Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Urgency and the Spirit

War in the Middle East; another suicide of the rich and famous; and a continuous changing world that can be radically offended by all different types of actions. As Christians, how do we know how to approach people with the gospel?

The Word of God has the answer to the world's problems. So do we just give it to them straight? Do we jump into the streets throwing the Word here and there to see where it hits? Do we call out sin as we see it?

The problem with this approach is in God's command to make disciples. So many in this world are immediately offended at anything and as soon as we start to preach anything they distance themselves even further from our loving God.

In reality, what we need is discernment. We need wisdom in how to deal with others. Some may be ready to embrace the gospel with their whole lives, while others just need to know that Christians care and are here to serve the world (which is true). They need a faithful friend and once they know you are there to be their friend despite their actions, then they will be more open to the gospel. Sometimes we need to preach, but sometimes we just need to hug someone.

So what I suggest is that we get in better tune with the Spirit. We need God's help. We need wisdom from above. We need divine appointments that come from our being in step with the Father. God is ready to use us but our responsibility is to be ready and available and dedicated to doing His will. We are not robots; we constantly choose whether or not to listen to the Spirit and we must constantly ask Him to guide us through our day. With the urgency of our time, we must depend on God for every decision so that others can ultimately be changed by God's marvelous grace.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Traditionalism and Sinning

Last night I preached in a tie. I am not against ties in general, but when there is a "traditionalist, you can only preach with a tie on" mentality, I am against it. In our region in Brasil this mentality exists in some evangelical churches. I went to one church in the normal dress up wear of jeans and a polo and the Pastor invited me to preach. When I stood up at the front he said, “even though he is not wearing Pastor’s clothes he is going to preach for us tonight.” Most of these churches here with this mentality are small and dying and filled with scandals. 

I compare this to the priests and leaders of the Old Testament that were separated for the work of the Lord and wore all white. In the beginning it may have been good, but after a while it turned into a pride thing. Jesus ended up calling some of them white washed sepulchers; white and pure on the outside and dead on the inside. (I wonder if that is why Hebrews talks about the priesthood of every believer).

So personally, I like to emphasize to people that as a preacher/pastor, I have the same sin capability. I have flesh and blood just like everyone else and sin just like everyone else. We all struggle and all need God’s help. 

But the problem is; we often use that mentality as a crutch. The truth is: we don’t have to sin. We have all that we need from God to never sin again. Now, before you put me with the radical group that stands on the street corners with signs condemning the world believing that they cannot sin, that is not what I am saying. 

If we constantly choose God over sin, we do not have to sin. God has given us power over sin so that we do not have to live in it any longer. We were set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:18). In OT Survey class the other day I told the class that they did not have to sin; that they could live without sin. They did not believe me. I had to teach them as if it were a new truth. Could it be possible that the pendulum has swung to the opposite side of traditionalism that we no longer even think that we can go through the day without sinning? I know that is really hard to do, but if you aim for nothing you will hit it every time. 

We must choose God early in the morning and give him the controls for the day. Every day. Let’s pray more often for the Holy Spirit to have total control over our lives so that we do not choose sin over God!