Insight: What is Dividing the Church More Than Anything

Unity among those who belong to the body of believers(the Church) is radically important. When the Church is divided among itself, how can it possibly stand in the face of opposition? Jesus said it best when He tells us that “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand”(Mark 3:25). In order to be fruitful for Kingdom-furthering purposes and effective for defending ourselves against spiritual warfare, we need to come together as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet, precisely the opposite is happening today within the Church. There is such a high degree of envy, jealousy, bitterness, backbiting, slander, and gossip among those claiming to be apart of the same Church Body. The world already has enough of this! The last thing that it needs is a Church comprised up of professing believers who cannot even co-operate among themselves. Therefore, the Church will not be able to render sustainable change within the world until those within it begin to work together instead of against one another.

Paul warns us in his letter to the Galatians of the following, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other”(Galatians 5:15). Being destroyed by one another is exactly what the enemy wants to happen within the Church. He couldn’t be happier when he sees church members in disagreement with trivialities over non-essential doctines and when pastors are under constant scrutiny over every move they make. Church divisiveness is a breeding ground for all kinds of evil and it is where demonic activity can thrive. Being distracted from the things that truly matter is what the enemy wants. When he succeeds, the work that God commissions His Bride(the Church) to take part in is greatly encumbered.

Perhaps one of the reasons why we don’t see persecution as strongly within the West is because the enemy does not view the Church here as much of a threat. We are too busy arguing and debating among one another about whose doctrinal views are right that we completely miss the whole point of Christianity! What an absolute tragedy! There are lost souls who are seeking for people to point them to the Truth of the Gospel but we are too busy fault-finding and gossiping about other Christians to even notice. Until the time that we swallow our pride and humble ourselves before God and among one another, true life-impacting change will not happen. How can it possibly?! The enemy and his demons are far too strong in comparison to a divided Church body. As Christians we all have our unique roles to play within the Church Body. God purposed it this way for the intention of drawing us together as perfectly demonstrated within the eternal fellowship in the Trinity. He created us as relational beings who are in need of being united within the Church. A Church Body that is united while upholding and guarding the Truth of Christ is unstoppable and it is capable of accomplishing the unimaginable!

Father God,

Please strengthen Your Church through unifying it and re-shaping it into all that You have purposed it to become as Your Son’s Bride. I pray that you humble all of us by helping us to plainly see the sin in our own hearts as opposed to pointing out the sin in other people’s lives. Lead us into repentance from all the gossip and slander we have taken part in through cleansing our prideful hearts. Most importantly, help us to show the world what it truly means to be a disciple of Jesus, as we undertake Your Kingdom-Furthering work on earth with the strength from Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

Insight: “Maybe Words Don’t Say Much”

Words are perhaps one of the greatest ways by which humans can communicate with one another. After all, words are precisely what comprises language and allow us to freely express our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Without language, it would be arduous to accomplish anything by way of communication. The purpose behind words is to convey and, at the very core, embody their intended meanings. Once there is a disconnect between the word in use by the author and the farmilar meaning by which the reader would associate, the word is rendered futile. Therefore, the author may be ignorantly propelling confusion on any given topic as opposed to providing the desired clarity towards the reader. There must be an unbroken connection between words and their actual meanings in any form of communication at all times. The moment that the communicator decides to diverge from this, it is necessary to provide the new definitions which are being assigned to the said words. Sadly, among Christians today, I believe that words are being disassociated from their meanings far too frequently than should ever be permissible.

Within Christianity, it is like we have our own language, which many like to term as, Christianese. There are so many words within Christianity that we tend to loosely utilize without giving much thought into their intended meanings. This is not only harmful among those within the Church Body, but it also leads to confusion towards those outside of the Church.

Because we are not thinking much about the words we use, what almost certainly results is a half-hearted Christian Faith which has not properly been thought through. We become especially good at knowing which words to say at exactly the right time and place. Frighteningly, we can fool ourselves into thinking that our membership into this sort of Christian Subculture is all the God requires. The reality is that we are merely professing-believers without having any genuine heart change. Consequently, these so-called “believers” end up misrepresenting Christianity. Rather, than leading the lost to Christ, they help to perpetuate the existing misconceptions about Christianity.

God certainly does not intend for Christianity to be a religion of confusion, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace(1 Cor 14:33)”. So, please fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, ensure that you have a sound understanding of the meanings behind the words which you use, particularly when sharing the Message of the Gospel towards others. Let’s not fuel the stereotype that Christianity is some kind of blind faith by failing to honestly think through our faith. Instead, let’s reason through our faith by and through the power of God’s Holy Word and His Spiritual Armour which is capable of demolishing strongholds,“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds”(2 Cor 10:4).

I pray that thought processes in the form of doctrinal discussions and spiritual conversations do not become an end to themselves either. It is so easy to talk the talk, but is something entirely different to actually walk the talk. True Christianity is a religion of action and power, not only in talk. Like Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power”(1 Co 4:20). Therefore, if our lives as followers of Jesus do not mirror the meanings ascribed to the words we use, then these words are used in vain and are meaningless.

Engaging Culture

Called to be Faithful Where You Are

In recent months, I have increasingly realized and observed that God pointedly uses His children in whatever platform He has sovereignly placed them. Oftentimes as believers we wrongly assume that we need to pursue a different vocational calling, rather than being faithful in our current platform within our sphere of influence. I know that I have certainly found myself praying that God would widen my platform or even provide me with some kind of  job in ministry in order that I may be an effective Christian. However, 2 Peter 1:3 clearly tells us, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”. Therefore, we are called to be faithful regardless of where God has placed us because He has equipped us with “everything we need for a godly life”.

Engaging Culture Where You Are

In reference to last month’s post on “Biblical Worldview”, I quoted Pearcey saying that “Christian Principles are meant to saturate our lives and flow out into the world around us”. With this being said, we have been Engage Culturehonored with the privilege to be participants in God’s Redemptive Plan of making all things new–transcending over and above all boundaries. Categories which relegate things of culture(ie politics, business, law, music, the arts) as wholly sacred or secular are therefore irrelevant and unnecessary.

Lecrae states in his book, Unashamed, that “Because of Jesus, we don’t need to see culture as something to be avoided. It is something to be engaged. You cannot stomp something you’re running away from. You can’t influence something you never encounter”. In order to begin to transform culture, we need to engage culture. I believe that this starts by bringing our sacred callings into our current work environments through being instruments of God’s Mercy and Grace. Having a Biblical Worldview enables one to see the world through the proper lenses because it allows us to see that all of God’s creation is in fact good and redeemable.

In addition, when we already speak the same language of those within our workplace, our Christian Witness becomes more creditable and effective towards our co-workers. We are all strategically positioned in different job positions which should be treated as mission’s fields where we have the platform to reflect God’s greatness to those around us. There are unsaved people everywhere, some of whom are yearning to hear this precious Gospel Message. Many of these people may never enter church and your light may be the only exposure to church they will ever receive. If you and I do not share it with them, then who will? If your workplace is anything like mine, I tend to feel overwhelmed and even discouraged at times because of the sheer number of unbelievers. At the same time, I feel blessed to have been placed at a workplace with such a need for the Gospel Message to be shared. I am praying for boldness to be more vocal and intentional about witnessing at my workplace. I pray that you do the same. We should all share the same sense of urgency because time is running out and people’s souls are at stake.

Application: Living Authentically for Christ

By This They Will KnowIt is my hope that God will use you and I to engage a culture that has not known or seen the true and living God of the Bible.  After all, “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them(Ephesians 2:10)”. The world should be able to notice something different about the way in which we live our lives. On a deeper level, unbelievers should be able to see the Body of Christ at work as the Church within the world. Jesus Himself tells us in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. It is this supernatural love within the Church that builds intentional relationships and is capable of reaching the lost unlike any other.

I cannot stress the importance of authentically walking out this faith which God has gifted us with. We are children of the light and God’s Spirit greatly desires to work in and through us to transform the world around us wherever this may be. But we need to be willing and this usually means stepping out of our comfort zones through taking leaps of faith. Having theological discussions about doctrinal differences and what the Scriptures teach are well and good, however it cannot and must not end here. The Gospel Message requires a responsive action on our part, which surpasses intellectual book knowledge as it extends into deep-rooted heart application. Actions always speak louder than words so I earnestly pray that we keep Christ at the forefront of our lives seeking to live wholeheartedly in our actions for His Glory.

May God continue to use His Children in their present spheres of influence to engage, impact, and radically transform the culture around them. I pray that we may all be emboldened to seek out the lost through disciple-making and that You may be glorified in and through us.

In Jesus’ Name, I pray Amen.

Biblical WorldView

What Sets Christianity Apart

Christianity is not merely another world religion where one needs to follow a prescribed set of rules, regulations, and steps in order to be made right with God. Conversely, Christianity is about placing our trust in the One Who has lovingly reached down to us, accomplishing that which is humanly impossible by living the perfect life of obedience through Jesus. Christ lived the life none of us could have lived. Therefore, rather than us hopelessly climbing a ladder of good works to somehow bridge the gap between us and God, all we need to do is trust in Jesus Who has already finished the work on the Cross.

“Sacred” and the “Secular” Coming Together

There is a phenomenon that has plagued Christianity for far too long. It has significantly limited and even restricted the effectiveness of the Church within the world by relegating Christ-following Christians to purely a private spiritual matter. Specifically, it is the false dichotomy between the “sacred” and the “secular”. In Nancy Pearcey’s book, “Total Truth”, she expounds on this school of thought by stating that “Christian Principles are meant to saturate our lives and flow out into the world around us”. She continues, “Having a Christian worldview means beings utterly convinced that biblical principles are not only true but also work better in the grit and grime of the real world”. As ambassadors of Christ, we are called and commissioned to be salt and light within this world. If we choose to stay in our own Christian bubbles and comfort zones, how can we expect the dying world around us to hear the glorious truth of the Gospel? It is so easy to become apathetic and spiritually-selfish through focusing excessive attention on being built up without physically going out to make disciples as God calls us to do. God’s redemptive plan extends to all things–both the secular and the sacred.

As believers, we know full well that the Christian faith is not designed to be compartmentalized within the sacred portion of our lives, rather, it needs to overflow into every facet of our lives!
biblical-worldviewPearcey wisely states, “The Christian faith is not just a religious truth, but the total truth about all reality.The implication is that the Christian Faith is meant to pervade and saturate everything we come into contact with. In turn, having a Biblical worldview shapes how we think about politics, business, law, education, and the arts. God has created absolutely everything (John 1:3), and as seen in Genesis 1:28, He calls us to subdue the earth. Right from the beginning of time, God has invited us to participate in His project for the world. Andy Otto explains this concept of subduing the earth below:

As one would “subdue” a plot of land, planting seeds, watering, cultivating it, caring for it, and harvesting its fruit, one is called to subdue the world—planting seeds through our witness, using and cultivating our gifts, working for the common good, and sharing its fruit with others. And as God has desires for the cultivation and harvesting of the earth, metaphorically, we do as well.

Application: Life Is Ministry

There is a common misconception that only those involved in ministry of some kind can really serve the Lord. This cannot be further from the truth and it greatly dismays me that many Christians believe this fallacy. Admittedly, I believed that this was true for my own life and it held me captive for several years. I knew that God had gifted me in different ways but I reasoned that I couldn’t serve Him as well or even at all unless it was explicitly done for ministry purposes. Once I first read about Biblical Worldview through observing Lecrae approach to his Hip Hop music as a Christian, I realized that as a Christian my entire life is ministry. Romans 12:1 instructs us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, which is our true and proper worship. In other words, everything we do spanning from the ways in which we interact with others all the way to our viewpoints on social issues should be rooted in our Biblical Worldview. We are not just Christians on Sundays, but rather we are called to serve the Lord 24/7; indeed life is ministry. Someone who has been called to a trade such as a plumber is no less capable of serving God than a pastor for instance. All that God expects is our joyful obedience as we serve and glorify Him in our unique ways.

In Lecrae’s book, Unashamed, he states that “Following Jesus doesn’t just save us from a less fulfilling life or eternal separation from God. It also saves us to a life that can radically transform the world around us through the power of God”. The responsibility then for Christians is to transform culture.

I plan on creating a follow-up article to this post regarding what transforming culture looks like for the Christian. Please stay tuned!

Lord,

We are so grateful for that which we have done for us on the Cross and we are honoured to be partakers of Your redemptive plan. Help us to live faithful lives to You in whatever you have called us to as our vocation. I pray that through Your Holy Word, You may mold our Biblical Worldview into one that has the ability to transform culture for Your glory. May we lift up Your Name and glorify You always!

In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen.

 

References:

Subdue the Earth: A Genesis Understanding of Discernment

Total Truth By Nancy Pearcey

Unashamed By Lecrae

 

Humanity Has A Preference Problem

Since the Fall of the human race in Genesis 3, accepting accountability for our actions has always been a real area of weakness for us. Arguably, one of the central reasons for why people would rather deny the existence of God is so that this very form of accountability is somehow removed. This is freedom after all, isn’t it? Being able to live however you true_freedom_in_christplease without having to answer to a higher power sounds both appealing and liberating at the same time. However, this type of freedom is not freedom at all. Don’t let the world’s way of thinking confuse and entrap you. In contrast to what real freedom in Christ provides, this is actually slavery which happens to be under the guise of freedom. Slavery to what you may be wondering? Simply put, it is slavery to your fleshly desires and impulses. The precise thing that you think is liberating you is in fact doing the exact opposite, that is, enslaving you.

Recently, I had the privilege of listening to a fascinating podcast by long-term Christian Pastor and Author, John Piper, entitled, “Why Hell Exists?”. Within this podcast, Piper makes the powerful argument that “everyone knows the supreme value of God…but that everyone prefers something to God“. Romans 1:18-19 supports this argument below:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

Regardless of whether you are: a skeptic, an atheist, a new age believer, or a follower of any of the world religions and denominations, God through His Word makes it abundantly clear God's Glorythat deep down inside you already know the truth of God. As seen in Romans 1:19, God’s eternal power and His divine nature are manifested throughout the beauty and intricacies of creation, consequently leaving people without excuse(Rom. 1:20).

Piper continues by postulating that “nobody leaves God simply because they value Him little; [rather] we always turn away from God because we value something more”. In a like manner, Romans 1:21-23 reveals:

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Wow! Think about this for a moment and let this truth sink in. This is God Who is the Creator of the entire universe! He literally breathed it into existence out of nothing, Who is the Alpha and the Omega, the Author and Finisher of all life, Who came down from Heaven, lived the perfect life, died the death we should have died, was raised on the third-day so that we can have forgiveness for our sins and have a forever relationship with Him! This infinitely beautiful and glorious God has given us everything, even Himself on the Cross. YET, we foolishly decide to exchange His glory for “images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and replies!(Rom 1:23)“.  Every sin is rooted in this abominable truth and heart-wrenching reality. Indeed, this is the biggest insult humans can possibly make towards God which is why unrepentant sinners must be judged. Interestingly however, whenever we sin no matter how big or small, we are committing this very exchange. The underlying reason for why we push God away is because in our darkened minds we think that we have discovered something more valuable. Therefore, we mistakenly find it more fitting to exchange God’s glory for things of this passing and transient world found in His creation instead of in God Himself.

With all this being said, believing in the One Living and True God is at the core derived from one’s preferences. The truth of God is tangibly displayed everywhere we look and eternity has even been hard-wired into the very hearts of our beings. Intrinsically, what matters is whether we decide to accept God for Who He is or to suppress Him as we aimlessly pursue the empty promises of this fleeting world.

Heavenly Father,

I pray that the spiritual-blinders may be lifted from unbelievers’s eyes to see You for Who you are in all Your honor and glory. Strengthen us as a Church so that we may faithfully share the Good News of the Gospel Message for everyone to hear! Also, please bring those of us who have gone astray back to You realizing how lost we are without You. Help us all to always cling close to You and please provide us with a re-vitalized hunger to know you more richly and deeply!

In Jesus’ Name, I Pray, Amen.

 

It’s Not About You

Very inspiring, uplifting, and encouraging post!
Thank-you for your insightful thoughts on the importance of being a cheerful giver. It is profound when we realize the power contained in simply giving, particularly when something so seemingly small has the ability to impact countless lives.
Have a blessed week!

LeadToday

The week of April 10-16, 2016 is by Presidential Proclamation, National Volunteer Week in the United States. The proclamation says that this is the week “we celebrate the selfless individuals around our country who channel their civic virtues through volunteerism, and we encourage more people to make service an integral part of their lives.”

In 2002 Pastor Rick Warren published a book entitled, “A Purpose Driven Life.” It was on best seller lists for years and by 2007 more than 30 million copies had been sold. There were lots of sentences in the book, many passages of Biblical Scripture were quoted and it is a great read to this very day.

Many people, including me, might say that no sentence in the book was as impactful as the very first one:

It’s not about you.

It is a book written by a Christian Pastor but it wasn’t written specifically for…

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The Gospel and Loneliness

Technology and Loneliness within the West

With the vast advances in social technology enabling us to seamlessly communicate and transmit information among one another, it seems logical to surmise that this degree of interconnectedness would in fact do that which it intends, namely connect us better. Specifically, connecting us better in such a way that we can develop fuller relationships in light of virtually constant, uninterrupted communication despite geographical boundaries which has encumbered us in the past. However, it dismays me to assert that this way of thinking is further from the truth than many are inclined to admit. In an article authored by Rebecca Harris’ called, The Loneliness Epidemic: We’re more Connected than Ever-But We are Feeling More Alone?, she states the following:

Changes in modern society are considered to be the cause[of loneliness]. We live in nuclear family units, often living large distances away from our extended family and friends, and our growing reliance on social technology rather than face to face interaction is thought to be making us feel more isolated” 

Continue reading

Self-Righteousness is Dangerous

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As sinful beings who have been pointing fingers at one another since the Fall, it should be no surprise with how swiftly we find ourselves repeating the same mistake to this very day. Accepting personal responsibility and accountability for our actions has always been challenging for us to do in our strength. It is far easier for us to simply blame others after all anyway, isn’t it?  In the same vein, one thing that continues to fascinate me is how quick we are to identify and judge the sin which we see others commit. Continue reading

Rabyd Opinion – Christians, Before You Boycott Over Homosexual Marriage – Read This

This is a very insightful viewpoint towards the recent development regarding this widely contested issue. In the midst of our world’s current political climate it is so easy for Christians (myself included) to lose sight of the Great Commission. That’s why it is integral that as a Church we are continually keeping ourselves in check through relying on God’s Authoritative Word.
The Scriptures are essentially our “litmus test”, therefore they must be at the forefront of every Christian’s life. Like 2 Timothy 3:16-17 teaches us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”.
As Ambassadors of Christ I pray that we may reflect His gentleness, His compassion, His grace, and, most importantly, His unconditional love towards absolutely everyone. Lord, please help us to love the sinner but to hate the sin instead. I pray Your Spirit will empower us to keep our conversation with others full of grace and seasoned with salt(‭Colossians‬ ‭4‬:‭6‬).
In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen.

All Things Rabyd

I would rather be writing my Sermon Redux this morning but the events of this weekend and Christian response to the homosexual marriage decision by SCOTUS have left me a little irritated as to which Jesus Christ people are following.  I already wrote one article on this Rabyd Opinion – A Little Rational Perspective on Gay Marriage for Christians and it has been taken to heart by some others have simply decided to continue their temper tantrum because they lost and have now started to plan and execute more form of resistance to this decision.  The biggest problem some of them now have is how many companies came out in support of this decision and how they plan to boycott them, etc.  On a practical note, this is going to be amusing because if you boycott everything that promotes sin you are going to probably be down to eating nothing and buying…

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