FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Set Free From…Me!

Writing for AlterNet, Amanda Marcotte suggests, “Anyone who has worked in the restaurant business will be happy to tell you that waiters always fight each other to avoid working Sunday lunch shift. Not because they want to sleep in, but because it’s a widespread belief that the post-church crowd is loud, demanding and unwilling to tip appropriately. In the food service industry, “Christian” is synonymous with “selfish.”

What?????

Followers of Christ – the example of love, sacrifice, selflessness? Jesus – the Good Shepherd (John 10:11); Meek and Lowly (Matthew 11:29); Obedient (Philippians 2:8); Peace (Ephesians 2:14); an Offering and Sacrifice (Ephesians 5:2) and Servant (Philippians 2:7, Matthew 12:18, Isaiah 53:11)?

Yes!

We are selfish. Sometimes, we are the most selfish.

At least I am.

Newsflash. You are, too.

In fact, the Scriptures tell us that all humans are born in corruption. We are born with a sinful nature that permeates our being – was passed to us through the first man on earth, Adam.

Romans 5:12 teaches “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (NKJV). The Bible describes our human nature as evil, and hopeless to be restored to order, apart from the divine intervention of God through Jesus Christ.

It is our nature to make gods of ourselves. Our view is egocentric; it is all about “I.” Read the writing of very young students. You will likely find the majority of sentences beginning with the personal pronoun, “I.” As we age, it doesn’t get a lot better.

Calvary Chapel South Bay blogs, “The most popular phone is called I-phone. Nowadays, the most popular thing in the social media is to take a selfie (a picture of yourself). Among the most popular magazines are names like “People,” “Us”, “All You,” and “Self.” This goes on and on in our modern narcissistic society. Everything around us is targeting to build up “self,” to feed the flesh and to make us cling to the things on earth. The modern message of the world is, ‘You are your own god. You rule over yourself. There is no sovereign God.’”

That may seem a bit harsh, but it is truth. Scripture teaches that we must deny self (Luke 9:23, Matthew 16:24) and take up the cross of Christ to follow Him. To “deny” self means to say “No” to self, and to take up the cross of Christ is to say “Yes” to God – His will, His plan, His way. He sent His Son, Jesus, to set us free (John 8:36), including from ourselves!

So, you can’t have an “I-Phone,” snap a selfie or read “Us” magazine? NO!!!! God does not call us to asceticism – abandoning all earthly possessions, wearing sackcloth and ashes, not eating certain foods and never wearing make-up. He does call us to humble submission, to give Him first place in our lives – and not first among other things or other gods. He is first because He is the only God and His way is the only way! (1 Corinthians 8:6)


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Naked Christian

For some time I’ve been following a blog, Chronicles of a Kid Next Door, written by Edmond Sanganyado.  Last week Edmond changed the title of his blog to I Am a Naked Christian.  In actuality, Edmond changed more than just the name of his blog.  He changed his focus.  He changed his purpose.

He changed.

I’ve thought a lot about his post explaining the change.  He wrote, “Today, I choose to be naked. I surrender before the Father, and watch as He removes the Son’s spotless rob of glory. I watch in awe as the Holy Spirit removes my garment of self-righteousness and sin. I am naked, but Christ clothes me with his glory.”

It seems that our focus is often more about what to wear, what to put on.  We are constantly bombarded by messages about our appearance and what we wear.  We are victims and slaves to fashion, style and labels feeling pressured to obey fads and trends.  And while it is not exactly true that “clothes make the man” (or the woman), how we dress and what we wear is important.

How often we have read the words of Ephesians 6 – “Put on the whole armor of God…Stand, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness…as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace…take up the shield of faith…take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.” (Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV).  We read in 1 Timothy that “women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control” (2:9 ESV) and in Deuteronomy that “a woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak.” (22:5 ESV).

But before we can “dress properly,” we need to undress.  Just as you don’t poor new wine into an old wineskin (Matthew 9:17, Mark 2:22), you don’t put new garments over the old.

Edmond wrote, “I choose to strip down all my perceived abilities. I choose to regard all my personal achievements, wisdom and knowledge as nothing, but sewage quagmire. The accomplishments that hid, my flaws and the praises that covered my folly, I throw them in hogwash. I cannot clothe myself in my capabilities anymore. I am done.”

I replied to Edmond’s post, “I’m stripping down and joining you!”  Since posting that response, I’ve thought about what I need to remove, take off, strip away.  Like Edmond, I strip away my perceived abilities – for me, it’s that independent self and that spirit of not needing ANYone.  Sometimes that has included God, or at least that’s what my actions and attitudes implied.  I refuse to dress one more day in self-righteousness.  I will not pin a spirit of independence to my chest like the big brooches I am known for wearing.  There will be no more necklaces of false humility.  Bracelets of selfishness will not jangle around my wrists, and I will not walk in shoes of arrogance.

The key phrase to show what caused God to become angry with the builders of the Tower of Babel comes in verse 4 of Genesis 11. “They said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves.'”  We were made to rely on God and give Him glory. Instead we have chosen to rely on self and seek our own glory—to make a name for ourselves.  Isaiah 43:7 tells us that God created us to display His glory, that is, that his glory might be known and praised.   In short, it’s not about us.  It’s not about me.

Today, I join Edmond in choosing to be naked. “I surrender before the Father, and watch as He removes the Son’s spotless robe of glory…and as the Holy Spirit removes my garment of self-righteousness and sin. I am naked, but Christ clothes me with his glory.”

THIS WEEK take a long look in the mirror, preferably a full length.  What do you need to take off?  Are you willing to strip – completely naked?

Read Edmond’s post at http://gracemusing.com/2015/09/19/for-the-first-time-i-am-a-naked-christian-this-is-why/.