I am Ruined!

I said, “Mourn for me; I’m ruined! I’m a man with unclean lips, and I live among a people with unclean lips. Yet I’ve seen the king, the Lord of heavenly forces!” (Isa. 6:5, CEB)

Advent is the powerful story of Christ coming to us. It also needs to remind us of the state of our own affairs. We are not worthy. We cannot dwell in his holy presence.

In an era where our society has effectively wiped away “shame” and “embarrassment” we may very well have destroyed our sense of “holiness” and our need for the holiness of God in our own lives. We are simply not comfortable with the Holy. That’s why we’ve created God in our own image.

How we need a vision of the Holy. To realize we truly do not belong in his presence… and then to know his touch of grace that draws us in!

One Powerful Prayer of Jesus

John 17 is Jesus praying for his disciples. It is beautiful.

In v. 17 I find one of the most powerful sentences in that prayer, with three incredibly powerful words.

 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Sanctify: to make holy. To set apart. To consecrate.

Truth: not just making correcting statements. It is living in Christ. It living in truth.

Word: logos. It is the essence of Christ. In the beginning was the Word…

We have a tremendous calling. It is a high and holy calling. It is not a calling that says, “You are saved, so get out of this world.”

It is a precious calling that says, “You are commissioned by the One who is truth to live out that truth in this world today. Get to it.”

The Path to Holiness

We want “holiness” is a few easy steps.

Holiness might be “possible” in a few steps, but they aren’t easy. Our affections have to be turned. Holiness comes when our affections are on Christ and not our own agendas. Our vision is full of Christ, and rid of this world’s agenda.

We need the taste of the Kingdom in our spiritual mouths. We need that holy hunger. Taste and see the Lord is GOOD.

We also need “crisis” moments. We realize our tastes have been wrong. Our tastes don’t just need adjusting… they need changing. That brings crisis. We like our lives. We like the way we think things are.

But the Kingdom comes. The taste touches us and we are awakened. But the old tastes don’t go quietly into the night. There is a crisis. Sometimes there may be several crisis points. We have to face our frailty. We have to face our ugly nature. We fall on Christ.

Taste and see… he is GOOD.

The High Calling of Holiness

What images come to your mind when the word “holiness” is used?

Have we, as believers, given up on “being holy?”

13 Therefore, once you have your minds ready for action and you are thinking clearly, place your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 Don’t be conformed to your former desires, those that shaped you when you were ignorant. But, as obedient children, 15 you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy. 16 It is written, You will be holy, because I am holy. (1 Pet. 1:13-16, CEB)

God’s Best is Not Always What We Have in Mind

3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. (1 Thess. 4:3-8, NIV)

The biggest issue in discipleship is moving away from what we think God prohibits to understanding that what God wants is our best. That means we may not get all of what we “wanted” from our old life, or what our culture may be offering up. God doesn’t have our misery in mind. He has our best in mind.

But we battle. And it’s not just cultural norms or what we perceive to be “legalism” within the church. Sometimes we forget we really do battle against principalities and powers.

As I study and pray, what I find is it’s not “cultural wars” we battle. There are strongholds within every culture and those strongholds guard the territory, so to speak. There are a few beasts who jealously guard our culture and make sure we stay in bondage.

One is consumerism/materialism. The other is sex. (Of course, we could talk about more.)

So, for me, the “cultural war” issues are not the real issues. They are symptoms of the larger beasts who jealously guard this territory. Their job may not be to make us utterly “pagan,” but their job IS to make sure we don’t see God’s best for our lives.

We have settled in our lives when we have statements like, “I don’t see what’s wrong with it.” Or, “God wants me happy.” And we have no idea what God’s best for us really is in our lives. I refer to Christians in that context, of course.

Friends, we need to move past what feeds the beasts of this culture and realize we are called to please God. NOT because he is a demanding ogre like the beasts that guard our culture, but because he has our best in view.

God’s will is holy living. His best for us needs be in full view.

Repenting of Sin? Or Sorry You Got Caught?

To fear the Lord is to hate evil.
I hate pride and arrogance,
the path of evil and corrupt speech. (Prov. 8:13, CEB)

“Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them.”
— Francis Chan, Crazy Love

As one cartoon I once saw said, “I haven’t really died to sin, but I did feel faint once.”

How to Be Holy in Ten Easy Steps

The text I will preaching this Sunday (and yes, it is without regard to the Hallmark Holiday and I apologize) is 1 Peter 1:13-25. Staring us in the face is that horrific verse: “BE HOLY FOR GOD IS HOLY.”

Holiness in my life growing up was all about how we dressed.

Quite honestly, I would say there are some ideas from that twisted theology that just aren’t BAD ideas today.

To be honest, boys, they call it UNDERwear for a reason! Keep it there, would you?

There really are some things about “dress code” that wouldn’t be bad to bring back…

Aside from that, there are some things that really need adjusting in our minds with regards to “being holy.”

The title is false advertising. No easy steps. But here is the prayer I have: We need a holiness that doesn’t just change our wardrobe. We need a holiness that changes our lives!