Grand Opening

Many people wonder why God doesnʼt send big, visual, miracles our way anymore. They read about people speaking in tongues, miraculous healing, casting out demons, and they wonder why God seems so distant. We read about the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Why are none of us recipients of the miraculous empowerment of the Holy Spirit? Why isnʼt God allowing his people to perform miracles here and now? Well, we can find out in the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 2:3b-4 – This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

According to the writer of Hebrews, God used signs, wonders, miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit as a way of testifying that his son, Jesus, did in fact bring salvation to those who chose to obey him. The signs were a way for God to indicate to humans that this shift in the way of doing things was divinely orchestrated! Simply put, God was using the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and the miracles kind of like a grand opening at a new store. Letʼs say that a store that has been around for quite a while is purchased by some new owners, and they come in and renovate. Of course they want everyone to know about the changes, so they do this by having a big grand opening where they give away prizes, and do big and very showy things to alert the people of the changes. Now the grand opening doesnʼt last forever, and it doesnʼt need to. Thereʼs no reason for you to have a grand opening several years after the fact because it serves a purpose, and then itʼs no longer needed. The same is true with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and miracles in Godʼs church.

These people were so used to the Old Testament way of doing things that when Godʼs people were bought by the blood of Christ, and they were now under new ownership, God wanted to get the message out. He had a grand opening with all kinds of wonderful and very visual miracles, healings and the like that announced to the world once and for all that a new way of doing things was here. Out with the old covenant (or old testament) and in with the new covenant (or new testament)! So what about us today? We donʼt need the grand opening. Instead, we need to be looking forward to the time when the store gets relocated into itʼs permanent location in Heaven. Until then, we are the word of mouth. We are the means by which Godʼs church keeps growing and developing new members.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

“Casual Christians”

I received an email containing an article that I’d like to share with you.

From the Barna Update 6/15/2009 – “Casual Christians, spiritually middle-of-the-road, perhaps even ambivalent about their faith, represent 66% of the adult U.S. population, according to Barna Research. Pollster George Barna describes this “tribe” as “faith in moderation.” It allows them to feel religious without having to prioritize their faith. Christianity is a low-risk, predictable proposition for this tribe and provides a faith perspective that isn’t demanding. A Casual Christian can be all the things they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, an exemplary citizen, a reliable employee—and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices, as long as they mean well and generally do their best. From their perspective, their brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.”

I feel that a big reason that churches all across this country are struggling with worship practices, remaining true to the Bible’s teachings, reaching out to their communities, and carrying out mission work oversees is that 66% of all adults in the US are content to be Christians in NAME ONLY!  It’s apathy at its worst!  They say they want X,Y, and Z, yet when it comes around to actually working for it…well, they’re content to just sit back and not “invest themselves.”  John wrote about such a group of Christians in Revelation 3, specifically, the church in Laodicea.  Here’s John writing the words of Jesus:

Revelation 3:15-17 – 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

1 John 3:16 – This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

Does it sound like we’re called to simply be “Casual Christians?” NOT AT ALL!  Churches that are filled with this type of attitude will end up like the church in Laodicea…so despicable to Jesus that we make him want to vomit?  Is that what the church is called to do?  Christians must shake off the “lukewarm” attitude that we’ve developed and once again serve Christ faithfully!  We must be fully committed to Christ!!!!

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of  Zondervan. All rights reserved.

The Names of God

Here's a picture I took of God's handy work in Costa Rica.

I had a discussion with some people today about the various Names of God.  If you’ve never done so, I suggest you use a great resource like BibleGateway and just search to see just how many ways God is referred to in the Bible.  In addition, look up “Spirit” and see how many ways it’s referenced (be sure you’re looking at the “Spirit” that is capitalized.)

Doing this helped me to remember just how large, and powerful our God is.  Nobody can sum Him up in a few words.  No single name is grand enough, detailed enough, descriptive enough, or explanatory enough to capture the essence of God.  Yet when we put them all together inside His Word (the Bible), we begin to see how truly small and insignificant we are; how temporary our problems are; how silly our worries are;how inflated our ego’s are.  May God forgive us for thinking so much more highly of ourselves than we ought, and may God forgive us and our human minds that so limit his awesome power.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurablymore than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21