Thursday, December 15, 2011

Is There Enough Contrast to Draw Attention?

This may be a case of “going right to get left”. I know where the thought is going but I may be going around the block to get there. So, please process the entire thought before forming an opinion.

The trend in education when I left that field (six months ago) was minimizing distractions and making the environment as business like as possible. The hope was to limit the range and number of items available and direct the student's focus toward the lesson being presented. Teachers had been instructed and encouraged to “remove personal items” from their classrooms and told to keep “classroom decor” as generic as possible. My experience has shaped my perception, but, from my perspective, bold colors and engaging personalities were being replaced by a bland, “milk toast” mediocrity that presented a “one-size fits all” approach to the education and socialization of children.

Then magically as those same children become adults, we (society at large) expected to see creative, enthusiastic, and productive adults engaged in transforming the world they have inherited. That in a “nut shell” (or my opinion) was the state of affairs in American education, but how is the Church any different?

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.” John 12:46 (NLT)

Our challenge as the Church is to continually shine the light of Christ into the world around us and dispel the evil. Overcoming evil with good is our objective; yet, we (the Church) so seek the approval and acceptance of the “world” that we “water down” the doctrine and “back peddle” our positions to the point that no one can distinguish us for the culture around us. We have given up the bold contrast of colors that creates the beauty with in the “Body of Christ” and traded it for a godly form of mediocrity settling for “sameness” rather than employing the diversity of gifts God chose to make available to us.

“Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:4-5 (KJV)

Michele and I live in a community that embraces and expects bold color and unique “yard art” to decorate and distinguish one house from the next. The interior of those homes are, no doubt, as unique and colorful as they appear outwardly, but somehow people appreciate and accept freedom of expression in EVERY AREA except FAITH. People in the Chruch have confused the beauty of contrast with the destructive influence of contradiction.

The Church is made up of individuals drawn together to worship God through the diversity of their gifts and callings. As each member contributes a gift in vibrant contrasting color, God paints the master piece that displays His glory. The question we must answer together revolves around how our gifts can compliment and strengthen the mission of this “Body of Christ”. Individually we must address the questions of where and how to best offer our gifts for the “common good” both within the community of FAITH and to the “world”.

It has recently come to my attention that education, at least in Yuma County, has begun to work toward recreating and updating educational practices. Teachers, administrators, parents and students are actively engaged in finding workable solutions to the real life problems facing education. Is the Church willing to take a critical look at our FAITH and PRACTICE? Individually as Christians is there enough contrast to draw the “worlds” attention?

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1 (KJV)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Are We Striving for Anonymity or Notoriety?

The exercising of FAITH calls for an undetermined amount of ACTION. James, the Apostle, tells us “faith without works is dead.” Yet, increasingly we see the Church moving, either by choice or by force, out of the mainstream of our daily lives. With Christmas approaching, where are we (the Church), and are we (Christians) even distinguishable within the market place of ideas? Is His message lost?

Anonymity – the state or quality of being anonymous.

Notoriety – the state, quality or character of being notorious or widely known.
a notorious or celebrated person.

The Church cannot and should not be both UNKNOWN and WELL KNOWN, nor can we allow Christmas to be pushed aside. Scripture calls us to a standard of righteousness, charity, and service that is recognizable whether it is “up close and personal” or “at a distance”. During the Christmas season we have a responsibility to openly express our FAITH in God by our Christian ACTION. We celebrate the birth of The Savior. We share in fellowship, brotherhood, and love. We have received “The Light of The World” and share His appearing with all who will accept Him. Christ is The Gift of Christmas.

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?... For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:20 & 26 (KJV)

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (AMP)

To the world this may be foolishness, but He is and has always been God's plan to redeem mankind. Christ did not endure incarnation, death on the cross and resurrection for an anonymous Church. The reality is that we have been called into His glorious LIGHT to celebrate Him.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (KJV)

The notoriety is not ours because the life is not ours. Yet, in every place and in every way the life that we live offers us the opportunity “to know Christ and make Him known”.

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:9-11 (NASB)

The shepherds were unafraid to share the news of The Savior. There was no greater news then and there is no greater news today. Celebrate Christmas! Share Christ! The reason for the season is worthy of Notoriety. Make Him widely known.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Do You Feel Lost and Forgotten?

For many people the Christmas Season is a time of great JOY and ANTICIPATION; yet, for many others it is a time filled with SARROW and DEPRESSION. These sad and depressed people wander through the bright lights and wonder of life trapped in the quiet prisons of self-doubt, worthlessness, loneliness, and anger. Their prisons, your prisons, my prisons are too numerous and varied to list, but each is built upon the foundation of being LOST and FORGOTTEN.

The promise of The Savior is over shadowed, and crowded out by thousands of empty or broken promises we have experienced. The hope of a NEW life IN CHRIST is brought to no effect by the constant reminders surrounding us from the past.

Today can be a new day. We have the power to push past the doors of our prisons if we choose to open our hearts in FAITH. The Savior came to fulfill His mission. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10 (NASB)

Which prison you have confined yourself in makes no difference. The power and anointing of Christ will deliver you from it.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV)

His gifts to us this Christmas include: healing, freedom, light, favor, comfort, joy, beauty, and praise. We were created to display the LORD's splendor. God has not forgotten or forsaken us. We have the power of choice. We can choose to remain in our prisons; or we can choose to join the celebration.

We have the most amazing reason to celebrate. We are neither LOST or FORGOTTEN. The Savior who came “seeking and saving” promised never to abandon us. Open your gifts and share in the JOY and ANTICIPATION of our ultimate salvation. Until that day we have both His promise and the investment in us of His Spirit.

“He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” John 14:17 (NLT)

Look for Him. Live in expectation. Share His love. Join the celebration with JOY and ANTICIPATION. You are not lost nor are you forgotten when you accept the gift of Christmas. That gift is Salvation. Share the TRUE GIFT of Christmas.

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:12(KJV)