Are we there, Yet?

My family thought it was a smart idea to drive from west Tennessee to Washington D.C. one time. Just once. With three young, hyper boys in the back seat we didn’t make it down the drive way without someone fighting with someone and a stern look from my parents. It wasn’t until one of us had the bright idea to ask, “Are we there, yet?” for the one hundredth and twelfth time that we realized that the threat to leave us somewhere in Virginia was no idle threat. How often is the Christian life like a long car ride? It’s so hard not to keep asking the same question, “are we there, yet?” Sanctification, or the process of becoming more and more like Christ, is a complex subject. For Christians we are stuck between two worlds of salvation, the “already” and the “not yet”. We have already been declared righteous by God based upon the atoning work of Christ therefore being free from the power of sin, yet we have not yet been liberated from the presence of sin. I don’t know about you, but often times I get frustrated with the process of sanctification. I get frustrated when I lack consistency in my daily Christian walk. I get frustrated when I struggle with worry and doubt and fear and guilt and a whole long list of things I feel like I should have put away a long time ago! The problem is that the process of becoming more like Jesus is one that is gradual. So how are we as Christian to react to inconsistency?

Here are some brief tips I think can help:

1) Realize the guarantee of sanctification.
Paul was pretty confident in Philippians 1 when he said, “He who began a good work in you will complete it in the day of Christ Jesus.” Our sanctification is guaranteed because the work is not done primarily by us. The work is done by God. God began salvation in you, will continue to work salvation in you and will one day perfect you in full salvation. It is sure! In Ephesians 5:25-26, we see that Christ gave himself up for us in his death, not just to make us right with God, but “that he might sanctify her.” What a beautiful truth! That Christ is the one that cleans us up and makes us more like him.

2) Strive for sanctification.
Although God is the one that works salvation in us, we are still accountable for our actions. How foolish would it be of us to claim it is God’s fault we don’t trust him enough because he hasn’t sanctified us to that point yet? So for the Christian we strive in sanctification. We fight for it because we have been given a new heart that desires to be like our Heavenly Father. If we have no desire to grow in Christ then chances are we are still under the bondage of sin. Our pursuit in sanctification shows outwardly a change that has occurred within us.

3) Read the Bible consistently.
Jesus prayed in John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Ultimately we will grow more and more like Christ when we dwell in his word.

4) Break some bad habits.
We all have things in our life that we know aren’t healthy to our spiritual walk. Cut them out. If you want to lose weight stop eating Big Macs for every meal. Maybe you need to cut out the types of movies you watch, the books you read or the music you listen to. What ever it is, it is a small price to pay for the glory that is to come.

5) Gather with a fellowship of believers.
Sanctification is better done in community. Community helps to encourage and rebuke, and these things are required in sanctification. If we neglect these things then we are selling ourselves short. A famous saying of an early church father was, “He cannot have God for his Father who will not have the Church for his mother.”

Regardless of how beat down we get in our battle with sin, let us trust that God will complete the work he started in us and give us the power to live a life holy and pleasing to him.


Is Drinking a Sin?

I normally don’t billboard the fact that I’m a minister in public (by billboard, I mean I don’t wear a t-shirt that says “Youth Pastor” on it). Not that I’m ashamed of my profession or religion, but because I try to build a relationship with someone before I drop the “Minister” bomb. When I do finally drop the “M” bomb, I get the strangest reactions. The most frequent reaction comes at a surprise. The reaction is a question: “Well you don’t think drinking is a sin, do you?” Instead of answering this question (that’s right, you’ve been mislead) I think as evangelical Christians we should ask ourselves a different question.

A Different Question

Why is this a lost person’s first reaction when finding out we’re Christian? Yes, part of the problem is the fact that non-Christians don’t think in spiritual terms (these things are foolishness to them) but we can’t just blame them and not examine ourselves. As Christians, specifically Southern Baptists, we’ve done a great job at telling our society what we stand against, but I think we might have fallen short in telling them what we stand for. Let me clarify, I’m not suggesting that we take an accepting roll when it comes to sin, but what I am suggesting is that we start preaching a gospel that transforms. When we preach against drinking or smoking cigarettes or gambling, we’re only dealing with the symptoms. There is a deeper problem.

The Real Problem

The real issues here is that the sinner is dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). He does not respond to any spiritual stimuli so therefore he has no desire to act like a saint, nor does he have the power to act like a saint even if he wanted to. What he needs is not a lecture on the wiles of gambling, but a new heart. He needs a gospel that transforms. After Christ makes alive a lost person, then, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we as the church can help them conform their life to biblical teachings. When we try to clean a person up before they come to church we’re essentially teaching a works-based salvation. We must remember the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 1:9, that God saved us, “not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace”. So often when the focal point of our preaching is against something we end up setting up the person trapped in that sin as our enemy. We look at the teenage unwed mother as irresponsible and foolish instead of¬†having compassion on them. We see a drunk instead of a human being who needs the grace of God. Maybe we should take a page out of our Savior’s book. Did he compromise sin in his conversation with the woman at the well? No. Did he give her a 45 minute sermon gracelessly condemning her lifestyle of lust? No! He did, however, preach to her a Savior who could change her life! Oh, the difference this made in her life! May we strive to do the same in our culture today!

The Challenge

The challenge we have is a very ambitious one. What if we lived in such a way that lost people asked us a different question? What if when they found out we were Christians they asked us, “Do you really believe in the saving power of Christ? Do you really believe that God cares enough to show us grace?” Yes, we do believe in a God who saves and we believe it enough to preach Christ and him crucified to all we know.¬†


7 Things I Hate About Social Media

I remember the good old days. The days before everybody and their momma were on social media (literally; if my mom sends me one more FarmVille request on Facebook, she’s getting blocked). I’m not here to rant against social media because at this point if you’re not on it, you’re getting left behind. Instead I view social media like I view that slow, strange family member we all have (you know, cousin Eddie who sits in the corner and eats glue). It’s annoying sometimes, but you love it. So here are 7 things I think that we can improve on in our social media if we apply them.

1. Let’s stop all the public bickering:
In the words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time fa’ that!” Let’s be careful what we say on here, folks. Social media is never the place to air out our dirty laundry. If we have a problem with some one let’s handle it in a way that shows we actually respect ourselves. Nobody has time for you to rant about your boyfriend’s ex’s momma’s second cousin who’s “all up in the kool aid and doesn’t even know the flavor”.
2. Subtweets are lame.
Same as the first; you got a problem? Put on your big person jeans and go talk to them. Subtweeting is the arm pit of social media.
3. Let’s stop using the word “probz”
Trust me on this one, guys, one day you DO NOT want to tell your grand kids that you once followed every “probz” twitter account known to man. Plus does it really take that long to type problems? With auto correct you only really have to type the first five letters anyway. In fact, when I try to type “probz” auto correct corrects it to problems. If auto correct can do it so can you.
4. Let’s be Accountable.
Social media has created a society of unaccountability. We don’t have to answer for the things we say on social media because “they can just unfollow me if they don’t like it.” I’m afraid it doesn’t work that way. We will be held accountable for ever idle word we say, and that includes social media. Let’s take into consideration who this going to offend. Let’s ask the question, “Is it worth it?”
5. It’s just a social media account.
For real, the amount of stock we put into social media screams, “I NEED COUNSELING!” Augustine was right when he penned the words, “O Lord, Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it rest in Thee.” If we are looking for acceptance in social media we will remain restless.
6. Stop the selfies. Seriously. Why do we feel the need to take pictures of ourselves and caption them “at the dentist!” Stop it! Guys especially. There are plenty of picture of cats on the internet that we can post instead. At least let’s limit ourselves in this. Girls, once in a while is fine. Everyone needs a pick me up now and then and if you get it from your grammy commenting on your selfie then go for it. Guys, limit yourself to never. You just look like a jerk. And not the cool kind.
7. Blah, Blah, Blogs
I also don’t like lists. Or sarcasm.

The reality of it is, social media is a good depiction of our culture. It’s the culture that Christians, like me, are called to minister to. We may not like selfies, but we must show compassion on the selfie-er. And by God’s infinite grace we can accomplish that.