The Danger of a Lukewarm Faith

I read the C.S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters, a few years ago. If you have not read the book, it is the story of a demon, a fallen angel, or however you would like to refer to a servant of Satan. It is the job of these demons to turn humans away from God. In the story, an older and wiser servant of Satan was teaching his nephew on the ways to turn humans from God. The uncle tells his nephew that completely turning a human to the dark side is not ideal. The most ideal place for a human to be is when they think they are still good, moral, and Christian, however, their intentions are flawed and their lives focus on so many other things besides God.

“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,…Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.” 

They (the demons) want us to be on the path to hell without even realizing it because if we realize, we will do something about it. I think this is similar to what it looks like to be a lukewarm Christian.  

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

– Revelation 3:15-16

Lukewarm Christians believe in God, but their lives do not show it. They may not be doing anything “wrong” but they are not being servants of God. This is the worst place to be in because it is difficult to recognize that there is a problem.

Always Insufficient

This post is inspired by the sermon I heard yesterday morning.

“To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.” 

– Colossians 1:29 & 2:1

In these verses, Paul is saying that the work God is having him do is hard. Service and ministry is hard. Our pastor continued to share about how he feels the pressure and difficulty of sharing the gospel. Every Sunday after church the pastor goes home and questions whether he said the right thing during the sermon. He never feels like he shared the Lord’s message as well and completely as it should have been. He struggled with this for a long time, thinking that someday he will become good enough at this job that it will no longer be a struggle. When this time never came he realized something entirely different… we will always be insufficient. We will never be able to serve enough, or tell the gospel perfectly how it should be, and we will never be able to understand all things.

“Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?”

– 2 Corinthians 11:28-29

In Corinthians, Paul feels suffering because he wants to help everyone, but he can’t. We will never be able to help everyone. It is this feeling of being insufficient that Christians must take with them always.

I was always told again and again in some form, “In God’s eyes, you are enough.” I never really questioned it up until recently, but I started to realize I am not enough. I don’t have the capabilities that I would like to serve God and others. Therefore, I was so relieved to hear the pastor say that he feels insufficient, and that we will always be insufficient. It is this terrible feeling that we must bear.

That being said, our suffering is necessary. Our suffering is needed in order to show how Jesus suffered, and it is through our suffering that others can truly understand the Gospel.

When Service is Sinful

Last week, I was reading the book, Celebration of Discipline, by Richard J. Foster. This book talks about spiritual disciplines and how to implement them into your life. While reading the chapter on worship, this caught me off guard:

“Service flows out of worship. Service as a substitute for worship is idolatry.”

Could a thing as good and Godly as service become idolatry?

When discussing with others, I discovered that most people responded to this statement with: Service can become idolatry if it is done out of reasons other than for God. An example of this would be serving because it make you feel better about yourself.  That is one way to view this statement by Foster, and it makes total sense. However, I thought of it differently.

My service is for God. I feel that God has called me to serve, but have I been focusing on service so much that I have missed other ways in which God has called me to live?

I have been putting a lot of my focus on service for the past few years of my life. Through participating in several missions trips, service has become a huge part of my faith. Had I made service a bigger part of my faith then I should? And how do I know?

I think after reading and discussing this topic, I will be intentional about exploring other areas of my faith.

Please let me know your thoughts on this statement by Foster and how it would apply to your life! Also, if service has become a form of idolatry, how do we address it?

 

 

Our Responsibility to the Planet

I believe that the earth is God’s creation and we are to respect and care for it. This planet, the whole universe for that matter, is a beautiful masterpiece created by our God in Heaven.

Although the Bible declares time and time again that the world will one day be in ruin, we should not be speeding up the process. The world will be in ruin because we are sinners. We as humans take and take until there is nothing left. I don’t think it is God intention for us to live this way.

Before making a change, it is first helpful for you to know what effect you are having on the planet. I recommend taking the carbon footprint test on https://www.footprintnetwork.org/

I have been trying to live a very eco-friendly life recently, but yet if everyone was living like me, it would require us to have 1.4 earths! That’s crazy!

I encourage everyone to take the test, and find out ways that you could personally help our planet! And remember that this is God’s creation we are destroying. Just imagine how beautiful the earth must have been back when God said, “it is good.”

5 Tips on How to Read through the Bible

I have been trying to read through the Bible in a year! I have tried to do this several times, but always seem to give up for one reason or another. Here are some things I have found to be helpful this time around!

  1. Make a Plan. How long is it going to take? A year? Or one chapter a day? Straight through or chronological? I have been trying read through the whole Bible in a year using a chronological plan.
  2. Find a Buddy. Have someone do it with you! You can keep track of one another and remind each other to read. Having another person doing it, also helps show that you are capable of doing it too. My boyfriend is reading the Bible along with me this year, and since he has been doing so well it motivates me to continue too.
  3. Write Stuff Down. Writing down your thoughts and questions while reading helps to keep you focused and it makes it more interesting. I have a journal Bible so I can write down my thoughts and questions right beside the scripture.
  4. Talk About It. Now take your questions you wrote down and ask your buddy! You will have questions, and you will want answers so ask someone! It can be your buddy or someone you think would know. Chances are you won’t get a solid answer, but it always helps to hear someone else’s opinion.
  5. DON’T STOP. Just keep going. It is so easy to just give up when you reach books like Numbers and Deuteronomy, but push through, it will get more interesting soon. Also, if you skip a day, a week, or even a month, don’t stop. Keep going from where you left off, and read twice as much a day if you need, you’ll finish.

Thankful for Faith

This is what I took away from this past Sunday morning service…

We looked at Colossians 1: 1-8:

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people…”

This is one of Pauls many letters. We noticed that he started out with a time of thanks, and the first think he was thankful for was the people’s faith. This is something that I never would have thought to have any importance but…

Paul is thankful for other peoples faith in God, that’s amazing to think about! Although I’m constantly thinking about how to spread the word of God, I have never thought to be thankful for those who do have faith.

Furthermore, if you are like me and have known God for as long as you can remember… if you were saved when just a little kid… you might feel like your testimony is unimportant. I hear stories of people who went through terrible things and were at a really bad place in life and then they come to know God and their lives are changed! Those stories are incredible, and my story seems rather boring comparatively. So people like me tend to downplay their testimony.

But listen, however it may have happened, you came to know God! You were in darkness before and now you are saved! That is not something to downplay, in-fact, that is the most important thing.  You should always be thankful for your own faith.

Lastly, when Paul writes this, he knows the cost of faith. In Biblical times, Christians often were getting persecuted for their faith, so for these people to be keeping their faith is a miracle! Today, Christian persecution isn’t as prevalent… however, our faith does cause us to make sacrifices. Maybe we can’t do what our friends are doing, we can’t accept that one job offer, or we have to give up our comfort to serve others… living with this faith requires us to give up these things. We should be thankful when people still have faith through it all.

Do I have to go to Church?

As I was getting ready last Sunday morning, I was exhausted, and I was thinking about why I feel like I have to go to church. Then I thought of the phrase,

“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian.”

That is one hundred percent true, people can go to church and not follow God’s word every other day of the week. So then I tried to flip those words around and see if it would still be true…

“Not going to church doesn’t mean you are not a Christian.” 

I wan’t quite as sure about that one. So I started thinking, maybe it’s all about intention.

Someone may not feel like they need to go to church. Maybe they learn and worship God in another way. Then I feel like it’s fine for them not to go to church. I think God it totally okay with that.

But for instance, for me, church is a place where I learn and worship God. It is a special time set apart to strengthen my relationship with God. Therefore, if I choose to not go to church one day, I don’t think that’s okay. If I choose sleeping in over spending time with God then I don’t think God would be very happy.

Thats how I concluded, while still very sleepy, that I have to go to church.

How are you in Poverty?

Maybe this topic is talked about more than I am aware. I know I have heard it a lot in preparing for mission’s trips… but I don’t know when else this would be brought up.

The definition of poverty (when googled) is: the state of being extremely poor. 

Obviously when we hear the word poverty the first thing we think of is those who don’t have much money, those who don’t have a home, or enough food to eat.

However, poverty takes many forms. We can be extremely in a lot of areas of life.

Think of an impoverished community. My mind goes to the ones that I have seen and experienced in Bolivia and Belize. Now in what ways are the people in those communities richer than you?

I live in the United States, and I think we are poor when it comes to culture. There are many sub-cultures within the United States, however, as a whole we lack the traditions and customs that make a place and it’s people beautiful.

We also have poor relationships. In the impoverished communities I’ve experienced and even the ones I’ve heard about, all the people know each other and look out for each other. In the U.S. it seems to me that we like to keep to ourselves and think of our own needs first.

We are also poor in faith. I’ve seen poor communities with such faith. Faith in God or whatever they may believe in. They have trust, worship, and dedication like no one else I’ve ever seen. In my opinion many Christians, at least in the U.S., do not have a very rich and full faith.

Then I ask myself where my poverties are… I’d say family, faith, and culture, just to name a few. (To be honest, I’m even a little impoverished on the money side of things at the moment too).

So I encourage you to find ways how those who don’t have a lot of money, are actually rich. And one more thing, how are you in poverty?

“Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! Didn’t God choose poor people in the world to become rich in faith and to receive the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?”

–  James 2: 5

In the Name of Jesus

Taking away land from natives, witch trials, segregation, and so on… done in the name of Jesus.

Manifest Destiny. The colonists decided it was God’s destiny for them to move farther west and take the land for themselves. They thought it was their right to take the land… in the name of Jesus. In doing so, they killed countless natives.

Many Christians believed slavery was an institution of God. The Old Testament speaks of owning slaves, and the Bible never forbids it. In fact, the Bible says slaves should obey their masters. Some Christians also believed they were doing people a favor by having them as slaves. Bringing people into slavery would separate them from their heathen beliefs and put them in a Christian country. Once again, in the name of Jesus.

Today, Christians can be found rejecting and scorning those who don’t share the same beliefs as them.

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” 

-Mahatma Gandhi

It is hard to identify as a Christian when other Christians have done such horrible things. Gandhi was right, Jesus would never have acted this way. Jesus was a friend of sinners and commanded us all to love one another. The Bible is difficult to interpret, I know, but at the end of the day we just need to try to follow Christ’s example and live how He did on this earth.

A Question of Minimalism and Faith

I’ve been thinking about the relationship between minimalism and faith this past week.

“There should be no comfortable Christians.”

This is the phrase that ignited this spiral of thoughts in my mind. I immediately believed this statement to be true, but it challenged me in ways I did not expect.

(Let me add that I am not directing this towards anyone or telling anyone how to live their lives, this is simply how my thought process has happened)

With all the hurt in the world, no Christian should be living comfortably. First, it should not sit right with us having all sorts of luxuries while others have nothing. Our hearts, minds, and souls should not feel comfortable in that sense. Then secondly, if the first is true, should we not then do something about it? We should not be staying in our comfy homes simply wishing circumstances would get better for those suffering.

Luke 14: 26-27 says:

“If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life! Whoever will not carry the cross that is given to them when they follow me cannot be my follower.”

God asks us to give up everything to follow Him. Even leave our families! Personally, it scares me just to read that. Doesn’t it then seem apparent that we should probably give up all material items as well?

Matthew 19:21 says:

“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

So the answer is yes, we are to give up our material possessions as well. This is what lead me to the question I am currently fighting with.

Is it a sin to have money, a nice home, an expensive car, a closet full of clothes?

Am I really following Jesus if I am living a comfortable life?

I feel like many Christians live like the rich man in Mark 12. The rich man gave a large amount of money to the church as an offering. Just as many well-off Christians today would donate money to a charity or to church in order to do their part. However, Jesus was unimpressed by the rich man. The poor woman who gave her only cent did the right thing in this story. She gave until she had nothing left. She gave up her comfort, and Jesus said that she was the honorable one.

So minimalism… giving up our luxuries, even the simple ones, and living off of only what we need…  trusting in God to sustain us… Is that how, as Christians, God has called us to live?