Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Church With Friends

My friend John Milam posted this on Facebook and I obtained his permission to post here. John Milam Church With Friends! Most of you don't need an explanation, but Words With Friends is a wildly popular game where you play against an opponent in creating words out of given letters. You win by trying to get as many points as you can by playing these words strategically. Some people are just ok at this and others cheat :) Seriously, if you are consistently using words with more than 4-5 letters, Cheater! Cheater! Cheater! I was thinking on my drive in to work today, that's kind of what I have done at church for years. Speak the appropriate words like "Praying for you", "Praise the Lord", "Amen", etc. Was I really praying for you or praising the Lord? I don't think I was consistently. I'm playing Church With Friends. I was trying to make everything sound good, without any significant transformation in my life. I was trying to score the most points in hopes that I would look more spiritual. In my subconscious, I was thinking, "If I am part of the group, then I am in!" The more I read the bible lately; I see that an appearance of activity without transformation is a waste of time, a chasing after wind. Pastor Matt Chandler says that attending church is a terrible hobby. If that is what you are doing, get a boat! That would be much more fun. If I am not being transformed daily, then I am not drawing closer to Jesus. My church attendance is simply Church With Friends. If I sit down and contemplate what God allows me to understand about the gospel and fully realize that I have eternal life in Christ who paid the sacrifice that I might live forever, shouldn’t that transform my life. What on earth could be as exciting and valuable as that? Seriously…anything? I am not saying this is easy. With all the distractions of life that we enjoy, taking time to read my bible, pray consistently and contemplate just who God is can often be considered a chore. There are so many fun things that I can spend my time with and I never have to think about God. I can make myself feel better though with a little Church With Friends every weekend. The rest of the week, I can entertain myself with TV, music, the internet, movies, sports, food, blah blah blah. I have been praying lately to God that he increase my love of his word. To be honest, the bible bored me before. Other things were a lot more entertaining, but God has given me a new desire for his word, and it could only come from him. He said to ask and you will receive, so I asked, and I received. I pray now that he will sustain this in me. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 ESV) “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV) I don’t think any of this means we become people who are so serious that we do not have any fun. If anything, those saved through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ should be the most fun. Seriously fun. We have nothing to lose. Our lives are not lived for the here and now, but for eternity. This is a daily struggle for me, and something that I have to concentrate on every single day. I know now that it is not of my own strength, but given through God the Father. I will never understand all there is to know about the life of a believer, but I do know that if I never begin the journey, I will be right where I started. I do not want that. Some days it flows so easy, and others days it does not seem to flow from me at all. But I want to strive to be consistent, not to earn my salvation, as that is not possible, but to daily acknowledge Christ and my dependence upon him. I can only speak for myself, but I have to make time to concentrate on this. I don’t always want to do it and I don’t always do it, but I am trying. I say that I believe the bible, every word of it, but do I even know what is in it? For if I say that what I believe, based upon his word, is truly what I believe, I ask myself, “What’s up me??? Why is that not changing my life???” That is some seriously good news, and I mean better than a plate of Cinnabon rolls, while sitting by the beach, while having a massage and finding out I won the lotto. That would be pretty good news. But Seriously, Jesus, if we think about what he truly is, and what salvation truly means, far exceeds any and all things. He even says that we can’t imagine what he has prepared for us. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— (1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV) Oh, and quit cheating at Words With Friend too…that’s annoying…
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