Monday, January 29, 2018

How To Be A Lukewarm Christian

“Lukewarmness” seems to be in vogue within the Christian community these days.  Apathy is in.  Yet it may be that some don’t understand all the intricacies of achieving lukewarmness in one’s relationship with Christ.  If you desire to be lukewarm and apathetic in your commitment to Christ, or if you already are lukewarm and would just like to progress in your lukewarmness, this article is definitely for you!

Below you will find a few tips on how to become a lukewarm Christian:

Devotional Life
  • ·         If you have to have a devotional life at all, make sure that it is hurried and as quick as possible.  Don’t make a commitment to wake up early to spend time with God.  Develop a harried routine in the morning in which you have no time to listen to His “still, small voice.”
  • ·         Don’t get into the habit of daily Bible reading.  One of the dangers of this pernicious practice is that God might bring conviction to your heart through His word, actually repentance might occur, and before you know it, your lukewarm condition will be a thing of the past!
  • ·         If you must read your Bible daily, don’t read more than a verse or two – preferably out of context.  A verse-a-day Bible app is great for this.  On the other hand, such a Bible app is of no value in developing lukewarmness is you accompany it with substantial Bible reading later in the day. 
  • ·         If you must pray at all, only pray for yourself and your family...and perhaps your friends.  Focus on self is quite the rage nowadays among apathetic Christians.  As one of their kind, you will do well to follow this trend.
  • ·         Avoid taking time to be grateful to God for His many blessings in your life.  This will ramp up your prayer life…something no lukewarm Christian would desire to do.
  • ·         Avoid praise and adoration.  This is so important.  If you develop a habit of regularly praising God in the privacy of your own home, you might find yourself praising Him publicly in the church service…which you irregularly attend.  This can be very embarrassing.
  • ·         Avoid praying without ceasing, as Paul directs sincere Christians to do (1 Thess 5:17).  This direction from that non-lukewarm Christian meant to develop a heart turned towards God at all times during the day.  A quick, hurried prayer in the morning will do nicely.
  • ·         Spend time watching questionable TV programs and movies.  What does this have to do with developing a lukewarm devotional life?  Everything!  You see, those images stay with you  and you take those images into your prayer closet (if you have such a thing.)  They discourage prayer and must be repentented of if one has a desire for a vibrant prayer life (which, of course, you don’t!)

Church Attendance
  • ·        Don’t be committed to a single church.  Church hopping is very helpful in developing an apathetic, listless life in Christ.  If something doesn’t strike your fancy at one church, (the music program doesn’t do anything for you, the pastor preaches to long, someone didn’t speak to you, etc.), just move on to another one.  There are lots of churches out there.  You won’t ever find the perfect church of course, as they are all made up of imperfect people.  However, don’t dwell on the fact that you are imperfect as well!
  • ·         If you do have to be committed to one local body, don’t attend church regularly.    I would suggest that on Sunday morning you look for any reason at all to miss going to God’s house.  The Enemy (who is really the Friend to lukewarm Christians) will aid you greatly in this, as he will provide you with all kinds of reasons to “forsake the assembling of ourselves,” (as the Bible commands in Hebrews 10:25).  He may provide you with a slight cold or headache, or he might send a long-lost friend over at the last  minute to cause you to miss church.
  • ·        If your church has mid-week service, don’t bother to show up for them.  In our local body, God has provided us with a Tuesday night prayer meeting and a Wednesday night bible study.  Many churches have small group Bible studies in their homes.  Attending these type of meetings can be devastating in your attempt at being lukewarm.  Avoid these gatherings at all costs!
  • ·        Don’t think about preparing your heart for Sunday worship on Saturday evening.  Make
    sure you stay up late watching some worthless TV program or go out partying, so that you feel tired and listless when you wake up Sunday morning.
      If you do drag yourself out of bed to go to church, you’ll probably miss most of what the Holy Spirit is trying to say to the congregation because you are so tired.  This is exactly what you want as an apathetic Christian.
  • ·        Related to this, develop a habit of showing up to church late.  Though it’s no big deal to show up late occasionally, be that person that always shows up late every Sunday…or every Sunday that you come.  This will be especially disheartening to the pastor or worship leader.  In some churches half the crowd doesn’t show up on time…a great sign of a lukewarm church!
  • ·        Whatever meetings you attend at your local church, make sure you get out as soon as the meeting as over.  Don’t stay and fellowship with others.  This might be encouraging to your walk with Christ.  If you want to develop this to an even finer level, leave promptly at 12 (or even a little before) even if the meeting is not over, so that you can get a good seat at the local restaurant.  After all, we do have priorities!
  • ·        If you do have to stay and fellowship with others, make sure you talk about worldly things…last night’s ball game (which you stayed up late to watch), the latest fashion trends, etc. 
  • ·        If you have to give to your local church at all, don’t make a commitment to tithe your income or anything like that.  Just give the little you can spare…Others can take up the slack and the preacher probably makes too much anyway!
  • ·        If your church supports missions, don’t worry about being a part of that ministry.  Missionaries are probably doing just fine without our financial and prayer support.

Family Life

  • ·        Don’t pray with your spouse or children on a daily basis.  This will bless your marriage and your home, something no lukewarm Christian would desire!
  • ·        Don’t have regular meal times with your family…especially if you sincerely thank the Lord for your blessings before you eat.  (This is a pernicious practice that thankfully is rapidly going by the wayside in our enlightened 21st century culture). 
  • ·        Don’t have family devotions – reading the Bible or Bible stories to your children is not recommended at all.  They might actually have questions that you don’t know about the Bible, which would be embarrassing.  Also, you are too tired.
  • ·        Don’t walk the walk in front of your kids.  This really goes without saying.  Like begets like.  Lukewarm Christians beget lukewarm Christians…Actually, your children will probably see your hypocritical lifestyle and won’t want anything to do with Christ when they grow up…exactly what you are going for!

These are just a few suggestions for those who want to live an apathetic, listless life as a so-called Christian.  We might add here to be sure not to share your faith with others, but that would be redundant.  Who would want the kind of faith you have anyway?

Of course, Jesus said “wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matthew 7:13),  and in Revelation 3: 17 He said of lukewarm Christians that He would "vomit them out of His mouth." As an apathetic Christian, you have chosen the most popular way, and it will certainly lead to hell if you continue on that road…However, you should take comfort in the fact that everyone else is doing it this way, so you will be in good company! 


If on the other hand you want to live a life devoted to Christ, walking “the narrow way” (Matthew 7:13) that Jesus said leads to life…

If you want a life that matters to your family and to the world…

If you want keep the two great commandments that Jesus gave us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-40)…

If you want to be a blessing to your local church body and to the body of Christ as a whole…

If you want to go to heaven and bring your family along with you…

Friday, January 26, 2018

Fenelon’s Spiritual Letters - Part 1

Francois Fenelon (1651 – 1715) was a French priest who was an advocate of Quietism, a movement within Catholicism (with influences within Protestant circles as well) which emphasized day-to-day surrender to God, a quiet and meek spirit, and acceptance of all things with peace.  He was a good friend and supporter of Madame Guyon, who introduced Fenelon to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.  “It is to the everlasting credit of this powerful and influential man (who served in the court of Louis XIV) that he humbled himself before this obscure woman and received from her the guidance that he did.” 

A book by Fenelon recently came into my possession which I have really enjoyed reading.  “Fenelon’s Spiritual Letters” is a series of letters that the French priest wrote to Godly men and women who asked advice of him on how to have a deeper relationship with Christ.  I've come across some real gems in my reading of this little book that I wanted to share with you here.  I have put in parenthesis synonyms to some of the more obscure words in these letters.  I have also put in bold those phrases or sections which especially speak to me. I hope much of this long-ago wisdom will speak to you today!

The Need of Devotion In A Worldly Life
…Try to rescue half an hour morning and evening.  You must learn, too, to make good use of chance moments…The less time one has, the more important it is to husband (not waste) it.  If you wait till you have regular and convenient hours at your disposal (to pray),…you run the risk of waiting too long…Take then, Madame, half an hour in the morning, and another half-hour in the afternoon, to repair the inroads which the world makes; and in the course of the day…renew yourself in the presence of God.”
On Silence
Silence promotes the presence of God, prevents many harsh and proud words, and suppresses many dangers in the way of ridiculing or harshly judging our neighbor.  Silence humbles the mind, and gradually weans it from the world; it makes a kind of solitude in the heart…
Talk when you are alone; you cannot talk too much then, for it will be to God alone that you will tell your troubles, your needs, and your longings.  But in society you can hardly talk too little.  It must not be a cold disdainful silence, however, but rather a silence full of deference to others…Constrain yourself then to say little, to speak simply and modestly, to give the precedence to other speakers…”
Pray, read, humble your spirit by a taste for simple things.  Seek your strength in silence.
One is sometimes tempted to talk humbly, and it is easy to find a thousand fine pretexts (reasons) for so doing, but it is better to be humbly silent. Talkative humility is to be suspected; in talking, self-love relieves itself a little…
On Salvation
Our salvation is the work of every day and every moment of our life.  There is no time more fit for it than that which God mercifully grants us now; because we have time today, and perhaps we will not have it tomorrow…Keeping watch over self means listening to God; abiding always in His presence, being recollected (at peace), not voluntarily seeking dissipation (overindulgence) or distractions among the things of this world; it means, as far as possible, loving retirement (times of withdrawal from the world), good books, and prayer…
On Christian Service
It seems to me that a soul which sincerely desires to belong to God never looks to see whether a thing is small or great; it is enough for it to know that He for whose love it is done is infinitely great…
Often all that we offer to God is not that which He wills.  What He desires most of us is what we are least willing to give Him, and what we dread to have Him ask of us.  It is Isaac, the only son, the well-beloved, that He commands us to resign; all the rest is nothing in His sight…His blessing is not upon…the labor of a divided soul; it is His will that we should yield everything to Him; and, short of this, there is no repose (rest).  If you would prosper, and have God’s blessing on your work, withhold nothing, and the God of peace will be with you..
On Faults
You ought to condemn your fault without seeking to soften it by any excuse, and to see yourself before God…without being irritated at yourself and disheartened but profiting in peace by your humiliation for your fault. 
Vexation (Irritation) at a fault is generally more of a fault than the fault itself…The more peaceful and free your heart is, the more you will become one with God.
On Self Love
No peace is to be looked for within (ourselves) when one lives at the mercy of a crowd (within ourselves) of greedy and insatiable desires, and when we can never satisfy this “me” which is so keen (intense) and so touchy as to whatever concerns it…(So) in our intercourse (dealings) with others we are like invalids who have been long confined to the bed, who cannot be touched anywhere without pain.  A sickly self-love, full of pity for itself, cannot be touched without screaming.  Touch it with the end of your finger, and it thinks itself flayed alive.  Then add to this sensitiveness the roughness of other people…and you find all the children of Adam tormenting one another; half of mankind made unhappy by the other half…
…The only remedy is to come out of one’s self in order to find peace.  We must renounce ourselves, and lose all self-interest, that we may no longer have anything to lose, to fear, or to contrive (to plot or to plan).  Then we shall enjoy the true peace reserved for “men of good will,” that is, for those who have no longer any will but God’s…Then men will not be able to harm us…
On Avoiding Forebodings and Living By Faith
Do not think about distant events.  This uneasiness about the future is unwholesome for you.  When God gives you help, see Him alone in it, and take it day by day, as the Israelites (took0 their manna, without ever providing a store to last from one day to another…
…The life of pure faith does two things: first, it makes us see God behind all the frail agents He uses; secondly, it keeps the soul ever in a state of suspense.  One is always as if in the air, without being able to touch the ground; the comfort of one moment never serves for the comfort of the following moment.  We must leave to God all that depends on Him, and think only of being faithful in all that depends on ourselves.  This dependence from one moment to another, this darkness, this peace of the soul amid the uncertainty of what will happen to it each day, is a real inward and noiseless martyrdom; it is being burned by a slow fire…When God takes away that which He has given you, He knows well how to replace it, either through other means or by Himself…
Live in peace…without thinking about the future.  Perhaps there may not be a future for you. Even the present is not yours, and you must use it according to the will of God, to whom alone it belongs…Above all, be faithful to the present moment, which will bring you all needful grace…
…The real learning you need is stripping off self, deep recollection, silence of the whole soul before God, renunciation of intellect, a taste for lowliness, obscurity, helplessness, and (humility).
On Calmly Enduring the Irregularities of Others
…Do not be angry about what people say; let them talk, while you try to do God’s will.  As to the will of men, you could never come to the end of satisfying it, nor is it worth the trouble.  A little silence, peace, and union with God ought to comfort you for all that men may say unjustly…Renew yourself often in the presence of God, so as to calm yourself, to humble and adapt yourself to the “little ones.” Nothing is really great save lowliness, charity, distrust of self, detachment from one’s own opinion and will.  All stiff, harsh “goodness” is contrary to Jesus Christ.
…The right way (to deal with the anger of others) is to act as in the presence of God, wholly divested of self, doing what we can by God’s light, and being content with such success as He gives.  This continual death to self is a blessed life which but few understand.  A word uttered simply in this inward peace effects more, even in external affairs (day-to-day life), than all the most eager and bustling exertions…
…Let the river flow beneath its bridges; let men be men, that is to say, weak, vain, inconstant (unpredictable), unjust, false, and presumptuous.  Let the world still be the world…you cannot hinder it…The shortest way is to let them alone and to bear with them.  Accustom yourself to unreasonableness and injustice.  Abide in peace in the bosom of God, who sees all these evils more clearly than you do, and who permits them.  Be content with doing without excitement the little which depends on you, and let all else be to you as if it were not.

To read Part 2, click here.

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Power Of An Endless Life

It was one of those indescribable “God-moments.”

A few days ago, I was having my devotion time early in the morning, when I felt drawn to read some more from a little book I’ve been picking up from time to time.  As a rule, I don’t use a devotional book other than the Bible in my quiet time, but I’ve been taken by the little book “Be Perfect” which someone gave me which was written by the 19th century South African pastor Andrew Murray.  “Old Murray” has a way of saying things that I like.  The chapter that I read was from Hebrews 6 concerning our “going on unto perfection,” not staying as infants any more but growing up into mature saints.  Very good stuff.

I took a short break.  During that time, a seemingly-unconnected phrase dropped into my head with some force…”The power of an endless life.”  That is from the Bible somewhere, I thought…but where?  After doing a fruitless word search in my usual New American Standard, I checked out the version I grew up with, King James.  There it is…the very next chapter in Hebrews from where I left off!  Now isn’t that amazing!  It had to do with Melchizedek, as a type of Christ, who was a priest not according to the old law, but “according to the power of an endless life.” (More on that in a bit.) 
Now I was drawn back to the Murray book.  I don’t normally read more than one chapter, but I felt to read on.  As I began to read, I stared in wonder at the words on the page in front in me…This chapter was about Jesus being a priest “according to the power of an endless life!”  I had no clue that this would be the next thing in the book, yet there it was…a more beautiful description of the meaning of these blessed words than I could have described.  This sort of thing has happened to me (and others) so many times over the years, but I never cease to be amazed at these moments that could only come from the Savior Himself.

So what of this “power of an endless life?”  What does it mean?

Well, before I let Murray take over, let me set this up for you.  The writer of Hebrews is grappling with the issue that Christ, who has every right to the throne of David as the heir of David…even more as the Creator of David, does not have any lineage that qualifies Him under the old Levitical system to be a high priest.   Yet He must be a priest to perform the priestly duty of intercession for those who He has redeemed, by virtue of His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection.  Yet here the writer quotes an old testament passage (Psalm 110:4) which describes the coming Messiah as being “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizidek.”  But what does that mean?

To find out about Melchizidek, we must go back all the way to the time of Abraham.  In Genesis 14, we find Abraham, who has only recently come to his God-called destination of Canaan, trying to rescue his nephew Lot from a pickle he had gotten himself into when he was hanging around Sodom (not a good place to be!) and was kidnapped.  In the middle of the rescue attempt, Abraham runs into a very strange fellow named Melchizidek, who is both king of Salem (later Jerusalem) and “priest of God Most High.”  He pronounces a blessing upon Abraham, and Abraham as a response gives the king/priest a tithe of all he possessed…And then we never hear from Melchizidek again.  How strange!  In our Bible, which is fraught with genealogies, there is no Melchizidekian genealogy.  As the Hebrews writer states a few verses before, he is

without father, without mother, without geneaology, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. (Hebrews 6:3)

In other words, as far as the Bible is concerned, we have no record of his parents, nor of his descendants.  He is in this way a type of the future Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Though Melchizedek’s life was endless only in type, Christ, by virtue of His resurrection, is endless in actuality.  So the priesthood of Jesus Christ is not along the line of Levi, the descendant of Abraham, but along the line of Melchizedek, who blessed Abraham and received tithes from him. 

This Melchizedekian priesthood of Christ is not some far-flung theological mumbo-jumbo which has no bearing on our lives.  It actually has tremendous implications for how we live from day-to-day.  It means that because Jesus, who fulfilled the Mosaic law perfectly, is a priesthood of a different order, we also live under a different order than the old Mosaic law.  The writer of Hebrews, drawing from the Old Testament again, will later describe the new law under which we live.  Quoting from Jeremiah, he writes:

Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Hebrews 8:8a,10b)

We who are of Christ operate under the New Covenant, which functions in our hearts and in our minds.  We are not law keepers, except as we keep the inward law given to us in Christ.

I’ll let Murray take over here:

A careful perusal of the verses placed above, will show that the writer thought it of great importance to make it clear that the law could perfect no person or thing... It was not only the Hebrews who greatly needed this teaching: among Christians in our days the greatest hindrance in accepting the perfection the gospel asks and offers, is that they make the law
its standard, and then our impotence to fulfil the law, the excuse for not attaining, for not even seeking it. They have never understood that the law is but a preparation for something better; and that when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part is done away.
The Law demands; the Law calls to effort; the Law means self. It puts self upon doing its utmost. But it makes nothing perfect, neither the conscience nor the worshiper. This is what Christ came to bring. The very perfection which the law could not give He does give. The Epistle tells us that He was made a Priest, not as Aaron, after the law,…but after the power of an endless life. What Christ, as Priest, has wrought and now works, is all in the power of an inward birth, of a new life, of the eternal life. What is born into me, what is as a spirit and life within me, has its own power of growth and action. Christ's being made perfect Himself through suffering and obedience; His having perfected us by that sacrifice by which He was perfected Himself; and His communication of that perfection to us, is all in the power of an endless life. It works in us as a life power; in no other way could we become partakers of it. Perfection is not through the law;…What the law could not do, God, sending His Son, has done. The Son, perfected for evermore, has perfected us forever. It is in Jesus we have our perfection. It is in living union with Him, it is when He is within us, not only as a seed or a little child, but formed within us, dwelling within us, that we shall know how far He can make us perfect. It is faith that leads us in the path of perfection. It is the faith that sees, that receives, that lives in Jesus the Perfect One, that will bear us on to the perfection God would have.

So now, in the new order of things, we walk, not under the auspices of the law, which required much doing but no faith, but under the new law of faith.  It is by dwelling with Christ day-by-day, abiding in Him, knowing Him progressively more and more, than we fulfill perfectly the requirements of the law, because Jesus is in fact fulfilling those requirements in us! Christianity is not about rule keeping.  Far from it.  It is about walking with the only One who ever kept all the rules!  We can now “go on to perfection” (Hebrews 6:1) because the Perfect One lives in us!  Isn’t that wonderful! 

Let’s turn to Andrew Murray again:

And how do we become partakers of this perfection with which Christ has perfected us? First of all, the conscience is perfected so that we have no more conscience of sin, and enter boldly into the Holiest, the Presence of God. The consciousness of a perfect redemption possesses and fills the soul. And then, as we abide in this, God Himself perfects us in every good thing, to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Through Christ, the High Priest in the power of the endless life, there comes to us in a constant stream from on high, the power of the heavenly life. So that day by day we may present ourselves perfect in Christ Jesus…

There is tremendous freedom in these words.  Because we have a High Priest with the power of an endless life, we now have the opportunity never before afforded humankind to live the power of the heavenly life.  Shouldn’t we be taking advantage of this opportunity daily…this power of an endless life?  

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Saturday, January 6, 2018

New Strength for a New Year (Charles Spurgeon)

I wouldn't exactly call it a New Year's Resolution, but I do believe the Lord would have me post more often on this site this year...either something I've written or (much better) something someone from the past has written that might be a benefit to others.  I hope this year to post something here at least once a week, so here's my offering for the first week...I don't think you can do much better than a word from "The Prince of Preachers!  I read this from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening this morning and it really stirred me...I hope it will encourage you to gather new strength for a new year from God's word!

Isaiah 41:1 
"Let the people renew their strength." KJV
"Let the peoples gain new strength" NASB

All things on earth need to be renewed. No created thing continueth by itself. "Thou renewest the face of the year," was the Psalmist's utterance. Even the trees, which wear not themselves with care, nor shorten their lives with labour, must drink of the rain of heaven and suck from the hidden treasures of the soil. The cedars of Lebanon, which God has planted, only live because day by day they are full of sap fresh drawn from the earth. Neither can man's life be sustained without renewal from God. As it is necessary to repair the waste of the body by the frequent meal, so we must repair the waste of the soul by feeding upon the Book of God, or by listening to the preached Word, or by the soul-fattening table of the ordinances. How depressed are our graces when means are neglected! What poor starvelings some saints are who live without the diligent use of the Word of God and secret prayer! If our piety can live without God it is not of divine creating; it is but a dream; for if God had begotten it, it would wait upon him as the flowers wait upon the dew. Without constant restoration we are not ready for the perpetual assaults of hell, or the stern afflictions of heaven, or even for the strifes within. When the whirlwind shall be loosed, woe to the tree that hath not sucked up fresh sap, and grasped the rock with many intertwisted roots. When tempests arise, woe to the mariners that have not strengthened their mast, nor cast their anchor, nor sought the haven. If we suffer the good to grow weaker, the evil will surely gather strength and struggle desperately for the mastery over us; and so, perhaps, a painful desolation, and a lamentable disgrace may follow. Let us draw near to the footstool of divine mercy in humble entreaty, and we shall realize the fulfilment of the promise, "They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength."
Charles Spurgeon

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