The Pushy Christian

This is a reflection and call to action about chapter 4 of UnChristian by David Kinnaman. This is a book every Christian should read, in my opinion. And I will soon have a reflection from each chapter up shortly.

This chapter is called “Get Saved!” It addresses the perception that Christians are insincere and concerned only with getting converts.

In today’s post-modern mindset, the journey of life is stressed as more important that the destination. The process over the product! So with that said there is a lot of skeptism about any religion, far more about which religion is right!

Outsiders sometimes relate Christians to salesmen. Not only are outsiders skeptical about which message is correct, but they also question Christian motive and intention for sharing and being pushy about sharing the Gospel mesage.

Thinking about the reading, here are some thoughts that stick out about what is happening and what we should be doing:

Instead of converting the masses, focus on the relationships.

Don’t do risky things. Be a good steward of the Gospel and remeber that how you choose to share the Gospel is as important as actaully doing it!

Respect people. Do not offend someone in order to share the Gospel!

The logical barrier is not the only one. In fact most people come to know Christ for emotional reasons, rather than logical ones. The point is let the Holy Spirit do the convincing and do not focus just on the logical reasonings.

Keep in mind a lot of people think they are “Christian” (becuase they live in America, their parents were, they went to church when they were young, or they truly have gotten off track…)
so be respectful of their pasts, get to know them. Talk through the issues. Where do they stand with Jesus Christ? Is it a shallow superfical belief or is there something really there?

Others have truly had a real expireince with the church. It might have been a negative expireince and they have left the church completely. They have formed conclusions are really skeptical of anything you are going to say. They were searching and did not find the truth or anything worthwhile at church. This should be a wake-up call to the church!
If we are missing these oppurtunities, then how well are we truly loving and sharing God’s love?

It is time to stop living self-righteously as a church. Time to stop. Open up the doors to the outsiders and listen to them!

It should not be about a mere conversion, but about full transformation. Not just a “get out of Hell free,” but discipleship and growth in lifestyle.

Think, Love, Listen.
Let outsiders think about the Gospel. Love them. Listen to them. Build a real relationship and not just a conversion. Make visible the invisible, God and his love!

Jacob i loved Esau I hated

When I first saw this in Romans 9, I was confused and struggled. How was it that God, who is love, hate someone?

When studying the Bible, it is crucially important to always study the context of a particular Bible verse or passage. In these instances, the Prophet Malachi and the Apostle Paul are using the name “Esau” to refer to the Edomites, who were the descendants of Esau. Isaac and Rebekah had two sons, Esau and Jacob. God chose Jacob (whom He later renamed Israel) to be the father of His chosen people, the Israelites. God rejected Esau (who was also called Edom), and did not choose him to be the father of His chosen people. Esau’s and his descendants, the Edomites, were in many ways blessed by God (Genesis 33:9; Genesis chapter 36).

So, considering the context, God loving Jacob and hating Esau has nothing to do with the human emotions of love and hate. It has everything to do with God choosing one man and his descendants and rejecting another man and his descendants. God choose Abraham out of all the men in the world. The Bible very well could say, “Abraham I loved, and every other man I hated.” God choose Abraham’s son Isaac instead of Abraham’s son Ishmael. The Bible very well could say, “Isaac I loved, and Ishmael I hated.”

Here is a note from the NEXT Bible : The context indicates this is technical covenant vocabulary in which “love” and “hate” are synonymous with “choose” and “reject” respectively (see Deut 7:8; Jer 31:3; Hos 3:1; 9:15; 11:1).

Romans chapter 9 makes it abundantly clear that loving Jacob and hating Esau was entirely related to which of them God chose. Hundreds of years after Jacob and Esau had died, the Israelites and Edomites became bitter enemies. The Edomites often aided Israel’s enemies in attacks on Israel. Esau’s descendants brought God’s curse on themselves. Genesis 27:29, “May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”

Some sources:
http://www.gotquestions.org/Jacob-Esau-love-hate.html
http://net.bible.org/passage.php?passage=Mal+1:2-3
http://www.meguiar.addr.com/Jacob_Esau.htm

Judgment and love Dilemma

There is a theological tension.
A tension within God during the OT covenant times!
We see in the Prophetic writings, an inner turmoil of God.
You see, God is compelled by his nature, both to judge sin and to save his beloved people.
It is an illogicality in theology!

God desires judgment with an intention to save!
He has an agony of decision, we see this in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and other prophets.
His own nature he demands judgment yet he will not judge because his is holy. He is love.

The resolution of this is the cross of Jesus Christ.
Where the Judge is judged.

Amen

“I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man.”—Hosea 11:9.

Hos 6:6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
Hos 6:7 Like Adam, they have broken the covenant– they were unfaithful to me there.

Matthew 9:12-14: “But go and learn what this means: `I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The Christian of Grace

Post 5 of 6 in a series about Judgmental Christians.

We looked at how we can reach out in love and respect in the last post.

The key word for today is: Grace.

Think about it are we more concerned about being RIGHT than we are about being RIGHTEOUS?

I hope NOT. When we are like this we are very legalistic…we are like the Pharisees. We forget the true goals of the faith because we are too concerned over something silly.

When we truly understand the Gospel and what it is all about, we should be humbled.
Humbled by the message of Jesus.
And humbled by how we are portraying that message today ( the lack of!!!!)

We need to embrace not abandon the broken, the needy. Imagine yourself, once you were lost and in need of Grace and Mercy.

Where is our heart and perspective for the needy. Where is our evangelistic primer?
Where is our heart?
Is our faith so shallow that we are not sharing Christ’s mercy?

Let me leave you with this:
We can not give out something we have not received.

Is our church in a state of so much pride and arrogance that we have forgotten about grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love?

This has got to CHANGE.

The Christian of love

This post 4 of 6 posts where I have been reflecting on a chapter out of the book UnChristian.
The chapter is about Christians being Judgmental we have really caused a lot of pain and negative image because of our own sinfulness. And in the last three posts we saw the negative. We saw how Christians are wrong to be so judgmental.

But there is hope. There is a way we can be Christians of truth and still reach out to the lost. Key Word from last post was respect: How?

Listen to outsiders.
Don’t label.
Don’t be so smart. Don’t pretend to have all the answers.

Have empathy. imagine yourself in their shoes. Really get to know them, their situation! Understand them!!!

Be genuine and real with everyone. Don’t use the relationship to front a “christian agenda.” Be yourself. Allow the Holy Spirit to weave in your faith in the conversation but do not be too aggressive about it. Be conversational. Be real.

Be a friend with no other motive. This speaks BIG!

See them as God does.

Let God judge!

Christian Community

2 Corinthians 1- “He [God] comforts us in all of our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them that same comfort God has given.”

Sometimes passages from the Bible strike me hard, as they always should….

Today this verse reminded me of how Christian faith is suppose to look like. As it was in Acts.

We are suppose to be a community of believers always ready to help each other.

The world saw that picture of Christianity imagine how many more converts we would have!!

IN Christ,
Alex

There is an answer…

All men have a bend towards sin, but there is an answer…

from Unchristian by David Kinnaman:

“No one goes to heaven because of what they do or do not do. Every human
sins
, and we all deserve Hell for that. But Jesus freely offers everyone his
grace.
…homosexual behavior is sin, but it is no different than if I sleep with someone
other than my wife or even momentarily have a sexual fantasy. God created
sexuality, it is good, but it can expressed in wrong ways. Every one of us, gay
or straight or whatever, expresses sexuality in wrong ways. It all comes down
to what you do with Jesus.”
(pg. 108)

I just finished chapter 5 of Unchristian called “antihomsexual.”
It was another hard chapter and humbling chapter to read.

I really had not put too much time or thought into the what the culture, as a whole, thinks about Christians relating to the topic of homosexuality.

Christians have
A. been wrong, too conservative, and mean
B. left people with the wrong idea of what we believe about homosexuality
C. left people with the wrong idea of how we should treat homosexuals
D. hurt people
E. wrong priorities

What we really believe is that homosexuality is a sin, yes, but it is no worse than any other sin.
And Jesus still loves and has mercy on homosexuals, just as he has had mercy on us and forgiven us of our sins.

Bad perception due to real problems within Christianity:
Christians have displayed a special and bad image for the sin of homosexuality. It is “the big one.” And Christians have irrationally fought harder against the issue of homosexuality than any other sin/issue.

We have come across as arrogant, uncompassionate, self-righteous, inconsistent, and uncaring to homosexuals. Our method has been ineffective, stupid and dumb. We have repelled young outsiders from church because of this issue. When this happens, it is apparent that we have lost sight of what is really important! Jesus Christ as their answer and salvation!
Stop fighting the sin and show the love, grace, mercy and compassion that Christ would!

Think about it. Homosexuality is a sin, but it is only a sin! You also sin!
We are all sinners. God’s gift of grace is what is important! Regardless of our sin, God still loves us.
Don’t avoid relationships with people because of their lifestyle. Make relational connections with homosexuals. Stop preaching at them and going to political war with them. Treat them as HUMANS, treat them as friends. It is sad I have to say this! Respect. Love. Grace. Show them Jesus. Build on real relationships.

Soul Mate or Sole Mate?

Some not so good statistics:
An overwhelming majority (94%) of never-married singles agree that “when you marry you want your spouse to be your soul mate, first and foremost.”

· Less than half (42%) of single young adults believe that it is important to find a spouse who shares their own religion.


I just read a great article by True U, a sub-organization by Focus on the Family called “Soul Mate or Sole Mate?”

It had a lot of great advice for dating and things to consider. The main point is that there is not ONE soul mate that if you find this person everything will turn out perfect. Relationships require work. And that we should not base relationships on infatuated emotions but on wisdom.
Here is a paragraph that sticks out to me:
“The real danger in this line of thinking is that many people mistake a storm of emotion as the identifying mark of their soul mate. How else can you identify “destiny”? Such individuals marry on an infatuation binge without seriously considering character, compatibility, life goals, family desires, spiritual health, and other important concerns. Then when the music fades and the relationship requires work, one or both partners suddenly discover that they were “mistaken”: this person must not be their soul mate after all! Otherwise, it wouldn’t be so much work. Next they panic. Their soul mate must still be out there! Such people can’t get to divorce court fast enough, lest someone steal their “one true soul mate” meant only for them. When we get married for trivial reasons, we tend to seek divorce for trivial reasons.”

The Bible, especially 1 Corinthians chapter Seven, makes it clear that marriage is a choice and you do not find anything about “one destined partner.”

The real question is by what criteria and standards do you use to see if someone is worth marrying and spending the rest of your life together with. “Love is not an emotion; it’s a policy and a commitment that we choose to keep.” Emotions are not a great standard. You should use wisdom, Biblical criteria on the person’s character, things like compatibility and similar life goals and most important spiritual walks/maturity need to be evaluated.

“[A] Christian should not consider any marital union that would not feed this primary relationship with God.”

It is a great article and the sources for statistics are very interesting reads too. Check them out:

The State of Our Unions 2001 (Piscataway, NJ: The National Marriage Project, 2001), pp. 6, 8. For more information, see “The State of Our Unions: 2001.”

Thomas, Gary. Soul Mate or Sole Mate? Focus on the Family.
http://www.trueu.org/dorms/menshall/A000000145.cfm

HomeWord Devotional that stuck out to me

Grief and Reconciliation
This devotional was written by Leslie Snyder

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
Psalm 23:1-3

We buried my dad recently. After two weeks of battling complications from surgery, his body was tired, worn out and ready to rest. It is said that there are only two things in life that are certain: death and taxes. I’d rather pay taxes today, tomorrow, and everyday than lose someone so near to my heart. If you’ve lost someone close to you, you understand this, too.

Grief and sorrow are painful links in the chain of life that bind us together. Even though we come from different generations, different ethnic groups, different socio-economic backgrounds, or different educational backgrounds, there are some things that bring us together. Sorrow and grief do just that. They are universal experiences, universal emotions. C. S. Lewis, one of the greatest theologians of modern time, penned A Grief Observed after the death of his wife. In it he says, “There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in….I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.”

Grief brings with it an unbearable pain, even to believers. In his most well-known Psalm (Psalm 23), David bares his soul and expresses his devotion to God even when things around him are dark, frightening and confusing. He hangs on to the promise of the Shepherd: to look after His sheep. This picture is continued in John 10:14-15 as Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father –and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

In times of grief, it is easy to feel lonely, isolated and misunderstood. We need to give ourselves permission to feel the fullness of these emotions. Even Jesus grieved over the deaths of close companions like John the Baptist and Lazarus. It’s the paradoxical truth that love is accompanied by pain. But what would life be like without the opportunity to love deeply? I was fortunate. I had many good years with my dad. Like many, we had some rough times to navigate through, but we took the time to heal some deep wounds and to renew a relationship that ended with no regrets.

Perhaps you are hurting today. Have sorrow and grief replaced the joy you shared in a relationship with someone? Why not make today a day of reconciliation? Yes, you may have to put aside your pride, admit your own wrongs and take responsibility. Or you may need to lovingly confront someone who has hurt you. Today is a new day and a new opportunity to begin again. Perhaps the person you need to forgive, or need forgiveness from, is already gone. Take some time and write a letter, granting forgiveness or asking for it. God has a way of transcending time and bringing healing even when the person is no longer present .

There is no better time than today. Live your life with no regrets. Love deeply. Forgive often.

Faith and Reason: Love and Evangelism


You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
—Matthew 5:43-47

That last part of the verse really gets at me: “Do not even the pagans do that?”

This is a great question, and I have heard skeptics and lost friends ask the same question…”they say they are a Christian…but I have seen the way (so and so) live….do not even the pagans do that?”
[Okay, so they probably say some thing like, “doesn’t that evil, sinning, non-religious, liar -who lives down the street, the one that claims to be an angry militant atheist- (nothing against ‘angry militant atheists’, I was just making an illustration…) – live a better life than those ‘Christians?’ ]

My point is that fellowship alone is not enough to share the Gospel. It is not enough to hang out with and love your best Christian friends and to put little to no effort in loving your non-believing neighbors. The Scripture is pointing us towards loving our neighbors and enemies more than ourselves. It is pointing us towards sharing the Gospel and true love to everyone and not just our best friends.

This really stuck out to me and I really needed to share that. Because do not even the pagans have great fellowship within their own circle of friends?