Buffet Christianity

Today, we live in the age of insatiable consumerism, where the ability to create and make our own choices is considered to be a right. It’s not ‘s surprising then that this attitude has crept into the church. The result is a demand for a ‘Buffet Christianity‘ in which the believer can choose or reject what’s being offered as the notion strikes them.  

This begs the question: “is this ‘build your own gospel’ really the smart thing to do? Are we somehow better off taking our Bibles and keeping what we like and tossing the rest? When it comes to matters of faith, do we really have the right to choose what we believe? And what would Jesus himself say about all of this?”

Well, Jesus actually did address this very subject. Let’s look at Matthew’s gospel, beginning in chapter four, where we find his account of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by none other than Satan himself.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Jesus is in the wilderness because the Spirit has led him to this encounter with Satan. After spending 40 days and forty nights in this place, Jesus is no doubt mentally exhausted, weak in body, and hungry. It is in this depleted physical state that Satan appears to Jesus, and right away he tempts Jesus to turn stones into bread. Satan knows Jesus is hungry. He’s been there all along, no doubt lurking in the shadows, waiting for the opportunity to catch the Lord in a moment of weakness in order to gain the advantage over him.

Jesus, however, sees through the temptation and responds to it by reminding the adversary that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God“. Did Jesus say, some of the words of God? Did he say that man shall choose which words of God to live by? Did Jesus ever use the word ‘choice’ when responding to the devil? No, he didn’t!

Jesus firmly rebuked the enemy by telling him that man is to live by every word from God. If this is true, and if we are to believe the Bible is true, then man cannot reject any part of God’s word. It’s either all or nothing! The fact is, in all sixty-six books of the Bible. there are exactly ZERO verses that state or even remotely imply that it is acceptable to adhere to Buffet Christianity.

This then leaves us with a dilemma. What do we do with those parts of the Bible that we either don’t like or don’t agree with? The answer is simple: we must accept the entirety of God’s word, or we accept none of it. Either we believe Jesus Christ meant what he said about living by every word that comes from God, or we do not. It’s really that simple. We must accept the parts that are easy and the parts that are hard. The parts that are easy to go along with and the parts that make us very uncomfortable. The parts that we like and the parts that we just plain do not like. Or we forget it all.

Yes, we can have disagreements on the interpretation of a specific verse of scripture. There are reasons after all why there are so many different denominations today. That does not, however, give us the liberty to reject something just because we do not have a complete understanding of it. You see, we have to come to the place where we understand that God’s word is immutable. It has not nor will it ever change just because we have a hard time accepting parts of it. It falls upon us then to allow God’s word to work in our heart and life to the point that it changes US!

One of the biggest problems with Buffet Christianity is that it will never allow us to completely surrender our life to God. That’s because it’s impossible to fully surrender to God when we believe we are in control to the point of picking and choosing which parts of His word we live by. You see, Buffet Christianity isn’t concerned with a lifestyle that exemplifies personal holiness or godliness. Neither does it regard living a sanctified life as something we should strive for. Instead, Buffet Christianity promotes a lifestyle in which we identify as Christian, but live according to the standards of this present world we live in.

In this season of “teachers having itchy ears” and God’s word being reduced to fables in the minds of tens of millions, the words of Jesus Christ have never been more needed than they are today. The divinely inspired word of God is now, and has always been, a God glorifying, Christ affirming, divine revelation of Almighty God.

A divine revelation that we are to embrace every word of.

Have a blessed day,

Ron

O that I had wings like a dove…

Have you ever wished you could just fly away to someplace where the cares and burdens of this life could not reach you? Or perhaps have your own remote island, far away from the noise and vitriol that envelops us today?

I must confess that escaping to such a place, where evil and hurt  cannot be found is becoming an all too frequent wish of mine. 

When I think of the fear, anguish, and overwhelming anxiety so prevalent in the world today I am drawn to thoughts of a place that Jesus said he had gone to prepare for us.

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.   [1]

That sounds like exactly the place I’m longing for. Truthfully, I don’t even care about the mansion part, it’s that last part that has me captivated.

Trouble, pain, and fear don’t only come calling to the average person like you and me, of course. The Psalmist David also knew what it felt like to have the world come crashing in all around him.

Having fallen from the lofty heights of the throne of Israel when he committed adultery and murder, David was surrounded by his enemies, including those of his own family.

Out of his anguish and distress he cried aloud “O that I had wings to fly like a dove, for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness”. Selah  [2]

I cannot begin to tell you how compelling it sounds to be able to wander far away and remain hidden, away from the evil turmoil of this age. Can any of you relate?

Of course, one does not have to commit adultery, murder, or any other egregious sin in order to feel the pressures of life weighing heavily upon them.

Life, all by itself, is often more than enough to cause us to become weary and discouraged. The oppressive isolation brought about due to the pandemic for example has left many of us drained and stressed. Who among us hasn’t felt this way?

Thanks be to God, however, that we can rise above the feelings of hopelessness and despair. David himself reminds us that God is our sustainer and burden bearer.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you; 
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.   [3]

It’s true, many of us would rather take to the air and fly away from all of the problems this life presents to us. Unfortunately, the last time I checked that was not an option. Instead, we can look to Scripture for support and encouragement.

Paul, in his wonderful exhortation to the Ephesians, tells us the position we must take when facing the storms of this life. He told them no less than three times to “stand”.   

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.   [4]

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.   [5]

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,   [6]

Indiana Audubon Society

So, rather than wish we could fly away like the beautiful doves that are always at my house, God has called us to make our stand with Him.

I encourage everyone to spend an hour or two this week searching the Scriptures for examples of how that our God is a helper and sustainer to those who call out to Him.

I believe you will come away strengthened and encouraged by what you find.

Be blessed in Jesus name!

Ron

[1] John 14:2,3

[2] Psalm 55:6,7

[3] Psalm 55:22

[4] Eph. 6:11

[5] Eph. 6:13

[6] Eph. 6:14

Is God really doing a “New Thing”?

You hear preachers say it all the time: ‘God’s doing a New Thing today’. This implies that the hearer should be expecting God to do something great, something that has never been done before.

In preacher circles, this is what is known as a cheer-leading statement, one used to elicit an exciting response from the crowd. After all, most people like to be in on a new thing coming down the road. And what could be bigger and more exciting than God Himself doing something new?

If you were to Google “God is doing a new thing”, it would bring up about 170 million results. You can take your pick from memes, rap songs, sermons, and videos. In other words, there’s something for everybody!

See, I told you people really want to be in on a new thing!

I have heard this repeated so many times in church from so many different preachers that I’ve lost track. Where does this statement come from, and what does it really mean? And who is it speaking to anyway?

Well, the phrase is part of a verse of scripture found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. In context, this verse belongs with verses 43:16-28 in which God reminds Israel that it was He who delivered them from bondage, and it would be He who would bring them back from exile.

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. Isa. 43:19

This verse speaks specifically to the Jews. It does not speak to the church, nor does it speak to individual Christians. There is nothing prophetic about it apart from their soon return from Babylon. It was spoken to the nation of ancient Israel. Period.

It’s incredible how we Christians will take a verse here and there and somehow invent a new doctrine, as is the case with the above verse. Then again, we are living in the time when Paul said that men would turn their ears from the truth.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.  II Tim. 4:3, 4

Yet this does bring up an interesting question, at least in my mind. Why are God’s people always looking for the ‘next big thing’?

Why do we constantly need to be told that God is up to something? It seems that some believe that unless we are fed a steady diet of ‘new things’ we will lose interest and begin to drift away.

Which begs the question…

What is wrong with us?

Here’s what I think. I think if we were to humble our hearts, commit to seek His face on a daily basis, spend quality time alone with him in prayer, and study to show ourselves approved unto God, we would find that we would never need to look for the ‘next big thing’.

Our lives would be so full of excitement and enthusiasm coming directly from the Holy Spirit that we would no longer need to hear about ‘a new thing’.

We would be living it every day!

Now that’s something to get excited about!

Be blessed!

Ron

 

 

Don’t Rush The Process!

We live in a world where speed is of the essence. All of us are impatient and want what we want-when we want it-which is usually immediately. custom_clock_hands_16007

Sound familiar?

When it comes to the process of shaping and molding us into the child of God that we are destined to become however, speed does not appear to command a position of priority with the Lord.

At least where I am concerned, He doesn’t seem to be rushing the work along. Maybe you feel the same way? It would seem then that by all accounts, God has his own timetable when it comes to the work he is doing in us.

Christianity 101 says that all of us are on a journey with Christ. On this journey are mountain top experiences, below sea level valleys, incredible growth spurts, times when we seem to be mired in quicksand, and dare I say, a time or two in God’s woodshed.

All of this is just part of the refining process being wrought in us, a process intended to remove the impurities and replace them with more of Him. custom_bubbling_cauldron_15528

The Bible is filled with accounts of ordinary people like you and I going through this process. One of the best examples of this is found in Acts chapter seven, where Stephen is recalling the story of Moses being exiled to the wilderness where he would eventually receive the call of God.

To save space here, I’ll leave it to you to read Acts 7:23-30 for yourself. The key takeaway that I want to impress upon you from these verses is that Moses was 40 years old when he was exiled to the Midian desert.

He was 80 years old when God sent him back to Egypt to deliver the people of Israel from bondage.

This means that Moses spent 40 years on the back side of the Midian desert before God called him out. I don’t care who you are, that’s a long time to wait!

What do you think was happening during those 40 years? Well, we know that he had a wife and two sons, and we know that he worked for his father in law. But what about Moses, the future leader of Israel, what was happening to the man?

desert

Photo by Dan Grinwis on Unsplash

Here’s what I believed happened to the man Moses. I think God went to work on him, and it took God all 40 years to get Egypt out of Moses!

Remember, Moses was raised in luxury and privilege in Pharaoh’s household until he was 40 years of age. It’s only natural to think that during those years he had become accustomed to the finer things in life. I know I would!

What a stark contrast to go from Pharaoh’s household to a burning desert!

During those long years in isolation, Moses was no doubt subjected to countless hardships, hardships he was not accustomed to.

Brokenness, Humility, and Solitude became the new way of life for Moses, and I have no doubt that this was very painful for him to endure.

Ah, but you see, even Moses had to go through the refining process.

And the process could not be rushed.

Just like the process you’re going through cannot be rushed.

The process by which Moses was transformed into a mighty servant of God was not without pain and sacrifice. It came with a great price to him, requiring him to forsake all that he once held dear to his heart.

Sometimes this is what God requires of us, to sell out completely to Him. Maybe this is you at this moment?

You see, God had another plan for Moses life, one he could not begin to imagine.

Consider this thought: God spent 40 years getting Egypt out of Moses, only to send him right back there with an assignment that no one could have seen coming.

I mean seriously, who but God could do such a thing?

To Moses, 40 years must have seemed to be an eternity. To us, 40 days seems like an eternity, but when God is in the works He will sustain our strength and equip us for the task ahead.

I want to encourage all of you who may be on the Potter’s wheel or passing through the Refiners fire to be patient and wait upon the Lord.

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.   Isaiah 40:31 

wait upon the Lord

Don’t rush the process friends; He knows what He’s doing with you!

Be blessed,

Ron

Biting the hand that feeds you

You’ve probably heard that expression haven’t you? It’s typically used when a person displays ungratefulness to others. For instance; if someone in your life helps you out, or provides sustenance to you and you act in an ungrateful manner towards them, you are “biting the hand that feeds you”.

The truth is that when ungratefulness surfaces on the outside, it’s merely reflecting what’s going on inside of us. Murmuring, complaining, ungratefulness, being unthankful, these are all outward symptoms of inward rebellion.

As Christians, we must be especially careful about complaining and being ungrateful. I wonder, how often do we check ourselves to see if we are displaying the symptoms of an ungrateful heart?

complain

aarc.org

There is an almost unbelievable example of this found in the book of Exodus. We all know the story of God’s great deliverance in setting Israel free from Egyptian bondage.

With excitement and enthusiasm the Israelite’s left Egypt, headed for a land that flowed with milk and honey.

Not only did God deliver them, but they left carrying the riches of Egypt with them! Gold, silver, and clothing in abundance were given to the children of Israel as their former masters sent them away in haste.

Yet just three days after walking through the Red Sea on dry land, the children of Israel began complaining. It’s important that we grasp this. Israel had been enslaved in Egypt for 430 years. Generation after generation knew nothing of freedom, yet within just three days of tasting freedom for the first time, they are already complaining! Here’s the story in detail (emphasis mine)ungrateful

1. “They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt.

2. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness,

3. and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

4. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.

5. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”

6. So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt,

7. and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?”

8. And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.”” Exodus 16:1-8

What is the key takeaway from this story? On the surface, it may appear to be that the nation of Israel is about as ungrateful as a nation could be. While that may be true, the key point here is that while Israel vented their complaints to Moses and Aaron, in reality they were complaining against God.

Moses told them that “Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD”. In essence, they were biting the hand that fed them!

So the million dollar question is this: are we any different than they when we complain,grumble, and generally have a terrible attitude?

I don’t know about you, but I too used to be a slave. I was a slave to sin and all that went with it, until one day God sent a deliverer to rescue me from my condition. What should my response be to what God has done for me?

When I’m going through difficult times, should I remind Him of how good I used to have it before I became a Christian? Should I remind God that I was doing well enough on my own? Should I say to God that I’d rather go back to my old life?

Of course not! I don’t care how my life is measured or by whom; at the end of the day I count myself among the most blessed of any people! My life has been just like everyone else’s, full of up’s and down’s, trials and successes.

At the end of the day however, what matters is that God has been right beside me through it all. I don’t understand some of the hard things, but I realize that I don’t need to understand everything. All I need to be sure of is that God is faithful, and as such He will never leave us or forsake us.

My prayer is that all of God’s children will appreciate Him for what he has done for us.

May we never bite the hand that feeds us!

Be blessed,

Ron