5 Minute God Thoughts: Going Offline To Go Online With God

In His teaching on prayer in Mt 6:4-16 Jesus showed us we need private (secret) time with God. Our online life affects our ability to focus and can be a challenge for those important times.    

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Police Officer Encounters A Stronghold In The Mind Of A Citizen

If you look at most news media interviews in our culture right now they often escalate into demeaning and hostile interactions. It seems that whatever issue is being discussed they are spun in certain directions according to the narrative in the mind of the interviewer (based on their experience and/or ideology).

There is a spiritual counterpart to this in life among God’s people.  The narratives in the mind affect interactions with others. The good narrative (love) Paul describes in 1 Cor 13:4-7 as ” patient and kind, does not demand its own way… is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged…it expects the best.”  This narrative always promotes positive interactions.  

Paul describes another narrative that destroys relational life called  “strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:2-5). They are often introduced by the enemy or our flesh through interactions, misinformation, and/or offences. If that narratives is playing it will always cause a breakdown in relationships.

Here is a recent video clip that demonstrates how negative narratives prevent good interactions.  A police officer responds to a call about a man selling ammunition on a street corner advertised by a home made sign (not your everyday normal behavior that is somewhat suspicious). The man obviously has a narrative playing his head (the police are bad, out to get me, and government is trying to take away my rights). It has probably been sown by his own beliefs and all the media attention over the recent police related unrest.

You will notice at 1:43 mark that he probably also has a personal offense with this police officer or others from previous encounters (“you tried to harass me before”). Notice how the narrative in his mind caused the interaction (that could have been handled easily with a little cooperation) to escalate into a more volatile interaction. The officer obviously came with a spirit of inquiry as he had to respond to the call but the stronghold in the man’s mind caused it to escalate.  It is a good reminder to keep the narrative of love playing in our mind as we interact with others and “pull down” (2 Co 10:4-5) all others by the Spirit of God.

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5 Minute God Thoughts: Heroic Christians And Heroic Churches

We need to see more heroic Christians and churches spring up in the land today. They can only spring up from God’s foundation that makes heroes.

 

 

 

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Short Video Clip on Intentional Praise, God’s Presence, and Legacy

A few of the things we value in God as a corporate family is the importance of God’s presence, intentional psalmic praise (The Biblical expressions and way we are to enter His presence Psalms 100:4), and a multigenerational perspective of church. Here is a short preaching clip of a guy really getting after it in making these important points. Click the play tab at the bottom twice to start it.

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Passion That Burns Up Nominalism

Titus 2Jesus didn’t give His life for perfect people but He did give His life to have passionate onesTitus 2:13-14  looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,  14  who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous (BBE “on fire) for good deeds.  If we are passionate He will truly be at work perfecting us, but passion/zeal is essential.  Jesus shows us this in working with the church at Laodecia in which he tells them to “be zealous an repent”  (Rev 3:19).  Repentance is always the doorway to progress and zeal motivates us to repent when necessary so we can enter through it.

One of the things sincere Christians must be vigilant about his not giving place to nominalism. Not only is it bad for our personal life, but it also distorts the purpose for which God saved us.  He has clearly called His people to be salt and light (Mt 5:13-16) as they demonstrate and declare the message of the gospel.  When Jesus used the term “light” in that passage He goes on to show the kind of light he is referring to in verse 16, “no one lights a lamp.”  He is referring to the light that comes from fire which has to do with zeal/passion.   The problem with nominalism is that it always seeks to pull us away from God’s purpose that is accomplished with zeal.

Nominalism is a philosophical term that originated in Medieval scholastic thought.  It basically means that universal thoughts or general ideas are mere names without any corresponding reality.  If you bring it into Christianity a nominal Christian is one “in name only” without any corresponding reality of it in their life. The same is true for a group of Christians that becomes content with a nominal church.

Spiritual nominalism is always lurking at our door. It is that polluted part of our flesh that longs for the easy way, half-hearted living, lack of sacrifice, and a life of spiritual ease.   When nominalism is dressed in religious clothing and given place in individuals and churches it not only drains Spiritual life, but it distorts the testimony of God (light of the word).

A dangerous thing about nominalism is that it is never satisfied. When it is given even a small place in our lives it always works at lowering God’s standards and life.  It works like gravity in that respect.  It is always pulling things downward.  It is comfortable hanging out with others who are on a downward trajectory or will seek to pull them down.  It works much like a deteriorating neighborhood. It begins with little things and if not addressed they multiply and become bigger things. Pretty soon the whole neighborhood deteriorates and people hardly notice anymore.  A good neighborhood becomes a ghetto and outsiders recognize it much more than the residents. If the city of God becomes a ghetto it will destroy our testimony as “salt and light, a city set on a hill.”

I think this phenomenon is why David was so insistent about not giving nominalism or nominal people any place in His life.  He “hated the work of those who fall away” and vowed that “it shall not fasten its grip on me.”  He knew if you give nominalism an inch it will take a mile in lowering God’s standards and zeal.  He expressed His desire to join closely with heroic people whose lives were in pursuit of their profession and to avoid those who were not.

Psa 101:1-8… 2  I will give heed to the blameless way…I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.  3…I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me.  4  A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil.  5  Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.  6  My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me ( TLB I will make the godly of the land my heroes and invite them to my home. Only those who are truly good shall be my servants).  7  He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.  8  Every morning I will silence all the wicked of the land, So as to cut off from the city of the LORD…

A Nation Without Heroes Who Stand Against Nominalism

It is a sad state of affairs when there are no heroes in a nation.  A 1939 play called “Life of Galileo” contained a line of mourning, “It is an unhappy country that has no heroes.”  This is true in a secular nation but it is even more true in God’s holy nation the church.  There is not enough fire to confront anything.  It takes the prophetic edge and spiritual backbone out of people.  It can have tragic consequences.  The following is about a nominal church in Nazi Germany in the 1940s.

Erwin Lutzer, in his book “When a Nation Forgets God,” cited a German eyewitnessWhen a nation forgets God in the ’40s who was part of a nominal church that met near railroad tracks where Jews were being carried to their death. He wrote:

“We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it, because we felt, what could anyone do to stop it? “Each Sunday morning, we would hear the train whistle blowing in the distance, then the wheels coming over the tracks. We became disturbed when we heard cries coming from the train as it passed by. We realized that it was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars! Week after week the whistle would blow. We dreaded to hear the sounds of those wheels because we knew that we would hear the cries of the Jews en route to a death camp. Their screams tormented us. We knew the time the train was coming and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church, we were singing at the top of our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more. Years have passed and no one talks about it now, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep.”

Think about this in terms of the German nation at that time.   At the pinnacle of his power in the mid-1940s, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party had only 8.5 million members out of almost 80 million Germans. Ninety percent of the German population the workers, the pastors, the teachers, the farmers, the homemakers and the youth were passive and compliant (nominal) in the face of the growing evil. When courage was needed to confront the menace, it was too late.  There wasn’t enough fire in their nominalistic state to confront much of anything.

stottChurches need fearless people who will live, speak, and, preach His truth in the Spirit of God.  It is passion that works to tear down facades, rip off masks, explode through defenses and pretensions, and yet builds, constructs, engineers and designs new lives in Christ Jesus.  We must seek Jesus, who has fire in His eyes (Rev 1:14), to set us ablaze with His passion to burn out nominalism that is always lurking at our door.

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