Are you doing enough?

iTape by snacktime2007

Here’s one I found in the garage. It’s an oldie but goodie.

It’s a sermon, but I put it up in two sections.  Why?  I have no idea…but I also put the entire sermon up in one shot, also.

Enjoy.

Are you doing enough?    #1

 

Are you doing enough?    #2

 

 

Are you doing enough?  - full sermon

 

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Thanks, Pastor Mark.

 

And thanks to flickr and snacktime2007, for the photo.

 

Lesser Things

You can have them.  the watchers by laurence.winram

 

Like trying to make yourself look better in the eyes of the Living God. (you can only make yourself look worse)

 

Like worrying about how obedient to God you are. (you’re not very)

 

Like jumping through a bunch of stupid “religious” hoops to keep in good stead with God or you church. (that is just religion, and God hates it)

 

Like focusing on your own “spirituality”. (what in the world is that, anyway?)

 

Is not what Christ has done on the cross, and in your baptism, enough for you?

Is not receiving what the world could never buy, the real presence of the Living God in the bread and wine of Holy Communion, enough for you?

Do you really want to waste time and energy with ‘lesser things’?

Do you really want to say to God, “yeah, that death and resurrection of yours was good, but what about what I’m doing?”

 

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What then ought we be doing?

Surely there is something our Lord would have us do, right?

 

 

Time to get busy

Are you really sure that you belong to God?Charles Stanley Hardcovers ¥1500 set 4 by my daisy girl

Your baptism was ok (it’s just a symbol of your commitment to God)…but don’t you know that you must do some things to be a Christian?

You need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

You need to really work at not sinning. Where there is sin in your life, you must cut it out. Extinguish it.

You need to forget about worldly things and get serious about studying the Bible and get serious about sacrificing yourself for others.

Are you giving enough to the church?

Are you giving enough to the homeless and the elderly in the area where you live?

Are you focusing enough on the inward person, on your spirituality?

Are you praying enough?

If you think that there is room for improvement in any of these areas, don’t you think that might be a sign that your decision for God was really a lie?  Maybe you were just trying to save your own skin and you really aren’t that concerned about pleasing Christ, or helping your neighbor.

If that’s the case, then you really ought to reconsider if you really are one of God’s children.

We’ll lay it all out for you. We’ll supply you with the proper list of  what you should be doing, and what books you should be reading, and what Biblical principles you should be practicing. We’ll tell you exactly how emotional you need to get, and just exactly the best way to get those ‘feelings’ that will prove to yourself (and others) that you really belong to Jesus.

 Remember, He really knows you and really knows all your most secret thoughts and fantasies. You can fool others, and even yourself…but you can’t fool God.

He knows all about you.

Are you sure you’re living the Christian life?  Are you sure you are even a Christian?

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This is why the Reformation was necessary.

This is why it is still necessary.

What say you?

 

 

 

Ephesians 2:1-10

And you he made alive, when you were dead thr ough the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. 
  Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 

 
  But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, 
  even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 
  and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

 
 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God – 
  not because of works, lest any man should boast.

 
 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

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Is there a contradiction there?

Saved by grace, not by works…no boasting…but we were created for “good works”…”that we should walk in them”.

 

Which is it? 

Is it both, grace…and works?

Working towards those “good fruits”

This post is courtesy of our friend Larry Hughes in Kentucky. It is actually a comment he made in our discussion of Mormonism.

 He touched upon something that I have oft noticed myself, the similarities in many Evangelicals, Catholics,  Mormons, Lutherans,  and others with respect to the desire to prove their metal.

 Fasten your seatbelts:

 

    Those zealous for working their way to heaven are always good outward workers. The great irony here is that what many think is “fruit” is witness for their perdition.

Numbering, and measuring “fruit” is ALWAYS, without fail, a sign of law and self salvation no matter what “grace” words attend it. This is why “sanctification” as a process is false rather than “getting use to your justification”. That’s what Jesus meant when He said good fruit ONLY comes from the good tree (he/she who is getting use to his/her justification) and thorn trees cannot “make good fruit”.

When Luther was asked if Jesus was coming tomorrow what he would do he replied, “I’d go plant a tree”, that’s faith breathing and living. But to works salvation, whether overt or hidden, that seems to be “no fruit”. When a Christian man or woman eats, sleeps, stands still, does his/her job, is a wife, is a husband, is a child, is etc…he/she exhibits true fruits of the faith (that is no fear of punishment nor hope of reward – false faith). But yet when a zealous man or woman works in the church yard all the time he/she exhibits unbelief, but they will call it “fruit of faith”.

Luther points out that he who actually tries to do the law and performs sanctification as a growth by his/her self appointed works actually despises and hates God’s holy Law. But he who does not, and RESTS firmly in Christ alone with no self appointed works or sanctification = growth in holiness, such that “nothing is left TO DO”, actually loves God’s holy Law and is drawn INTO the love of neighbor and bears his/her cross. So “getting used to one’s justification”, IS the one actually being sanctified.

What drives their “evangelism” is a zeal for themselves and their salvation and their sanctification, which is all of the devil. This is the “form of godliness that denies the power therein”.

What drives true evangelism of the evangel, is NOTHING less than the stunning hilarity of the evangel itself. It is SUCH Good News it cannot BE contained. The Law or man’s laws have NOTHING to do with driving the Gospel, it is as Paul says the “power” the “dynamite” entirely in and of itself OF God. This is the power therein that paradoxically does not look like ‘godliness’ any more than Christ looked like God being crucified as an apparently helpless, impotent man bleeding on the Cross at the hands of mere men.

         -  Larry Hughes

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Did Larry nail it?    Or is he a little off?   How can we seperate our desire to produce good fruit from spilling over into ‘works righteousness’?

The two spheres of the Christian Blogesphere

In my travels in the Christian blogesphere, I have noticed two distinct spheres of thought.

One sphere is focused mainly on the self.  All the things  that we should, or shouldn’t be doing . All the things that we should or shouldn’t be thinking, or feeling…lest we ‘do it wrong’.

A person on one blog was railing about how wine was from the devil and how we not drink anything fermented. Anything fermented was evil. I asked her about penicillin. If that was evil too?

People going back and forth worrying about what ‘we do’. What about this sin or that, what about saying this, or feeling that? All the focus on ‘the self’.

The other sphere was mainly focuse on God and what He has done, is doing, and will yet do… in answer to ‘what we have done’.

This sphere is quite a bit smaller than the other sphere.

People in this sphere seem to be a bit more at ease with themselves and the world around them. They seem to realize that so much of our doing is the problem and that the only real solution was the death on the cross of Christ Jesus and His forgiveness to us.

It was our ‘doing’ that got us into this messy situation that we now find ourselves…bound to sin.

It was ‘His doing’, and is ‘His doing’ that has, and will save us from ourselves, the world and the devil.

In it all, I find precious little grace and mercy given to sinners…real sinners, other than the grace and mercy given out by our Lord.

Can we not show some compassion here? Can we not give out a little bit of what we have received towards those who may not be doing it exactly how we think it ought be done? Would not our Lord want us to also be merciful, and compassionate?

You can just tell..that’s all.

“We walk by faith and not by sight.”

“Judge not, lest you be judged.”

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is NOT OF YOUR OWN DOING , IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD – NOT BECAUSE OF WORKS, LEST ANYONE SHOULD BOAST.”    Ephesians 2:8,9

HELLO!  Could you all hear that ok?

“Well yes we heard it just fine… BUT I have my own verse from the Book of James that says…yada yada yada, and oh yes…yada”

Do you want to kill that wonderous feeling of joy that comes from the forgiveness of sins and frees the sinner from his chains of ‘performance’?  Then just drag out James anytime someone starts to become elated at not having to get right with God on his own accord! You will kill the party and put the shackles back on everyone in the room. “Handcuffs all around…on the house!!!! ”

“Lord, we fed poor kids, we worked at rummage sales for the church, we went to the County jail and visited the scumbags, we gave regularly, and we prayed great prayers…all in YOUR NAME, LORD!!”

And the Lord said, “Who are you?  Get out of my sight.”

“But Bobby and Suzy were such faithful Christians…how could the Lord do that to them?” The Lord didn’t do anything to them, they did it to themselves by thinking that their actions were actually meriting themselves something.  They were ‘DOING’ all the right things.  But their hearts were so far from God that they wouldn’t know the gospel if it hit them in the face. They didn’t have an ounce of grace and mercy in themselves to give…only their performance of works.

And then, to the ‘scumbags’ at the County jail and some of their ilk, Jesus says “blessed are you, when I was hungry you fed me…”, etc etc.

They said, “when did we do that?”  THEY DIDN”T EVEN KNOW THEY WERE DOING ANYTHING SPECIAL!   ‘They did not have works on the brain, because of some ignorant preacher giving them biblical principles to live by…which is just the law packaged in another way.

This ought to send shivers down the spines of the ‘little bit of God and a little bit of me’ crowd.

But it probably won’t. Because the world never looked so undeserving, and myself so deserving, as from the point right where I am standing. It is so easy to say, “he’s not doing enough.”

And…the chorus of  “yeah buts” resounds!

Am I off base…or what?

Are You ‘up to it’?

     Is anyone really “up to it”?First place winner in FUNNY KIDS by Johnny Bravo richard by JJ & Special K

 Personally, if I was honest about it (which I am on my better days), I’d have to say that I am not quite up to it.

The task of going out into the world (or just here on the net) and bringing the name of the Lord to a world that is starving for it…I’m not up to it.

I am not always “on fire for the Lord”. I am not always in the mood to talk to others. I am not always eager to serve. I often just want to laze around. I often do not want to serve. I often want to be served.

I don’t read and study the scriptures as I ought. I don’t read and study the Church Fathers, or the Lutheran Confessions like I ought.  I don’t pray like I ought.

I do not seek out those on the margins of life in order to make their lives better and to give to them the good news of Jesus Christ. Not all the time I don’t. Not even 10% of the time. I’d hate to tell you the percentage of my time and treasure that I put into that area of need. 

I’m not up to making time for those in my own congregation. Those in need of help, those that are sick, those that are hurting from the day to day pitfalls in their lives. I often don’t even take the time to pick up the phone.

I’m not really up to the task of fighting off the world, my own sinful flesh, or the devil…I’m just not.

When it comes down to exhibiting the bold,  exhuberant, life of one who has been given new life,  the forgiveness of his sins, and salvation…I’d have to say that most of the time…I’m just not up to it there, either.

But I do know someone who is!

I do know someone who fits the bill exactly…all of time, in every circumstance of life, who is never too busy or self absorbed. He is smart enough, stong enough, wise enough, powerful enough, loving enough, forgiving enough to get the job done….and perfectly…every time.

He is the One who hung on the cross for me and told me that He will never leave me nor forsake me.

He is up to it.  He is up to it for me,  and He is up to it for you. 

And He will fill our poor words and our poor efforts with His love,  His power, and with His purpose and will.

I don’t know about you, but He gives me strength to persevere when I know that I am not really up to any of this.

What do you say? 

Are you up to the task at hand?

The ‘fruit’ of the “fruit inspectors”

I’ve been working on the NAMM (International Association of Music Merchants) trade show in Anaheim, CA for about a week now. I work this one show a year and I have a good time, for the most part, and I mMike the Fruit Inspector  ake a few dollars, which never hurts.  I also get to see a lot of old friends and (ex)co-workers.

Last evening  I’m talking to a couple of guys about Jesus and I quote Luther,  remember, I said, ” the good you do won’t save you, and the evil you do won’t condemn you.”

“Well, that’s not true”, says one of the guys, who is an Evangelical Christian. So I said, “well, I sure hope it is true… and you ought to have the same hope.”

Then he launched into “fake Christianity and “walking the walk”, etc.                           I asked him if someone were to follow him around for one week, taking notes on all he did, if  that person would consider him to be a Christian. Of course he answered yes and didn’t even hesitate.

This is what happens when you get preachers preaching right out of the bible, line by line, without doing theology, without placing the cross of Christ in the center of the biblical narrative.

You get little Pharisees. Not so cute, ‘I’m better than you are, because I accepted Jesus’  and ‘I’m getting “better” all the time’ and you aren’t even trying ‘, little Pharisees. All snuggled in to their self-righteousness, little Pharisees.

I reminded him that Jesus told us not to judge anyone’s salvation, to which he told me that “that is not true” and he will “bring me many bible passages to prove his point.”

I’m sure he will.

What about it?   Is there such a thing as Christians that are not really Christians and they are easy to spot because thet are not walking the walk?

What if you can’t?

The New Year is a time for resolutions.

Resolutions of all kinds. Things to do. Things to stop doingNew Year's Resolutions  .

But what if you can’t stop doing something that has been harmful to you, and or others?

What if there is a sinful habit, a bad habit, an unhealthy habit or quirk (sin) that you’ve tried to stop doing over and over, and over again…but have failed? What then?

Or maybe you’ve tried to put down a specific sin and were successful only to find that another bad habit had replaced it.

Does this mean that you are somehow less of a Christian? Does this mean that you are still a Christian, but just a little bit lower on the obedience chart?

For the Christian, what are the implications of not being able to conquer sin? And what about not being able (or not wanting) to do all those things that God wants you to do?

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