Tag: Holiness

My guide to becoming a recovering fundamentalist: The conclusion

“Be holy for I am holy” ~God
“We can make God’s Word say what we want if we’re not careful” ~A Mentor

I want to close this guide with the final two good things that come from fundamentalism. Granted these two areas have been tainted by what was discussed earlier. We should still look at two key things. Holiness and a love for God’s Word is the baby. Legalism is the bath water.

Holiness
God wants us to be holy. While the pursuit of holiness and the process of being set apart for God may be distorted by legalism, any movement that at its core seeks to be holy is commendable. Jesus came to forgive us our sins. Jesus is in the process of purifying His bride, the church. An emphasis on holiness isn’t legalism, it’s a focus on godliness. “Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound” is a struggle all Christians face. I commend fundamentalism for its desire for holiness. We all should.

The Bible
Authorial intent of the Bible, a significant tenet of fundamentalism, is an essential element to the faith. We can make the Bible say what we want if we’re not careful. Along with sticking to the Bible, however, is the adage you can’t make everyone happy. As Jesus’ life proved, sticking to God’s Word can cause conflict. The Bible is critical as faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Too often movements play fast and loose with the Bible. It should be the authority for faith and practice.

Now what?
Every movement has or will have issues. Throughout church history movements have risen and faded. We must be careful to not treat a movement as a strawman. Rather than reacting we should seek God and the Scriptures and act accordingly. Reacting instead of acting is often what sets movements in the wrong direction. Writing off fundamentalism is just reacting. Looking at heart issues and identifying what is good and what needs to change is acting with proper measure.

The Cross
Any error is covered by the cross. As long as there is breath in our lungs, there is opportunity for repentance. I understand that many have been abused or deeply hurt in highly (hyper?) fundamentalist churches. For one thing, not all fundamentalists are like that. For another, people can get hurt by other churches and movements too. Why? Because Jesus isn’t done with us yet. We must ask ourselves this: Is there a sin so great that Jesus forgave it at the cross but we can’t? The cross covers all, and our hurts should be left there as well.

The bottom line:
We have two choices in what we can boast in: the cross or ourselves. It doesn’t matter the movement. Fundamentalism promotes the Gospel, pursues holiness and highly views the Bible. These are essentials to the Christian faith. The lack of humility, legalism and unbalanced view of separation may have clouded fundamentalism. For sure there is a need for “self-policing” that needs to happen. Again, this is true for any movement for they’re issues of the human heart. We all struggle in these areas. To become a recovering fundamentalist takes three key things: 1) Boasting in the cross, not self. 2) Choosing grace. 3) Keeping the Gospel first and central.

Name it & claim it!

The Sunday sermon talked about the cows of bashan from Amos 4. (Ok, you can insert corn fed, I mean lame jokes here: The sermon was moo-ving, A1 sermon, nothing like milk of the Word, etc.) I suppose there is just no way to discuss that passage elegantly as the cows referred to women. The juxtaposition of brokenness to hiding it was striking.

Pondering the sermon
Those who hammer holiness in their sermons need to take a serious look at key women in the Bible. It’s messy. Then, take a look at key men in the Bible. It’s even more messy. The problem with depravity is the constant thought that we don’t measure up; that we are lacking. This leads us to a choice: to listen to the fool or the wise. To listen to fallen voices of depravity or the grace of the Gospel. Pastor Jon did a good job pointing to these two choices: truth or error.

Name it & claim it
There is truth to the name it and claim it phrase. It’s not centered on our wants, but grace. 1 John 1:9 is a name it and claim it principle. If we confess our sin (name it) He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins AND cleanse us from all unrighteousness (claim it). Name it and claim it should be about grace, not possessions. When we embrace our brokenness God offers not just forgiveness, He cleans us up!

The Bottom Line:
We have a choice. What will we pursue? Truth or error? Grace or tyranny of our fallenness? If being perfect consumes us, we will never get dirty. Serving and helping people is messy. We want to hide our depravity, but Jesus bring it into the light. We view it as a stain, Jesus views it as dirt to be washed away. His scars prove that. We view it as hopeless, Jesus forged the Gospel in hope. Name your sin, claim its forgiveness, and as a bonus Jesus makes you clean. The Gospel is a powerful thing.

Why not Wednesday: A not so perfect start

A professor of mine wrote a quote on the whiteboard that shattered all thinking in the room:

“It something is truly worth doing, its worth doing poorly.”

Yeah, but…

Even now I bet you are thinking “yeah, but…” The classroom filled with those kinds of statements. The prof, as is normal for teachers, sat back and smiled at the ensuing discussion. We are, after all, trained to think: If you can’t do with excellence, don’t do it at all.” We are, after all, taught that doing something poorly might result in not being able to try it again.

Some, after the prof’s enduring silence, took the statement to mean: “You have to start at some point.” The ‘yeah, but…’ statements kept flowing, though. These transitioned into the statement being an excuse for pool quality. We were left at a loss because the statement was still on the board.

A poor start
Remember the early days of Toyota, Honda, or Hyundai? They were known for poor quality. They rose to the top. Recently, Hyundai is starting to edge out Toyota and Honda. They started poorly, but all three came around. Here is the meaning:

They key words are “truly” and “doing.” Some things are not truly worth doing- like crime. Some things are truly worth doing- like saving a life. Doing gets things done. An idea or potential is just that, an idea or potential. They mean nothing until you act, that’s doing. Helping meet transportation needs has true worth. Toyota, Honda and Hyundai started to act. They made cars, and the did it poorly at first.

So what, do it!

What ministry adventure would you like to do? Is it truly worthwhile to take that step? Then do it! Because you start poor does not mean you have to stay poor. You can grow, you can learn, you can overcome- if it is truly worth doing. I am not saying this will be easy- it may be very painful.

This week as we’re looking at how ‘Not Perfect is a Holy Thing,’ the theme is how God used people who had epic failures. Practically speaking, it is better to act now, even though you may not be ready or may even make significant mistakes. Why? Because if something is truly worth doing, its worth doing poorly. Pursing God is worth doing, and though you may not have it all figured out or even know what you’re doing, what may start as poor can turn into something incredible down the road.

The bottom line:
So, start now, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes! Greatness or excellence is not the absence of failure or mistakes.

Not Perfect is a Holy Thing: Abraham

Person: Abraham
Epic Fail: Took maters into his own hands
God’s View: A man of faith

If you’re the type that needs things figured out before pursuing something: STOP! God calls people to do things even when the person has no clue what to do. Abraham is such a person. God told him to rise up and go to a land that He’d show him. Pack up, move, I’ll tell you later. Abraham as a holy man.

God’s Choice Man
Abraham and his descendants succeed for one reason: God chose Abraham. The story starts in Genesis 12 and following. God promises Abraham land, descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore, and blessing. Abraham and his wife had one son, Isaac. The path of his descendants would not be easy, rising up out of a land that was no their own.

Anyone who blesses Abraham’s family would be blessed, anyone who cursed it would be cursed. Abraham is the father of two great nation groups: Israel- sons of Isaac, and Arabs- sons of Ishmael. Wondering in the wilderness, God protected and prospered his family. Being the patriarchal head of Israel, Abraham is a hero.

Abraham’s Failure
Desperate for God’s promise, Abraham took maters into his own hands. Abraham was promised an heir, but at 100 years old He did not see it happening. Earlier Sarah talked Abraham into sleeping with her concubine Hagar to produce an heir, called Ishmael. The descendants of Isaac and Ishmael do not get along, as evident in the Middle East today.

God’s final view
God does not call Abraham a failure. Hebrews 11 describes Abraham and his descendants men of faith. They were not perfect men, but they were faithful men. To this day we deal with the consequences of Abraham taking maters into his own hands. God does not call Abraham a failure. Romans 4:18ff describes God’s view of Abraham:

In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.” Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Abraham was holy not because he never sinned, but because he pursued God.