Common Sense Christian

The Thinking Christian’s Site

Daily Devotional – August 8

 

Time to Grow Up

Part 6 – Final

What Its All About

(This post is the conclusion of a series started July 24.)

Each one of us files out into the cold night air. I place my hand on our youngest members’ shoulder and squeeze it, trying to convey warmth and comfort.

His dear sister and brother in marriage were part of the evening “games” a day previous–He, being torn limb from limb by four Arabian stallions; she, along with several other women, an old man and two children, rent by the stadium beasts.

He looks at me, his eyes sad but clear.

He had accepted our Jesus, joining with a following in Venetia. His whole family had made their way south to the city in search of us by word of a fervent brother who had devoted his life to seeking out and exhorting the followers of the way

THE WAY.  The way is not a religion.  It is not volumes of canonical rules and regulations.  Its not a secret or exclusive club.  Its not formal trappings, traditions or superstitious ceremonial performances, gestures and invocations.  It is not a “have to”, it is a “want to”.  It is about one’s personal relationship with the man who died in our place.

Tonight, this man reaffirmed to all of us his commitment–to his God, his Jesus, and to us.  He stood before us, his head lifted toward heaven and praised our Lord for the honor of suffering.  He knows what it is all about.  

“If not for love, then what’s the point?” He told us.

His eyes shone, but we could hardly see them through our tears.

Why do we come? What does it mean to truly be a Christian?


1John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

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August 8, 2007 Posted by | Challenge, Time to Grow Up | 7 Comments

Daily Devotional – August 7

 

Time to Grow Up

Part 5

Games Children Play

Games.  Children love games.  Of course the child in all of us still like to play games.  Games are usually played to win–something that gives the winner great satisfaction, and what keeps a child playing.  Face it, games are much more fun when one is winning.

When you play a game you exert every bit of skill and cunning you can to outsmart your opponent.  You also realize that your opponent is doing the same thing.  I remember playing the game “Risk” wth friends many years back.  I would manipulate a friend by offering to ally myself with him against another opponent.  The whole time I was “benevolently” giving ground, I was positioning myself to gain an advantage over both opponents.  These kinds of negotiations are frequent on the playground, but as one matures it seems we should have the judgement to understand life is much more than that.

Unfortunately, many adult Christians think that something as serious as Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross or his unconditional love is part of some grand game.   

  • What did Jesus have up his sleeve when they nailed him to the tree? 
  • Was he doing it so that he could get something out of us? 
  • Did he expect something in return for his sacrifice?   
  • Surely there must have been some other motivation than just…love. 

It seems like the simplest concept in the world should be the unconditional nature of true love and yet we have complicated it beyond belief and changed it into an aberation of itself.  Could it be that we have never matured beyond that playground mentality to understand what true love really is?

1John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

August 7, 2007 Posted by | Challenge, Time to Grow Up | 5 Comments

Daily Devotional – August 6

 

Time to Grow Up

Part 4 

RESTRICT

To find out how one goes from the simplicity of a father’s (God’s) love for his child, and the sacrificial unconditional gift of eternal life to his children to the hodgepodge of confusion that is Christianity today we need to play a little game: 

Let’s play word association.

Read the following four descriptions and think of the first word that comes to mind:

  • Dogmatic system of complicated rules and regulation.
  • Eternal damnation unless possibly hundreds of conditions are met.
  • Rigid control over adherents and non-adherents alike.
  • Extorts money and resourses and creates dependence based on fear.

Did you think of the word “religion“?

The word “religion” comes from the word religare, which means to bind or restrict. 

As mentioned before on Common Sense Christian, religion is the primary tool of Satan to deceive and blind the mind.

Here are some signs you may be following religion rather than God (this can apply to “hip and happening” churches as well as stodgy “fundamentalist” ones.):

  • Your church is interested in rules and regulations, and relies on guilt and obligation to motivate its membership.  (Rules can also be “un-rules” if you know what I mean)
  • The primary righteousness manifest in your church is self-righteousness.  (We’re better than them)
  • Salvation is by not by Christ alone, but Christ plus works, sacrifice, etc. (Isn’t this just about all mainstream denominational teaching?)
  • Its all about numbers, not people.  (We are all about the organization not its organs)
  • They concentrate on modifying behavior instead of growing the spirit.
  • Its leadership and direction is man-centered.

Christian, if you find yourself in with this crowd you have the pity of the thief on the cross.

GALATIANS 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

August 6, 2007 Posted by | Challenge, Time to Grow Up | 7 Comments

Daily Devotional – July 31

 

Time to Grow Up

Part 3

To go forward from here, we must go back.  Not long, but long enough to get a simple perspective.

Lets go back to that night on a storm tossed hill. 

Its 33 A.D.

A thief hanging on a cross, condemned by a harsh and unforgiving system, turned his pained gaze toward the tattered remains of a man nailed next to him.

“Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” He said.

And it is written, “And Jesus said unto him, ‘Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.’”

With such fierce simplicity, Christ paid the ultimate price for the sin of the thief, averting his eternal separation from God and ushering him into eternal life.  A mere thief, without merit, without works, without honor—an undeserving recipient of God’s wonderful and unconditional love.

July 31, 2007 Posted by | Challenge, Time to Grow Up | 1 Comment

Daily Devotional – July 25

Time to Grow Up

Part 2

Step into 88 A.D.  Into the shoes of our brothers in the previous post.

Close your eyes, and emerse yourself, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Lay aside all the unnecessary paraphernalia, embellishment, and conditional thoughts you have inherited from nineteen hundred years of church councils, tradition, theologians, translators and interpreters.

And,

a lifetime of preconcieved biases, teachings and beliefs.

Imagine.

There are no state churches, conventions, creeds, prescribed orders, constitutions, cannons, scholarly commentaries

–not even a completed New Testament.

Ask the same questions those Christians asked themselves centuries ago.

What would bring you out into the dark night, where government agents intent upon your arrest and death lurk, to assemble with those so different?

What does it mean to be a Christian?

What is a Christian?

Do we even remember?


Luke 18:8 (b) Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

July 25, 2007 Posted by | Time to Grow Up | Leave a comment

Daily Devotional – July 24

 

 Time to Grow Up

Part 1

The year is 88 A.D and thirteen of us meet tonight, with a guard posted at the door. We are gathered in a back room with only two candles and no heat. I’m freezing. After the opening prayer, I pause for reflection.

Three of us are Jews; two are Greeks, the rest Romans. Some are citizens; four are slaves.

We are all Christians, disciples of Jesus, some call “the Christ.” We were labeled “Christians” by others. We are not sure if it is a derogatory term or not, but the name seems to fit.

We think he was born about 88 years ago–that’s why we call this the 88th year of our Lord. We believe he was crucified by the Romans in 33, but we’re not sure. All we have are some partial accounts of his life and teachings, plus a few copies of copies of letters from Paul and one from Peter. The Lord’s first disciples are almost all gone now. There are rumors that John is alive, but he is not here and we don’t know where he is. Peter and Paul and many others were killed in 64, when Rome burned.

Nero blamed it on us.

The Jews rebelled against Rome in 67. When the Christians in Jerusalem saw the city surrounded by armies, they remembered what Jesus taught and fled across Jordan to Pella, in the desert. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70, and by the time the fortress at Masada fell in 73, they had crushed the entire Jewish nation. Now they are after us, too. The three generals who decimated the Jews each became Emperor, one after the other–Vespasian and his two sons, Titus and Domitian. Now, we must hide because Domitian is trying to restore the Roman religion. He executes both Christians and Jews.

But tonight we are all here, together.

Why have we come? Why do we slip out at night, away from our masters; hiding from the Romans, to meet in caves and catacombs and darkened rooms? What do we expect to happen that is so different, so attractive, so important, that we risk our lives to be here?


1John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

July 24, 2007 Posted by | Time to Grow Up | 3 Comments