Faith For Sale?

Faith is Free.

This is just a reminder. It’s easier to forget than a person can realize.

If your like me and get some faith material pushed to your email, you don’t receive the blog alone. What comes attached to it usually is some sort of series to purchase.

I am sure they have good content, are well intended, and provide benefit to those who consume them.

But… Flashy marketing and the promises that the material makes, can undermine the source of the faith. The Word of God.

To me, it’s like reading all sorts of articles and blogs on how to get fit. Eat this way. Exercise this way. Wear this gear. Then go out and buy whatever is the latest thing. It might all be good stuff. It could be totally valuable in helping you reaching your goals. It can also completely distract you from why you were there for in the first place. For You! And now you’ve spent a bunch of cash.

With faith issues, why were looking anyways? God loves YOU and wants to give himself to you.

You can get a free bible. You can read John, Acts, and Romans and get the full understanding of everything “Christian.” You can memorize scripture to strain your brain and get strong. You can read a Proverb a day to get wisdom in your head and have your thinking changed. You can network with other believers and learn from each other. It doesn’t have to cost you a dime.

How do I know this to be true? By the Word of God.

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the FREE gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17 (ESV)

Free is Free, right? I don’t think God planned for so much funds in exchange for truth. Pay for the lights in your church? Sure. Support those who serve? Absolutely. It’s the proliferation of the “Christian” marketplace that freaks me out. Strikes me wrong. Gives me the heebeegeebees and the bad vibes of religion.

The way I see it, if there is any exchange it’s found in salvation itself. For my brain, it works like a banking transaction.

God gives you the gift of faith debit card found within the gospel. You slide you card into the machine. Select “Transfer your debt to Jesus Christ,” press “OK, I believe,” and then the riches found in Christ’s righteousness are added to your account. Transaction completed. Full access granted. No cash required.

I am sure there are a zillion, “Yeah, but what about this? What about that? Your simpleminded,” kinda things a person could say.

Yeah, I know. I’m not saying never buy nothing. Never read nothing. Never listen to anyone. That would be arrogant AND dumb.

I am saying don’t become a target market segment. Your a Disciple not a Consumer. Smart people, somewhere are very talented at blurring that distinction to sell you a “Gospel+” product.

In short, you cannot short cut the process of knowing God by purchasing a Fast Pass through others work. You’ll miss everything good along the way.

If you want faith that stands when SHTF, you need to go to God yourself. He is what you are searching for, so go to the source. God will provide.

Stand and Be Counted in Grace and Prayer.

Not long ago, I watched a video from a military organization that brought up the concept of Stand and Be Counted.

The example shown was a soldier witnessing a violation of conduct by a fellow soldier. He had a few choices with how to proceed:

1) Pretend it didn’t happen and say nothing.

2) Slip a note under a door of a superior informing of the violation, but keeping his identity anonymous.

3) Speak to his superior himself, putting himself at odds with his peer.

The 3rd choice was indicated as the appropriate choice. This I needed to process a bit…

It is so easy to go with option 2. Violation is addressed but no damage taken to oneself. The invisible hero. Your still the good guy.

Which got me thinking how it is a complete lack of courage. How much does a person actually believe in a principle if they are not willing to risk themselves. Doing the right thing, but not wanting to own the consequences of it.

This concept can apply to different areas in life. I don’t have some crazy accurate analogy and what I say is kinda a stretch. But it did get my brain going spiritually.

So often, when a person talks to me about suffering somehow, I’ll go with something similar to slipping a note under the door. I’ll pray for someone, but I am not willing to put myself in harms way by saying I’ll pray for them. I use the typical excuses to protect myself:

I am not a good enough example yet to tell others about God.

I don’t know my bible well enough to talk about it.

People are going ask me questions I can’t answer.

I’m gonna look stupid.

Wrong Answers!!!

I am not advocating that anyone should be bible beating anyone. It can be a pretty self-righteous of act when a person delivers Christ’s perfect righteousness as their own. Every person is a human being just like me. They deserve respect. I am no better because, but for the grace of God, we are all faithless.

On the flip side, I can’t go and sit in holding pattern till Jesus lands either. That’s not what’s modelled in the New Testament. Christianity is an extroverted faith at its core.

Stand and Be Counted does not shuffle the responsibility to “better” Christians. It does mean you can confidently identify yourself as a follower of Christ, all your junk included. Your junk is the very reason for needing a Savior, so pretending fools no one. Maybe a person can relate to that.

Stand and Be Counted does not mean leave the talking from the bible to the professionals. You may be the only person of faith someone knows. Build your own faith through study and memorization of the word. Truth is found in simplicity of the faith. And with so many things, complexity breeds error. Any person can chunk the gospel down into a life giving message that another could understand.

Finally, Stand and Be Counted doesn’t mean a life lived with Closet Christian Syndrome. Prayer in your room is essential. It’s how God works in humans. But loving other humans, regardless of social issue differences, should be at the heart of Christianity.

A few words we need to be willing to say are:

You know dude, when SHTF in my life, I pray to God. I’m gonna pray for you.

That’s what Stand And Be Counted means. You are a Christian because of your failures, not in spite of them. So skip the doubt and stand with someone. Have the courage to say that you’ll pray for someone because you need the same gift of grace yourself. To me, those are the kinda words worthy to be Stand and Be Counted for.

A Christian Man’s Survival Guide.

Where do you go when SHTF?

Your moral compass has disappointed you. Your intelligence lacking. All those reps you did on your biceps aren’t doing squat for you now.

Hanging by your fingernails, your taking fire from multiple locations. No brother is there to reach down and pull you out. Time you’ve put into God’s word determines the outcome. The Truth needs to be stapled into your cranium cause it’s time to launch counter-measures.

Live Fire Training

This is my current Go-bag of memory verses. I need to handle them often and keep them close. Cause stuff will go south. Count on it. When I got them all mapped, there’s more. I added them to a cue card app to test myself. Testing is Mandatory! Use this or make your own. But just get training. Don’t think about it. Act.

Stay True. Stay Ready.

1 John 1:9 (ESV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Hebrews 10:39 (ESV)   But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)   But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Proverbs 18:9 (ESV)   Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.

1 Peter 2:24 (ESV)   He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

John 3:16-17 (ESV)   For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)   Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Joshua 1:8-9 (ESV)   This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Galatians 2:20 (ESV)   I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)   For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)   Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Romans 8:37-39 (ESV)  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:10-11 (ESV)   For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 22:17-18 (ESV)   Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips.

Proverbs 22:29 (ESV)  Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.

Psalm 103:12 ESV)  as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Psalm 119:9-11 (ESV)  How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Philippians 3:8-11 (ESV)   Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith– that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Proverbs 4:25-27 (ESV)   Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

Proverbs 25:28 (ESV)   A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

Christian Man: Warrior or Civilian

One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him.” – 1 Samuel 16:18

I have been reading a lot about David recently. He was man after God’s own heart and I want that so bad in my own life. The preceding verse really spoke to me on who he was.

Skillful. Man of Valor. Man of War. Prudent. Presence. The Lord was WITH HIM.

If that’s not a description of a Christian Warrior, I don’t know what is. We, as men, have a lot of decisions to make in life. The most important, by far, is the type of Christian man you Decide to be. Warrior or Civilian.

How do they differ? Let’s see…

When a gun fight breaks out, how does a Civilian react? They run for cover. That is who they are. They are conflict adverse. They do not engage hostile forces. In our scenario, we sit in pews, drink coffee, and eat cake.

Warriors, on the other hand, run to the sound of gun fire. That’s their call to action. It has been bred into their DNA. The aren’t just winging it. They train themselves for battle. They keep their weapons clean and ready. They EXPECT A FIGHT.

The question needs to be asked then… How do you approach your faith?

Do you person read the bible and actually believe it to be the sword of truth? Do you memorize scripture and expect your thinking to change? Do you pray for those around you, knowing that God will do stuff in peoples lives?  Are you engaged or just playing bible games?

For me, I gotta take a good hard look in the freakin’ mirror, assess what I see, and be honest with myself. Man after God’s heart or total suckage? I know the answer. If I were actually engaged and in battle, I would have the scars to prove it.

I don’t think that’s enough for me. There is no resemblance to David. I need to accept where I am weak and uncommitted, change it up, and engage myself spiritually like it’s something worth giving my life for.

Stop the binge watching Netflix and read Proverbs. Get wise. Do something hard on your brain like memorize a chapter. Pray for a neighbor. Pray for a hundred neighbors!!! God isn’t just floating around and doesn’t care what your at. He wants men to be engaged in the fight.

I’m gonna read that verse again and check my pulse. Battle tested Warrior. Solid character. The LORD, who creates worlds with His breathe, was with him.  If it DOESN’T make my heart pump just a little and inspire something more in me… Bad news… I may be as good as dead.