With All My Mind

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How crowded is your mental space? It is so easy to fill quiet moments with a podcast, music, or a show.  I’ve begun to question whether I am spending so much time taking in information that I am not leaving room for my mind to ponder, to wonder, to pray, to praise, and to have the necessary space to be creative. Pondering, wondering, praying to God, praising God, and creating are all activities that a constant stream of media is slowly marginalizing in my life.

But it’s so eeeasy.

Kinda like being sedentary. It’s easy but the results are decreased health and well-being. It’s a rather fearsome thought to consider that while I may be busy on the outside, on the inside I am becoming flaccid.

Taking in information is a largely passive process. Doesn’t it often become our default activity when we find ourselves alone or bored? Media input can also fill a more insidious role when we use it to escape from real problems–which robs us of the emotional and spiritual growth that comes with working through challenges.

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  Matthew 22:37

So here’s a sobering question…. Are my media consumption habits curtailing my fruitfulness? After all, I only have one life here on earth. As the younger set like to say….YOLO. After that, I will appear before the Lord to receive from him my “due for deeds done in the body, whether good or evil.”

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2 Corinthians 5:9-10

I’ll never forget a plaque hanging on my neighbor’s wall when I was a child that just about made my pigtails stand on end. “Only one life will soon be past only what’s done for Christ will last.” I hadn’t really thought about the brevity of life at that point. I went home that day a more serious child.

And it’s ok to take how we live seriously, as we are told in Philippians 2.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

God has given us all good things–we need to enjoy them responsibly. Whether it’s food, sex, or entertainment, the Christian needs to bring all things under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

His Word tells us not to eat or drink in excess. It tells us sex is to be enjoyed within marriage. But what about entertainment…sports, newcasts (yes, that’s enjoyable for some of us), music, shows, etc?

I think it’s safe to say that if we aren’t finding the time to pray, meditate or read His Word, we have not devoted enough of our mental space to Him and are most likely crowding it with other things.

The key to fixing it? Ask. Ask Him where to change. Listen for the still, small voice that tells you to unplug for a while. And don’t ask like the rich, young ruler who walked away sad because He couldn’t give up what Christ asked him to.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

My mind is pretty full…somewhat like a garage before the annual yard sale. But a few nights ago I heard a still, small voice ask me to unplug. So I did. And I heard Him, And a prayer for a friend rose from my heart. And I’m really glad I did.

 

Divine Mercies Produce Sincere Worshippers

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Worship is the willing, proper response of moral beings to the revelation of the Triune God. By divine initiation, God graciously discloses Himself, His purposes, and His will to man. Man, in response to God’s gracious initiation, worships God. This is my understanding of the biblical definition and portrayal of worship. God tells us something about Himself or His acts, and we willingly respond to Him in appropriate ways, which He has also revealed. This is worship.
In Romans 12:1 when Paul says, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the mercies of God” by “mercies” he is referring to our eternal, secure, everlasting salvation! He has been building this case, doctrine upon doctrine, through the first 11 chapters. We are saved because of divine initiation. Our salvation has nothing to do with us because we have all turned from God and rejected His revelation (ch 1-3). Therefore, God is credited with every single aspect of our salvation. He has totally, completely, eternally saved us. He sent His Son to pay for our sin so that we can be saved if we would just believe (ch 3). Having believed in Christ, He sent His Spirit to indwell us as believers and sanctify us as believers that we would no longer serve sin but serve Christ (ch 4-8). He made sure through sovereign election that we would believe because if He did not choose us before time we would never have chosen Him in time (ch 9-11).
God has been incredibly merciful to us in every phase of salvation. He has acted. He has initiated. Now living our lives as worship to God is our willing, proper response to divine initiation. So Paul says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Wil Owens, Teaching Pastor

Avoiding Legalism and Moralism with the Commands of Scripture

chainAny time we are presented with a list of commands, like the 50+ commands found in Romans 12-14, we are prone to head down one of two dangerous paths: legalism or moralism.
Legalism is the pursuit of keeping a list of commands, biblical or man-made, in order to make yourself right with God. Paul just spent 11 chapters arguing against keeping commands in a legalistic fashion. First, he argues that we are all sinners, so it does no good to try to keep a list of commands to be right with God because we’ve already missed the mark. We can’t undo by keeping the law what we’ve already messed up by breaking it. Second, the Jew already tried the way of the Law, and he is not right with God because he is a lawbreaker. Third, that’s why God made the way of salvation by faith in His Son and not by the law.
So when it comes to the 50 commands in Rom 12-14,or any other biblical imperatives, we must not view keeping these commands as earning salvation or favor with God. If we do so, therein lies an eternal danger. If you think that salvation is in the keeping of the commands, it is possible for you to make yourself obedient to these commands to a certain degree and totally miss heaven.
Moralism is slightly different but just as dangerous and just as prevalent as legalism. Moralism views Christianity as simply a moral code, a list of do’s and don’ts. Moralism is not trying to be right with God by keeping commands, moralism believes it is right with God by simply being a good person. However, the Christian faith is not simply good works; the Christian faith results in good works. The failure of moralism is the absence of viewing good works as being dependent upon faith and grace. In a moralistic view, Christianity is just being a good person. The eternal danger is that it is possible to be a “good person” to a certain degree and totally miss heaven!
So how do we avoid legalism and moralism when it comes to Paul’s list of 50 commands in Rom 12-14 or any biblical commands?
There is a biblical paradigm found throughout Scripture that gives us the answer. The paradigm is that as God has been so merciful to us in Christ to save sinners, we respond to Him with lives of worship. The commands of Scripture are simply clarifying for us how we worship God with our lives. In Romans 12:1, this paradigm is stated as “the mercies of God” and our response as “living sacrifices.” Remember, Paul calls this our spiritual worship!
We avoid legalism and moralism by viewing these commands as the way we worship God with our lives, the way we respond to the mercies of God in our salvation. Legalism is not worship. Legalism is not responding to God’s mercies by laying down our lives in humble obedience. Legalism is trying to obtain God’s mercies. Moralism is not worship. Moralism is not responding to God’s mercies by self-denial for the good of others. Moralism is simply abiding by a self-imposed standard with no regard for the worship of God. But when we are in awe of how sinful we are and yet God has been so graciously merciful to us, we respond to His mercies by laying down our lives, resisting the world, and filling our lives with God’s Word. It is not an attempt to make ourselves right with God, it is our willing, proper response for being made right with God. It is not simply being a good person, this life is worship!
If we approach the commands of Scripture as the way we worship God in response to His rich, eternal mercies to us in Christ, we avoid the eternal dangers of legalism and moralism!!
Wil Owens, Teaching Pastor