Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
There are days when God speaks clearly, without doubt as to what He means. This morning I write with that sense of purpose. This morning there are many dogs circling the camp of Christ's true disciples. These dogs, these ugly, mangy curs hold to various teachings that emphasize the flesh. These teachings center around what we can do to ourselves to build things up in the Kingdom, to make ourselves more successful in life, what we can do to make things better in the churches.
God speaks to us through Philippians as clearly as He did when He gave these words to Paul the Apostle. Circumcision here represents those who try, by religious means, by the cutting of flesh, by surgery to the flesh, by man-made ideas, rules, or regulations, to make us more "godly". They are called dogs, evil men who mutilate us. Strong words, and ones we should heed.
Some of us are tempted every day to join this or that group. We are told by other Christians that if we want to grow in Christ we must do this, or that. There are certain things we can do to become better Christians, to earn something more from God. These are the dogs, and we must resist them, and tell them to go to Scripture and be delivered from their dependence on the flesh.
These religious people are the dogs. Religious people tempt you to be religious. They keep people from finding Christ.
Yesterday a man I work with, and whom I had no idea had ever thought of Christ, privately shared with me that he and his wife had been trying to find churches they could go to for years. He was raised Roman Catholic, he said, and had enough of religion, and wanted to just learn about Christ. They tried several local churches, and went to each one for weeks. These were evangelical denominations. All they heard was preaching against the evils of our society, and pleas for money. Pastor after pastor asked for money. Pastors tried to talk with them about coming to their churches, but my friend said he lost all interest, and hadn't tried again for years. I told him my wife and I will have nothing to do with religion, because religion is all about man, and nothing about Christ. I said we love God and Christ, and follow Christ, and are not interested in all these things of the fleshly man, which is what religion is all about. He seemed to brighten up, just knowing that you don't have to be religious to seek Christ.
When will we learn that anything we do, anything we craft, or build, or say, or demand, or put into systems, or codify, or make into a method--when will learn that this fleshly act is actually changing the gospel--and therefore will keep men from the purity of seeking Christ?
A couple of years ago my wife and I were in Bali, Indonesia. This is a land enslaved by religion. It is 88% Hindu. And in this beautiful island paradise, the people live poorly, among garbage, and let hundreds of thousands of wild dogs roam their cities and towns, living off the heaps of garbage that are burned at night.
They won't touch the dogs, because they have some religious significance, and they believe they should be left alive, to wander, to live off trash, and to scratch and scrape their diseased skin against trees, siring and birthing more wild dogs to obliterate the beauty of the island. This reminds me of the bondages religion puts on all people. Those dogs, those sacred stupidities that we cultivate to make ourselves feel more religious, are roaming around, dominating God's landscape, and obscuring Christ in the process.
God the Father demands that we watch out for those dogs. Those people who want us to add to our faith some fleshly sign, some fleshly act, some fleshly method that will bring us "closer to Christ". What would you do if approached outside your home by a clearly ravenous, dangerous, drooling, snapping, snarling dog? Would you stick around to talk? Would you try to pet that dog, and become its friend? No. You would flee, or fight, if you had the weapons to fight. And the fight is the Lord's, through His Word.
Know these passages that speak of seeking Christ, and see and understand the simplicity, the non-religious simplicity, that God demands. There is nothing we can bring, or create, or do, that will bring us closer to Christ. Only He can do it. It is His power in us, through our dying to the flesh, and His Spirit abiding in us more and more each day. Nothing else matters.
In Christ, and against those dogs,
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Sunday, August 7, 2011
This letter was written to comment on another blog, where the subject of "hope" was raised, and some were talking back and forth about it. I felt compelled, because the blog readers are much younger than me, and very eager to know Christ, to write this letter, which I've amended to fit here. It's pretty much a testimony of how hope came to my life, recently, and in uncomfortable ways.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
"But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, 'This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt', or when they committed awful blasphemies." Nehemiah 9:17,18
God has not deserted you. Even if you've blasphemed, and worshiped the golden calf. Even though you are far away, He is near. Only bow before Him and let Him love you today.
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