Consumer Christian or one who is Consumed – Living for His Cause

lost your life for His sakeThe bestselling non-fiction hardback book in History,”The Purpose Driven Life,” opens with the following paragraph. “It’s not about you.  The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness.  It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions.  If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God.  You were born by His purpose and for His purpose.” 

Jesus expressed this thought over and over in the Gospels.  If you want to find His life you have to lay your’s down for His sake (purpose or cause).  Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall (cause) find it (Mt 10:39, Mk 8:35, Lk 9:24, Lk 17:32-33).  Paul said that laying our life down for His cause is at the heart of why Jesus died.  2Co 5:15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.  If we try to find “our life” apart from “His cause” we may be successful in this life but a failure in His life.

What is His sake (cause)?  When He mentioned this in Matthew 16:25 He had just told them essence of His cause a few versus earlier.  When Peter revealed who Jesus was, Jesus spelled out His cause/sake.  Mat 16:18-19  “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.  And I will give you the Keys of the Kingdom….

Jesus building His church to reveal His Kingdom lies at the heart of His cause.  Unfortunately for many Christians Jesus, and Jesus building His church, is an optional add on to their life.  But to Jesus it is at the center of His purpose.  You need only look at the end of the Bible where you see that in the eternal state the only two things that live in God’s life are Jesus and His church.  .

Example of Pavement Theology in the life of His people

Choosing His cause/sake has practical outworking associated with it in the hear and now.  I call it pavement theology, our beliefs are worked out on the pavement of life.  The following is a testimony of a young believer who has been captured by Jesus and His cause to the point that he altered “his planes” for “His plan.”  He titled his testimony  “Planted” after the great Psalm expressing the importance of God’s house.  Psa 92:12-15 The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree… 13  Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God.  14  They will still yield fruit in old age.  He wrote it so his friends and family would understand his decision to altar “his path” for “His path.”

When are you going to move back to Central Kansas? Why are you stuck on Pittsburg?  Why are you leaving your career just as you’re getting started?

Questions I have been asked and I’m sure will be asked as I make this transition from photojournalist to police officer.

Quick thing on broadcasting. It’s kind of designed so if you want to move up, you have to move out. For me to “move up the ladder” I would have to move to a bigger market. Kansas City, Springfield, Wichita, or even bigger. At the smaller market level, it’s geared to snag people fresh out of college, give them a great first job, and watch them move on to the bigger markets. That’s what I would have to do to stay in journalism.  So why do I not want to do that?

It’s been around four and a half years since I moved to Pitt. The original plan was to graduate and move back closer to family. Cliche quote – if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.  Four years ago we walked into a church, and though I had no clue then, God was going to change my plans.  This new church challenged my view of what a church really should be. The people here really showed us how to live out being the body of Christ. We felt like we were a part of the family, not just “members.” We got involved, and worked on building relationships.

Then graduation came.  I was wanting a photography job.  Not. Much. Here. I didn’t even look outside of this area much. Luckily, I landed a TV job. Video, but still in the journalism field I wanted to be in. It was a little bit of a transition, but I ended up really loving it. It was a job that was different every day — I got to do lots of fun stories, meet people, and see interesting things. However, I quickly found out there wouldn’t be much in the way of career advancement if I wanted to stay put.

This lead to probably the biggest test of how planted I really felt. I was starting a career I really loved. The logical progression was to find a higher level job in that field. Wichita was calling my name. Only two hours from our families, and it was a big enough market to support the family Emily and I were starting. I really wrestled with God about it. It seemed like every sermon, every Bible verse, every time we gathered with people from the church, the concept of being firmly rooted in the church was coming up.

The thing that really drove it home went back to the body of Christ. A lot of people treat a church family like a plug in — “I really feel ‘plugged in’ and ‘connected’ with this church.” But with being “plugged in” comes the idea of being able to unplug from one spot and plug in somewhere else.

Then there is the body of church talked about in the Bible. When God gathers a body, He places you in a specific spot. As a sound man, let’s just call me an ear. What would happen if somehow your ear just left your face. It would probably hurt, a lot. There would be blood, and that ear might not work so well, either for you or on its own. (There is also that fringe benefit of an equilibrium that an ear provides.) But the same goes for any part of the body. If you forcibly remove something, there will be problems.  That’s the picture of what happens when someone leaves a church body where God has placed them.

Do I still wish I could be closer to family? You bet, and some day we hope to be, God willing. But for the time being, we’re where God wants us to be Matthew 10:37.  Of course God wants us to love family, and we should have close relationships with them, but this is an example of how nothing should be more important than God. So if I know God is calling me to be in a specific location, and I deliberately turn and walk away, even for a “good” reason, that’s a sin. It’s something I would be thinking about while I pack up all my belongings and move to a different city, where I will unpack, and try to reach out to the God I just ignored in a new church and new home.

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God’s Answer To The Dysfunction That Began At Creation

When I am staying in other people’s homes my prayer time usually involves prayer walks.  This is partly because I get up early for prayer and I don’t want to disturb the household.  Another reason is that often when I pray on site I get God’s insight in those places.

This happened recently as I was praying in a historic neighborhood of Kansas City.  It was an area that in the last century had been a prominent neighborhood but gradually deteriorated due to urban sprawl.  Once elegant homes became deteriorated, crime rates soared, and it became a troubled area.  Over the last 40 years some people have been moving into the area with a mind to restore the homes and neighborhoods but it is still a mixture deterioration and restoration.

The curses released in the garden

As I prayed the whole issue of the curses with began in the garden of Eden came strongly to mind.  These curses are the effects of the fall of mankind that are still the source of all deterioration and breakdown. If you remember in the story, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God there was a  cursing that came on the environment.  First, Adam and Eve became polluted on the inside.  The nature of sin and death came in them and they lost their ability to walk with God, the source of all life. Genesis 2:17-3:18… for in the day that you eat from it (tree of the knowledge of good and evil) you will surely die.”…. Gen 3:6-8 When the woman … took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  7  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked…8  They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD

This pollution caused the life inside of them to become twisted, selfish, and full of shame.  Things that were once good and healthy, connected with God, now became corrupted and evil.  Healthy sexuality now became sexual prevision, rest became laziness, nourishment became gluttony, healthy relational life became full of bitterness, unforgiveness, envy, and jealousy.  What was once life flowing through God now became a darkened pursuit of self centered ends.

Another part of this cursing was the physical environment 3:17 to Adam He said…Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field.  What was once an environment of life now became polluted.  Cursed things began to grow as well as things like storms, plagues, and corruption in the animal kingdom now came into being.  The whole world’s system came under the sway of the evil one 2Cor 4:4, 1Jn 2:15-16.

The curse of Cain

Another curse came into the offspring of Adam and Eve.  They experienced a relational disunity that caused major dysfunction.   Cain became jealous and full of hatred towards his brother that lead to murder.  As a result God pronounced a curse, the curse of Cain, which resulted in people having  difficulty finding satisfaction in life and relationships.  Genesis 4:10-14…. (11)  “Now you are cursed from the ground…(12)  “When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.”…(14) I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

The curse of Cain causes people to live a nomadic lifestyle, outside of the rest of healthy relational family life (a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth).  When they do enter into relationships they will deteriorate and fall apart (whoever finds me will kill me.)   The curse of Cain is what causes any kind of relational family life to break up.  It happens in natural families, church families, and any other type of family relationships that should be a source of stability in our lives.

As I was praying for those neighborhoods I found myself reflecting on the issues of the past 50 years that have contributed to our societies current version of the curse of Cain.  The no fault divorce laws beginning in the 60s have made it easy for couples to separate and families to break apart.  The sexual revolution of the 60s helped facilitate sexual expressions and perversions outside the covenant of marriage.  Amoral sex education in the public schools beginning in the 70s has taught children how to engage in sexuality with little moral boundaries to govern it.  The downside of the “war on poverty” which began in the 60s has fostered financial advantages for people having children outside the covenant of marriage.  Now the whole redefinition of marriage arguments have further encourages people away from marriages and homes that have biological mothers and fathers involved in raising children.

Praying for God’s answer

I found myself praying for God to do what He said He would in the last days.  God spoke through prophets that He would raise up His house to demonstrate and declare God His ways.  This would bring His answer to, and healing of the curse of Cain that destroys so many Isaiah 2:1-6, Micah 4:1-8.  “For Zion’s sake” we need to pray that God would raise His demonstration and answer through the lips and lives of His people.

A couple of days later I came across an incredible story about a girl, who grew up suffering the effects of the curse of Cain, placing an ad on Craigslist to “rent a family” for the Holidays.  The  26-year-old California student Jackie Turner,  penned a heartbreaking Craigslist advertisement revealing she has  been sexually abused in the past and is estranged to her biological parents.   She was even willing to pay $8.00 an hour to the helping family. “Hello, I am looking to rent a mom and dad for a couple of days during this holiday season. I have never lived with my biological parents in our family together.  I want to rent a mom and dad.”   Her story shows the beginning of God healing the curse and it is interesting to see the reporter gain insight into the problem.    Here is a clip of an interview of Jackie Turner.

 

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