

When Jesus was walking with his disciples, he asked them, who do people say I am? The speculation began, some people say a prophet, and on and on. Then Jesus asked an important question, and I think the question speaks as loudly as the answer that was given. He said “Who do you say I am”?

How often do we get so caught up in who other people say Jesus is, that we forget who He is to us? We listen to the message of pop culture or religious culture, and we form our view of Christ and Christianity based on that, as opposed to basing it on our testimony, basing it off of what a Christ has done for us.

We forget the fact that we have received forgiveness for our sins, eternal and victorious life, freedom from our past and addictions, that we are given the Holy Spirit to be our comforter, and guide, that He will lead us into all truth, and our most vital job is to recognize, and obey, what God is calling us to.

But we forget, and we focus on the press clippings of Christianity and without even realizing, we find ourselves repeating things about Christ that we know are not true, but we’ve paid so much attention to the media, that we have forgotten to ask ourselves, the one simple question that Jesus asked of His disciples, who do you say I am.

So who is He to you?

Who do you follow?

Reading through 1 Corinthians, I found a disturbing theme. Not only disturbing because of what it says, but because of what it points to for today in Christian and American culture.

There is much contention among the Corinthian church as to who’s gospel is better, Appolos, James, Paul and on and on. The church is puffed up, and divided over who they heard the gospel from, who their teacher was. As I am reading this I’m thinking to myself, man, I would not want to be a part of a church like that, how divided and childish. Then it hit me!

I am! I am a part of a church like that. The Christian church in America is the very same way. We all claim Christ, but are divided by our denominations and interpretations. Even more so we get arrogant about what we believe. We get spiritually puffed up because we believe in the gift of tongues and treat it as some secret knowledge that others aren’t privy to, not realizing that by that very action we have turned what we do into a cult.

Not only are we separated by denominations but we have the Faith movement, and the prayer movement, and the Charismatic Movement, and the evangelical movement among non denominational and denominational churches, we divide ourselves even in our effort to preserve unity. We wear the flag of our church, or exalt the name of our leader, I go to Joel Osteens church or I listen to TD Jakes and we use it as some identifier of how we believe. I have been guilty of it myself, because so often, our culture elevates leadership above discipleship, church brotherhood above servant hood.

Drop all the extras…I’m Cory, a follower of Jesus Christ. Period.

Watch your mouth!

Something I say fairly consistently to my youngest son, is watch your mouth. I believe treating and speaking to people politely and positively is a fast escaping value.

People just speak their minds, say what they want, and if others can’t handle it…they don’t care. While there is much value to being authentic, there is also biblical warning to the power of our words and the need to tame our tongue.

Honestly, it doesn’t take a genius to point out a problem, or an offense. Anyone can look at a crack in the wall and tell you that something is wrong with it. The real depth of personality comes in figuring out why it’s that way, and how to fix it.

But we often don’t do that, most times we just see the problem, get offended, and talk about it with everyone we know.

Maybe one day, we will learn to seek what the problem is first, watch our mouths, then speak healing over a cracked situation.

Stoppable church

I feel burdened…by the way we view and they way we view church. Somewhere in the past 2000 years, we have stopped being the church…. And we’ve begun watching it. It’s become a spectator sport, with a few athletes doing all the work, and the rest cheering them on.
Some of the athletes have enabled that as well, for a few reasons, probably glory, pride and monetary gain being the biggest of those. The star athletes, or “pastors” and other paid staff, get well paid because they can “attract” a crowd and have people spend their money at our stadium. We have a big service, build hype, watch people spend, but only really applaud the few that are doing anything supernatural, or often, we applaud those that are doing the natural, just something none of us are willing to do. Where is the church? The one that Jesus said would be unstoppable, I feel we are losing it in our society today, we have created a church of watchers, that as long as they continue to come and support the athletes, we won’t challenge them to do or be much more than that. Curious as to where this will lead, and what I can do about it!

Gongs

Have you ever heard a gong before? I have many memories of the gong show and the sound of a gong is rather annoying, it draws attention but its often a bit repulsive and painful.  1 Corinthians 13:1 says “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

As I was reflecting on that verse this week, I was reminded that it all comes back to love. We should want to serve God and others out of a heart of love, we should want to obey what the bible tells us to because of love, we should want to invest in others lives and press into issues when most people would run away and write someone off because of love. Our love for God and others will come out of a deep appreciation and realization of what God has done for us. I would even dare to say that any service, obedience or kindness that doesn’t come out of love is either based in behavior modification, or simply a sense of duty, both are respectable, but they are also empty by Gods standards, nothing but a clanging gong. My prayer this week is that you experience a new level of relationship with God so that his love can fill you on a whole new level. 

Gods and Gold Medals

Over the past few weeks, there has been much fanfare and adulation over the Olympics in London, Billions of dollars have been spent on competitions, tickets, merchandise, Gold, Silver and Bronze to make the medals, and in 2 weeks, it will all be over, months will go by and memories will fade, medals will tarnish, names will be forgotten and society will move on to the next bit of hype or news that hits the scene.

Olympics aside, when you sift through all the hype on Facebook and Twitter, is a pretty good indicator of what people idolize or worship, what consumes you most can often inadvertently become your object of worship.

Here are some of the common objects of worship I see on Facebook and Twitter:

  • Negativity – Posts constantly pointing out everything bad.
  • Euphoria – Head in the clouds posts about everything being sunshine and roses.
  • Spouse/Significant other – Every breath comes from the person of their affection.
  • Themselves – Me Monsters all about them and what they’ve accomplished. Retweeting tweets from others about how awesome they are. (I do understand on the very basis of the narcissistic nature of Facebook, this one is extremely popular.)
  • Busyness – They are SLAMMED, constantly and overwhelmed all the time, and everyone should know about it!!!
  • Materialism – Check out what I just bought, sold, inherited etc. Bling Bling Fever.

Now these are just some broad examples, and I’m not assuming to know the heart behind every post I read, but I do know this.

Matthew 12:34 tells us “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” – which in todays society could probably be translated to, “The fingers tweet

This Idolization happened as well with the people of Israel in the book of 2 Kings, this is especially spoken of in chapter 17, where the nations began to worship the very things that the nations before them worshiped that led to God sending them into exile, they fell into the hype of the Pop Culture of that day and they gave all their attention, affection and worship to gods that were created things as opposed to the creator.

So god’s, gold metals, or the Living God, if someone were to look at your Facebook page, what would be your object of worship.

Think about it.

Matthew 13:31 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away”

Love, Chick-Fil-A and Bigots

I’m seeing a trend, with all this news about Chick fil A and people boycotting them because of their Christian values, I’m seeing a huge trend/double standard in our society. It’s called bigotry.

The main views of many of the people I have discussed this with is that they are upset with Chick-Fil-A for stating their beliefs on marriage and they think that having the belief that marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman is ridiculous, and that because of that Christians are Bigots.

Dictionary.com defines bigotry as “stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own”

Based on that definition, the intolerance of Christian beliefs and anger towards those making those statements is bigotry at it’s finest.

The main problem people seem to have with Christianity is it’s exclusivity, the idea that there is only one way, that it’s the only religion with enough “Chutzpah” to say that Jesus is the only way to heaven.

The bible tells us this about making our way to eternal life in heaven. Matthew 7:13-14 says “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If other people don’t believe what I believe, that’s okay, they have the right to be wrong.

Responding in anger only shows that I’m not completely sure about what I am saying so I have to convince you instead of letting the truth of the bible speak for itself.

So how should we respond?

John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

And how should we define love?

1 Cor. 13:4-8 ” Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away”

Love Never Fails.