Category Archives: The Christian Life

Your Standard: The World or Jesus?

I have observed that in our Western Christian culture holiness is not a hot topic.   Then again, neither is sin.  Well some of us might shed our opinion on “big” issues like homosexual marriage, abortion or current scandals in the media, when it comes to matters of personal holiness we have a lot less to say.

In fact the world has made some cliché statements to brand conservative Christians, and unfortunately much of the Christian culture has chosen to adopt the terms also.  When someone upholds a high moral standard, abstaining from sins some consider common, and especially if they exhort others to do the same, they will quickly be labelled as “holier-than-thou,” “self-righteous” or “legalistic.”  It tends not to matter how humbly they express themselves, or how biblical their claims are, if they stand against status-quo Christianity they risk their reputation and in many people’s eyes their credibility.

The implication is that if a Christian chooses to rise above the average standard for holiness in our nation, they must consider themselves somehow better than other Christians.  A Christian who won’t listen to the same music, watch the same movies, or engage in immoral or gossipy conversations, must consider themselves superior and have a condescending view of others.

That being said, is a true pursuit of holiness really worth it?  Well that depends.  Are we trying to please God or are we trying to please man?  You decide.

What is holiness?  Vines dictionary describes holiness as a “separation to God, and the conduct befitting to those so separated.”  Holiness is fitting to a person who claims they are a Christian, while continuing worldliness in a professing Christian displays that they are not truly born of God.

With so many “Christians” getting divorced, becoming alcoholics, attending rated R movies, and acting in sensuality, I have to wonder what was their motive for coming to Christ?  A person needs to come to Christ for something that they do not have: Holiness.  Jerry Bridges said that “No one can trust in Jesus Christ for true salvation unless he trusts in Him for holiness.”  In other words, if you came to Him for something OTHER than holiness as your primary motive, you did not come to Him at all.

Ephesians 1:4 says that the reason he chose us of the world was so that “we should be holy and blameless before Him.”  With so much modern preaching urging men to come to Jesus for a happier life, fewer problems, physical healing, and the mending of a hole in your heart, over and above coming to Jesus to be cleansed of sin, made Holy, and reconciled to God, it is no wonder that much modern day Christianity looks little different from the rest of the world.

Paul Washer accurately said: “I want you to know that, when you take a look at American Christianity, it is based more upon a godless culture than it is upon the Word of God… when they (professing Christians) look around at others who profess to know Christ and see those people also just as worldly as the world, and they compare themselves by themselves, nothing troubles their heart.  They think, ‘Well, I’m the same as most in my youth group.  I watch things I shouldn’t watch on television and laugh about the very things that God hates.  I wear clothing that is sensual.  I talk like the world.  I walk like the world.  I love the music of the world.  I love so much that’s in the world, but bless God, I am a Christian.  Why am I a Christian?  I don’t look any different than most of the other people in my church. Why am I a Christian? Because there was a time in my life when I prayed and asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart.’”

Dear friends, I know it might sound harsh but this is exactly what is going on right here in Chilliwack BC.  We need a revival.  We need God to have mercy on us and open our blind eyes.  Jerry Bridges makes a similar claim in his book “The Pursuit of Holiness.”

“Many Christians have what we might call a “cultural holiness.”  They adapt to the character and behaviour pattern of Christians around them.  As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy.  But God has not called us to be like those around us.  He has called us to be like Himself.  Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.”

We are not meant to measure ourselves by our friends, or even our pastor, but by the character of God Himself revealed to us in the Bible.  Our lack of Holiness is as much a result of poor gospel preaching and a lack of emphasis on sin, as it is a result of our negligence to read and obey the Word of God.  I have seen people more fanatical about worldly philosophies and principals that they have imagined to be exclusively “Christian,” than I have about what the Bible actually says.  People get more excited about miracles, healings, signs and wonders, than they do about Martyrs oversees dying for the Glory of God.  Set apart living?  Prayer meetings?  Worse yet, that divisive and dreaded word doctrine?  Boring.  But a good worship service with bright lights, smoke, and an awesome band- that people have an easier time getting excited about.

But God says: “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word (Isaiah 66:2).”  He doesn’t esteem you by your health, your job, your car, your social status, or your role at church.  The one He esteems is the one who trembles at His word.  This verse paints a picture of a person who has realized that God is infinitely wiser and greater than himself, that He is a God to be feared, and a God to be obeyed.  This person believes that living by God’s word truly does matter, so much in fact that as he analyzes his life in light of scripture he begins to tremble.

God doesn’t care what you look like, or how many friends you have on facebook, or how relevant you are to your culture- He wants you to love Him, obey Him, and be Holy as He is Holy.

He doesn’t marvel at a church that overflows to the streets.  He is pleased if the people in it are coming for HIM and not for benefits, and that they are hearing truth and being soundly saved.

He’s after your heart.  This obsession with looks, possessions, media, and worldly things in God’s house needs to end if we want to be pleasing and useful to Him.  2Timothy 2:21 “If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

If you really don’t care about growing in Holiness, about making it your aim to please the Lord with your life, then there is ample evidence to suggest that you are not truly saved.  “Strive for…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).”  2Timothy 2:19 “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

I do not mean that a Christian must be perfect, nor can he ever become perfect in this life.  But are you concerned about pleasing the Lord?  Do you care about growing in holiness, and becoming more like Jesus Christ?  Do you prefer your worldly entertainment more than time with Him?  Is the world your friend and your home, and do you set your eyes on it as if the glories of Heaven, Christ and His word are a lesser joy?  Have you found yourself mocking and scorning Christians who hold to a higher moral standard than yourself?

2Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?- unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”

If your actions, thoughts, and desires contradict your Christian profession, then come to Christ.  You need to be born again.  Randy Alcorn writes “A false faith…deserves to be lost… Losing your faith may be God’s gift to you.  Only when you jettison ungrounded and untrue faith can you replace it with valid faith in the true God- faith that can pass, and even find strength in, the most formidable of life’s tests.”

If we truly know Christ than let’s not use those around as our standard for living.  Let’s base our lives on the Word of God, and live it out whether people want to call us self-righteous-fanatic-Bible-thumpers or not.  I’ll end with this incredible poem by CT Studd.

            [headline h=”1″]Only One Life, ‘Twill Soon Be Passed[/headline]

“Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervour burn, And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, ”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

Prayer Answered by Crosses

I read this poem probably five years ago and have come back to it many times.  It’s easy to see the loving care of God when He answers our prayers the way we want them to be answered.  Sometimes we pray “Your will be done” but in our hearts we really mean “but please, please, please do this the way I want.” When things don’t turn out that way we feel like God didn’t hear us.  When times are extremely difficult we may be tempted to ask “Doesn’t He love me?”

This poem helped show me what it means to pray with the Glory of God as the highest aim in mind.  “Lord, whatever it takes- glorify yourself in me.  Ultimately Lord, do what it takes to receive the most glory from this situation.”  Oftentimes that process means God opens our eyes to our own sinfulness and uses trials to reveal areas where we need to grow in faith, love, hope and trust in the Lord.

Prayer Answered by Crosses
By John Newton

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace,
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly his face.

‘Twas he who taught me thus to pray;
And he, I trust, has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that, in some favoured hour,
At once he’d answer my request,
And by his love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea, more, with his own hand he seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe,
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this? I trembling cried;
Wilt thou pursue this worm to death?
This is the way, the Lord replied
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I now employ
From self and pride to set thee free,
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st seek thy all in me.

Note: This post is 4 years old. God has continued to use this poem in my life and to my great delight I discovered that Indelible Grace has a wonderful rendition of this, which I wanted to share below. There are so many things I could say in reflection on this song, but truly, it speaks for itself.

He Saved Me- Isn’t it Enough?

One of my favorite videos on youtube.  No matter how many times I watch this it blesses my heart.  We don’t need to wait around for “special” revelation to be motivated to live for Jesus Christ.  If He would save sinners like me, He is worth living for and dying for, whether I receive any further earthly blessings or not.  Praise God! 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J471VobaZks

Part 7: Give Your Life To Follow Him

Repentance is not only a part of our conversion to Christianity, but a daily part of our Christian lives.  I mentioned that I would come back to the idea that we are not only to repent of obvious sins but also of self-centered living, which we are all guilty of and naturally accustomed to.  Can I say that I am writing this to myself as much as to any new Christian or others?  Jesus Christ’s call to a radical, self sacrificial, willing to die for Him kind-of- living is practically unheard of in our culture.  A Christian who does the bare basics is applauded.  The believer who lives a moral lifestyle, attends a bible study, and isn’t embarrassed to confess they attend church on Sundays is considered a good example of the faith.  I’m not trying to demean anyone.  I understand that everyone is in a growing process, and for some this may be the point in their Christian walk they are meant to be at.  But how many of us are actually growing in radical self sacrifice for the sake of reaching lost souls with the gospel of God?  I am truly speaking to myself.  So many of us are stagnant, complacent, and lacking in passion.  It ought not to be this way!

Continue reading Part 7: Give Your Life To Follow Him

I Serve An Emotional God and I Am His Emotional Follower

God is an emotional God.  His book is an emotional  book.  Yet it would seem to me that there are many professing followers of Jesus Christ who seem to lack emotional responses to Him, to His word, to each other, and to sin in themselves and in the world.  Yet, I have also known those who can jump up and down in a worship service, and weep and wail whenever it seems appropriate, yet they live in unrepentant sin and have little understanding about the God of the Bible.  Continue reading I Serve An Emotional God and I Am His Emotional Follower

Why A Blog Called “Come To Christ”?

I confess, I know next to nothing about blogging.  But I do love to write.  I love to journal, to write poetry, and to write varieties of exhortations with the hopes that any person reading these things would come to Christ.  If they know Him, I desire that they would know Him even more, and if they do not know Him, I pray that they would be called into saving faith.  Jesus is my life and the cross is my only boast and glory. Anything that is not done through Him and for Him is a waste.  It is not worth my time, nor my thoughts, nor my efforts to waste away the precious seconds the Lord has given.

Ephesians 5:15-16 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

Continue reading Why A Blog Called “Come To Christ”?