Posts Tagged ‘American Dream’

Romans 15:23-33 — This passage today is about provision. The work of the church is about provision. Providing for missions, providing for other Christians in need, providing through prayer. As Christians, we are part of a team. We are not just self-contained units dotting the landscape. We are all joined together in Christ. Our fellow Christians are not out of sight, out of mind. Like the human body is interconnected and interdependent so to are all Christians in the body of Christ.

As Christians, we must provide for missions. We do so not out of obligation but we do so because the message must be sent. There are those who are sent and there are those who support those who are sent. My friend, Tim Lyda, felt the burden and the passion to plant a church in spiritually hard soil known as New England, specifically Manchester, CT. We did not force him to go there. He followed God’s leading him there. It is our job as the church from which he was sent to support him. This man, along with Jason Edwards have made sacrifices. They have moved their families 16 hours away from those who love them. They are strangers in a strange land who are making it there home, developing relationships day by day. They are faces struggles daily as they toil in the hard spiritual soil of New England. We must support them with our financial gifts. If you are a member of the LifeSong mother church here in Lyman, SC, we need to provide for Tim, Jason and their families. They are doing needed work. The gospel must be spread. People dying without knowing Christ as their Savior should, should, SHOULD burden our souls. We should care that New England is a spiritually dead place and that many souls there will be separated from God for eternity in hell for having rejected Christ. We must, must, must be there in the persons of Tim, Jason and their families. We must, must, must support them financially. We must make a way for them. The church at Rome was apparently ready and willing to support Paul’s journey to Spain. It is not just LifeSong Church as a whole that must support Manchester, we as individual LifeSongers must support them. They are doing tough work in a tough place and their need our financial resources to do the work that needs doing — spreading the gospel in ways that connect to the culture up there.

As Christians, we also have responsibility for our fellow Christ followers who are in need. In your life, would you allow a family member to be in need and not help them. If your brother, sister, or child were in desperate need would you not help them. We are part of the family of Christ so we too also have an obligation to help fellow Christ followers who are in need. Just as ancient Christ followers helped the Christians in Jerusalem when they were in need, we should be concerned about our fellow Christians here at home and abroad who are in need. We should be moved to tears by the persecution of Christians in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Sudan, China, North Korea and other places that happen on a daily basis. We should be concerned too when Christians are in need right here at home as well. We have a responsibility to both, not one or the other. We must as Christians think of the welfare of others before our own. The thing that gets in the way of us supporting other Christians in real and direct ways is the American Dream. We have bought so into the fact that we are to have the newest cars, the finest houses, a cell phone for everyone in our house including our toddlers, the finest appliances, the newest, etc. The most expensive is better. We have so bought into that we cannot do what we are called to do. We are slaves to our finances and Satan just smiles. Christians awake. Shed yourself of debt. We are called to support fellow Christians. Is it not better to live on less. Does the new BMW become more important than supporting those that fight against the killing of Christians in Syria. The BMW seems pale by comparison. Is your manicured lawn worth more than helping those who spread the gospel in China? Is your boat worth more than supporting the soup kitchen right down the road from your house?

Finally, we, as Christians, must support each other with our prayers. Do you know how much Tim, Jason and their families value our prayers? Do you know how much missionaries in the Muslim world, or in North Korea, China and elsewhere value our prayers? They beg for our prayers. In committing to pray for those who are on the front lines of the battle to spread the gospel, we participate in their ministry. When we pray (and I mean more than just those prayers that we say at the dinner table….real prayer is what I mean), we are urged by the spirit to learn more about the people we pray for and their situations. When we pray for them, we are committed to find out what exactly they need prayer for. Through prayer we become involved. Through prayer, we can move mighty mountains. For example, the LifeSong Manchester team needs our prayers for a place for Sunday worship. The work of Satan has prevented them from using a city gym. When you pray, you want learn more of the needs of those on the front lines. Commit to pray for the Manchester to find a new place to worship on Sundays. Get to know about the missionaries in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Iran and elsewhere. Pray for them. The work they do in all the spiritually hard places is long and hard. They deserve our prayers. Not just supper table prayers, the real prayers that we usually reserve for when things have gone wrong. Pray with desperation for our front line missionaries!

Father, help us to set our priorities straight financially so that we can financially support our fellow Christians who are in need, our fellow Christians who are missionaries. Help to remember the difference between those things that are temporary trappings of this life and those things that have eternal weight. Help us to pray for those who are doing the work that needs doing and in so doing we become so moved that we become desperate to help our church grow more so than making our list of things we own grow. Help us to support the church in all ways in which our common body of Christ needs. Help us to set our priorities straight so that we can. Amen.

Romans 8:18-30 — Yesterday we talked about our present confidence that we have in the Lord. Today, we talk about our future glory. Paul tells us plain out that there will be suffering, but it is nothing compared to our future glory.

Man, this week, in what I call God’s synchronicity, He is driving home a point to me. In this synchronicity, He drives home a point to me in various different ways and from various different sources. The idea that He is making to me is that there is a price to be paid to be identified with Jesus and how far, how deeply, am I willing to take my faith. How far am I willing to follow. Am I content to sit back while there are billions of people who have not yet come to know Jesus? Do I have the faith of Christians in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia who are dying rather than denounce the name of Jesus. Yes, they are dying today in the 21st century for Christ. Do you have that kind of faith, Mark? How far are you willing to take this thing? God is speaking this synchronously to me – in the chapter of the book, Radical, that I am reading now (which, bam, is using Romans as the source for the discussion in the chapter), in mailing I have received about suffering Christians in Africa and the Middle East, and in my current passage under study, the Book of Romans.

Along with being heirs of God’s glory, Paul, in this passage, mentions suffering. What kinds of suffering are we willing to endure? For first century believers and for many around the world today that are Christ followers, there is economic and social prices to be paid for being Christian. Some face physical torture. Some face death. Even in countries where Christ is still tolerated or is encouraged, we must not become complacent. To live as Jesus did – serving others without expectation of payback, resisting the temptation to conform to the ways of the world, and heeding the call to call out what is evil and against God’s Word, and to love others so much that you are willing to die for them – exacts a price. How far are you willing to go? Being a Christian involves making small choices that separate us from the crowd and sometimes it involves making big ones. Are you content with your American dream lifestyle of me, me, me and gathering all the toys you can? Are you willing to chuck it all and follow where God leads you. Are you willing to say yes to Jesus? or do you say yes to the American dream of stuff, stuff and more stuff.

Comfort. cushiness. Complacency. Just because we go the most up to date current cool church with over the top service to the community and the latest Christian music doesn’t mean anything if we do not answer the call as Christians. If we just sit in a pew on Sunday and that’s the comfy Christian life we want, we are missing the point. It doesn’t matter that you attend a cutting edge church if you don’t heed God’s call, if you do not put your yes on the table. Are you willing to follow God’s call? It may involve selling your house and all your possessions and moving to Nigeria to help Christians being persecuted there? It might involve chucking it all and teaching in an inner city school? Christ did not promise us the American dream. He promised us suffering in His name. How far are you willing to take your faith? This is the question that I am struggling with now. The deeper you go with your faith, the more you are convicted of the inadequacy of it. Jesus went to the cross for us. How far are willing to go to make his name known?

Paul says what we suffer here is nothing compared to the glory that we will be rewarded with in Heaven. Do we really, really believe that? Christians in Nigeria believe it. Christians in Sudan believe it. Christians in Iraq believe it. Nothing that we go through here compares to the glory that we will receive in Heaven. Even dying in the name of Jesus is temporary pain compared to the glory of heaven. Even though we don’t often die in the name of Jesus here, we do still have our personal trials and tribulations, divorce, death of loved ones, job loss, and so on. We suffer in those ways here but the suffering we as humans endure is nothing compared to our future glory in heaven. Nothing we endure here is so nasty and ugly that it can trump our reward in Heaven as Christ followers. Many of us are so worrried out this life and being happy and content that we sell out our souls to chase after these worldly things. Paul says our future glory is what we should be chasing. All this, this is just temporary. Its seasonal fashion. Here today. Gone tomorrow. When we are chasing after Jesus, none of this temporary stuff matters. We have our eyes on the eternal prize. How far your faith? How much in love with this life are you? How deep are you willing to go? Are you all in?