Monday, April 27, 2015

All or nothing

"I know your works: you're neither cold nor hot. I wish 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 (ESV)

     We live in a pretty neutral world. Seemingly, it feels like everyone is completely for some things and completely against others, but pretty much we are all told to sit in our little corners, eat what is fed to us, and be accepting of everyone and their beliefs. We are told that there are gray areas, and that there's nothing wrong with living in them. However, this is not what God wants us to be. As Christians, we are either completely in, or completely out. There is no in-between heaven and hell. There is no in-between saved and not saved. Either you are, or you aren't.

     I want to be a journalist. I love writing, and I love informing people of what is going on in the world. One day, as I was expressing this desire for journalism to an old friend of mine, she told me that I should be a neutral journalist. Telling news in a way that would be accepting of all things, and all ideas. Never for or against anything. Now let me ask you something, how on earth am I going to tell people the truth about the world around them, if I'm so caught up in keeping everything neutral? Truth is unbiased, yes. But it is never neutral. Whether we believe it or not, we live in a black and white world, and some things are just plain wrong. Not everyone likes it, not everyone accepts it, but this world is full of black and white things. How boring would I be if I just wrote about neutral things all the time? Revelation 3:15-16 says, "I know your works: you're neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot! (16) So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." We are never to become neutral about our beliefs, or our faith.

     Secondly, we cannot be neutral Christians. I heard an analogy once of a man who had to decide which side of a fence he wanted to be on, God's side, or the Devil's side. Thinking and considering this for a little bit, he came to a conclusion. Thinking he could cheat the situation, he decided to sit on the fence, with one leg on one side, and one leg on the other. "There!" he exclaimed, "Now I can have both ways!" (he also must have been REALLY uncomfortable. Hopefully he had on padded pants) Well, he sat there for a while, and the devil came up to him and asked what he was doing. "I've solved my problem!" the man exclaimed. "I can now be on both sides of the fence, and I never have to choose, as I am in both!" The devil looked at him for a bit, shook his head, and said, "You know I own the fence, right?" Sometimes in our Christianity, we can become fence sitters. It's so easy to put on a nice dress on Sunday morning, put on a bit of makeup, pick up our Bibles, go to worship, then go home and live however we want. That is sitting on the fence. And I know that we hear those words a lot, but how simple is it to do that? We can get so wrapped in the talk of "I'm a Christian." and we can quote verses, teach Bible class, answer questions, and know everything that there is to know about the Gospel, and we can still be lost. Are you?

     Today I would like to encourage you to look at your life, and ask yourself, "Am I neutral?" "Am I a Christian, or a gray blob of neutrality?" These are questions that we can sometimes forget to ask ourselves. But no matter who you are, or how long you have been a Christian, it's important that we take a step back, analyze our lives, and honestly inquire ourselves about these things. Otherwise, years can go by with this habit, and we don't even realize it. It devastates me when so many people will even say this, but they don't realize that this is them. They are neutral. They are putting on a show on Sundays, and leaving having gained nothing. Having given nothing. Today I encourage you to take a step back, and ask yourself, "Am I for Christ, or against Him?" Because there is no middle.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Giving Spirit

"Do not withhold from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it." -Proverbs 3:27 (ESV)


     In this world, we are to take everything that is given to us. We are told that everything is for the generic "me", and that everyone should do what they want. Every man for himself. In theory, this should work really well. If everyone takes care of himself, then no one has to worry about anything else, and we can simply work on our own issues. However, this doesn't really work at all. In fact, quite the opposite is true. If everyone were so caught up in trying to help everyone else, then where would the problem in this world be? Galatians 5:14 states that, "the whole law is fulfilled by one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" 

     Everyone is blessed with something different. Whether it's physical wealth, the ability to always be able to build others up, or certain skills that can be used in order to help people towards heaven. We should use these gifts, not for ourselves, but for the benefit of others. I have recently discovered a talent for baking and cooking. I love it. I look at a recipe, or think of one in my head, and I put it all together, and then I get to eat it! I make a good portion of my own meals, as I enjoy doing so. Now if I only ever cook for myself and no one else, what good will come of that? First of all, I'd probably gain a lot of weight, and no one else would be able to enjoy my creations. Yes, of course I want to eat four dozen cookies. That would make me feel fantastic (at first, anyway). But what good does it do? Likewise, we should use our talents for others, and not for ourselves. Maybe I could bring some of those cookies to a friend who's been having a rough week, or to a shut in, or someone who has recently experienced a loss. And of course, this doesn't only apply to baking. This can be said for all of our gifts and talents. We should use them to benefit others, not only ourselves

    We should have a spirit that is always willing to give what we have in a loving, and kind way. Philippians 2:14 tells us to do everything without grumbling, or complaining. When we do something for someone else, or we give our time to someone, we shouldn't complain about it. It doesn't only sheds a negative light on us as Christians, but it also makes the person you're helping feel incompetent, as if they're a burden, and they shouldn't have asked for help. Do we want to discourage others from seeking help when it's needed? Of course not! We should always be happy and eager to help others. I bet they wished they could do what you're doing. I am a rather short specimen, only five feet and two inches tall, and I'm still taller than my mom by about an inch or so. When I was little and we would go to the grocery store, my mom and I would sometimes have to help each other get something off of the top shelf. She'd put me on her shoulders, and I'd reach whatever it was on the top shelf that we couldn't reach. Now, yes, we probably looked ridiculous, but it got the job done! What if one of us simply didn't want to do it? Would we be able to obtain those potato chips? Not at all. We would be, unfortunately, chip-less. Likewise, we as Christians need to always be willing to help those around us, or we will never reap any benefit.

     Today I would like to encourage you all to look at what you have, and use it for someone else's benefit. Go out of your way to help someone in need, and most importantly, always be seeking ways to share the gospel. There is no such thing as too much evangelism, and we should always be striving to share the gospel with everyone we meet. I know of people who have evangelized from their hospital bed, or even with the people who wrecked their car! There are no excuses, and we should always be looking for opportunities.