Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Review: Crazy Love Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

A while back I shared with you my thoughts on a book called Already Gone authored by Ken Ham.  I felt that Ham had a small piece of the puzzle of figuring out why so many leave the Christian Church as young adults, but that he wasn't grasping the whole story.  I think I am about to present to you the rest of the story!

Crazy Love is an amazing book.  It is not a "feel-good-about-yourself"  kind of  book.  It is a book that challenges the very heart of the believer.  If you are looking for something to lift you us and tell you that you are on the right track, opt for something else to read!  If you are looking for something that will take you deeper into relationship with Jesus Christ and challenge you to become all that Christ desires of you, read on!

Over the past year I have had conversations with several people of several religious persuasions about topics like politics, religion, etc.  One thing that I have noticed is that no matter how sincere your political opinion, it is sure to anger someone!  That is because what we argue is merely opinion.  It is of ourselves.  When we talk about religion, it can be much of the same.  Sharing opinion rarely makes an impact.  Sharing God's Word has a much greater advantage!  Why?  Because we, as Christians, need to realize that God's Word is the only truth we can claim as absolute!  When we insist on adding our opinion or perspective to it, it can off as unloving. Does that make holding an opinion wrong?  Certainly not!  Does it make attempting to share principles of God's Word to make a deeper impact on the life of the believer wrong?  Certainly not!  There is a time and place for all of that.

BUT, I ask you: why does that world look at Christians as hate mongers and intolerant?  We can certainly say that it is because they are blinded to the truth that we know.  We can say that.  It would make us feel much better about ourselves.  Right?  But we do need to ask ourselves, it that what it is really about?  Feeling better about ourselves?  Truly it is not.  Crazy Love challenges the idea that we are the "good soil" that Christ talked about in the parable of the sower.  If we truly are the good soil, then why is God's Word being "choked out" in America today?  Maybe we need to consider whether or not the message that we are conveying is truly one of love and self-sacrifice that Christ calls us to.

I challenge everyone to read this book.  Read Chan's profiles of "lukewarm people" in contrast to  people who are truly head-over-heels in love with God.  I will not lie to you and say that I felt good after reading this, but I will say that it has changed the way I look at my relationship with God, and  I pray that it will make a greater impact on those around me who need Jesus.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Personal Holiness

In previous posts I have shared with you details of my past and my personal testimony of coming to faith in Jesus Christ.  It has been quite a journey, and while I have always struggled with regrets I am thankful for where I am today.  My post "Embracing Brokenness" was inspired by a Beth Moore Bible study that I attended.  She taught that you simply cannot divorce your past from your destiny.  I believe this to be true.  People who knew me in high school will find a much different person today, but all of my experiences culminated into who I am today.  To try to sweep my past under a rug would be unfruitful.  Perhaps dishonest?  I have a heart for people who are struggling with feelings of unworthiness.  I have been there.  Sometimes I am still there.  But one difference today is that I know that my worthiness lies in Christ alone.  In  my faith in His finished work on the cross.  I do not have to struggle anymore.  I was unworthy.  He made me worthy.  What joy!

One thing that I want to clarify is my stance on personal holiness. I expresses my belief before that we cannot change ourselves.  We can't "clean up" our sins on our own.  We rely solely on Christ to cleanse us and make us worthy.  When we receive the Holy Spirit, however, we receive the power to see sin for what it is and turn from it.  I am constantly amazed at what the Holy Spirit is convicting me and  changing in my life!  Things that I might have never before seen as sin, He gently points out to me in His merciful way and timing.  God's love is a purifying, refining love.

Romans 6:20-23  "For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed?  For the end of those things is death.  But now having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

We can't clean our lives up outside of Christ.  The Bible refers to our old selves as "slaves to sin."  When we come to faith in Christ He gives us the power to change.  A relationship with Christ creates in us a hatred of our own sin.  After salvation we are called "slaves to God."  You cannot serve two masters.

We are called to personal holiness.  1 Peter 1:15 "..but He who called you is holy, you will also be holy in all your conduct because it is written, be holy for I am holy."

The Bible is to be the authority in our lives.  I believe that means that we cannot ignore the parts we don't like and adhere to the parts we can live comfortably with.  There are things in the Bible which are clearly spelled out for us.  There are other things that take a bit more searching, praying and studying.  We are all at different places on our journeys.  I have experienced friends who have convictions about certain things that I do not feel convicted about.  It is not important that we agree on everything.  Paul addressed this fleshly struggle in his letter to the Roman Church.  He instructs us not to quarrel over doubtful things.    Romans 14:4 "Who are you to judge another's servant?  To his own master he stands or falls.  Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand."

We are to encourage one another on to good works, and to grow personally in holiness.  The only heart that I can be responsible for is my own.  Failure for us to grow can be due to spiritual pride, which is sinful.  However, I believe that we  need to be careful to keep our admonition Biblical, and not allow it to be tainted by opinion.  Being able to back up correction, rebuke, and reproof with scripture takes the burden off of us and points others back to the Lord.

I am happy to share with you the things that God is doing in my life.  To me it is a sign of a real relationship with God.  Real relationship brings about real change.   1 John 5:4 "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith."  Are you overcoming the world? 

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