So What’s A Saint To Do?

     I have been a Christian since 1981. I never thought the day would come when I’d say I’ve been __ANYTHING_______ for thirty years. But here it is and I can actually say I have some hindsight which can serve my foresight.

    In all my thirty years as a Christian I have never heard so much end of the world talk as I have in the last few years…. And I come from “pre-trib rapture, Bible thumpin’, say it like you mean it, the end of the world is coming, so don’t get left behind” Christianity! So when I say I have never heard so much end of the world talk that’s sayin’ somethin’.

      It’s coming from pulpits, politicians, and goodness knows even pushers on the streets. We’ve seen Katrina, tsunamis, earthquakes, the reaching of the debt ceiling on Wall street, and renewed persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters across the globe. We’re experiencing the break down of the family and the rising tide of wickedness. As knowledge increases wisdom seemingly flies out the window. Meanwhile the spirit of anti-christ looms palpably just off stage. We know it. Even pagans know it.

So what’s a saint to do in light of coming events?

    Well God has given several words I think are cogent here.

1. Don’t panic – Christians are never to be driven by fear. We are the people whose inheritance is “righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Ghost”.  How many times does the Bible tell us to “fear not”? 62 times! and that doesn’t include the times God told us not to worry or not to be anxious.

    But fearing not doesn’t just happen we have to work at it. Paul wrote to his protegé Timothy , “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.2 Timothy 1: 7 KJV  Yet in the verse directly preceding this, Paul indicates that if we are to walk free from fear experiencing power, love, and a sound mind we have to actively stir up the gift of God inside of us. We do this in two ways:

2. Pray more – Christian, we are not praying enough. The Daily Bread is great and The Word for Today is awesome. But let’s stop thinking that because we pick it up and read it as the car is warming or the coffee is brewing that we have success in our prayer life! We need a prayer movement in the church like unto the Moravians. Nothing short of prolonged daily prayer by the body of Christ as a whole will keep the church covered and free from fear and despair.

3. Prepare Completely– So many people hear about the end times and start stock piling food and water as though somehow tuna and Poland Springs will stave off an earthquake. Preparing completely is first spiritual, then mental/emotional, then physical.

      Spiritually we need to know we are ready to meet Jesus should He call for us today or a decade from now. We need to have clean consciences. Fear is averted when the child of God knows that nothing stands between them and the love of God. Frankly many of us have piles of sin between us and the Father that we have never let Jesus clean away. 

    Secondly we have to be mentally and emotionally prepared to bear whatever cross may come. Are we truly prepared to join with Jesus in the fellowship of his sufferings so that we might somehow attain the power of the resurrection? I have been really astonished at my own  misunderstanding about suffering. I can talk pretty glibly about it but going through it is another matter. It really hurts. I am learning though that even “take your breath away” pain won’t kill me. It can’t. I have eternal life. While I know that, I have had to learn that suffering will never be anything other than…suffering. I have stopped expecting it to be great or enjoyable. I have come to understand it will always stink. I have begun to learn that the best I can do is ignore it and focus on the good things and there are always good things. I have also come to an understanding that suffering is not forever; It just feels like it when your walking through it.

     Finally have prepared spiritually and mentally THEN I am ready to prepare physically. I am planning for famine. I hope it doesn’t happen but I am learning to ” grow my own”. Mostly I am trying to train myself to live simply. In America we have grown very used to our luxuries. I have begun to ask, “What can I do without?” I have begun to practice living with less. Preparing physically does not mean making it so I can keep my current standard of living. It means rethinking my standards and bringing them in line with what the Word says (and I have to tell you Americans have a skewed view of what prosperity really is). Preparing physically means listening to what the Lord says we should do to make ourselves ready and doing that. For some its paying off debt. For others it’s getting into better physical condition. For others it is building up a food supply. For all of us it is learning that God has always provided for His people in times of need even if it meant He had to supernaturally drop bread from Heaven every morning.

So what’s a saint to do? I guess really it’s just what we should have been doing all along.


Passion: Abiding

     Now we come to one of my favorite verses in the Bible.

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. ” John 15:7 KJV

     I suppose many people love this verse because of the promise contained in it to answer the heart’s desire uttered in prayer. I like that…but I have to admit it comes with some pretty strong qualifiers. If we are to have our prayers unequivocally answered then we must abide in Him and His words must abide in us.

    Now in Jesus day people knew how to abide. The Greek word Jesus used is the word:

menō-to remain, abide a) in reference to place 1) to sojourn, tarry 2) not to depart a) to continue to be present b) to be held, kept, continually (definition courtesy of

     If you abide in a place. you dwell there. You make your home there. You make your life about that place.

    As Americans we are not terribly good at abiding. We live in homes but seldom abide in the places those homes inhabit. Most of us could pick up the home, plunk it in another community and never bat an eye as long as the cost of the move wasn’t too great.

    In order to abide in a place you must dedicate to it. A person who abides in a community lives, works, shops, volunteers and entertains themselves without ever leaving the place where he is planted.

    Our transitory culture by definition keeps most of us from abiding or even from truly understanding the concept of abiding. To abide you have to STAY and never leave.

     Let’s face it even the most devout among us like to take “Jesus breaks” every now and again. Oh, we are loath to admit it but there’s only so much serving the king we can take. The old man just wrankles for a change of scenery every once in a while.

    Leaving the presence of Jesus (even momentarily) is one of the reasons the prayer brooks in our lives dry up. But there is another reason too.

     the passage in John 15:7 is an if …then promise with two qualifiers. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you

  It’s not just abiding in Jesus; It’s having his words or his commands  abiding in us that does the trick. So many of our prayers are never answered because they are just the self-serving flatulence of our carnal selves.

   James says it this way, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. ” James 4:3 NIV

    But when Jesus words abide in us our minds will not concern themselves with things that are not His will.    When I put his word continually into my heart, something inside of me changes. I can only describe it as an adjustment in the way I think. Studying the Word of God makes me think more like God but only if I continue in it everyday. If I leave the Scripture out for a day, my mind relapses and suddenly I am back in the place of thinking God lives to serve me. My prayers become carnal and I become angry when God doesn’t do things my way. 

     I love John 15:7 because it reminds me that I must be more than a “part-time lover” of Jesus. I have to abide with Him every moment and He with me if I am to have the power the scripture promises. I am also captured by the thought that Jesus wants me to abide. If He didn’t, He never would have suggested it.

What do you think are the biggest road blocks to abiding in Christ?

I Have Two Words For You

  The secretary at work asked how I was the other day.

   “Groovy” was my response.

     I like that word. It’s not a pat response, but it is still nebulous enough to keep people guessing about how I really am.  

   Alas our culture of moral relativism has even taught us to enjoy words that have no concrete meaning. We live in a world which has left us feeling “Is what I think I heard really what he meant by what he is almost sure  he said?”   

  And we wonder why half the world is walking around in a state of philosophical confusion! If we are ever to put our feet on solid theological ground again we have to learn to say what we mean and mean what we say.

      We have been talking about reinventing our prayer lives. I think this idea of defining terms is really important if we are going to go deeper into the presence of the Living Savior. After all if we are going to say “this” or “that” is the key to a better prayer life isn’t it important that we all have the same definition of “this” or “that”?

     I have two words for you: anointing and discipline. These are two words important to us as individuals, churches and even communities of nations. That we don’t recognize their importance or even sometimes misunderstand what they are does not in anyway negate them.

     So let’s begin. What is anointing? According to the Bible the anointing is the touch of God or the glory of God set upon a person’s life for practical use (I John 2:20, 27) particularly in the area of knowledge and understanding.
     In the Old Testament it was the anointing that set a person aside for practical use by God in a specific calling (Exodus 29:7-33).

     Anyone who does not want  the anointing, or the glory of God applied to their lives for practical use is as dumb as a box of hair! You need the anointing! I need the anointing, because I need God’s glory to live out my practical everyday experiences. I don’t just need God’s glory to help me prepare sermons or lead worship. I need God’s glory to figure out how to pay my bills. I need God’s glory to advise my kids. I need God’s glory to love my wife as “Christ loved the church.” Noone I have ever met has figured out how to do this life successfully without God. Yet so many of us as Christians are trying to figure out how to impress God on our own without the anointing. “Having begun in the Spirit we are now trying to finish the work in the flesh”, the very thing God warned the Galatian church against. We are as C.S Lewis put it trying to live our lives as “practical atheists”. This is because we don’t seek the anointing, or the glory of God applied to our lives for God’s practical purposes.

     There is a reason we don’t seek out the anointing though. It comes with a high price tag. That price tag is discipline. What is discipline? Well so many of us think that the Lord’s discipline comes because we do something wrong. This is true in part but only in part. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12  that hardship is discipline. It doesn’t come just because we do something wrong but because we are wrong at the core. Everyone goes through discipline of one sort or another and it is not always because we have done something which everyone around us would say is “naughty”. Sometimes we are immersed in the fires of discipline because there is something buried deep inside of us which is unseemly to God even though we might not recognize it as sinful. Many times it is more motive than method that God is trying to get at in discipline.

      God says it this way. “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?… Our father’s disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12: 7-11

     Now I don’t know about you but the end of that verse, the results of discipline (holiness,  a harvest of righteousness, and peace) that sounds like the anointing to me.

    What that says to me is that it is discipline that brings the anointing. If that is true we have to recognize that our very longing for a reinvented prayer life (which by extension requires the anointing) is going to set us under the hand of the Lord’s discipline. We are going to face hardships so that the wicked ways in us may be exorcised by the Lord who goes with us into the fiery furnace of our tribulation. Then the anointing will come to fill the space left behind by our crucified flesh. Then we will have the renewed prayaer lives we so desire.

    This is why James can say, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.” James 1: 2-4

   Anointing and discipline now there are two words I have for you that are really groovy!