Sunday, February 7, 2010

Life in the Black Hole

This was taken from an online devotional I receive called "Prime Time with God".

This describes where I am.....and it's no fun!

The Black Hole
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1, by Os Hillman

..."My grace is sufficient for you...." - 2 Corinthians 12:9

If you are older than 35, you may recall the early days of the space program. I remember the early spacecraft launch with John Glenn. One of the most exciting and tense moments of his return to earth was his reentry to the earth's atmosphere. I recall the diagram on television of the heat shield on the capsule that had to withstand incredible temperatures to avoid complete destruction. There was a blackout period for several minutes in which mission control had no radio contact. He was in the "black hole." It was a tense time. Either he would make it through, or the spacecraft would burn up in the atmosphere. There were several minutes of silence that seemed like an eternity. Then, mission control shouted with joy when they reestablished contact with the spacecraft. It was a time of rejoicing.

Have you ever had a time when you were in a spiritual black hole in your life? I have. The pressure was unbearable. No sense of God's presence. No sense of anything going on around me. God was about as far away as the man in the moon - at least from my perspective. I think every Christian who is called to make a significant difference in his world experiences times like these. These are the times when we question the reality of God, the love of God, the personal care of God. And He demonstrates to us that He was there all the time. These are "faith experiences" that God does in every person who is called to a higher level of relationship with Him. These times are needful in order to know that we have the "heat shield" that can withstand the incredible heat that comes when we follow Him with a whole heart - a heart that is radical in a commitment to fully follow His ways. Elisha had that spirit. He slaughtered his 12 oxen and burned his plowing equipment so that he would not have the opportunity to return to anything if God didn't come through (see 1 Kings 19:21).

The apostle Paul asked God to remove the heat from his own life one time. God's answer was not what he wanted to hear.

But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! (2 Corinthians 12:9 AMP)

How's your heat shield today? Can it withstand the heat that would want to burn up everything in your life not based in Him? Christ said, "My grace is sufficient." Is that really true in your life? Let His grace be your shield today.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jesus said, "Don't be doing that!"

Disclaimer: If you are a "Grammar Nazi", prepare to be.....disappointed!

Words matter. Say what you like, but words have power and carry weight. The same is true of titles. When we acknowledge someone according to a particular given title , we inevitably relate to that person in light of that title. The use of honorific titles may be a necessary evil in this world, but they have no place within the church.

Few things in the modern church make me want to barf as much as the use of honorific titles. I simply CAN NOT STAND IT! Several years ago, I actually heard a “pastor” rebuke a child who dared to call him by his first name. With a gentle grasp of her tiny hand he pointed out to this poor disillusioned child that she was to call him “Pastor ______”. Again, I could have thrown up!

It seems men of religion have always loved being addressed in such a way as to receive honor. In Matthew 23, Jesus spoke the following words of such men:

"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'

But if you continue to read, you’ll quickly see that Jesus says, "don't be doing that"!

“But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Jesus condemned the worldly practice of the exaltation of men through the use of honorific titles. Why? Because we are ALL brothers and have only ONE Master.

The use of honorific titles in the modern church is one of the most widely accepted non-biblical practices in existence today. Terms such as “Pastor”, “Reverend”, “Bishop”, “Father”, and yes my southern favorite, “Preacher” represent just a few of the many titles we confer to ordinary men. These men may be gifted leaders and upstanding individuals, but in no way deserve such recognition. This honor is reserved for our Lord Jesus and Him alone.

If you ask someone to share their thoughts regarding this practice, most would declare it to be a “non-issue” with them. My response can only be, “HOW?”. How can this be the case when such titles reinforce and solidify the continued adherence to the heresy of a clergy laity distinction? How, when our Lord has obviously commanded us not to do this? Yet even in light of the plain truths spoken by our Lord Himself, we continue to follow the well worn path traditionalism has paved smooth throughout the years.

Friends, the use honorific titles may be the norm for a fallen world, but they have no place in the holy assembly of God’s chosen people. There is but one Lord, one Master, and one Head of the church. If honor is to be bestowed, let it be to Him who is worthy!