Thursday, August 22, 2013


I heard a comedian recently ask a great and funny question: "Why aren't there any mirrors in the self-checkout?" (Michael Jr.)

Think about it...he said it in his 'Random Thoughts' performance to be funny (and he Is--check him out online).

But the Word of God says that we should perform 'self-checkouts' as well. Not so that we can make sure we look 'just right' or that our hair isn't messed up, but so that we can check ourselves out based on God's Word.

Continuing to work through Romans, we read these familiar words:

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us." (Romans 12:3-6)

We should 'check ourselves out' with "sober judgement", according to our faith.

That means that we have to take an honest look at ourselves, from God's perspective.

That calls for honesty, integrity, and courage...the courage to admit our faults, to admit our compromises, to admit our failures. 

It also means that we acknowledge that God has been active within us, and He has given us gifts and talents to be used for His glory. 

We are a part of His 'Body'...but if we're ever going to live up to what He wants for us and from us, we need to be willing to evaluate ourselves from His Word's perspective.

Are we becoming more like Christ?

   Are we showing love more, and grace?
   Are we willing to live with eternity in mind, and to pay whatever temporary          costs there are? 
   Are we willingly being "transformed" by the renewing of our minds into the          person He wants us to be?


Are we resisting His work within us?
Are we defining ourselves more by this world's standards than by His?
Are we adopting here-and-now values and goals, which won't last?

We need to view ourselves honestly...with "sober judgment".

Here's the great news: 

If you're a believer in Jesus Christ, if you've acknowledged Him as Savior and Lord in your life, then your 'New Beginning' is one honest evaluation and one repentant prayer away!

There is always a new beginning waiting for you--as you take an honest look at yourself, spiritually, and commit yourself to following Him anew.


That's what a lot of KCCers will be doing this Sunday, as they dedicate themselves (as parents) and their children to the Lord, and as others move forward in baptism.

They've said, in essence, 'I've taken an honest look at myself--with "sober judgement" and I realize that I've been holding out on God, and I want to move forward with Him. I want the future to be more according to His Word than the past was. I want to follow Him completely."

This will be a GREAT day, and could very well be life-changing for these KCCers, as they follow through consistently.

What about you?

Have you followed Jesus' command to be baptized, after you've declared your faith in Jesus? 

Have you taken stock of where you're at in your faith--with "Sober Judgement"?

Remember, there's always a new beginning awaiting--as we respond to His leading.

It starts with an honest 'self-checkout'.

Are you willing?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What are You Conforming To?

Back in the day, in the 80's, when I was growing up, there were a group of people that was growing in influence. You've seen them in movies, and there is certainly a 'remnant' of them around today:

The Punkers.

These were the people who wore their hair spiked and colored, who had all black fashions, boots, chains, piercings, and so on. 

They looked very intimidating.

What were they after?

Well, I've learned enough in my 50+ years to know that I can't 'generalize' as if I know every one of their hearts, but I did talk to several, and learned from interviews, etc: They wanted to show their Non-Conformity to the 'established' ways of the predominant culture.

So, they altered their appearance, their music, their demeanor, and they stood out from the culture.

Then they did something interesting...they joined together with others who were of similar mindset, appearance, and tastes, with similar goals and methods. 

They 'conformed' to that group!

Truth is, we all want to stand out in some ways, and we all want to conform in other ways. Neither are necessarily bad, and in many ways it may be very good!

All of us 'conform' to something. We try to look a certain way, buy certain things, drive a certain kind of car, wear certain clothes and fashion our hair in a certain way.

So, here's the question: What are YOU 'conforming' to?

Are you conforming to the middle class, suburbanite lifestyle?
Are you conforming to the upwardly-mobile, trendy and success-driven lifestyle?
Are you conforming to the in-your-face, rebellious against society lifestyle?

Here's a news flash for all of us: God WANTS US to "CONFORM"!

Don't believe me? As I've been working my way through Romans, I found this familiar verse:

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." (Romans 12:2a)

God wants us to avoid 'conforming' to this world's values, but instead to 'conform' to His values--and in the process, to be TRANSFORMED by the renewing (changing, spiritually re-wiring) of our minds. 

So, the Lord tells us, if we are 'Christ Followers' that we should conform..but it should be to His Word, His teaching, and His example, not the fashions, values, and philosophies of this world.

...and He promises a payoff too!

"...Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2b)

He's saying, in essence, 'Look, I want you to know me. I want you to experience my blessings. I want you to experience my closeness and connection, and to live in the confidence that I am leading you to the best life possible. I want you to understand that, as you let me do my work and you surrender yourself to me, you will be blessed, and I will be glorified!' 

Are we willing to listen? 
Are we willing to learn?
Are we willing to 'conform' to His revealed will, and in the process to be 'transformed'?

Or...are we content to 'fit in' with some temporary group in this world?

Make no mistake: You are conforming...the only question is, 'To what?'

Monday, August 19, 2013

LIVING Sacrifice?

I read these familiar verses from Romans 12 today: 

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you."  (Romans 12:1-3)

And, rather than speed right by them because they're so familiar, I decided I would stop and try to hear what God was saying to me (and us) through them.

I didn't get very far.

First, Paul says "Therefore" (told it wasn't very far).

What's this about? Well, anytime you see a 'therefore' it is (of course) a link to the thought just before it, and in this case, Paul was talking all about the Grace and Mercy of God, and how we did not deserve it, but that He gave it anyway--to Jews and Gentiles--and made us 'one' in Christ. We should not take that for granted, but should be humbled, appreciative, and grateful.

...and what should we DO with that?

"I urge offer your bodies as a 'Living Sacrifice' to God."

Living Sacrifice? 

Isn't the whole point of a 'sacrifice' in the Scripture that it is dead? After all, before an animal is sacrificed on the altar in Scripture, it is always killed. It's dead. That's part of the power of the sacrifice!

Yet, Paul tells us to be a "LIVING Sacrifice".

How do we do that? How do we 'sacrifice' our lives on an ongoing basis.

Picture it this way: 

If everything you were involved in, everything you were passionate about, everything and everyone you loved was able to be held in your hands. Picture yourself putting those things in a box, and then putting that 'box' on the altar.

Paul is calling us to offer each one of those things up to God as a give them over to God in surrender. In this way, we are putting God first in life, before all those other things, and that is an act of 'worship'.

But Paul is also calling us live that way! To live every interest, every pursuit, every hour, every relationship, everything as if we're continually putting it back on that altar! 

It calls for focus and prayerful live every moment as if you are giving that moment (and whatever you're doing during that moment) back to God as an act of worship.

If we do this, it will change how we go through our lives in a BIG way!

Imagine if you lived every moment as though you were offering it up to God, putting that 'box' on the altar. How would you live differently?

How much time would you waste at home or at work?
How much immorality would you allow in?
How many arguments would you have?
How much sarcasm would you allow?
How much money would you spend on trivial things?

If we 'got' this...if we really took it to would revolutionize our lives!

The holy life which would result, and the power of God that would show through would be amazing!

...and really, this IS our 'spiritual act of worship'. It's the appropriate thing to do.

Try it today. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring it to your mind throughout the day and help you to picture yourself giving each moment over to God, putting it on the 'altar' of worship. Then watch what He does.

It will be amazing!