Feeling is Great but Knowing is Everlasting (Or Half the Battle…Yo Joe!)

That song with the Michael Jackson hook “I always feel like somebody’s watching me”…what if it was instead “I always KNOW that someone is watching me”…that heightens the intensity of the problem.  To feel that someone’s watching would make you paranoid, to KNOW would enter you into fight/flight mode.  (Thanks to the Marine Corps my toggle switch for this mode has been snapped off on “fight” yut yut yay yut…so don’t sneak up on me creeper!)

I remember a while back watching a sermon on YouTube from Alistair Begg and I thought that he nailed something that I had never really sank my teeth into before.  Feeling comes and goes but knowing is what is needed.  He would go on about how miserable of a day he was having and then it always would send him over the edge when someone at church would ask him how he was feeling.  His premise was something like, “don’t ask me how I am feeling, ask me what I know.  I feel like crap right now but I am thankful that my hope is not in how I feel but in what I know.”  He then used this as a spring board into teaching that it is not our feelings or experiences in our life as Christians that are sustainable but it is what we know as a Christian according to God’s word that sustains us.

That has helped me out on many occasions.  Especially in those moments when I don’t “feel” saved.  Surely I am not the only one who has experienced what I am talking about.

Everybody tracking?  Good to go.

Then why do I see so many social media quick thoughts, sermons, books,  from Celebrity Pastors, non-Celebrity Pastors, celebrities who may be Christians but I am not sure if they have ever said that they are, seem to be constantly commenting on the “feels” of a Christian or give calls for an invitation to Christ, to Church, to an event in order to feel this or that, or even worse, to come to Jesus to receive the constant flow of Snake Oil Christianity.

Yeah I’m reaching way back in the ole DeLorean with Doc Brown on that reference.  If I need to explain what I meant by Snake Oil ask me in the comments below.

Am I the only one who is picking up this constant dropping of the glorification of “feels” and “desires” as the ends and Jesus as the means of obtaining them?

I call it Snake Oil Christianity because in a quick glance it is nothing more than throwing out a sales pitch; hoping that it touches the soon to be church member’s eye.  “Are you poor and wish you were rich?  Are you sick and wish you were well?  Are you weak and wish you were powerful?  Need a job, need a wife, need a life?  Well I have to cure all for you!  It is right here in these hand crafted bottles of mine.  Just one swig of Gimmieemystuffhallaluyarglawry Tonic and all of your problems will be washed away.  That’s right this ri cheer is the cure for what ails ya.  That’ll be $$$$$$ and buy the Gimmieemystuffhalluyarglawry Tonic companion gift set with my book “How Jesus’ Gimmiemystuffhallaljuarglawry Tonic Gave Me My wildest Dreams RAT NOW.”

Should I not be concerned (is it even my place to be concerned) that the constant theme that I am seeing in so many areas of what are Christian circles and preaching is nothing more than instant blessing; just add the Trinity to your will and stir in order to receive whatever it is you are looking for?

I used to fall into this trap.  I used to buy into Jesus is a means to an end way of thinking.  “I want this….where is Jesus at?  I need Him to make this happen.”

Just reading the Beatitudes over and over again, I am not sure how we can get the idea that Jesus said God wants you to be rich, mighty and powerful.  He might indeed!  I am not saying that He doesn’t!  I am confident that if He does it is not for your glory but for God’s and good grief peeppell…our leader was a man who suffered physically and was broke like no joke.  He even told us that the world would hate us and that we would be persecuted because of Him.  His original 12…I think one died of old age but that was in exile (John on the Isle of Patmos I think).  The rest surely didn’t get “Their Best Life Now” according to the standards of the world but got their worst way to die right now…beheadings, impaling’s, stoning’s, upside down crucifixions you know the good stuff.  Let us not forget the early Christians who were sport in the Roman Coliseum either…

But if you were to ask them…because they KNEW that they had been given the grace of God…they would more than likely say that they had their best life now because they know that the life that they have is the life of Jesus.

Yes, we are to make our requests to God.  Yes, even when we do treat God like a genie in a bottle more than we do our Heavenly Father, He still loves us and still wants us around and His grace is still on us. Man that is good news….this grace stuff…I can’t get enough!

My goal is not to make you feel guilty.  My goal is to help you realize that as a child of God, the odds are…what you are really longing for (comfort, peace, love, joy, identity, purpose, etc.) you already have in Christ.

My 3 year old son often treats me the way I often treat God and it makes me smile because I realize that he doesn’t think that I know what game he is playing.  He gets very sweet, shows some affection and hits me with the hook, “can I pweese watch Wallykazam daddy?” while I am watching the Atlanta Hawks game.

I smile and hook him up with Wally because I love him and he said the magic word, so I am sure God feels the same some times.

BUT if I knew that there was something better to give him than Wallykazam…why would I let him settle for the cheap stuff?  Yeah, he might throw a fit “I WANT WALLAKAZAHHHM” but I may be planning something better for him…like hanging out with daddy.  Which is what happened last night and he loved it.  He wanted a mustache like daddy (don’t laugh it is still in the early stage!) So we spent time looking for something to make him a mustache with (pipe cleaners from my wife’s craft station stash…I’m sure she won’t mind).  At that point he had forgotten all about Wallykazam…and then I put it on without him asking…much to his joy.

If I knew that by giving Him something different or using his time in a different way would bring him more joy (even if meant temporary hardship) would I not want to hook him up with that instead?

God is God.  He is sovereign and there is nothing outside of his ability.  If there was anything that could bind God or halt God from accomplishing His will, then He would no longer be God.  His love for me is displayed through the grace that he gave to me in His Son Jesus.  After letting that sink in, knowing what God has done for me, changed everything.  What stuff…oh yeah that cheap stuff I was praying for yesterday…

The inspiration for this blog or rant is nothing more than I want everyone to experience the awe and the wonder of God’s grace for sinners.  It has conquered me, defeated me and raised me from the dead.  It has changed everything in my life.  God’s grace through faith in Christ has been the lone defining point in me.  It is No Longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.  All because of God’s love and His grace for loser, sinner me. Knowing this has caused me to have side eyes at Gimmieemystuffhallaluyarglawry Tonic and

I just don’t understand how I ever got over the truth of God’s grace to ever want to move on to talk about anything else.

And that is why I definitely have my eye on Snake Oil Christianity.

Verses that I love to Read When I need to remember what I KNOW.  Notice how a lot of these verses are telling us something that God is doing has done or will do.  Not suggestions or conditional hopes…but something that is happening will happen or has happened.  I love the “will’s, is’s and are’s”:

Galatians 2:19-21

Ephesians 2:8-9

Ok so really Ephesians 2:1-22

Hebrews 13:5-6

Philippians 4:6-7

Romans 6:1-4

Romans 8:28…ok all of Romans 8

Romans 8:38-39

Romans 8:1

2 Corinthians 5:21

Romans 5:8

1 Peter 5:7

John 11:25-26

Matthew 11:29-30

John 3:16

Matthew 28:20

2 Corinthians 12:9

Romans 6:14

Romans 11:6

James 4:6

Hebrews 4:16

John 1:16

Romans 3:20-24

2 Timothy 1:9

John 1:14

Advertisements

After Darkness…Light

It is a gift of God’s grace that the good news of His grace never stays silent for long.  There have been several “dark ages” in the past where the light of His grace appears to have been snuffed out by those who would lead us to believe that salvation comes with our cooperation and obedience to the law.

But God has always been faithful to raise up a people who will remember and rejoice in the reality and truth that it is all up to God and that salvation only comes to us by His unmerited favor.  Names like Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther and more after years spent in tears, anger, exhaustion and hopelessness at the altar of the gospel of works were miraculously, amazingly and gracefully shown the gospel of grace.

The message that salvation comes to us by grace alone has changed so many lives.  It has changed my life.  To know that God has GIVEN me a gift of His grace, His unmerited favor, frees me from myself and my ability.  Instead of leaving me alone to choose utilizing my own faculties, convictions and spiritual righteousness, God gives me by grace His choice, His convictions and the spiritual righteousness of His Son.

Just like in Luther’s day, the thought that God through Jesus has “paid it all” and that Jesus really meant what He said when he breathed out “it is finished” may seem lost in the mind of the Church today.  One way to gauge whether or not the concept of God’s grace is championed in the pulpit across your country is to observe what the major critique of the church is from those who are outside of it.  Is there a critic outside of the church today suggesting that the reason that they do not go to church is because the church preaches a message of grace and extends too much of it?  It is no coincidence that any critic of God’s unmerited favor is usually found inside the church.  This has always been the case.  Just like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son, it is always those who have never left Father’s house who grumble at the prospect that Father would unconditionally love and accept the wayward son without conditions or merit.

I believe that something is happening.

I believe that there is a great awakening or reformation that is happening.  I see it in the sermons I hear on YouTube, in the conversations that I have with others, in the books that I read, blogs that I read, in the radio programs I hear, in casual conversation, in the sermons I hear at church, the message of God’s grace and the flame that it contains is growing hotter and brighter. I believe that you may have witnessed it too.  Just like God began to rise up those who would be overcome and intoxicated with His grace some 1500 years ago, I believe we may be seeing a similar move by God right now.  The spiritual darkness and bondage that was lifted off of so many people back then I believe is beginning to lift off of so many of us today.

For far too long we have exhausted and burned out our up and coming generations with the gospel of “do better”, “live righter”, “it’s all up to you now”,  moral-therapeutic-self-help-deism version of Christianity and are left scratching our heads wondering how we lost them.

As we watch our young (and old) leave the church we have done everything to try to be cool, to be hip to bring them back with programs, ministries, concerts, fashion, skinny jeans, tattoos, beards, fog machines, strobe lights, free coffee, we’ve exhausted all resources to try anything to bring our loved ones back.  The only thing that will bring back and hold the next generation and generations after them is the grace of God.

Tell them the truth that God loves them unconditionally, that they do not “have” to do anything for Him because He has already done everything for them and watch to see what they now “want” to do.

Bury the message of “do” and champion the gospel of “done.”

Burn the WWJD* bracelets and raise high the banner of WHJD**

It is time to once again cling to the gospel that salvation comes to us by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  Correction:  It is time to once again realize that it is by grace that GOD IS CLINGING TO US with the gospel that salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

The dark shadows created by the current theme of “moralistic-therapeutic-self-help-deism” inside the church will be overcome by the message of God’s amazing grace.  I thank God and praise the glory of His name for once again turning the lights on.

Post Tenebras Lux:  After Darkness…Light  (motto of the Protestant Reformation)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:4-8 

 

*WWJD:  What Would Jesus Do

**WHJD:  What Has Jesus Done