October 28, 2008

Don't Waste Your Life (or your time) on Prosperity

Give us more, give us more....wealth? Comfort? Ease?

A friend of mine turned me on to a beautiful sermon that pastor John Piper preached this past Sunday. It's very appropriate to our current global economic disaster and it really resonated with me through and through. The title of the sermon is "Proclaiming the Excellencies of Christ, Not Prosperity, Among the Nations." This blog is just a simple encouragement to go watch/listen or read the Sermon. You won't regret it. Click on the Blog title or this link to view the sermon page:


I've been a huge fan of Piper's work since I read his book "Don't Waste Your Life". In all honesty, that book set me on a path towards utter ruin in terms of how unfocused I HAD been living my life (how small my focus was of the cross) and the way I've been living my life since. It's caused me to rethink everything; the way I live my faith, how I act as a Christian, how I view the world around me, how much God should be my EVERYTHING. God is far too big to fit as just a little piece of my life. After reading Piper's book I made the decision to make Christ my everything and I'm still feeling the tremors from the quake that took place in my life. I recently had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Piper and hear him speak on the topic of worship. Life changing conference. Sometime in the near future I'll share how much that event has continued to wreck havoc on my future. The friend that first gave me this book asked me during this event as to what portion of the book really impacted me. My response was "I can't really recall which chapter or page it was but about 3 or 4 chapters in, I was done with". After thinking that comment through, I would have responded with "The whole thing is what wrecked me". I think Chapter 5 is what really got me, though. It's titled "Risk is Right - Better to Lose Your Life Than To Waste It". If you haven't read this book, you should do yourself a favor and pick it up. Watch the sermon and then buy the book. I've only begun to skim the surface of where God has deeply inspired my life through, most importantly, His word, but also through this book.


My only comment against the false teaching of prosperity is that at the absolute base of the error are fingers pointing at something that distracts from, not towards Jesus. I'll just give you one example of my encounter within this world of Prosperity. In my college days I was part of a wonderful prison ministry. Before we would enter a jail we would be split up two by two with a partner. Prisons are obviously a bit scary but we'd always say that Born-again prisoners we met were far more free than most people we met at church. I was split up with a man who was much older than I was in age but was much younger in the faith. The first cell we came to was an African-American man that had stolen something and ended up in the slammer. My "partner" goes on to tell him that ever since he received Jesus he was given a new job, a bigger home and just purchased a brand new red Corvette. No lie. I took him aside and asked him what Jesus gave each of the apostles for following Him. He looked dumbfounded. Jesus actually did the opposite. He instructed them to leave everything behind and "Take nothing with you for the journey--no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic." He almost instantly saw my point and said "I've never really thought about that". Imagine that. You and a whole slew of Fancy Evangelical dressers. I believe we need a Jesus-sized reality check that we were never meant to be so possessed by our possessions. I'm not saying that God doesn't ever allow us to have anything and that it's wrong to own anything. I'm just saying it's wrong to be OWNED by anything other than God himself. It's just that we've replaced the word "need" with "want" and what we "want" we usually find a way to get. We're good at chasing down our wants. God redeem us.

October 22, 2008

Hell Is Far Too Often Where The Heart Is

Luke 12:32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

This is such a popular verse within Christian circles and yet it's so challenging to us as it deeply pries into the core of who we are, especially living in developed countries where we're easily enticed by the this multiple choice society. It pulls us one way and then towards another. But I think we'll all agree that it never pulls us towards heaven. I mean, does it? Have any of you been taught by society, or by the mass consumer marketing within it, to drop all that you have, provide for the poor and make the kind of investment that offers a high-yielding gain only once you've died??? No wonder the stock and world markets are crashing, everyone's worried they'll die poor and better get out now before it gets any worse! Jesus' words stand in complete and total opposition to any 401K retirement plan. Maybe I'm missing the point but it seems clear that the only investment worth considering is the one being described in these verses.

Only God is capable of the sort of heart transformation that we're all desperately needing. I feel part of why Christianity appears so boring anymore (both from within it and outside of it) is because so few of us are willing to consider living our lives so as to place all of our hope and all of our treasure in what IS to come, not in what currently exists. Don't misinterpret me, it's really easy to type something that reads in such a way as to imply that I've arrived. In all reality, I'm struggling as much as anyone else to figure out how to follow Jesus with my all. I just don't want anyone thinking that Chad's got it all figured out when, truth be told, we're really no different at all. Actually, we're far too similar. I'm at the point in my walk with Jesus where I'm so hungry to follow Him the way He is calling me. Done playing games. Done messing around. Finished with the half-hearted attempts at living a compromised example of the Master I claim to serve. Frustrated by the reality that some days I honestly want my old life back. Wishing someone would have told me that when you take the "red pill" things get pretty wild and you start looking at life through very different lenses. But I wouldn't change this for the world. I feel so liberated lately. Forced into trusting Jesus is trusting none-the-less.

What I'm getting at is that we call our lives "heaven on earth" when many of us are living our own hells every day. But it wasn't Jesus who offered us the hell we somehow claim as life. He offered us the heaven to come but also a completely fulfilled life while we're here. My aim is to live this life to the full while I'm here, no more time wasted, so that when heaven comes I will have stored up many treasures. I get very excited when I think of treasures as the investments we make in each other. That, quite possibly, because I chose to invest in someone's spiritual life, I might experience the "treasure" of spending all eternity with them. Doesn't get much better than that.

Jesus, please enable us to live the impossible. We can't do it without you. I give up the attempts at trying on my own. Feeble attempts. Replace the temptation to live heaven here with the reality that life is a vapor and that we really only begin to live once we've died. I don't want the treasures that this hellish earth hurls at me. I just want to know you and be known by you. Fill our hearts with mercy for the poor. Show us that we are the poor. Give us the Kingdom and enable us to do what you call us to. Strengthen our brothers and sisters that are suffering daily on Your behalf.

(P.S. the pictures taken were from my recent trip to the Dominican Republic this past summer)

October 12, 2008

Bring us back from exile.

Psalm 51: 10-13 (The Message):

"God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don't throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home."

Don't we all qualify for this? Who can't relate to a growing fear that God isn't capable (or for some reason, that remains unknown to you, doesn't seem willing) to redeem you from time spent wasted. My experience tells me it has nothing to do with God's lack of willingness and all to do with my desire to be brought back to God's good grace. Consider the thief on the cross and what he lacked in a redeemed life, but even with so little life left, God used it to further His glory. So, be reassured that it's never too late for you to live your life spiritually full of blazing fire. I'm living proof that God "redeems our days". I've been all over the board; frozen cold, worthlessly warm and thankfully, increasingly glowing with heat. It's His heart to set us free from every ounce of baggage that holds us back and to replace that baggage with opportunity and a calling.

Is it just me or does everyone else feel like you are in desperate need of some fresh wind blown your way? I know I'm pretty worn out by exile. I can't imagine that the Jews who experienced exile ever enjoyed it or considered it something they'd run back to. But God proved, and still proves, his faithfulness by bringing us out of exile, daily. Every time we get set free from destructive patterns, hollow thinking, empty promises and addictive materialism, we experience God's goodness and mercy. I'd rather stand on the promise of fresh wind then fall back into a pattern of mediocrity. My heart resounds with praise to Jesus for pulling me out of my own emptiness and placing my feet on fruitful soil. Every ounce of who I am is grateful and thankful for the way God has been teaching this rebel heart of mine. I've been so inspired to be in scripture and not just in it, but really soaking it up by way of memory. I feel literally forced into the Bible and have such a hunger to have it ingrained on my brain. This is rather unusual, coming from someone who rarely spent consistent time in the Word, but there's no place I'd rather be. "God's word never returns Void".

He is always able to Redeem you from your exile!

October 5, 2008

Pursuit of God

In the early 1950's A.W. Tozer wrote in his book, The Pursuit of God (pg. 69,70):

Failure to see this (Receptivity towards God as a gift from God) is the cause of a very serious breakdown in modern evangelicalism. The idea of cultivation and exercise, so dear to the saints of old, has now no place in our total religious picture. It is too slow, too common. We now demand glamour and fast flowing dramatic action. A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy....
The tragic results of this spirit are all about us: Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit. These and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul. We have been too blind to see, or too timid to speak out, or too self-satisfied to desire anything better than the poor, average diet with which others appear satisfied. And for a generation the trend has been downward. Now we reached a low place of sand and burnt wire grass and, worst of all, we have made the Word of Truth conform to our experience and accepted this low plane as the very pasture of the blessed.
It will require a determined heart and more than a little courage to wrench ourselves loose from the grip of our times and return to Biblical ways. But it can be done. What God in His sovereignty may yet do on a world-scale I do not claim to know. But what He will do for the plain man or woman who seeks His face I believe I do know and can tell others. Let any man turn to God in earnest, let him begin to exercise himself unto godliness, let him seek to develop his powers of spiritual receptivity by trust and obedience and humility, and the results will exceed anything he may have hoped in his leaner and weaker days.

I read through these paragraphs this morning and was shocked by how accurate Tozer's description of our culture was. Considering he wrote this nearly 60 years ago makes me wonder what he'd be writing if he was living now. If you haven't ever read "The Pursuit of God", it's an incredible challenge towards our halfhearted variation of Christianity and it has been a totally inspiring read.

October 1, 2008


MYCHILDREN MYBRIDE (http://www.myspace.com/mcmb) posted this quote today and it just floored me:

"After touring this summer God really revealed a lot to us, and we really feel we're supposed to be more than just another band with Christians in it, that barely say anything on stage or do anything to portray a Christ-like image. We are about to be part of the front line, for a huge movement for God."

First of all, whether the band knows this or not I believe the last 4 words in this quote are totally prophetic and something that God has been speaking to many of us. There IS going to be an increased MOVE of God. So get ready for it, pray His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, invite the Lord to make you aware of what's happening around you in a world that is not made of flesh and blood. Confess your sins, ask Him to redeem your days spent wasting time and then petition that He would unleash revival in empty, hollow hearts. If He can do it in mine and in MCMB, He is more than able to do it in yours.

Every band in the world that consists of Christian members has (or will have) this identity crisis. Most bands would rather not be known as Christian due to the hypocrisy in the church but that doesn't excuse them (or any of us) from stepping out boldly as genuine people completely in love with Jesus and willing to reflect Him in every area of our lives. The days are getting progressively darker meaning that the options are more pronounced. The first option is that you allow your love of God to grow totally cold (which many already have), or secondly you live a life of lukewarmness whereby you are promised to be spat out of God's mouth or thirdly a fire starts blazing inside of you for spiritual heat that gives you renewed energy and a passion for Holy things you may have never even expected.

The time is coming where we will not be afforded the so-called "luxury" of living life in the margins of supposed Christianity but that we either rise up with a fierce pounding in our hearts for battle or we shrink bank in utter defeat before even stepping out on the field. Pray with me that the Lord unites us for what is coming and that he would continue to rescue our fellow brothers and sisters daily from the error of their own ways.

Matthew 10.33 "whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."