Dead Faith

If you’re a Christian, you go to church. You wear modest and plain clothing. You don’t swear, and you never watch late night television. Your Bibles are on clear display in your living room, showing to everyone who may pass that they are in constant use and never get stored away. You host prayer group, volunteer at local shelters, and put a “Beam Me Up, Jesus!” bumper sticker on the back of your car. That’s what Christianity is, right? If you believe in God, you must act like a born and bred true American Christian. We all know this.

Except none of what I mentioned above means a darn thing.

Yes, I did just say that. You could be a pastor in an oppressive anti-Christian country, adopt three thousand orphans, and work at a war zone hospital for free for the rest of your life, yet it would be absolutely pointless if your heart wasn’t filled with Jesus. That’s a case of dead faith, my friend.

This kind of blows the mind. What is sold to us is that as long as you believe that God exists and Jesus died for your sins, you’re fine. Eternal get-out-of-jail-free card. But here’s another thing to further stretch your mind (unless I’m the only one finds this surprising and/or shocking, which I sincerely doubt); even demons believe. They tremble when they hear Jesus’s name because they know He has the power to send them back to hell. They fully accept that God is who He claims He is (examples of this can be found in Matthew 8:29, Mark 1:24, and Luke 8:31) and therefore the fact that you believe in God and the sacrifice of the cross means zilch.

James, bless him, addresses this. He says; “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” – James 2:26

But hold up, wait a minute, stop the presses. I dare to even use shut the front door. The whole point of Jesus coming to earth was because we can’t do good works if our souls depended on it…which they do. This message seems contradictory to everything we’ve learned thus far.

What James and I (because we’re totally best buddies) are trying to get across the board is that when you believe something, you need to fulfill it with action. Like a promise. You may promise to clean your room, but if you don’t actually clean your room, your promise no longer carries any weight. In the same way, it is not enough to merely believe God’s promises. It must be accompanied by deeds.

As John Calvin said, “It is faith alone that justifies, but faith that justifies can never be alone.” To achieve righteousness, it’s not an either/or situation. There’s no deeds OR faith. You need both.

To prove this, we have the story of Rahab. She was a harlot in Jericho, yet she was saved by performing a living faith in God when she risked her life to protect the spies. No matter who it is, if you demonstrate a breathing, fulfilled faith, you will be saved.

“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” – James 2:22

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I’ve Said This Before But I’m Saying It Again

You are here for a very specific reason. It isn’t just that God ran out of ideas for new humans to create and decided to pop a half-finished draft (like this post was for quite some time) from the bottom of the pile into the world. God had you – your appearance, your personality, your talents, whether or not you would stub your toe on the chair last week – planned since before the creation of the earth when nothing existed except for God. He carefully plotted out your entire life from start to finish, everything that you would do meticulously placed. There were no accidents, no moments when God ever regretted what He had formed. He always has and always will look upon you and smile at what He’s made. You’re His child, His baby. He’s had you in His hands and I promise you that He’s never left. Every breath you’ve taken, every “chance” encounter, has a purpose to it. Your mistakes and failures are just as important as your triumphs and victories. They all are for your benefit or for the continuation of God’s glory. Satan can try, but God’s already won the battle a thousand times over because of you. You are the reason that the living God fights.

Not only has He done all of the things I mentioned above, but when we dug our own graves, when we sinned and fell, when we cursed our Father’s name and turned away, He never left. He did not give us up as a lost case. He was right there the entire time. And when nothing else could save us, He sent His Son. But even then we did not realize what we had been given. We ridiculed him. We tortured him and killed him. We killed the Son of God. Do you realize that God could’ve turned us all to ash at that moment and it would have been perfectly justified? But He didn’t. He loved us and forgave us. Murderers, prostitutes, liars, thieves, adulterers. All was destroyed on the cross.

Don’t throw away the beautiful life you’ve been gifted.

Thank God for Fleas!

Now, you’re probably looking at that title and going, Who on earth would say that?

Hi. Welcome to Christianity.

Our subject of the day is a woman named Corrie ten Boom (yes, that’s her real name. Isn’t it fantastic?), who lived in Holland during World War II. Long story short, she and the rest of her family were caught aiding the oppressed Jews and sent to concentration camps. She was put into this absolutely disgusting bunker with about eighty women in a tiny, tiny space where hygiene was pretty much nonexistent and keeping illness from spreading was impossible. Just to add another horrible thing to the pile, this particular bunker was completely infested with fleas. They were everywhere. It was like a plague.

May as well just forget comfort existed.

Corrie had smuggled a Bible in, however, and was able to teach the fellow women every night. Now, Corrie could not have had more than a couple of hours to rest with how hard the soldiers worked the inmates, and she used that time to teach.

Of course, if the soldiers caught her with a religious artifact (or doing anything at all that they didn’t particularly like, most of the time they didn’t need much of a reason) Corrie could be shot on sight. It was very dangerous. A single sound heard outside the door and it would be like my brother when he’s up to mischief – shut up and pretend you’re doing nothing.

But for nights on end, no one came. No one at all. Corrie and the other inmates were rather confused about this until Corrie overheard the soldiers saying that no one wanted to come to her bunker because of what? The fleas.

So you know what Corrie was thanking God for?

The fleas!

The thing is, maybe you have something in your life right now that bothers you or is just plain bad. It doesn’t feel like it’s helping you at all. It could be something as simple as not being warm enough this winter, or a subject decidedly more serious. Do you have the faith to praise God for it?

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you through Christ Jesus.

– 1 Thessalonians 5:18

My Chemical Romance

C9H13No3 + C8H11No2 + C10H12N2O + C43H66N12O12S2

That up there is the chemical formula for love, or at least the feeling you get when you’re in it. It can be made in just about any lab, or completely natural when your brain releases it all by itself. Epinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. Overdose on any of them could result in extreme paranoia, schizophrenia, and insanity. Some call it evolution’s way of continuing the human race, because it totally has a plan for the future as a lifeless, heartless “natural happening”, which is obviously a possible thing.

Or it could be because there’s a God who cares about us and wants us to continue making new life so that we may live to glorify him and get just a small earthly taste of the amazing love he has for us and-

Psh. That’s ridiculous. Disregard the very thought of it.

The Sinful Nature’s Attacking…Again

After each meal in my house, I have to play drill sergeant to get the kitchen cleaned up. Sometimes, the soldiers children aren’t all that cooperative. Feet are dragging, there are moans like someone shot them in the stomach, they’re just not moving. And my patience is wearing thin. I’ll try to keep my cool for as long as possible, and then suddenly, RAWR! I’m yelling at the top of my lungs that if they do not start sweeping the floor I will tie them in a burlap sack and throw them into the ocean to get eaten by Ariel’s cousins. Then, I stop. Midsentence almost. Gasping for air, I wonder; Where did that come from? I feel physically and emotionally incapable of that terrible of a reaction to frustration and anger.

If you watch the news long enough, the picture of a murderer might show up on the screen. Perhaps they violently killed three people. When the family and friends are interviewed, at times they will say that they don’t know how this person could’ve done it. They always seemed so nice, and they wouldn’t hurt a fly. They’re wondering, Where did that come from?

It’s hard to imagine how truly horrible the sinful nature is. It takes over anyone, at any time, in any place. It does not discriminate between any sort of group. I think a common misconception is that when you become a Christian, you don’t feel the urge to sin anymore, like when you’re on a sugar free diet for a long time and don’t want to eat that triple fudge brownie because you’ve found something better. No, it’s not like that at all. Perhaps your soul has been given to God, but your flesh is and still will be with you until the day you die. It will continue to attack you, to tempt you, no matter what your standing. It won’t give up and the darned thing won’t die like some satanic immortal demon (that’s exactly what it is, as I think about it).

For example, we’ve got Paul. If you’ve ever taken a single glance at the New Testament, you’ll have heard at least a part of his story. He used to be called Saul and was a persecutor of people of the faith before he did a complete U-turn in the opposite direction and became one of the most amazing Christians of all time if I do say so myself. You’d think that a guy like him wouldn’t be tempted, or at least not as much as the common man, right? That’d be great, but nope. In Romans 7:18-20, he says “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” This is a man struggling with sin just as much as you or me.

This sinful nature won’t stop. And you’re going to get exhausted and depressed and want to put the sword down and take a break for one moment. How easy would it be to give in? To lie down and let the flesh take over, to pull you into the darkness. Simple. You wouldn’t have to work at all.

No one said this whole Christian thing was going to be fun and cheerful with rainbows and unicorns. Lovely thought, but that doesn’t come until later. But you will have peace and love. Jesus will always be there to hand you your spiritual Gatorade and to strengthen you for the next attack. In him, you may rest.

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

 

What Are You Saving For?

In this modern age, we have thousands of different devices that were created solely for the purpose of saving you time and energy. Many advertisers will use that to their advantage because companies have realized that humans love the idea of more. Dishwashers, microwaves, ovens, stoves, running water, and that’s just in the kitchen. Let’s not even begin on all the inventions made for the workplace, construction, transportation, etc.

But the question is, what are we saving all this time and energy for? We constantly feel like we need these things, but have you ever thought about why? For me personally, I usually want to finish faster with as little work involved as possible because I want to get back to reading my book or browsing through pictures of Sherlock. However much I try to convince myself otherwise, that stuff isn’t important. I’m saving time and energy, yeah, but I’m not putting it to good use. God gave us these wonderful people with brilliant minds that could make these labor-saving inventions, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t intend us to use the left over bits for watching the trailer for the new epic fantasy movie.

There are twenty-four hours in a day. After your work is done and you have interspersed no moments of entertainment or self indulgence, how much time do you have left before you need to rest? Or how much energy do you still contain? You may have mere seconds before your body yells “NOPE!” at the top of its lungs and crashes into bed declaring it hates Mondays or you may have a good six hours in your gas tank. It is so tempting to use those minutes for doing absolutely nothing. Eat an apple even though you’re full, wander around your choice of dwelling with a listless look, check your notifications on Facebook. Lethargy pulls you down, and if you do nothing for long enough, you become nothing. There will always be work to be done until everyone on this earth praises God as the one and only. There is always something you could be doing. There are people to help, a God who wants to spend time with you, and love that demands to be shared.

So I ask you…what are you saving for?

One Way, No Another

In case you haven’t noticed, the world’s thoughts and beliefs contradict each other. Like, all the time.

On one hand, you’re supposed to tolerate anything and everything, but you’re also supposed to help and love others.

Be kind. They need to toughen up, don’t assist them.

It’s okay to be fat, so here’s this weight-loss diet that I think you should go on.

Follow your dreams, but that one is stupid.

Don’t try to make yourself look better for anyone, just make sure you always look impeccable.

Share your opinions! As long as they agree with mine.

Do whatever you want, but don’t do that.

Life is a gift! Kill yourself.

It doesn’t matter who you are. Now change.

World peace! Send the nukes.

Work out to keep healthy. You should be skinnier than that.

I get confused simply writing this. Take a look at the world today. Murder, suicide, rebellions, drugs, faulty ideas of love, a minefield of bad decisions. We’re not getting anywhere. Even if all seven billion people of the earth got together under a single banner, we could not save a single soul. Driving in the middle of nowhere without a steering wheel, gas pedal, break, fuel, engine, seat, or GPS. A sure recipe for failure.

And then you look at the Bible. One truth, one concept. One right way to do everything. No trickery, no foul play, no dishonesty.

Just a God who loves you and sent his Son to die for the confusion, for this world of trickery and foul play and dishonesty. For the murders, suicides, rebellions, drugs, faulty ideas, and bad decisions.

For you.

There is nothing in this world that would ever do that for the mess of human beings that we are.