Month: September 2016

What You Can’t See is Killing You!

A photo by Sandis Helvigs. unsplash.com/photos/Hy99mEkNjHM

Yards take a lot of work to keep them looking good! One of my first jobs was taking care of my grandpa’s yard – it was GIGANTIC! Each time I came to mow and weed-wack it was a 6-hour ordeal! Those of you that know me understand that I HATE being in the sun… especially when there are wasps in sight!

While the sun marred my skin with ultraviolet radiation (at least that’s how I felt!), I noticed the same weeds always grew back. Regardless of how many times I ripped apart their leaves with the powerful blades from the weed-eater, I had to repeat the process the following week!

I realized the issue is that I was only dealing with the part of the weed I could see. The nourishment and sustainability for the ugly plant came from the root system. These weeds were deeply rooted into the ground; I was dealing with the symptoms and leaving the true problem untouched.

This is true in the Christian life.

We deal with the 10% of ourselves that everybody can see and neglect the destruction wreaked by the sinful root system. Even the Titanic, proclaimed as the unsinkable ship, was utterly ripped apart by a seemingly innocent iceberg.

It’s not what you see that causes destruction, it’s often what is hidden below the surface.

Removing weeds through the root is a painful process. It takes the effort of your full body and leaves you experiencing exhaustion. Instead of the painstaking process of self-examination, many Christians combat the symptoms rather than remove the roots. As we gather around other people, we put on masks in order to appear more righteous than we really are. Each sphere of our life is a different scene, calling for a new costume, all in a grand attempt keep up appearances.

One of the greatest playwrights, William Shakespeare, explains it this way:
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts…

We began a brand new series this past Sunday at The Rescue Church called Emotional IQ. We are going to spend 8 weeks digging into the root system of our sinful habits. I believe we are going to experience incredible freedom as we expose the hidden parts of who we are to the power of the Gospel!

I preach in the Garretson, South Dakota campus of the church (we meet in the local high school). If you live in the area, it would be an honor for you to join us on this journey. We meet every Sunday morning at 10am; you are welcome to take off the mask and admit your brokenness.

We are a hospital for sinners… not a memorial for saints. 

Will Power or Spirit Power?

grapes

Christianity has been poisoned by a mixture of pop psychology and self-help that cloaks itself as preaching. Well-meaning pastors stand in front of congregations and harp rules and regulations in order to fix their lives.

There’s only one problem… it doesn’t work.

Whether its “5 Steps to a Better Marriage” or “3 Steps for Victory,” the pastor places the power in the hands of the people to succeed. This circumvents the cross and exalts the will-power of man. Rather than bringing life, this form of Christianity delivers death, shame, and condemnation.

This past Sunday I had the opportunity of preaching through the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul gives us a litmus test of true Christianity. In other words, if you are truly following Jesus, your life should be marked by the following:

– Love
– Joy
– Peace
– Patience
– Kindness
– Goodness
– Faithfulness
– Gentleness
– Self-Control

Does your life consistently measure up? Probably not (at least mine doesn’t!)

I made the following observations which help frame the ethical commands in Scripture with the overall story of the Bible:

This is the fruit of the SPIRIT!
The mistake we often make when reading lists like the one above is striving to display each one of these characteristics. This is often done through soul-killing legalism and cold regulations. When you fail to live up to this standard, you heap condemnation and shame upon yourself.

We forget that this is the fruit of the SPIRIT. It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live a life of holiness. It is the Holy Spirit who cultivates this fruit in our lives; not our will power. As such, we grow in the fruit of the Spirit by pursuing JESUS – not the fruit!

This is rooted in the GOSPEL!
Paul explains in Galatians 5:24 that those who belong to Jesus have crucified their old nature. Paul utilizes this litmus test to help us examine if we are living into our new identity. We do not bear fruit in order to receive our identity as God’s children… we bear fruit BECAUSE we have received this identity!

You do not begin a relationship with God by fixing up your life; you approach God in all of your brokenness, sin, and internal wounds and allow him to begin the healing process. The story of the Gospel is that you are far more wicked, sick, and sinful than you realize… yet more loved than you could ever imagine.

We only grow in the fruit of the Spirit by preaching the Gospel to ourselves in the midst of failure and suffering. Preaching which gives ethical commands divorced from the hope of the Gospel is self-help deism that leads people to Hell.

Jesus lived the life you could not live, died the death you deserve to die, and resurrected from the dead to display his victory over sin, death, and Satan. You may not see it now, but you will bear fruit as you pursue Jesus!