Tuesday, January 24, 2012


It's been a little while since I've posted on here.
Hmm, funny how often I say that. I guess high school (even when you're homeschooled!) keeps you pretty busy!
So my message is titled "LOVING God". If you have paid any attention to the modern Christian messages (especially in the music industry), you will have heard the blaring message of love between God and us. This concept is 100% Biblical, but somehow, despite hearing this message and desiring to have it become true, many Christians seem to miss the point. Why? (Side note: I'm not saying that I'm necessarily a huge fan of all the lovey-dovey songs about God that sound more like they're about another human...what my sweet mommy likes to call "God is my boyfriend songs").
Loving God is extremely important. There are so many Biblical verses I could pull for this one. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mine and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30) is just one of many examples. The Song of Solomon is a picture of the love not only between a man and a woman, but also between God and His church, and in Revelation the church [believers] is pictured as the bride of Christ. When you are truly in love with God, it is beautiful and amazing. Loving God is so much more fulfilling than loving anyone or anything else. But for some reason, Christians-children of God, the bride of Christ, who are promised the Holy Spirit-often feel very far from God. This at first seems to be very surprising, but under further inspection, the answer is clear.
Loving God comes with action. Jesus says we must "take up our cross daily and follow Him". We have to learn to follow Him, but there's only one way to follow Him: by taking up our cross. Too many Christians (I myself was once included) expect "cheap grace," or "cheap love", which means you get the grace (or love) of God without any price to yourself and your flesh. But the Bible extols a "costly grace (love)", which means that we can truly obtain it only at some cost to ourselves. You can't follow Jesus and leave your cross behind you, because that cross is the way you follow Him. So too many people want to have a complete, full, joyful, and beautiful relationship with God (which is one the most beautiful thing in life) without having to alter their current lifestyle at all. This is unbiblical, however, as I have already said. The only way to truly know Christ is to change your life to show that reality.
No, this does not mean becoming legalistic or to never leave your Bible. And you can't find a true relationship with Christ in yourself, by trying to be as good as a Christian as you can be-because you will fail. The only thing to do is fall at his feet and surrender, one by one, the parts of your life to Him. Once your life starts to follow Him, inevitably your heart will too.

If you really desire to discover more in this area of your life...I'd recommend any book by the Eric and/or Leslie Ludy.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. -Matthew 6:21

Friday, January 6, 2012

Set Free.

I know I've already posted about the forgiveness and freedom of guilt from sins, so I'm sorry if I end up crossing topics. I'll try not to.
But anyway, this isn't about forgiveness of sins, although it is along the same lines. But I feel that it is a message that you can not hear too many times.
It is about living a life free from sin.
I feel like the wrong message is being proclaimed around Christendom today. Forgiveness is the key point-and that it should be! Forgiveness is an amazing, beautiful, and comforting thing, and hope in our darkness. But people don't often mention the fact that there is something even more amazing, beautiful, and comforting-to get out of that darkness. Maybe it comes with the modern Christian assumption that we don't have to be different from the world and we shouldn't "judge" people on what their personal lives-even if they're doing something wrong. Everyone's forgiven, so it's okay right?
Well, that's true. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 ESV) There are a million passages I could cite that prove that we are forgiven. But I'm not focusing on that. I'm focusing on freedom from sin. You've probably heard of Romans 6-8. Those are a couple of long, confusing chapters. Of course, people often omit mention of chapter 5, which I think is essential as well. They speak of our freedom from sin, and how we no longer have to listen to it! We are not slaves to sin anymore-which means that there is no requirement for us to sin, and we as Christians have the ability not to sin! I would much rather be able to go on without sinning than going on asking for forgiveness.
But wait! Nobody can be perfect, this mindset isn't realistic or fair! Yes, I agree with that. And that's why God offers us forgiveness all the time, because we can't be perfect! But here's how I think of it; if you're not fighting for perfection, what are you fighting for? The answer, obviously, is sin. I like the way I've heard it said-"sin becomes the exception rather than the rule." We may not be able to root out occasional sins from our lives, but we can and must get rid of habitual sins that are in control of our lives. Actually, the Bible makes it clear that real Christians do not let sin run around unchecked in their lives! But are you saying that everyone who is a Christian has to have no habitual sins to qualify? Of course not! I have broken several bad habits, but I still have sins that I'm trying to pull out of my soul, stuff like a quick temper with my little siblings and others. But we must be on an active patrol, watching for sin, and the moment we see it, making quick actions to get it out of our lives as fast as we can.

I've found several ways to break habitual sins that seem to work; and I'll compile a short list:
1. Fill your mind with the Word of God. When Jesus was tempted, He quoted Scripture back at Satan. It really does help to do that; to use my previous example, when I am tempted to become upset with my siblings, I think of James 1:20-"for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." If you find verses that denounce your sin, when Satan comes, tell him that you know the truth.
2. Pray-defensively and offensively. It does help to pray to God to deliver you, but another thing that helps is to pray for someone else, especially for someone else's salvation-because Satan hates nothing more than someone coming to Christ. When Satan sees that you are becoming a prayer warrior for Christ, he'll back off.
3. Run from temptation. Often, it is a physical action. Choosing to turn your eyes, ears, or body away from whatever is tempting you. Even if it's not (a bad thought, for example) do the utmost you can to draw yourself away from it. I've found that with thoughts, one thing I do is I quickly think of a Christian song and play it through in my head as I pray. It drowns out whatever was going to enter my head. I've also learned what I call "warning thoughts" as well-if I feel like a thought is straying, I cut it off right then and there. The Bible commands us to "Take every thought captive."
Remember, you are set free-and you are able to stay away from sin. If there is any verse I would recommend you to memorize out of the whole Bible, one of the top ones would be this: "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV) Never forget-He knows. Don't say that it is too hard, for Satan really tempted Him with the world-and He turned it down.

If you're not fighting for perfection, what are you fighting for?