Thursday, March 24, 2011

Working on my memory

It is amazing how easy I default back to living essentially like a practical atheist. Now before you jump to conclusions to soon, please give me a minute to explain. I love Jesus, and I am fully convinced that there is only one true God that exist in three persons. I believe there is only one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus Christ. I believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God. I can give you another ten evangelical doctrines that I believe and am fully resting and trusting in, but even in all of that I can say that there have been lapses in my walk with Christ that I suffer from some sort of "spiritual amnesia". You see stating belief in these things is not so much for me the hard part, the part I get tripped up on is actually living them out day by day, consistently. I can honestly say that there have been lapses of time in my life that I walk, think and live as a practical atheist. No I would never consciously deny the existence of God, but in my flesh and fallen nature, it sure is easy to live as though He didn't exist. Now, I am not talking so much about open defiant sin, though I know those things can and do occur. I am more talking about those moments, when we live as though we were in charge, as though we were the ones who were omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. Those moments in our lives where we fail to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ over our lives. Those moments where we place more trust in our plans, than God's will. Those moments where we are quicker and more diligent to run to everyone for advise rather than go humbly to our Wonderful Counselor. Those moments when our faith went from believing God spoke the world into existence. parted the Red Sea, sent Jesus to defeat sin, death and the grave, and yet now we don't have faith enough to believe He can meet even our basic of all needs. What a paradox we find ourselves int those moments. But the truth is God is God, whether I forget that fact or not. He's in charge whether I fail to realize that or not. But the danger is that when I am sleep walking and suffering from "spiritual amnesia" I usually end up seeking to place my trust in other things or other people. That eventually puts me in danger. The Psalmist wrote in chapter 146..."Put NOT your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish."

You see the outcome is never to bright when my hope and faith is in anything less than Christ. Later on in that same chapter the Psalmist gives this challenge..."Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, who keeps his faith forever." Praying I don't forget the reality of God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Praying my faith is not one that just rest in doctrine, but my faith is one that lives in light and reverence of the Truth. Just a rambling, God bless you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Heart Check Time...

This month we have had our people at Summit reading through the Psalms with a focus on thanksgiving and praise. Yesterday's assigned reading really challenged me. The verses were not ones that you would necessarily gravitate towards, but definitely verses that convicted me. The verses were from Psalm 106..."Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise. They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the Lord." You see what I mean, not necessarily verses you will be using on your next prayer gram or birthday card you send out, but verses that are critically important to our spiritual walks nonetheless.

This Psalm speaks to the journey of God's people out of slavery and bondage from Egypt. These individuals witnessed first hand the power and love of God, as He led them by day through a cloud and at night through a pillar of fire, they tasted the very provision of God that rained down from heaven, they saw countless miracles and yet here we see that they still were not satisfied and not grateful. Now before we cast judgment on the Israelites, we need to take a minute and examine ourselves. I know if I were honest, at times my life and attitude can reflect the heart of the people in this passage. You see I too have seen the marvelous power of God as He has delivered me from the bondage of sin, continues to lead me through the power of His Truth and the illumination and conviction of His Spirit. I continue to see countless miracles performed through and around my life and yet at times I complain like a spoiled school-aged child. I am sure that if you have stumbled across this blog, you probably have never suffered from moments like that...(please sense the sarcasm...) We all can agree that there have been times when we have been tripped up by this type of attitude.

How do God-fearing, God-loving, humble followers of God find themselves in these types of seasons of ingratitude and ungratefulness? There could be tons of reasons, but here's one that the Lord laid on my heart. It's when I set the "blessing" or ascribe more worth or affection to the "blessing" over the BLESSOR. Whenever we set the blessing over the Blessor, we run the risk of heading down a slippery slope of ingratitude and ungratefulness. The reason I say that is because the blessing was never meant to make us eternally happy. The blessing was never meant to be a replacement for the only thing that brings eternal joy, which is God Himself. He alone is the ultimate gift of the Gospel, that has been accomplished for us by Christ. When I set all of my affections and attention on the "blessing", I may run the risk of attaching God's worth to the blessing. God's worth is not in the blessing, we may see some of God's goodness in it, but the fact remains, God is good and He is worthy of my praise, apart from His blessings. He stands alone as supreme! My heart as a worshiper must be similar to Job's who in the midst of losing all, stated "the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord..." You see as Christians, we always have a reason to be grateful, because we have already been given and entrusted with the greatest gift, Christ, and His Gospel. Does your life reflect gratitude today? Are you thankful for all that God has done on your behalf? And all that God is? If you are, take a moment to tell Him, and you may even want to include in that time a prayer of forgiveness for your murmuring. Just another rambling...

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 106:1

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Gospel

Below is the Gospel statement that was written by Jamin Stinziano, one of our Elders, with the support of the rest of our Elder Team and Senior Staff. This doctrinal statement has been reviewed and shared with pastors from around the country that we respect and hold in high esteem. It is not our intent to make the people of Summit memorize this statement, but it is our prayer that our people grow in their understanding of the Gospel.

The Gospel Message:

The one and only God, who is Righteous, created us to love, know, and represent him. We made a choice, however, to violate God's righteousness with our sin and thus we are unable to love, know, and represent him on our own. Our sin and lack of righteousness deserves a punishment, the anger and judgment of God. Because we cannot bear this punishment on our own, God sent his Son, Jesus, who was both fully human and fully God, to live a perfectly righteous life and to die on a cross that he might save us from the punishment that our sin deserves. After three days, Jesus rose from the dead, showing that God the Father had accepted the sacrifice of the Son, Jesus, on behalf of his people. And now, God calls us to trust in Jesus - to have faith in the sufficiency of his work on the cross and to repent, changing our minds about the sufficiency of our old way of living. When we trust in Jesus, we are forgiven of our sin, credited with Christ's righteousness, adopted as sons and daughters, and given new and eternal life. We also receive the presence of God's Spirit in our lives, thus producing the fruit of the gospel and enabling us to love, know, and represent God as we were created to do.