Tag Archives: Romans 12

You’re Not A 2nd Class Christian…And Why I Came Forward

stinking-thinkingSunday’s sermon was about “Stinking Thinking.” At times, we all suffer this malady. But Romans 12:1-2 teaches us that, rather than being conformed to this world, we must be transformed by a renewed mind. Oddly, though, my sermon had the most unusual effect…it made the preacher come forward!

I don’t suppose I am the first to ever answer my own invitation, but there are a few good lessons that I learned from it, and I’d like to share them for this week’s article.

“Stinking Thinking” had 3 different examples: Elijah had wrong thinking about the lack of faith in others, and he was corrected by God; David had wrong thinking in his desires and needs, and Nathan rebuked him; and we are all rebuked by James if we have stinking, double-minded, thinking – of this world and the next.

But during the invitation, I realized that I had just confessed having the same hard-heartedness as Elijah. It is a preacher’s disease, isn’t it? Elijah was overly concerned with numbers, and his self-righteous attitude told him that he was the only one who served God. I have publicly bemoaned the lack of attendance on Sunday night and Wednesday night attendance, and it had begun to cause “stinking thinking” in me.

So I owned my confession and publicly repented. I had gotten caught up in what others were doing (or not doing). I had allowed it to poison my kindness toward some in the family of God. So here are a few take-away items I gained:

#1, I was reminded that it isn’t easy to go forward. But it shouldn’t be so hard! Please know, if you come forward, “You are NOT a 2nd Class Christian!” You aren’t a worse Christian. We all need help and encouragement. An unfortunate stigma has petrified people in the pew rather than helped them move their feet. Praise God that some overcome the stigma and ask for the love and prayers of others!

#2, I was reminded that those who can’t be with us on Sunday or Wednesday nights feel persecuted by some of the comments we make. I realize that many people, for reasons beyond their ability, cannot be back with us all the time. And to those folks, who desire to be with the saints but cannot, let me say, “You are NOT 2nd Class Christians!” If we, as the church, have made you feel sub-Christian, it is our mistake, not yours. We love and miss you when you cannot be with us.

#3, Those with “stinking thinking,” who refuse to return Sunday nights or Wednesdays, even if they easily could, need our love, not condemnation. They must answer for their hearts and minds, not me. But I will gently call: do you not desire to grow closer to God and His family, the church? Or have you become so worldly that you would rather do anything than meet with the saints? Just give it some thought, please.

May we all be transformed by renewed minds! Will you step forward? Ask for the love and prayers of the congregation. You are not a 2nd Class Christian if you do. And who knows?…there might be others who thought they were the only ones who felt that way. It might just start a movement…let’s call it Christianity.

If you want to hear the sermon, you may do so Sermon Link

Enforced Volunteers

ebola debateAccording to their statement, Maine officials are “confident” that:

“the selfless health workers, who were brave enough to care for Ebola patients in a foreign country, will be willing to take reasonable steps to protect the residents of their own country.”

And while the State of Maine appears hopeful, clearly officials are unconvinced. So they will be enacting Plan B – “Enforced Voluntary” quarantines.

“Enforced voluntary,” now there is an oxymoron. There is, of course, no such thing as a “forced volunteer.” But, time after time, we hope people will put others first, and then we make laws when they won’t. It has been this way from the beginning. God allowed Adam & Eve the opportunity to choose right, but enacted consequences when they chose the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life.

Examine the evidence. NY’s first Ebola patient, Dr. Craig Spencer, lied to authorities about travelling around the city. He told officials he had self-quarantined when, in fact, he rode the subways, dined out, and went bowling. All of which came to light only when authorities examined his Metro card.

Consider Kaci Hickox, the nurse who has said that she has no intention of “sticking to the guidelines.” Or consider Amber Vinison, the nurse who had a 99.5-degree fever, yet flew on a commercial flight with 132 other people.

Why would these heroes, who serve the needs of others every day, be so defiant about a quarantine that would ensure the protection of millions? Because they have the freedom to choose, saying, “yes” when they want to serve and saying, “no” when they don’t. That ability is, in fact, God given to every person.

But since we know we can’t legislate morality, we attempt to legislate behavior. Jesus demonstrated a better way, but few will follow. What if, like Christ, we were to choose to do God’s will, put others ahead of ourselves, and demonstrate God’s love in a fallen world? What would that take?

It takes a complete reversal of thinking and a total change of mind, seeing the world through the eyes of God, to really change behavior. Or, as Paul said:

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-3).

Give it some thought. When asked to be inconvenienced for others, how do you react? Perhaps, we could all stand a little transformation in Christlikeness.