Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Bullet of Truth: Recognizing Our Hypocrisy

One of the most frequent charges leveled at Christians is that the church is full of hypocrites. As a pastor, I would agree. I would qualify as a candidate for chief hypocrite. My dictionary defines hypocrisy as pretending to be what one is not. I’m sure all of us would agree that no one is perfect (yet all of us have our times of thinking we are!) Therefore, if on one is perfect, all of us have our moments (minutes, hours, days?!) of pretense and imperfection. No one is totally what he claims to be or wants to be. Our reluctance to be honest about our failures and our attempts to cover up would classify all of us as hypocrites or pretenders.

Everyone pretends (or plays the hypocrite) in the concerns of life he values most. The woman whose passion is clothing or the man who is possessed with financial success will pretend that these values are more important than others. They will act accordingly. The real question concerning hypocrisy is not if you will be a hypocrite but what kind of hypocrite are you going to be? If pretense, imperfection and hypocrisy are inevitable in life, then we should at least strive to live our lives at the highest level of hypocrisy. This is exactly where Jesus Christ comes in with His liberation truth about sin and forgiveness.

In short, the teaching of our Lord says that man is a mess. But if he’ll admit his condition, respond to God’s love and aim for greatness, he will find increasing peace, purpose, pardon and power. Even though man’s problem of hypocrisy will continue to be with him on earth, it will be lessened if he will become a hypocrite for God rather than being a hypocrite for lesser and lower values.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Bullet of Prayer: Offering Hope to Affect Change

We Christians are most hypocritical when it comes to prayer. An old but very pointed article recently came across my desk that probes our hypocrisy. Read on …

“Ever thought of the daily newspaper as a prayer list? It’s one of the best. A daily reminder of those who most need prayer. Tragedy on the front page? Pray for those involved! Someone’s house burned … victims in critical condition in the local hospital … PRAY! Auto accident … two youths killed? Identify with their parents’ agony and pray for them in their need. You might even write them a note telling them of your prayer … or visit them, offer you love and support.

Public officials are always in the news and whatever our political convictions, we ought to pray for them … more than ever if they are in trouble! After all, praying for those in government is not optional. We are mandated by the Word of God to pray for ‘kings and all who are in high positions’ (1 Timothy 2:2).

If government is ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people,’ … the people have a profound obligation to pray. It is conceivable that a failure of government can be laid as much at the feet of prayerless citizens as to incompetent or corrupt public servants.

Assuming you believe in prayer … can you imagine what a difference it would make if all who did use the daily paper as a prayer list? Millions would be mobilized simultaneously to pray for the same needs locally, nationally, and worldwide!”

Nothing destroys hypocrisy more quickly than the power of answered prayer!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Bullet of Prayer: The State of the World

We live in a hypocritical world. Most of us see our own lives as solutions and other people’s lives as problems. Fact is, all of us contribute to earth’s problems. Again, most of us are rarely the channel of solution.

It’s like football “fans” in the stands. They yell at the coach and “boo” the players if they do less than win. It’s idiocy! Imperfect people with imperfect knowledge demanding perfection on the field. Hypocrites!

Thursday, I will address how to change our troubled world and our hypocritical selves.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Bullet of Victory: A Life That Counts, Win or Lose
Part 3

No matter how complete your game plan or how perfect your execution … some hits, setbacks and even defeats are inevitable. We have many enemies in life and we must learn that truth is the only way to victoriously adjust to their assaults. The greatest “player” in the drama of life was the Lord Jesus. He suffered many rejections and defeats, but they were all temporary. Why? Simple! His commitment to the truth, regardless of consequences, turned them all to permanent victory!

Those of us determined to pursue the God of the Bible should take more seriously the admonition of II Corinthians 1:5, “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” The event/project type of person will never know this satisfaction from suffering that comes to the process/purpose type of folks. We are learning the great gospel promise that all walls of defeat can be turned into new stepping stones to truth! Power to you my friend!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Bullet of Victory: Teamwork, the Vital Ingredient
Part 2

A championship team must be a “cause” before it is a “project.” If our supreme purpose is to beat an opponent rather than to discover life for ourselves then we have missed the mark. So many people see life as a series of projects instead of a quest for meaning. Immature people are forever content to measure their lives by counting “activities attended.”

The mature recognizes that life on the deepest level is getting into God and people. Meaning, not success, is the true source of joy and fulfillment. Being a team is more important than winning a game if you take the long look. Being one with others (a team) reaps far more benefits than victory in a brief and fleeting athletic contest. The hooker here is that the “real team” usually wins over the “pseudo teams.”

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Bullet of Victory: Losing Can Be Valuable
Part 1

I remember a loss some time ago by one of the local football teams which served as a timely illustration of the realities of life.

The priority of life is to discover truth and not just to get your way. If we have some defeats in life our first purpose should be to discover “why” rather than moan about our weakness. Our greatest lessons about truth usually come out of our adversities rather than our victories. Ecclesiastes 7:2 puts it well, “You learn more about life from attending a funeral than from throwing a party!”

The process of life is more important than any single event. All of us will have some bad events take place in our lives, but bad events need not determine the outcome of our season or our lives. If truth is our main quest … truth about ourselves, our teammates, our world, our values, our goals … then all defeats are only temporary. Bad events can either make us bitter or make us better. It all depends on what we want to make of them. If we refuse to learn truth from our defeats then they become permanent!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Bullet of Courage: Standing Up for What is Right

What unbelievable times we live in! The changes, confusion, chaos and challenges that face Believers in Christ are overwhelming! The information glut, AIDS, the militant homosexual movement, the abuse of children and the aged, abortion, racial tension, increased hostility everywhere in America against Christianity and Judeo-Christian values, media manipulation and bias, environmental pollution, crushing burdens of debt … both individually and nationally, the glorification of evil, the growth of humanistic materialism and the rejection of absolutes, drugs, weak and corrupt leaders, a despairing youth culture, pop music with major themes of rebellion and sexuality, euthanasia, etc., etc. … need I go on? (This list was originally compiled some years ago. You may think of others to add that were not apparent when it was first composed.)

Yet my heart beats with a new fervency to demonstrate to all the Master’s gift of “the peace that passes understanding!” What insanity we see being proclaimed as wisdom! Our government keeps taxing and spending as though money is the answer to our national deterioration! People are too dense (and too blinded by the demonic) to catch the relationship between moral bankruptcy and disobedience to the principles of God!

What an opportunity for the bold in Christ to reap a harvest! No time in human history have so many millions been in darkness grasping for light! Christians will either “cover up” (try to hide from facing responsibility), “come apart” (yield to the stress, pressures and panic) or “come alive” (grasp the promises of God and give yourself a joyous surrender to His purposes)!

One verse that speaks to me greatly is Micah 7:7, “Therefore, I will look to the Lord, I will wait (pray and obey Scripture) for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” I’m praying for a remnant of Christians to obey that verse and move us into triumphant spiritual battle!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Bullet of Obedience: The Power of Commitment

I can still remember my first day on a summer job while in college. My initial assignment by the foreman was a back-breaking, dirty, sweaty and suffocating job. I “pretended” enthusiasm while hating the thought of it! In a few days though, my appreciation for the foreman, the praise of my fellow employees, the increase in my muscle strength after vigorous “exercise” and my own self esteem of doing a hard day’s work, turned pretense into commitment. I was no longer pretending. The work was just as hard, but I had “bought in” to the reality of the responsibility.

Those who live by the “Higher Loyalty” than “feeling,” “faking it” and “pretending” always overcome them. The Master didn’t “feel” like being beaten thirty-nine times with the Roman lash, but He wasn’t a hypocrite because he allowed it.

The Savior certainly wanted to pull back from the agony of crucifixion, but you can’t say He was “faking it” when He submitted. The Redeemer certainly didn’t enjoy hanging on a cross with spikes through His limbs for six hours, but you can’t accuse Him of “pretending” just because He went through with it!

I think I’ve grown up a little since discovering the above. I’m going to will to do what’s right in spite of reluctant feelings, accusations of faking it or questions of pretending. All three of these poisonous mental concepts will gradually be destroyed by “right action.”

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Bullet of Obedience: False “Because I Don’t” Reasoning

For years I allowed a popular theological notion to impede my progress, if not often stop my obedience to Jesus Christ! I could kick myself now for my stupidity and unreflective acceptance of error! I know you’ve heard it and been victimized by it in your own life. It goes like this:

I don’t really “feel” like praying, so rather than being a hypocrite I just won’t pray! Or, I don’t like her, so why “fake it” and act like I do? Or again, if my heart is not in going to church, I just stay home rather than “pretend.”

What utter nonsense! Yet how many of us have fallen victim to such false reasoning. Are feeling, pretending and faking it reliable terms when it comes to obeying Truth? I say NO! First of all, great achievers don’t live by their feelings! You’re not faking it, if you do what’s right! I remember the time I was the only “adult” present to clean up the vomit of one of my teenage campers. I hated it, but I did it! Was that faking it?

Third, all of us have been guilty of pretending. Yet we need to remind ourselves that pretending is usually the first step in doing something we don’t like until it grows on us!