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Archive for the ‘No Compromise’ Category

So how do we decide what is good, bad, or controversial?  When people look at us and our entertainment, do they see the fingerprints of Jesus, or the marks of the world?  How do we know if we’re serving God or serving ourselves (and in the process unknowingly being used by Satan)?  It’s really quite simple, but we make it seem so complicated.  All we have to do is go back to the Bible.  I believe that if we are all truly seeking God’s wisdom, we should come to very similar conclusions.  God has revealed to us in His Word all that we need to know about serving Him – but we’ve got to open it and read it for ourselves!   We can’t just wait for our pastors, youth pastors, and parents to tell us what it says! 

We must each personally ask God to search our hearts and guide our steps to glorify Him in all things, including entertainment.  I can’t do it for you.  You can’t do it for me.  It’s not enough just to say we love Jesus – we’ve got to prove it with everything we do!  Remember, we will all have to give an account of our lives to God (see Ecclesiastes 12:14, Matthew 12:36, Romans 14:12, 2 Corinthians 5:10), and He will reward us accordingly (see Matthew 16:27, Romans 2:6, Revelation 22:12).  We must each pray that He will equip us with the alertness and strength to fight against Satan’s sneaking, and that He would give us the overwhelming desire to become more and more like Christ. 

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)

I thought this song would be a fitting conclusion to what we’ve been discussing this week.  Is your entire life a prayer worthy of offering to God?

“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”  Romans 12:1-2 (The Amplified Bible)

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

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“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV)

A hard question comes up often:  What is “good,” what is “bad,” and what is “controversial”?  To tell you the truth, I don’t know.  I think that is between your family and God.  But I do know one thing.  Other Christian families and individuals are watching us, and copying us.  Can we with good conscience say as Paul did, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”? (1 Cor. 11:1)

I think that in grey areas such as these I have been talking about, we have a tendency to have an attitude of “I’ve been a Christian for years.  I can handle it.  What harm can it do?  What’s the big deal?”  Maybe you can handle it, but can your little brother and sister in Christ?  Whether you realize it or not, someone somewhere is looking to you as their example and imitating stuff you do.  That’s a big deal!  Are we leading them towards God, or towards the world?

In Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 10, Paul talks about how some things we do may be offensive to other people, even though it may not be “bad” to us.  He uses the example of eating food offered to idols.  Some people thought that to be sinful, and because of that Paul encouraged others to honor those people’s convictions.  I understand him to mean that if someone has been convicted by God about something we haven’t yet been convicted of, we should stay away from that thing for their sakes, so as not to cause them to question their faith. 

“But they’ve been convicted about stuff that’s really ok.”  What makes it ok?  Is it that we’ve turned a blind eye toward God’s commands about it – perhaps because it has become an idol to us and we don’t want to give it up?  Is it ok, because we’re choosing certain scriptures that seem to support our views, and ignoring the others that don’t?  Is that ok?  

If someone else is convinced that something is wrong, but they see you watching/reading/doing/listening to it, they may begin to think “Well, so-and-so thinks it’s ok, and they’re Christians, so maybe it’s not so bad after all.”

Brothers and sisters, we must stop this chain reaction that is drawing more and more Christian families into the influence of the world!  Satan is delighted by this!  It’s exactly what he’s been trying to do for thousands of years!  And because we’re so concerned about proving to our friends that we’re not weird, “homeschoolers,” or super-holy Jesus freaks, we’re helping out the enemy!

So what harm can it do?  Maybe none to you and your family.  But it may cause the straying and destruction of many others who are following your example.

 “But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his…. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.  Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 10:28-29, 31-11:1 (ESV)

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Guard against complacency

“For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people…” Isaiah 8:11 (ESV)

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”  2 Corinthians 7:1 (NKJV)

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”” 1 Peter 1:13-16 (ESV)

It’s not enough to be “better than most.”  We can’t just keep comparing ourselves to other people.  I know it is so easy to look around at the mall, at school, at church, and become complacent, “Hey, I’m doing pretty good.”  But it’s not enough to be the most spiritual girl in your youth group or the godliest guy on the football team (though that can sometimes signify a good start).  We’re supposed to be focused on becoming more like Christ, not on being better Christians than our peers.  If the world’s standard is the floor, and God’s standard is the ceiling, it’s not enough just to be above the floor.   As my dear friend said in one of the comments earlier this week, we’ve got to stop comparing ourselves to our friends, and compare ourselves to GOD – how am I doing compared to Jesus?  We need to be always moving towards the ceiling and pushing one another higher as well.

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 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)

 Here’s another thought related to the previous post.  When our friends (or maybe people we don’t even know) find out we’re doing/watching/reading/listening to those things, does it make them think, “Wow, he/she really loves Jesus!”?  Do the things we do make people desire a closer relationship with our Savior?  Do the things we say inspire others to search and know more of God’s Word?  Remember, as much as God wants to use us to bring others to Himself, Satan also wants to use us to draw others away from God.

If someone had a list of, say, all the movies you have seen in the past year.  This person had never met you, never seen you, never even heard of you.  All that they knew about you was the movies you had watched in the past year – what could they conclude about you?  This can go beyond movies – how about a list of all the songs on your iPod, all of the books you have read in the past year, or all of the games you have for your X-box?  A lot can be concluded about a person’s personality, character, and values just by what things they choose for entertainment.  Do the movies we watch, the books we read, the songs we listen to reflect that the purpose of our lives is to glorify God and serve Him forever?  According to Matthew 5:16, when people look at the things we do, our actions should point them to God.  In fact, our lives should be lived in such a way that when people try to accuse us, all they can accuse us of is being honorable, real-deal, walk-the-walk Christians.  “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evil doers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12, see also Titus 2:7-8, 1 Peter 3:16)

Someone will say, “But people aren’t supposed to judge me.  Why should they care what I do?”  You’re right, we aren’t supposed to judge one another, but we are commanded to set an example to all believers in every area of life. (1 Timothy 4:12, see also 1 Peter 3:15 and 5:3)  Now, I’m not saying that we have to be perfect – we all know that’s not possible as long as we have our sinful nature living in us.  But we are supposed to be becoming more like Christ every day, and He is perfect!  (Leviticus 11:45, 1 Peter 1:15-16)

As Christians, we should live our lives as if we had Jesus in person beside us at all times (He is with us in His Spirit, but we so often ignore that fact).  Let’s ask ourselves these questions: Would I watch this movie if Jesus was sitting beside me?  Would I read this book aloud to Jesus?  Would I take Jesus to a concert of this popular music artist?  Would I say what I just said to my friend/mom/sister to Jesus?  Anything I do in my spare time, would I do it in front of Jesus?  Dear brothers and sisters, He is coming back someday, and we don’t know when.  Do you want to be caught doing/reading/watching/listening to those things when He returns?

“You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Luke 12:40 (ESV)

“He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Rev 22:20 (NKJV)

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Satan is Sneaky

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.” Genesis 3:1 (ESV)

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)

I can see it happening all around me.  Satan is sneaking his way into Christian homes and churches, and we haven’t even noticed.  He uses movies, books, music, TV, video games, friends – pretty much anything that God can use for His glory, Satan can and will also use for his evil purposes.  Satan is real, he really is present on this earth (Job 1:7, 2:22), and he uses real things to tempt us away from God.  Sometimes he uses things that don’t seem evil at first to lure us away from God – For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)  But his real purpose is to destroy our lives and testimonies – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10a)

I say these things because I am seeing that it is more and more necessary that we realize this threat and build up our guard against Satan and his wicked devices. 

How do we combat Satan?

   “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:7-8 (ESV)

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11 (ESV)

I believe we fight against Satan by drawing near to God, asking Him to search our hearts and purify us from any worldliness.  We must study, study, study His word, and view everything through the lenses of His truth, not out of self-desire.

There is a phrase I have heard that is very true.  In your spiritual life, you’re either going towards God, or away from Him – there is no in between.  Which way are you going?  I want to challenge each of you, think about what movies you watch, what books you read, what music you listen to, what things you do when there is nothing else to do.  Ask God to search your heart and help you to see clearly.  Do they glorify God and bring you closer in your relationship to Him?  Or do they do just the opposite?

 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalms 139:23-24

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“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” John 17:14-18 (ESV)

This is an excerpt from what is often called Christ’s High Priestly prayer.  This took place after “the last supper” with His disciples, before He departed to the garden of Gethsemane to be alone to plead with His Father.  I believe Christ was praying not only for His disciples then, but also all those in the future – including us.

The world hates us because we belong to God.  Satan, the prince of this world (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11), will do anything he can to take our focus off of God, and ruin our testimony.  He uses things like movies, books, tv, music, video games… even ‘good’ things that can be distracting and destroying.  As long as we are here on this earth, those kinds of influences and distractions will be around us.  Jesus didn’t ask God to keep us from the world, but from the evil that is in the world.  If we turn to God for our strength, He will keep us from evil.

Even though we are not openly persecuted for our faith here in America, Christianity is not encouraged – in fact often discouraged – by the media, government, Hollywood, Disney, etc.  This should not be surprising to us, for Jesus warned that we would be oppressed and persecuted just as He was.  But we don’t have to be afraid of persecutions that come from the world – our God is bigger than our problems!  

John 15:18-20 – “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…”

John 16:33 – These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  

1 John 4:4 – “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them [those who oppose Christ], for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

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