Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Archive for the ‘General Christian Living’ Category

Longing For A Sweet Spirit

I know several brothers in the Lord who have sweet spirits.  They are delightful to be around.  They glow with love for others, are full of joy, and pour blessings onto others.  I want that.

My own temperament is typically laid back, discerning (though I fear sometimes I am just plain critical), and often opinionated especially about theology.  I am not argumentative contrary to what you might read.  I don’t enjoy fighting.  I would rather just talk.  When I feel threatened, my face gets red (cursedness of being a white man).  My boys have watched me debating someone and they always say that I look mad, that my face is red like fire.

I want a sweet spirit.  I’m not sure how to cultivate that.  I have prayed about this before.  I want to be loving and kind.

When I was in full-time pastoral ministry, I was more or less a jerk.  I admit that now.  In those days I thought I was just being “biblical” and standing my ground for the truth.  It was others who rejected God’s truth but not me!  I heard a brother say once that it is better to be righteous than to be right.  I wish I would have lived those words.  I would use the pulpit to beat others up (not by name but by my teaching).  I was right.  Everyone else was wrong.  I was not loving and kind.  I was mean.  No wonder I was “let go” from my position.

Having been out of “ministry” for over 10 years now, I see my errors.  I am not writing this for sympathy or to beat myself up.  I am done doing that.  I am writing to confess before the Lord my desire to be like Him.  Yes at times the Lord can be angry but His anger is not based on sin or pride.  The Lord’s anger is a pure hatred of sin.

This leads me to the gospel.  I look back at my past 20+ years of being a Christian and I see all the sins I have committed, all the times I have failed the Lord.  I see how I failed him while I was serving in full-time pastoral ministry.  Yet I am so grateful that He never gave up on me.  The Lord Jesus could have cast me aside (as I would have long ago) but He has not.  Jesus has been faithful to me.  He has provided for me and for my family.  Most of all, the Lord Jesus has been my Savior through  all this.  The Lord knows how many times I have prayed Psalm 51:1-2 or 1 John 1:9?  The Lord knows how many times I have failed Him yet He has never failed me (2 Timothy 2:13).

The gospel teaches me that yes I am a sinner.  No doubts there (Romans 3:10-18).  Yet in Christ Jesus I am saved and forgiven and declared righteous before a holy God (Romans 3:22-27).  My salvation is not me saving myself from myself but God saving me from Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  The gospel teaches me that my temperament can be transformed but only by the work of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  In my flesh, I cannot please God (Romans 8:8).  No matter how much I try,  I will never be perfect, will never do enough to please God (Isaiah 64:6).  The gospel teaches me that Jesus alone is my salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31) and He alone is my mediator before the Father (Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25).  I am not lost today only because of the grace of God given freely to me in Christ Jesus my Lord (Romans 6:23).

I am so thankful for these small reminders of the faithfulness of God.  I am far from perfect.  Very, very far!  But I trust in the perfect Savior who can save me perfectly (Philippians 1:6).

Thank you Lord Jesus for Your salvation and Your forgiveness!  Where would I be without You?

How To Hear God

We want to hear from God.  We want to hear God speak and know it is His voice.  Can we hear God speak?  The answer is yes!  Here are simple steps to hearing God:

1.  Get a Bible.


2.  Read the Bible.


3.  If you did that, you heard from God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Congratulations!

Seeing “Us” in Scripture

I enjoy Chris Rosebrough and his podcast “Fighting for the Faith.”  Chris often uses satire and comedy to point out false teachers and teachings.  His podcast often has sermon reviews of both good and bad sermons and Chris will point out why they are that.  I am often amazed at what passes for sermons these days.  Much of what seems to be coming out of the seeker church is not even close to true biblical teaching.  It is more or less about “us.”  It is man-centered to its core.

I have written often on the need for expository teaching and more sound doctrine being preached.  Just this week while working I was pondering why people enjoy attending seeker churches where doctrine is minimized and those who desire to go “deeper” with their faith are criticized.  I want to ask them, “How can you sit under this guy and learn anything?  What has he taught you that brought you closer to Christ, deeper in your theological understanding of the gospel?”  Heck, most of the teachers Chris plays on his podcast have no gospel understanding.  The seeker churches are just “say this prayer and become a Christian” as their gospel.

I subscribe to a local church here in my city that has been sucking people from the more traditional churches (mainly Baptist churches) for some time.  They started at about 50 people or so and today have over 1000.  Because of their growth, church leaders often avoid criticizing them because of their growth.  They are instead esteemed.  I point out that growth is no indicator of truth.  Look at the cults.  Look at Islam.  Truth is not pragmatic.  Truth is truth and God’s Word declares the truth of God (John 17:17).  Jesus said that He is the truth (John 14:6).  God has given us His truth through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  We need no other “truth.”  Yet many are unwilling to take the truth of the Bible and examine the teachings of large seeker churches because of their numbers.

Each week I get their Sunday services on my podcasts.  I listen to their sermons.  Why?  Because I want to know if they are preaching truth.  Often they are not.  In fact, they often are preaching nothing at all.  They are currently preaching through John but they are not expository nor are they dealing with their text.  They often just read the text and fill in stories about themselves or others to pass the time.  They are not false teachers.  They are “un-teachers.”  They are teaching neither bad doctrine nor good.  They are teaching nothing.  They just focus on “us.”

This is true nearly of all seeker churches that I know.  The focus is on “us” and not Jesus.  The gospel is not about the glory of God, the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, His sacrifice for our sins, along with His death, burial, and bodily resurrection from the dead where He now sits at the right hand of God to pray for us.  No!  The “gospel” of seeker churches is on “us.”  It is about “us” and our glory.  The gospel of seeker churches is about Jesus coming to give us an “abundant life” or to give us a “hope and a future” (both John 10:10 and Jeremiah 29:11 are seriously abused and destroyed there).

Just this past week I listened to two seeker churches Resurrection Day services.  Both were focused on “us.”  The gospel was not taught.  The focus was not on the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  The focus was on God resurrecting your dreams.  Neither church preached repentance for the forgiveness of our sins (Luke 24:47).  Neither church even mentioned repentance at all.  Both did mention sin but only in passing.  Sin is what keeps us down, what keeps us from reading our potential.  Gone is the truth of the gospel of repentance.

The gospel is not lost.  It is easily found in the Bible.  One can skip it.  One can downplay it.  But one cannot ignore it altogether.  Just reading the New Testament brings us face to face with our sins, with our inability to save ourselves by our good works, with the fact that we are enemies of God because of our rebellion against His law (Romans 3:19-20).  We find that our world is not getting better by works of the flesh but we realize that we must repent of our sins if we are to have peace with God (Acts 2:37-39; 3:19-20).  We find that repentance brings salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).  We find that Christ alone saves us from the wrath of God by His grace and mercy (Romans 5:1).  The gospel is focused on the person and work of the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 1:3-14 and notice how many times “He” is mentioned and we are not).  Salvation is not accomplished by making amends or trying harder or your good deeds (Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).  Salvation is the gracious work of God wrought in us by His Spirit through the saving work of the Lord Jesus.

Until next time, keep loving and living in the gospel.

Praying For Our Enemies

Someone wrote that worship of God is where we worship Him for who He is.  Intercessory prayer is where we pray what God has promised in His Word.  For example, when we pray for the lost to be saved we are praying the will of God (1 Timothy 2:3-6; 2 Peter 3:9).  We are praying what God has spoken.  When we pray for world missions, we are praying what the Father promised to His Son (Psalm 2:8; Matthew 28:18-20).

With intercessory prayer in mind, Jesus said in Matthew 5:44:

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

We are called to pray for our enemies.  What does this do in the heart of the believer?  This produces love.  When we begin to pray for our enemies, we will soon find that we have a love for them.  We begin to desire to see them turn from their sins and repent.  Yes we hate their sins but we will begin to love them for being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).  True praying for someone will produce love for them.

I have been seeking to implement this into my prayer life.  When I hear a story about a church preaching false doctrine, I have begun to pray for that church to come to repentance.  I have been praying for those who are enemies of the gospel.  I have been praying for those who are dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3) to come to faith in the Lord Jesus.  I have been praying for cults to turn from their false doctrines to the truth in Christ.  My longing is for genuine love to flow from me for those who are enemies of the gospel.

I am all for apologetic ministries and even discernment ministries but I fear that too often we are wanting to win debates with people and pointing out their false teachings while not praying for them.  To be clear, I detest false doctrines.  Yet I equally know that Jesus calls us to pray for our enemies.  I fear that we often want to destroy people while not longing for them to come to repentance.  May that not be.

Paul the Apostle was persecuted by his own people, the Jews.  Yet he prayed for their salvation (Romans 10:1).  Paul could have grown cold and bitter toward his own but he longed to see them repent.  His praying no doubt produced love for his lost kin.

My prayer is that I would pray for my enemies and truly love them.  I am far from that now.  In my heart, I want my enemies gone!  I look around at the wicked world and long for Jesus to come and make it all right.  Yet how many would be cast into hell if that were the case and Jesus came today?  Again, the Lord is patient with  lost sinners (2 Peter 3:9).  The heart of God is for sinners to repent and live (Ezekiel 18:32).

May the Lord help me to pray for my enemies for His glory.

Short Rant on Devotions, Praying, and Posting

Every since I became a disciple of Jesus, reading my Bible and prayer have been priorities in my life.  I by no means am perfect at them.  I am thankful for the gospel and the fact that I don’t earn my righteousness before God through my works (Romans 10:4; Philippians 3:9; Titus 3:5-7).  There have been good days where I have been in the Word and in prayer and it seemed the Lord was near.  There have been days where I was in the Word and prayer and it seemed the Lord was distant.  Thankfully, I am not saved by my feelings but by faith (Romans 5:1).

Let me rant then just for a moment about devotions, praying, and posting them on social media sites.  I have seen this pattern for a while.  The great satire site, the Babylon Bee, ran a great post on a woman completing her quite time without Instagramming it.  That was pure gold because it is true!  I go on social media sites and people are posting pictures of their Bibles open, a notebook, a cup of coffee.

Even open air preaching posts drive me crazy.  I’m all for preaching the gospel in the open air.  I also understand that some of these guys receive money from people and so they want them to see that they are serving just as they said they would.  I find it ironic that missionaries don’t often feel the need to post them serving to prove they are actually doing what they said they would do if you supported them but I’ll let that go.  Open air preachers are notorious for posting pictures or videos of themselves preaching or asking for prayer as they go to share the gospel.  Again, I understand that for some of them, the prayer requests are real and their posting is simply to encourage people to follow their lead in evangelism.   Yet for some, I fear, they are posting out of pride (“look at me going to share my faith while you read this blog”).  God knows our hearts.

In Matthew 6 Jesus had strong words about doing things for the glory of God and not telling others about them.  There is no doubt that God knows our hearts (1 Chronicles 28:9; Jeremiah 17:10; 23:24; Romans 8:27).  The Lord sees through our posts to know our hearts whether we are truly posting for His glory or for ours.  In Matthew 6 Jesus states that our good works should be done in secret so that we might receive a reward from our Father.  Again, nothing wrong with posting about our devotions, our church, our evangelism but God knows our hearts and whether we want the applause of men or not.  Jesus states that our giving (Matthew 6:2-4), praying (6:5-8), and fasting (6:16-18) should be done in secret and not for the applause of men.  Our Lord states that if do them for men, we receive our rewards (6:2, 5, 16).

Pride is dangerous.  I have battled pride my entire life.  I always will.  We all like for people to pat us on the back and tell us “good job.”  We want others to notice the good we do.  It’s human nature I suppose.  But Jesus tells us to do our good works for our Father.  Ephesians 2:10 even states that our Father has prepared the works for us to do.  This would include our prayer times, our fasting, our evangelism.  Our works should glorify God, however, and not us.  The temptation is to post on social media sites so that our good works glorify us even though we claim it is to the glory of God.

Finally, is it sinful to post our prayer times, our Bible study, our evangelism?  It can be.  It doesn’t have to be.  Again, the Lord God knows our hearts.  We can’t hide from Him.  Like Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, the Lord knows if we are hypocrites or not.  In Acts 4 we read that Joseph called Barnabas (son of encouragement) sold a field and brought the money to the Apostles’ feet.  This must have impressed Ananias and Sapphira so they did the same but unlike Barnabas, they withheld some money for themselves (which was their right) but they claimed to be giving all to the Lord.  The Lord saw their hypocrisy and He judged them before the church so that fear came upon the saints of God (Acts 5:11).  Ananias and Sapphira wanted the applause of men but were not willing to truly glorify God like Barnabas had done.  They wanted to cheat but the Lord saw their hearts (Acts 5:3).  The Lord knew the heart of Barnabas and He also knew that Ananias and Sapphira were not willing to pay the price that Barnabas had paid though they wanted the applause of the Apostles too.  Their story is for our example.

The Lord knows our hearts.  He knows if I post a picture of me sharing my faith if I’m doing it for me or for His glory.  He knows the same for people who use social media to brag about their devotions or their street preaching.  I have no doubt that the Lord loves us beyond words even in the midst of our hypocrisy and pride but I pray that He would sanctify us so that social media is not our place for our hypocrisy and pride.

Now let me go post this on various social media sites along with some pictures I have of me praying before blogging this.  Prayers appreciated.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/31/2016 at 10:32 AM

Just A Note

I wanted to write and say thank you to all who have been praying for me.  I know the Lord is faithful and He will bring me through.  I recently heard Paul Washer say that we should study the attributes of God so I have.  Studying God has been my anchor.

I ask for continued prayers.  Satan wants to destroy my faith and my life.  

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/21/2016 at 10:14 AM

Struggling 

I am really struggling these days.  I could post all my sins, my problems, my struggles but I ask all of you who read this to please pray for me.  God knows my trials.

With much love in Christ,

Roy

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/11/2016 at 1:30 AM

Posted in General Christian Living

Tagged with ,

%d bloggers like this: