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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I Don’t Make Many Messes….. But….

Just Thinking…..

I’m a neat person. I’m organized, clean. I put things away when I’m finished with them. I wipe up spills, file papers, and put dishes into either the dishwasher or cabinet, as the situation warrants. We empty the trash on a regular basis. I clean my closets, scrub the toilets, wash windows. Like I said, neat.

But when I make a mess, I make it big. Good and big. Huge, actually. My messes are different from this picture. This is more like a habitual mess….. a hoarding mess. That’s not me.

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Even this next picture is not my kind of mess. This is an uncontrolled mess of a shorter duration than the hoarding kind of mess. My big messes are more of a very short term kind of thing, a sudden burst of a mess sort of thing.

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Take for example, the time I tried to cook rhubarb.

Growing up, I helped Mom with the rhubarb. I cut it out of the patch. I chopped off the big leaf at the top. I cut the stalk into inch lengths. I washed it. But I realized when I was married and in my own home, faced with a stack of rhubarb, that I had never actually cooked it.

Those rock hard little nubbins would surely take all day to simmer and soften. I didn’t have that sort of time, so out came my trusty pressure cooker. I packed in the rhubarb and water and fired up the stove. The little jiggler thing on the top began to dance and make a noise. So far, so good.

But suddenly the jiggler thing flew straight up into the air, followed by a pink stream of steaming goo. The pink mucus hit the ceiling and then began to drip and form pink stalactites. I knew I had to get the pressure cooker off the burner, or at least turn off the burner, but it was dangerous navigating the hot dripping glop. I searched for an umbrella, but alas…. So I ran about, calling out the Hub’s name, hoping that he could hear me and rescue me.

Brave man. He dodged the “stuff” and turned off the stove. I was left with a very pink kitchen to clean, and I ended up with a permanently pink stained ceiling. The sweet stickiness covered every surface in the room; my feet stuck to the floor with every step. It took several days to completely clean the mess. Big mess….

After that, I tried to be careful. But I recently had another disaster. A friend gave me some lovely beets. I put water into a large pot and heated it on the stove. I cleaned the beets, carefully leaving on the stems and roots (so that all the color doesn’t bleed out during cooking). I gently placed the beets into the boiling water.

And then I got busy with something else and forgot them. The smell of charred veggies and the wafting smoke reminded me of my transgression. I yelled at the Hubs to OPEN THE GARAGE DOOR, and I grabbed the pot with pot holders and bee lined it outside. I opened windows, fanned, and prayed that the smoke detector would not start to blare. And even a can of Oust could not remove the odor….

The next morning, I surveyed the damage. The pot was charred inside, but I had heard that boiling a little water and baking soda could clean messes like this. So I added water and baking soda to the pot and put it back onto the stove. For good measure, I added a squirt of dish soap. Couldn’t hurt, right? I turned up the heat.

Then the phone rang. And then, some time later, I heard a strange hiss.

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Now this picture is not my pot or stove. I was too embarrassed to take a picture of the mess I had made. My mess was about 4 times worse than what you see in this pic. White billowy foam covered the stove top, the burner cavities, had run down the oven door, was in the little storage drawer under the oven, had dripped onto the floor, and was on the counter tops. I grabbed a roll of paper towels and began to sop up the mess.

What I learned was that boiling baking soda in water can leave a fine white powder on any surface, and that it mocks my cleaning. Paper towels, wet dishcloths, dry cloth towels, rinse and repeat, and rinse and repeat finally did the trick. I had to lift the stove top, take out all the burners and burner shields and wash them repeatedly. I had to clean the oven and the drawer. The floor was wet….. and I slipped. I had soda powder all over my clothes and it was in my hair and under my finger nails. What a mess….

The good news was the pot really did come clean of the charred beets. But getting the white film off it was not so easy.

I was reflecting on this latest mess while changing my clothes.

The kitchen was clean again. I brushed the dry soda out of my hair. All the soppy wet towels could be washed. Everything looked as if nothing had happened. But I knew the hard work that went into the clean up.

I’ve made some other messes in life that weren’t so easy to clean up. Ever have a financial mess that took a while to clean? Ever have a professional or personal mess that you had to struggle to clean? I’ve been blessed that I’ve been protected from the worst messes that I could have slipped in, but like most folks, I’ve had my share of situations that were my fault. And it took time to clean it up.

And then there’s that whole sin-mess. So grateful that Jesus helped me clean that up, and I can’t possibly know or understand the hard work that went into the cross….. just to clean up my mess. And like the rhubarb fiasco, I find myself calling for help when I’m deep into my mess. So grateful that God hears me call….

Oh, did I mention that I cooked the next batch of beets with no incident? Whew…..

Father, I confess. I have sinned. Sometimes I didn’t even realize what I was doing, but most of the time, I just walked straight and deliberately into the messes. Forgive me. When I think of what You went through just to pull me out of my mess and clean it all up, I am ashamed. And I am grateful that You loved me enough to do this for me. I’m grateful that You heard me when I called out Your name.

To God Be The Glory…..

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Published in: on August 21, 2013 at 3:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thanks, Ms. Hattie!

Just Thinking….

A memory came to mind today that I had spent years trying to NOT think of. It was one of those very embarrassing times…..

Many years ago, our church was having a special reception in the church hall. It was crowded, and everyone was having a great time. Hubs and I were on the far end of the hall, and I left for a while to go the ladies’ room.

Finished, I walked back into the hall and started for the far end. I was chatting along the way, waving at folks that I had not seen in a while. Suddenly the pastor’s wife, Hattie, came up behind me and put her hand on my shoulder. I started to turn around and talk with her, but she said very softly, “Just keep on walking.”

She steered me into a small side room and shut the door. That’s when I learned my transgression. Somehow in the ladies’ room, the bottom of my skirt had become caught into the waistband of my panty hose. I was mortified! Hattie helped me get adjusted. But I did not want to walk back out into that hall. I would rather crawl thru a small window and make a get away than face all those people who probably saw more of me than they bargained for. But there was no small window….. and with Hattie’s encouragement, I went back out to the reception.

Well, our women’s Bible study this morning was about the Samaritan woman at the well, who encountered Jesus. She had had 5 husbands and was currently living with a fellow who was not her husband. Jesus knew all this. He gently helped her see her sin, and then she could adjust to His expectations.

That’s when my memory of that ill-fated reception came to mind. What happened to me with Hattie is indicative of what our God does in our lives. Here I am blithely rolling through life, with not the faintest hint that I am in trouble. Then Jesus shelters me, shows me my sin, helps me overcome, and gives me confidence to live. Embarrassing moment? Hattie behind me? Moment of truth? How wonderful for God to give us little pictures of His grace and mercy.

“All things work together for good….” (Romans 8:28). And that reminds me of Joseph in the Old Testament after his no-good brothers sold him into slavery. He much later encounters his brothers, but now he is in a position of power, and they are afraid of him. Joseph tells them, “You meant this for evil, but God used it for good.”

My little “wardrobe malfunction” embarrassed me for years. All I had to do was think about it, and I would turn red. I know many will say “Big deal,” but to me it WAS a big deal. I am a modest person. But the big question in my mind was WHY WHY WHY? Was there any possible good in this?

Perhaps it was to remind me of Jesus, all these years later. Perhaps it was to give me insight into the Samaritan woman. Perhaps the telling of this incident was to give clarity at today’s Bible study. Whatever the reason, I am grateful that something bad can be used for good. And thank you, Ms. Hattie, for your kindness.

Father,
Whether I am blind to my sin, or sinning deliberately with eyes wide open, I am so grateful that You continue to shelter me, to keep me safe and show me my sin. I thank You for gently helping me overcome and turn away. I thank You for giving me confidence to continue in life. You are awesome, Father…..

To God be the Glory….
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