The Time HAS Come (Part 3)

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

–2 Timothy 4:1-5, NASB (emphasis added)

(Continued – Part 3 of 3)

When folks say the things I am saying, others call it hate. I challenge anyone to look at anything I have written and point out where I have expressed hatred toward anyone. I harbor no hatred toward any person or group of people. We have come to the place in our society where disagreement with someone’s viewpoint is tantamount to hatred. That is just plain wrongheaded.

We need to understand a very simple truth. The time has come. The time when Paul predicted folks will no longer listen to sound doctrine and will seek to gather teachings and teachers they find more palatable — that time has come! Even people who claim to be Christians will read Scripture and only utilize the parts that make them feel good. They will trumpet the fact that God is love, but forget the part where He is a Righteous Judge. They cling to the fact that Jesus is the Light of the world, but not that He is Truth. The Timothy passage I have shared is one of the marching orders given to preachers of the Gospel. I cannot preach only half the Gospel!

Make no mistake. Jesus Christ loves you. If you are struggling with gluttony, homosexuality, lust, lying, adultery or [enter your sin here] – The fact is JESUS IS LOVE and HE DIED FOR YOU. However, another thing that some people like to avoid is the very thing that helps form the gateway to salvation in Jesus Christ. It is called REPENTANCE. To repent means to turn around and turn away from your sin. Whatever your sin is, you are required to lay it down, turn away, denounce it. Stop! Does this mean you never sin again? No. We all still struggle with sin, but the big difference is it becomes the exception rather than the rule.

As far as I am concerned, the doors of my church are open wide to ANY AND ALL who are seeking answers to life’s problems. You may not even know that Christ is the missing puzzle piece that fits that emptiness in your life. You are welcome in my church. Know this though, as long as you embrace your sin, you will not serve in any leadership capacity. You cannot expect to keep one arm around Jesus and one arm around your sin of choice. Case in point, when the scribes and pharisees brought the adulterous woman before Jesus (John 8). After confounding the men by asking “he that is without sin cast the first stone,” Jesus then turned to the woman and said, Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Go and sin no more! That is the thing. Jesus longs for you to be free from the bondage of sin and that is only available in Him. When we repent and confess Jesus Christ as Lord we can experience that freedom.

This manifesto, if you will, will not sit well with some folks. I will no doubt receive nasty comments and I will be accused of being hateful, but I am anything but hateful. I will endure the bad vibes and nasty comments because I love you enough to share the truth. I want folks to be free in Christ. I don’t make a habit of wielding the Bible violently like an axe seeing whom I might strike down. Yet, the Bible describes itself as a two-edged sword and to those in sin it cuts pretty deep and makes folks uncomfortable. Loved or hated, a pastor must preach the Word! I will make no apologies for that.


The Voice of Truth

As I previously posted, six weeks ago I started a training program to run a 5K. My schedule over the past three days, however, prevented me from getting my “Day 3 of Week 6” run done. This morning I was determined to get with it. Today’s training regimen called for a five-minute warm-up walk followed by [GULP] a 25-minute run! Just last week I was able to successfully run 20 minutes without dying. But that was last week and today came on the heels of a LONG weekend of student ministry activity (including student ministry food like pizza, doughnuts and fried… everything.)

At the 15-minute mark I hit a wall. I made the mistake of looking at my watch and seeing that I had 10 minutes left, to which I audibly growled, “NOOOOOO!” I pushed on for another couple of minutes, but at the 18-minute mark I gave in. I started walking giving in to the voice in my head telling me that my heart was about to explode and my lungs were bleeding. Instantly, I was dejected. Then it happened. After about a minute of walking, the playlist I was listening to on my Droid kicked into Casting Crowns, “The Voice of Truth.” For the uninitiated, this song describes the constant battle that wages within us between the Truth of the reality of life in Jesus Christ and the lies that the enemy, Satan, would like us to believe about ourselves and this world. It is one of my all time favorite songs. Not only that, but the arrangement of the song lends itself to a very emotional and uplifting swell at the chorus that can transport one to that “Rocky Balboa” moment if you know what I mean.

As the verse gave way to the chorus, my anticipation and energy was building. I pressed the ear buds a little more firmly into place and commenced what I call the “Tiger Trot.” A not quite sprinting, yet definitely not walking pace, completing the run. Amazingly, I neither perished nor passed out. When I had time I went back and looked at the real data on my Droid.  At the time that I gave in and started walking, my heart rate wasn’t any higher than it was three minutes into my run. No joints were aching. My feet felt fine. There was even existing precedent for me running farther than that already. Clearly, the problem was not physical. The problem was in my head.

Upon further reflection, often this is exactly what we experience in our faith walk and in the church. We listen to and give credence to the voices that say:

“We can’t do that.”

“We don’t have the resources for that.”

“We’ve never done it that way before.”

“That could never work.”

“I could never be bold enough to share my faith like that.”

“That may work for them, but it could never work for me/us.”

It’s not that we try and fail. We never even try. Satan laughs. The Word of God [i.e. the Voice of Truth] in 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This is Jesus talking. Even when we think we cannot, He tells us that we can. He made us. He knows what we are capable of and what HE is capable of through us. In fact, according to Colossians 1:27, the mystery of God is “Christ in you, the hope of Glory.”

We must stop thinking that we can’t do things and start ringing up victories in our lives for Him. Where God guides, He provides. We are the church of God and, “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

Grace and peace.