Josh Christophersen

Reign In Life

What’s So Bad About Sex Outside Of Marriage?

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A study done two years ago by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that 88% percent of unmarried young adults (ages 18-29) are having sex.

Some look at that stat and are appalled.  Others shrug and ask, “What’s the big deal?”

In a world where sex outside of marriage is becoming more and more acceptable to the culture at large, what is the big deal?

What’s so bad about sex outside of marriage?

We could definitely have a discussion about the perceived pros and cons of sex outside of marriage, and I believe there’s some value in that.

But it really only comes down to one issue: the God of the bible calls it sin.

So the issue is really not about what you believe about sex outside of marriage, but rather what you believe about God himself.

What does dismissing God’s commands about fornication and adultery say about your beliefs about God?

Do you really believe that he’s God if obedience is optional or on your own terms?  Or if you do believe that he’s God and your sins are not a big deal, then your salvation from those sins isn’t that big a deal either – which would explain why your response is so lackluster and dispassionate.

But what if Jesus really is God?  And what if because he’s God, disobeying his commands really is a big deal.

If I slap my brother in the face I probably won’t get in any trouble.  If I slap a stranger on the street, I may.  If I slap a police officer in the face, I’d be arrested.  If I slapped the mayor of my city in the face, it would be a bigger deal, and if I slapped the president of the United States in the face, it would be a huge deal.

Who the sin is against determines how bad the sin is.

Sex outside of marriage, and all sin, is like slapping God in the face.

That’s what makes it bad. And that’s why we need to be saved.

(Image Credit: Jeremy Blanchard)

Your Sin Is Wicked, Vile, Dirty, And Gross, But You Don’t Think So

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How do you view your sin?

How you view your sin is one of the most important views you can have.

The greater the sin, the greater the savior that saves you from your sin, and therefore, the greater the response to that savior.

And I’m not implying a need to embellish the wicked nature of our sin.  I’m advocating an accurate view.

What is an accurate view?

The magnitude of our sin is determined by the magnitude of God’s holiness.  Because God is infinitely holy, our sin is infinitely wicked.

But that’s not how we look at it, is it?

We categorize sins into differing degrees of wickedness to coddle our least detected sin of self righteousness.  We justify ourselves, because our sins, in our minds, aren’t as bad as pedophilia, murder, or rape (which proves our sin of self righteousness).

But that’s our problem.  Our most exalted thoughts of God’s holiness fall dreadfully short of how holy he is, because our finite minds can barely even begin to comprehend the magnitude.  In the same way it’s not even possible to comprehend how wicked, vile, disgusting, and gross our sins are.

Our safest bet is to think of the sins we deem as most wicked and know that ALL of our sins are worse before an infinitely HOLY GOD.

How would your life change if you started viewing lying, gluttony, laziness, fear of man, not keeping your word, worry, and selfishness with the same level of disgust as pedophilia?  This was one of the main points of Jesus’ sermon on the mount: Lust is adultery, hatred is murder, etc.

All of your sin is wickedly appalling.

There is no one who is righteous.  Not even one.  (Rom 3:11)

Your self righteous belief that you are more deserving of God’s grace because of sins you haven’t committed or because the sins you have committed aren’t that bad, is like a filthy, bloody tampon to God (Is 64:6).  It’s disgusting.

Your unrighteousness and self righteousness are sins that are appallingly great.

“But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” (Rom 5:20)

The greater your sin, the greater your savior.  The appallingly wicked nature of your sin magnifies the incredibly wonderful greatness of God’s grace to save you.

The greater your sin, the more amazing his grace.

The more radical his grace, the more radical your response to that grace.

How do you view your sin?

(Image Credit: Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha)

20 Questions To Ask For Deep Meaningful Conversations

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  1. What is God teaching you?

  2. What are you currently being saved from?

  3. What is God saying to you?

  4. What have you been reading in the bible?

  5. What have you been praying about?

  6. Are you encouraged or discouraged? Why?

  7. Have you been connecting with and enjoying God? If so, how? If not, why?

  8. On a scale of 1 to 10, how’s your marriage? (Ask both spouses and then compare answers)

  9. How is it going being single?

  10. How’s your dating relationship been?

  11. How’s parenting been going?

  12. How are thing’s going financially?

  13. How’s it going bringing the kingdom of God to work?

  14. Have you had any recent opportunities to share the gospel?

  15. Have you gotten in any good conversations with anyone lately?

  16. Have you had any dreams from God recently?  If so, what do you think they mean?

  17. How did you come to put your faith in Jesus?

  18. What makes you come alive?

  19. What’s your vision/calling?

  20. Is there anything I can pray for you for?

 

Do you know of any other good questions to help stir up deep meaningful conversations?

(Image Credit: The U.S. National Archives)

Three Essentials Of Organic Accountability

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No one gets excited about contrived accountability.  You know what I’m talking about.  If you’re a guy it usually consists of three questions:

Did you read your bible today?  Did you masturbate?  Did you look at porn?

How do you escape this mechanical, impersonal form of contrived accountability?

The following are three essentials to real organic accountability:

1) Open Hearts

“Open wide your hearts.” (2 Cor 6:13 NIV)

There’s no accountability without vulnerability.  And to be clear, vulnerability is not the same as transparency.

Transparency is an open window.  Vulnerability is an open door.

A lot of people guard themselves from having to be vulnerable by developing a reputation for being transparent.  Transparency isn’t enough.  Dean Sherman said it best, “A relationship is as deep as it is open, as strong as it is broken.”  An open, vulnerable heart makes accountability so much easier and natural.

Is your heart open to other people?  Are you only transparent or are you vulnerable?

“Make room in your hearts for us.” (2 Cor 7:2)

2) Open Homes

“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” (1 Thess 2:8)

The best accountability takes place in a natural, safe, and comfortable environment.  A warm, inviting home can provide a space like that.

Opening your home is practical and provides a certain level of privacy that’s conducive to safe heart connecting.  Having someone over for a meal or drinks, very often allows someone to feel comfortable enough to let their guard down to open the door of their heart.

If you don’t open your home, your left trying to be vulnerable in public places or the other person’s home and the other person may not be ready or willing to open up their own home. Usually if a person finds it difficult to open up their heart, they’ll also find it difficult to open up their home. Opening up your home creates a safe place when their own home is not.

Is your home open?  Do you have other people over?  Is your home warm and inviting?  How often do you have others over for a meal? Do you show hospitality without grumbling (1 Pet 4:9)?

3) Open Schedules

In the busyness of our culture it’s very important to make time for people.  Time equals relationship.  The deeper the relationship, the more natural the accountability.

Do you intentionally make room for other people in your schedule?

All Three Are Necessary

If you have an open home and an open schedule, but your heart is closed, what good is that? You’re basically making room for shallow relationship.

If you have an open heart and an open schedule, but your home isn’t open, you’re not providing space and comfort for people to practically open up.

If you have an open heart and an open home, but you don’t make time for people to access your heart and home, what good is that? That’s just a facade.

True organic accountability requires all three: open hearts, open homes, and open schedules.

How are you at these three things?

Freedom From The Stress Of Trying To Control What You Can’t

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I would venture to say that a lot of stress is caused by trying to control things, people, and circumstances that are out of our control.  There are few things more stressful than attempting to control what we lack the power to control.

The Root Of Control

Control is a response to whatever you are afraid of.  Control is fear management.

If you’re afraid that something is going to happen to you, you can try to control the situation, so that whatever you’re afraid of doesn’t happen.

If you’re afraid that people won’t like you, you can try to control the way people see you, doing the best you can to hide what may cause others to dislike you, while accentuating or exaggerating what makes you more likeable.

Control is the way we serve the god we’re trusting in.  When we’re seemingly in control, our god is pleased and we’re happy, but when our attempts at controlling things fall flat, our god’s requirements aren’t met, and we get stressed.  If you worship what people think of you, then controlling how you appear to others is your service to your god.

If you find yourself stressed out trying to control something that is uncontrollable, ask yourself what you are afraid of?

What Fear Points To

How does one figure out what god they are trusting in?

Jon Foreman sings in one of his songs that “you can tell what you trust, by the things that you fear”.  Your fear reveals where your trust lies.

Using our previous example, if you are afraid of people not liking you, then you are trusting in your ability to be liked.

The reason the gods we put our trust in cause us so much fear and stress is because they can’t be trusted or controlled.

If I don’t believe that the God I profess is trustworthy and in control, I will seek to replace Him with the best god I can come up with to do the job.  Usually it’s ourself that becomes the replacement.

I think for most of us, the choice to replace God with ourselves as the object of our trust is not because we actually believe that we are necessarily a good option.  It’s more that we believe we are the only option.  The accumulated disappointment in our inadequate view of God and our accurate view of fallen people, has forced us to trust in the only thing left: ourselves.

Therein lies the problem and the solution.

Trusting God

I believe that one of the main reasons that most people are trusting in themselves is because they don’t really in their heart of hearts believe that they are loved by God.  Brennan Manning said that “you will trust to the degree that you know that you are loved”.

Do you really believe that God loves you?  Do you really believe that he is for you and not against you (Rom 8:31)?  Do you really believe that God works all things for the good of those who love him (Rom 8:28)?

“You’ll trust to the degree that you know that you are loved.”

Some people believe that God loves them but they don’t believe that God is in control.  A god who is not in control is a god who cannot be trusted, no matter how loving he may be.

If I don’t really believe that God is in control then I’m left trusting and hoping in my self to control.

That’s stressful.

It’s stressful because even the strongest, most capable people can’t control everything.

Rest happens when you are free to let go of trying to control what you can’t, because you’re safe in the arms of the God who’s in control of everything, and you know that he’s loving and good.

The more you trust, the less you fear, and the less you feel the need to control things, people, and circumstances.

That’s good news.

“We know and rely on the love God has for us.” (1 John 4:16 NIV)

(Image Credit: The Library of Congress)

7 Important Lessons About Giving Money

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In second Corinthians nine, Paul talks about money using an example of a farmer planting seed.

I want to point out seven, very practical, very important lessons about money from this text.

1) There are two purposes for seed.

This first point is a very important point.  You can’t be a successful farmer without recognizing and following both purposes for the seed that God provides (2 Cor 9:10).  Some seed has to be used for making bread so that a farmer can eat, and some seed has to be sowed so that there will be more seed for the future.

The same is true of money.  God gives money for living (like food/bread) and enjoyment (1 Tim 6:17), and he also gives money to “sow” or give to God.

Is some of your money set aside for giving and some for daily needs?

2) God is specific about how much to give without giving specific numbers.

He starts off by saying that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully  (2 Cor 9:6).  But how much should we give?  He doesn’t give a number.  He lays out guidelines (2 Cor 9:7) and then tells us what he loves:

  • Each one must give as he has decided in his heart
  • Each one must not give reluctantly or under compulsion
  • God loves a cheerful giver

If we don’t give – we’re disobeying.  If we do give but the motive’s wrong – we’re disobeying.  So how do we do it right?  We remember that God loves a cheerful giver.

3) If you give you’ll have more than enough.

Two of the biggest lies in giving are that you can’t give anything because you don’t have enough or if you do give you won’t have enough.  Both are false.  Paul says that “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Cor 9:8)

  • All grace abounding
  • All sufficiency
  • All things
  • All times
  • Abounding in every good work

Wow.  That’s pretty inclusive

4) God will multiply your seed and increase your righteousness harvest.

When we give/sow, God multiplies our seed/money for sowing and increases the harvest of our righteousness.  So God multiplies the harvest (more seed/money) produced from the initial seed we sowed, and of that harvest he increases the amount of seed/money for sowing/giving.

He gives us more money for giving.  This is especially awesome considering the fact that there’s more pleasure in giving than receiving (Acts 20:35).

5) God enriches us for the purpose of being generous in every way.

Paul says that “you will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way” (2 Cor 9:11).  Our enrichment goes beyond just money.  He promises to enrich us for the purpose of generousity in every way – not just one way, not many ways, but every way.

6) Giving results in supplying needs, thanksgiving, and God being glorified.

And if all that wasn’t good enough, the end result is the needs of the saints supplied, many thanksgivings to God, and God being glorified (2 Cor 9:12-13) fulfilling God’s command in 1 Cor 10:31: “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”, and the purpose for which we were created (Is 43:7).

7) Giving is part of the submission that comes from confessing the Gospel.

Anyone can confess with their lips the gospel of Christ, but true belief in one’s heart will produce a life submitted to God (2 Cor 9:13), including one’s finances, in cheerful generosity.  Paul calls this “the surpassing grace of God upon you” (2 Cor 9:14) and gives thanks for this “inexpressible gift” (2 Cor 9:15).

Conclusion

Are you taking part in this “inexpressible gift” of giving (sowing)?  Or are you settling only for the lesser pleasure of receiving?

Submitting to God in cheerful generosity is really living and God loves it.  Do it and be blessed.

(Image Credit: The Library of Congress)

Thoughts On My Favorite Author: Brennan Manning

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Brennan Manning April 27, 1934 – April 12, 2013

A few days ago, I found out that my favorite author and speaker, Brennan Manning had died. No author or public speaker has had as much influence on my life as Brennan Manning did.

I first heard of Brennan in 1998, while living in Arvada, CO. Two of my friends had road tripped out to visit, and they were ranting about a book called “The Ragamuffin Gospel“. After my friends left, I purchased the book and started reading it. That book changed my life. The previous four years of my Christian life had been plagued by a horrible stronghold of condemnation. After reading that book, for the first time in my life, I felt free. I felt like I got saved all over again.

The following year I brought a copy of the book “Lion and Lamb” and the five cassette series based on that book called “A Glimpse Of Jesus” with my wife and I for our honeymoon. Gina and I would sit in our dinky little cabin and listen to Brennan teach on the compassion of Jesus. It was awesome. I was wrecked by those tapes and that book.

It was at that point that I decided to purchase every teaching and book he had, including his three out of print books. I wanted to learn as much as I could from him.  I enjoyed reading all his books but “A Stranger To Self Hatred” and “Ruthless Trust” were two of my favorites along with those initial first two books.

My favorite part about his speaking style was the brute forcefulness with which he would drive the truth of the love of God like a stake through my hard heart. Here’s an example of what I mean:

I used to pray often that I would be able to articulate the love of God with the same passion, honesty, conviction, and effectiveness of Brennan Manning.  I will continue to pray that for myself and all the other ragamuffin gospel preachers out there.

Here’s some of my favorite Brennan Manning quotes:

“In the words of Francis of Assisi as he met Brother Dominic on the road to Umbria, hi.”

“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God.  This is the true self.  Every other identity is illusion.  God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth.  Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.” – Abba’s Child

“To live without risk is to risk not living.” – Ruthless Trust

“You will trust him to the degree that you know you are loved by him.” – Ruthless Trust

“The more guilt and shame that we have buried within ourselves, the more compelled we feel to seek relief through sin.” – Ruthless Trust

“When the religious views of others interpose between us and the primary experience of Jesus as the Christ, we become unconvicted and unpersuasive travel agents handing out brochures to places we have never visited.” – Ragamuffin Gospel

“I (Jesus) expect more failure from you than you expect from yourself.” – Ragamuffin Gospel

I leave you with the benediction I heard him give when I heard Brennan speak in person, in his Jnco jeans and raggedy old sweater, in Mequon, WI:

May all your expectations be frustrated.
May all your plans be thwarted.
May all your desires be withered into nothingness.
That you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing, dance, and trust in the love of God who is Father, Son, and Spirit.
Amen.

Settling For Less Than The Best Sex

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There’s a lot more to sex than a woman opening her legs to a man.

A boy in a man’s body, masturbating in a women’s vagina, is a far cry from what God intended for sex.

A man needs to rise up in more ways than one to open a woman’s heart. He needs to fight for her to be unafraid. The best sex is with a woman who trusts and is not afraid, because not being afraid makes a woman beautiful. Fear is the opposite of trust.

It takes trust for a woman to open her heart and receive a man’s love.  Sex outside of covenant is not a safe place for a woman’s heart because without covenant, a woman worries she’ll be used, abandoned, unloved, or only loved conditionally.  The natural response is for a woman to close her heart as a self protect mechanism.  Covenant says, “I will never leave you.  I will always love you, ’til death does us part and with no conditions.”  Covenantal love opens a woman’s heart.

A lot of men are trying to have as much sex as they can with multiple women because they believe that they have such a strong desire for pleasure, when in actuality their desire for pleasure is really weak. They’re settling for less than the best sex.  If a man really cared about the highest pleasure he would fight for a woman to be as beautiful as possible and would be more focused on giving than getting (Acts 20:35).

The best sex is enjoyed between two people primarily focused on each other’s pleasure. It’s a lot easier to prostitute a woman for your pleasure than to pursue a woman for her pleasure.

Men, why don’t you stop settling for such a small impish view of sex and a pathetically low desire for pleasure and shoot for something really pleasurable?

How about becoming a man and fighting for a woman’s heart?

How about you stop acting like a boy, thinking primarily about yourself, and you sacrificially love a woman like a man, putting her pleasure first?

How about treating a woman like a lady and not a sexual object?

And women, how about daring to believe that you’re worth being fought for?  Your body was meant to be much more than a place for boys in men’s bodies to masturbate.  Give yourself the dignity of waiting for a man who will give you the safety of being fought for, the confidence that you have a voice and are being heard, and the comfort of knowing that a man cares more about you than himself.

If a smooth talking guy says he wants to have sex with you because he loves you, take a moment to consider what love really is.

Love doesn’t take.  Love gives.

If a man wants to take your virginity, your dignity, or sexual pleasure without giving you the safety of the marriage covenant for God’s honor, you’re pleasure, and a possible future child’s best, then it’s not you he loves, but himself.

If he loves you then he cares about not sinning against God, you, or his own body (1 Cor 6:18-20). He doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing (1 Cor 13:6).

If he loves you then he cares most about your pleasure (1 Cor 13:4-5).

If he loves you then he cares about what’s best for your children.  Yes, I said children.  Sex is where babies come from, and guess what, babies are conceived on birth control as well. If a guy isn’t thinking about the possibility of children, he isn’t loving you.

The best sex is sex done God’s way.

God doesn’t command you not to do things because he’s an angry prude who doesn’t want you to enjoy anything – quite the contrary.  He’s a loving father who knows that what gives him the most glory, gives you the most pleasure.  But like C.S. Lewis said, “We are far too easily pleased.”

Are you settling for less than the best sex?

(Image Credit: Joe Thorn)

Before You Pass Judgement On A Woman…

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There’s an interesting story in the bible about David’s first wife Michal despising him in her heart after he dances with all his might as the ark of the Lord is returned to Jerusalem.  If this was all you knew about the story, one could easily look down on her for despising David.  Some might say she was a “Jezebel” or that she had a “religious spirit”.

Although it’s definitely not right to despise anyone in your heart, a quick look at what we know about Michal’s life could help us to look at her with a little more compassion.

Let’s take a look.

Scene One

  • 1 Sam 14:49  Scene one begins with Saul having two daughters.  Michal was the younger of the two.
  • 1 Sam 18:20  Michal loved David and they told her father Saul.
  • 1 Sam 18:21  Saul decided to give Michal to David to be his wife, but his motive was so that she would “be a snare for him” and that the hand of his enemies, the Philistines, would be against David.  That’s not exactly the reason you want your dad to be giving you away to be married, is it?
  • 1 Sam 18:25  Saul decided to set the bride price at 100 Philistine foreskins.  But again, his reason for that particular bride price was an attempt to have David killed in the process of attaining them.
  • 1 Sam 18:27  David brought 200 foreskins to the king, double what Saul had asked for, and Saul gave his daughter Michal to David as his wife.
  • 1 Sam 18:29  The scene ends stating that “Saul was David’s enemy continually”.  So although Michal married the man she loved, her father was her husband’s enemy.

Scene Two

  • 1 Sam 19:1  Scene two begins with Saul telling his servants and Michal’s brother Jonathan to kill his son-in-law David.  What kind of father tries to kill his baby girl’s husband?  What kind of father tells his son to kill his own son-in-law?  Can you imagine the daddy wound in the heart of Michal at this point?
  • 1 Sam 19:10  The scene ends with Saul trying to pin David to the wall with a spear and David escaping into the night.

Scene Three

  • 1 Sam 19:11  Scene three begins with Saul sending servants to David and Michal’s house to watch David so that Michal’s father could kill her husband in the morning.
  • 1 Sam 19:11-17  Michal sends David away and creates a diversion in order to spare her husband’s life from her dad.
  • 1 Sam 19:18  The scene ends with David now living in another city away from his wife Michal.  Michal can no longer live with the husband she loves, because of her crazy dad.

Scene Four

  • 1 Sam 25:42-43  Time passes and David marries two other women: Abigail and Ahinoam.
  • 1 Sam 25:44  Saul had given Michal to Palti to be his husband.  Earlier in the story we were told of Michal’s love for David.  We don’t know if Michal loved Palti.  The text doesn’t say.  We only know that the choice was made by her father.

Scene Five

  • 1 Sam 31:3-5  Michal’s father Saul commits suicide after sustaining arrow wounds in battle.  Michal not only has to deal with the death of her father, but also the shameful way in which he took his life.

Scene Six

  • 2 Sam 3:12-14  After David is made king of Judah, he requests that his wife Michal be brought to him.
  • 2 Sam 3:15-16  Michal’s brother Ish-bosheth takes her from her husband Paltiel, and Paltiel weeps after her as they travel to David.  What was going on in Michal’s heart at this point, being taken away from her second husband and hearing him weeping behind her as they traveled?  Had Michal grown to love Paltiel?  What is Michal’s attitude towards men starting to look like at this point?

Scene Seven

  • 2 Sam 6:16  Scene seven begins with David returning the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem.  Michal looks out the window and sees her husband leaping and dancing before the Lord, and “she despised him in her heart”.
  • 2 Sam 6:20  David returns to bless his household and Michal comes out to meet him saying “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!”  Michal is finally back with her first love and now here he is exposing himself in public in front of other women.
  • 2 Sam 6:21-22  David responds that he will make himself more contemptible than this.
  • 2 Sam 6:23  Our story ends with this statement: “And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.”  We don’t know if she was barren or if David never slept with her again.  The text doesn’t say.  All we know is that she never had a child.

The story of Michal is a sad story.  It’s hard to imagine what kind of inward thoughts, pains, and attitudes she must have dealt with and how difficult it may have been to keep from being bitter towards men.

The takeaway is this:  be careful before you pass judgement on a woman.  Take the time to understand where she’s coming from.  I’m not saying someone’s difficult past justifies any sinful behavior, but considering a person’s past can help us to be more compassionate, especially in a world where 1 in 3 girls are sexually assaulted before age 18.

How have you treated and spoken about the Michal’s in your life?

That’s The Church’s Job

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It’s time to take some blame for the state of our world.

Let’s face it. The church’s voice is marginalized and ignored when we blame gay marriage while half of us are divorced, when we blame government when we can’t govern our own family, when we blame business when we can’t control our own spending, when we blame music while singing the praise of idols, when we blame Hollywood while being more enamored with their stories than the story of God in the bible, when we blame the media for all the bad news they preach when we’re not preaching the good news of the gospel, when we blame education while abdicating our responsibility to train up our children in the way they should go.

We’re not living in a manner worthy of the gospel when we preach a gospel of salvation from the penalty of sin and a future hope of salvation from the presence of sin, while failing to also display the gospel’s present power to save us from the power of sin.

Blaming the government, Hollywood, music, education, and the media for the moral crisis the nations finds themselves in is not the answer.  It’s not their job to be salt and light.

That’s the church’s job.

The bible says that the church is supposed to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”. (Matt 5:13-16) Salt preserves and protects from decay.  Light expels darkness.

For decades the church retreated from society.  And then when decay and darkness infiltrated and permeated culture, the church complained about how bad things got.

Could it be that the reason this happened is because the church wasn’t as salty and the light wasn’t as bright?

If the lights were to go out in my basement, the absence of light would make it a dangerous place for tripping and falling.  The absence of the church’s light makes the world a dangerous place for tripping and falling into the harm and destruction of sin.

In lieu of the church’s past retreat from society and the current mess we’re in, the error of my generation has been to swing the other way.  We’re now as Dave Matthews said, “making plans to change the world, while the world is changing us”.

Becoming like the world isn’t helping. We need to be in the world, but not of it.

The world needs the kingdom of God, the rule and reign of Jesus.  The small mustard seeds of the kingdom need to be planted in every realm of society: arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, and religion. (Matt 13:31-32)  The yeast of the kingdom needs to work through the whole batch of dough. (Matt 13:33)

There’s only one entity that exists to bring the kingdom of God onto planet earth.  In fact, God created all things for this entity: the church (Eph 3:9-10).  The church is the means by which God has chosen to bring his kingdom on earth.

If we’re serious about changing the world, then we need to be serious about seeking first his kingdom.  And if we’re serious about the kingdom, then zeal for God’s house (his church) must consume us as well (Ps 69:9). As zeal for God’s house consumes us we’ll live lives as the church in a manner worthy of the gospel (Phil 1:27); lives that preach and demonstrate “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).  The gates of hell shall not prevail against such a church (Matt 16:18), because a church like that is the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

(Image Credit: alles-schlumpf)