Lukewarm Christian???

Just thinking……

Would you agree with me that the word “Christian” is glibly used, loosely defined, and bent to justify all sorts of behavior and worldviews?

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We all (who call ourselves Christian) tend to supply our own meaning and apply that to our own lives. Can you identify with any of the following?

  1.  I am Christian because I am American and maybe even Republican.
  2.   I don’t drink much, don’t smoke, don’t swear, don’t overeat, only gamble occasionally, and don’t mess around. That pretty well defines being Christian.
  3.   My parents went to church, so I’m probably a Christian.
  4.   I help other people; doesn’t that make me Christian?
  5.   I give to the building program. Bingo! I’m Christian!!
  6.   I’m generally nice, generally tell the truth, generally do the right thing, and I’m sure that means I’m Christian.
  7.   I wear a cross necklace, carry a rosary, and wear a necktie with sacred words on it. People can tell I’m a Christian because of that.
  8.   I go to church when I can. God knows there are times I can’t go…. times like vacation, kids sports, family times, bad weather, don’t feel good, overslept, hung over, bored, want to just be outside doing something, …… If I at least go sometimes, I think that counts towards my Christian brownie points.
  9.   I have a WWJD card in my wallet. That’s close enough.
  10.   I belong to a church. And I’ve read some of the Bible. And that’s enough for me.

It seems that ideas like sacrifice, sin, Jesus, obedience, belief, forgiveness, repentance just don’t fit in with that list.

Now before you jump on me for being judgmental, let me assure you that I am completely incapable of judging someone’s heart. I may judge actions as right or wrong (and so does every court), but I honestly can’t fathom whether you are a Christian or not. God knows. I don’t. But I  am fairly sure that the above 10 actions don’t make one a Christian. They just don’t speak to John 3:16.

So let’s suppose that you truly have been born again. You have come to the point of realizing that your sin is offensive to a holy God, and you have repented…. turned away…. from it. Yes, you may slip every now and then, but your heart grieves when you do, and you turn again to God. You believe that Jesus died to pay the price for your sin, and you believe that He rose again, and you believe that He is even now preparing your eternal home in Heaven, and you believe that He will come again, and take You home. You know that you have been forgiven.  He is your Savior.

Excellent. But then why does your life feel sort of empty…. sort of half there…. sort of lukewarm? Where is that sense of victory, of overcoming, of joy? Where is that first love? Or….. even worse…. perhaps you have absolutely NO feeling that life is empty…. don’t even recognize the half-hearted situation?

Revelation 3: 15:  I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!

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Francis Chan, in Crazy Love, lists 18 characteristics of lukewarm Christians. I encourage you to get and read the book. See if you fit into any of these statements:

  1.  Lukewarm people attend church regularly because it is expected.
  2.  Lukewarm people give money to charity and church… as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living.
  3.  Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right.
  4.  Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin, but rather from the penalty of their sin.
  5.  Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, but they themselves do not act.
  6.  Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends.
  7.  Lukewarm people gauge their morality or goodness by comparing themselves to the secular world.
  8.  Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and that He is a part of their lives. Only a part.
  9.  Lukewarm people love God, but not with all their heart, soul, and strength.
  10.  Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves.
  11.  Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go, and how much time and money and energy they are willing to give.
  12.  Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more than they think about eternity in Heaven.
  13.  Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor.
  14.  Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty.
  15.  Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe.
  16.  Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith, were baptized, came from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America.
  17.  Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives structured so they never have to.
  18.  Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren’t very different from your typical unbeliever.

(Really…….. you need to get this book and read it!)

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Ouch.

When I studied this list with our small group, I was convicted that I am lukewarm at times.  I’ve played it safe…. straddled the fence.  It’s not what I want for my life; I want to be sold out. I want to be hot! Not cold…. not lukewarm. HOT! I want to be on fire for Jesus. I want the boldness to declare Him to the people around me, to stand for the truth, and to finally kneel before my God and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Matthew 7: 21:  Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father

O Father! Forgive me for being wishy-washy, for being timid and afraid, for not truly understanding what it means to be Christian. It’s not as if I have not been told. I am so sorry that I have wasted part of my life in just being lukewarm.   I ask for Your boldness to live a victorious life for Your glory.   That’s all that counts.

To God be the glory….
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When I Grow Up, I Want To….

Just thinking….

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Have you seen him?   That bright eyed little boy, jumping up and down with excitement, shouting unequivocally that he is going to a cowboy when he grows up, rootin’, tootin’ fastest one in the West.

Have you seen her?  She’s the shy one who wants to take care of boys and girls in the hospital, but for now she works on her Barbies.

Pretty common for kids to muse their futures and make declarations of what they want to be, what they want to do, where they want to go.  Rarely do we ever hear declarations like these:

  1.  When I grow up I want to be homeless.
  2.   When I am an adult, I want to be bankrupt and lose my house and car.  Maybe even my family.
  3.   My goal in life is to be unstable and go through as many relationships as possible. I want to be divorced.  I want to be bitter.
  4.   I can see myself being a school drop out (or kicked out) and losing a lot of  low-pay jobs.
  5.   What I really want in life is to be addicted to drugs…. alcohol…. tobacco…. gambling… sex.
  6.   My dream is to be an unmarried teen parent.   That will be cool.
  7.   I’m hoping to be in trouble with the law, maybe just little things at first, but I’ll work up to the big things.  My goal is prison.
  8. To me, growing up means I can be disrespectful to my parents and grandparents,  my teachers, and the law.  Then I can blame them for everything!!
  9. Getting a sexually transmitted disease….. or developing lung/mouth cancer from smoking…. or maybe having a baby that has fetal problems from my alcohol and drug use…… yeah, that’s what I want for my future.
  10.   When I grow up, I want to be self-centered .  Who needs friends or family?
  11.   My vision for the future is to  mess up really big and then give up, and then kill myself.

Right.   Most kids just don’t see any of these as their future self.  And yet……

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Yet it happens.   That cute little boy who just wants to be a fireman ends up to be number 5 on the list.   That precious girl who wants to be a ballerina and a mama becomes number 6.  That junior high kid who is anxious to be in high school becomes number 4.   That promising high school student looking forward to college  ends up as number 3….. or number 11.    It wasn’t what they intended.   But it’s where they landed.

For whatever reason, they don’t see that every single choice they make today affects tomorrow.   Call it immaturity.  Call it lack of self control.  Lack of vision.   Lack of education.  Lack of church. Lack of discipline.

There’s a huge disconnect between dreams and reality.   Probably not a new problem.  But what do we do about the dream train derailing?

Dreams shatter.   They go unfulfilled.  They fade away.   I had a dream of my home being filled with lots of children.  For reasons beyond my control, it never happened.  But some dreams are within our grasp…. and yet we lose our grip.

Some dreams require so much work that they seem impossible.   I wanted to be a teacher; I had dreamed of it for years.  But the reality is that I had no money and wasn’t the brightest one in my class.  Yet with guts and sweat, I made that dream come true.

Here’s how Langston Hughes put it:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

So very very sad.  Our children are our treasure.   This next generation is a promise.  I want that little cowboy and nurse and fireman and ballerina to see that their future is possible.  I want them to dream BIG, and pursue excellence, and enjoy life to the fullest.  I want them to know that even if they make mistakes that destroy some dreams…. that God forgives and restores  and renews.

O Father!  Give us wisdom to make right choices.   Give us compassion for those who are in trouble.  Give us what we need to make a difference.  Give us understanding and motivation to make the world a better place for our children.  Give us strength and boldness to pursue our dreams for Your glory.

To God Be The Glory…..

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Published in: on May 16, 2016 at 3:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Suppose It’s Motherless Day

Just Thinking….

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Suppose it’s Mother’s Day…. and you gave your baby away when you were 17 because you were scared, and it’s what they told you to do.

Suppose it’s Mother’s Day, and your child lies in a grave somewhere, maybe in a cemetery near your home, or perhaps in a foreign war zone.

Suppose it’s Mother’s Day, and your mama doesn’t know your name any more.

Suppose it’s Mother’s Day, and you remember all over again that you decided to end your baby’s life.

Suppose it’s Mother’s Day, and your child slammed the door and left, and you have no idea if he is alive, or where she is.

Suppose it’s Mother’s Day, and still no baby rests in your womb or in your arms.

Suppose it’s Mother’s Day, and you try to forget how your own mom screams that you were a mistake and that she regrets that you were ever born.

Suppose it’s Mother’s Day, and all you have left is a picture, and pain in a void that you didn’t even know existed.

Suppose it’s Mother’s Day, and the state just moved your foster child into another home.

Suppose it’s Mother’s Day, and you wait by the phone for the call that never comes.

Suppose……

All the chocolate and flowers and perfume and jewelry and snazzy greeting cards don’t cut it.

All the images posted on Facebook don’t cut it.

All the glowing reports of breakfast in bed fixed by little hands don’t cut it.

All the sermons about the joys of motherhood don’t cut it.

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Suppose….

I know. I was one of those mothers. The pain cuts deeper than anyone can fathom. The tears flow. The sense of solitude and loneliness settle in the soul.

Oh Father!
Help me be more sensitive to those who live the agony of motherless days and nights. Come…. and fill us with Your peace.
To God be the Glory…..
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Published in: on May 9, 2016 at 2:27 am  Leave a Comment