HOW TO GET UNSTUCK

Have you ever noticed in the Gospels that Jesus didn’t waste His time going around screaming at the Roman soldiers?

Just how did we drive the car over the parking curb?  The vehicle was wedged in so tightly that we could not clear the barrier. Yes, I confess I was the driver on that little side trip in Florida. We made a wrong turn. I chose to stop at a tiny parking lot next to the shore so we could get our bearings. Concentrating more on the map than parking the car, I pulled in too far and drove right over the curb. Stuck good and tight. Repeatedly, I tried alternately putting the car into drive and reverse, but made no headway. 

THE SEASONS OF NO HEADWAY

There are seasons of my life in which I have become stuck, unable to make headway. The fruits of the Spirit are meant to propel me forward: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. However, my fruit withers on the vine.  Because of my rotten judgment, I become stuck, wedged on a spiritual curb.

TOSS OUT THE TRASH

This is not God’s ideal plan for believers. There is an antidote for getting stuck: tossing in the trash the excess weight of sin.  For example, one can’t be faithful to God (a fruit of the Spirit) and also sexually immoral at the same time. It is impossible to continue in impurity and indecent behavior if self-control and goodness are the filters for our minds.  Idolatry and witchcraft go down the tubes if one first loves God above all else.  Hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, and selfish ambition are not even on the table if love, patience, kindness, and self-control are our first response to pain.  I can’t sustain a fit of rage if the Holy Spirit is controlling the words that come out of my mouth.

WHAT DOES THE SPIRIT LIFE LOOK LIKE

What does a Spirit controlled life look like? Have you ever noticed in the Gospels that Jesus didn’t waste His time going around screaming at the Roman soldiers?  Christ didn’t throw that first stone at the woman caught in adultery. Never did He move away from the dinner table when the tax collectors sat next to Him. He even loved His disciples when they were at odds with each other over who would be first in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus lived in an unlovable world.  The words that come out of His mouth and His behaviors are all fruits of the Spirit. Every single last one…

TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THE WHEEL

Is it possible for believers to live this way? What exactly are the good fruits? Galatians 5:22-23:But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Amplified Version) How do we live such a way? By the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  Choosing to take our hands off our spiritual steering wheels. 

Has your spiritual life gotten stuck? Maybe you don’t know how you ended up there, but you desperately need the power of the Holy Spirit to lift you out of that pit of deed of the flesh.  What’s the solution? Confess it, turn away from it, and ask the Holy Spirit for directions on how to live.  Since I have a God who got a rental car eventually unstuck from a parking curb in Florida, I know that we have a God Who can steer us safely into living holy lives.

Click here to listen to the life transformation of Cortney Bruketta

MY LIFE AS A PRISONER

God sent us into the wilderness to get to know Him better.

Are you a multi-tasker? I ended up multi-tasking to the extreme. At one point, work included: being a music teacher grades K-12; privately coaching vocal students; directing a 30 voice children’s choir at church; directing a 70-voice regional choir; leading the musical programs at Christian camps; teaching a weekly women’s Sunday School Class. I even ran a class so that women could better manage their health (what a joke!). On the side, I was making and selling jewelry at craft shows and teaching others how to make jewelry. If it could be done, I did it. What a prison I was living in.

OVERWORKED AND UNHAPPY

Did I mention I also loved burning leaves? Maybe burning leaves was significant because I felt my life was going up in smoke. I was overworked and unhappy. When oh when would the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow come into sight?

In the background was my family: husband and two sons. My husband was a pastor; dedicated to his calling. My sons were excellent kids, but did I really know any of them? Had I taken a second to breathe?

THE YEARS OF DISSEMBLING

Then came the years of dissembling. Signs of an approaching storm already appeared on the horizon, but I ignored it. Surely, nothing that bad could ever come about for someone who loved Jesus. Right? Wrong! God ripped all of those commitments and ministries right out of our hands. In a twinkling of an eye, we were without a church home, a regular schedule, and a stable home base. Savings quickly evaporated. I obsessed about finding my husband a new job. He had sunk into deep depression, so I spent hours searching job boards and writing resumes and sending letters to countless churches on his behalf. Nothing worked.

WALLS BEGINNING TO FALL

Workaholic Jacqui was at the end of her rope. The bottom had arrived. Suddenly, there were hours, days and weeks to think….Were the prison walls beginning to fall?

Not until the end has been reached does one realize that maybe they are on the wrong path. Not until I gave up my puny efforts could God rebuild new lives. Only He could make the huge internal change in not only how we see Him, but how we see ourselves and our relationship to ministry.

THE BEST PRISON CHAPLAIN

Instead of viewing God as a job, a commitment, and a career, God became Father and Provider. He pried our hands off of possessions, aspirations for ministry, and plans for the future. God no longer was Someone researched in order to prepare a lesson. He is that Friend Who takes His time for visits that can be quite lengthy. He is the best prison chaplain!

MINISTRY TODAY

What is our relationship to church and ministry today? Church is a community of believers that deeply care about each other. Technically we belong to a large local church, but in our hearts, real church plays out in small pockets: the women’s “Tribe” I am part of, the men Bill mentors, the writing friends God has blessed me with, and the assortment of Christian friends we call family.

TOOLS, NOT “PROJECT MANAGERS”

We no longer consider “ministry” something we possess. Ministry is something God can steer us into for a season and then steer us out of another season. We don’t have a strangle hold on to what is God’s and not ours. He does with ministry and programs what He wants and He prospers what He wants to prosper. We are His tools, not His project managers.

Today, both Bill and I are investors. We invest in the lives of other believers or individuals on the cusp of believing.  We take seriously the prayer, time and effort needed to pour into the lives of God’s children. Sometimes this is well received. Other times, it can be painful. However, this is the passion God has led us to. It just took that long painful journey into the wilderness to get us here.

PRISONERS CAN BE SET FREE

Are you going through a similar long painful journey? From firsthand experience, I can tell you that the pain is worth it if you let God do the rebuilding. God never wants His children to be their own “project managers”. God sent us into the wilderness to get to know Him better. Into the barrens the we went. The prisoners can be set free!

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Click here to hear Jeff Parker’s testimony of being set free

LOVE THAT NEVER RUNS

I would rather have a root canal than knowingly sit next to the brother/sister who has hurt me.

And there we sat side by side at the picnic. It was difficult. My sister in Christ hated my guts at that moment. I just wanted to exit stage left as fast as possible.

BEING A “RUNNER”

I am a “runner”. There, I said it. I am that person who will separate as quickly as possible when there is conflict with another brother or sister in Christ. Give me the person who has deeply wounded me and 100% of the time I emotionally jump out the window when I pass by them again. Frankly, I would rather have a root canal than knowingly sit next to the brother/sister who has hurt me.

WE HAVE ALL BEEN DEEPLY HURT

The sad fact is that no one in this world hasn’t been deeply injured in his/her relationships to others. This is especially true in the church. That’s why I John 4:7-21 is so challenging:  “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates (works against) his [Christian] brother he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should also [unselfishly] love his brother and seek the best for him.

THE MERE ABSENCE OF LOVE IS DEADLY

How does a habit of withdrawal effect one’s spiritual life? Dallas Willard comments in “Renovation of the Heart”: Failure to love others as Jesus loves us chokes off the flow of the eternal kind of life that our whole human system cries out for. The old apostle minced no words: “He who does not love abides in death” (verse 14). Notice that he did not say, “He who hates,” but simply, “He who does not love.” The mere absence of love is deadly. It is withdrawal.”

COURAGEOUS LOVE

Is it possible to have this type of courageous love – the type is determined by the grace of God to stick around, rather than flee? Non-courageous love means that I do not extend love toward that difficult brother/sister because of my past issues. I am not letting issues control my feelings. On the contrary, I make a choice to extend love because I allow Jesus to revolutionize my character, my inner being.

JESUS NEVER RAN

This is a change by submission: allowing God to change me from the inside out through my relationship with God. Instead of putting on my running shoes when conflict arises, I allow the character of Christ enter my life. Jesus never ran.

Are you also a “runner”? I remember a congregation where one family was in conflict with another. They always attended the same service, but made sure they sat on opposite sides of the sanctuary. Their spiritual running shoes were always in service. “The mere absence of love is deadly. It is withdrawal.” Jesus love never runs.

Click for more information on how to love well.

LOVE ALWAYS SHOWS UP

Maybe Thomas thought he was righting the world, but I can’t see Jesus bellowing across the Temple because he was not on the “A-List” of singers.

It’s a small church known for in-fighting. On the Elder Board is Thomas, a man knowledgeable in the Scriptures and a self-proclaimed evangelist. Everyone knows him for his beautiful singing voice. Did I mention Thomas makes sure everyone knows what the church policy handbook states? If the church has a rule breaker, Thomas is quickly on the hunt. Also, if you don’t know Thomas, then he makes sure you quickly know all about his latest accomplishments.  

And then there is Delores, an elderly woman who knows her basic Bible, but you could never catch her in a debate among scholars. Delores has a challenging life – multiple health problems, widowed early, and finances are scarce. Despites circumstances, Delores always shows up for church. She made a decision to love her fellow believers well, regardless of how inconvenient the situation is for her. Delores is love personified.

Unfortunately, everyone remembers the last congregational meeting: Thomas’ infamous melt down. He publicly let the congregation know how he was slighted by not being scheduled more frequently as a soloist. As his angry voice bellowed across the sanctuary, the humiliated music director sank lower and lower into the pew. Maybe Thomas thought he was righting the world, but I can’t see Jesus bellowing across the Temple because he was not on the “A-List” of singers.

In contrast to Thomas, Delores loves well. She works hard building relationships with her brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of the cost to her personally. She takes to heart the teachings of the Apostle John in I John 4:7-21: Beloved, let us [unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves [others] is born of God and knows God [through personal experience]. (God loved unselfishly, that is the same type of love we are to display one to another).” Thomas seems to fall into John’s description of “non-lovers”: “The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love.

God’s love always shows up. It shows up when believers attend a worship service and stay to have significant conversations with other believers. Church is not a chore to check off on their to-do list. This same love shows up when Christians volunteer in ministries and grow in relationships with other fellow servants. They encourage each other. The identical love shows up when believers get involved in a small group of believers for the purpose of community, even if a small group doesn’t easily fit in their schedule. “Show-up love” comes with a price. It can be very inconvenient.

If you do not have a “show-up” kind of love for your fellow believers, then maybe it is time for a heart check. Thomas thought a heart check consisted of public performance and rules. Jesus’ heart check goes far deeper.  Delores might not have all the answers, but Delores considers it a great privilege to love her brothers and sisters in Christ. Delores’ love always shows up. Are you a Thomas or a Delores? Is it heart check time?

Click to listen to a story of this kind of love

Click for further information on loving one another

PEACE BE STILL

Life can be uncertain, scary and confusing. Drowning in the heaviness of circumstances, we have the choice to reach out and cry, “Lord, save me!”

A great distance from land, the boat appears as a mere speck in the horizon. The wind whips the waves higher and higher. Accounts in Matthew 24 and Mark 4 describe the terror of the disciples in the midst of two different storms.  In the Gospel of Matthew, they see in the distance a figure. Is that actually a person walking across the water? The men cry out in fear. Then they hear the voice. It belongs to the One they love: Jesus. “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Amidst the surf, Jesus calls across to Peter, “Come!” Slowly Peter raises one foot over the side of the boat. Suddenly he finds himself actually standing on water. Despite being soaking wet, Peter makes his way toward the Savior.

Then comes that monster wave. It almost knocks Peter over. Startled, Peter wonders what in the world he is doing, attempting to walk across the Sea of Galilee. Fear fills his soul. Peter stops looking at Jesus and takes in the reality of his circumstances. Doubts flood his heart. The seas grab his attention. Peter begins to sink. Before he totally goes under, in terror he screams, “Lord save me!” Jesus reaches out and pulls Peter up from the waters.

Sadly, shaking His head, Jesus cries, “Oh, you of little faith, why did you doubt?” From Peter’s very first step, Jesus knew what a difficult test this would be. It pushed self-confident Peter beyond all his human abilities.

God does His best work when we come to the same realization as Peter: we cannot save ourselves. Notice the progression. Peter had to make that first step of faith out of the boat before his faith, or lack thereof, could be revealed.

Life can be uncertain, scary and confusing. Drowning in the heaviness of circumstances, we have the choice to reach out and cry, “Lord, save me!” Not until we invite the Savior does Jesus enter and make our twisted ways straight. Jesus does not tell us to hide away from the storms in the bottom of a boat. He tells us to get out of the boat and walk toward Him, regardless of our crisis. Only after that initial step does our Savior then whisper, “Peace be still.”

Click for further info on what Jesus means by “Peace be still”

PEACE BE STILL

God does His best work when we come to the same realization as Peter: we cannot save ourselves.

A great distance from land, the boat is merely be a speck in the horizon. The wind whips the waves higher and higher. The disciples are terrified when they see in the distance a figure. Is that actually a person walking across the water? The men cry out in fear. Then they hear the voice. It belongs to the One they love: Jesus. “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Amidst the surf, Jesus calls across to Peter, “Come!” Slowly Peter raises one foot over the side of the boat. Suddenly he finds himself actually standing on water. Despite being soaking wet, Peter makes his way toward the Savior.

Then comes that monster wave. It almost knocks Peter over. Startled Peter wonders what in the world he is doing, attempting to walk across the Sea of Galilee. Fear fills his soul. Peter stops looking at Jesus and takes in the reality of his circumstances. Doubts flood his heart. The seas grab his attention. Peter begins to sink. Before he totally goes under, in terror he cries, “Lord save me!” Jesus reaches out and pulls Peter up from the waters.

Sadly, shaking His head, Jesus cries, “Oh, you of little faith, why did you doubt?

From Peter’s very first step, Jesus knew what a difficult test this would be. It pushed self-confident Peter beyond all human skills. Peter had to realize he could not save himself. God does His best work when we come to the same realization as Peter: we cannot save ourselves.

When we are pushed beyond our abilities and understand we have no power of our own to save ourselves. Drowning in the heaviness of life, we reach out and cry, “Lord, save me!” It’s not until we invite the Savior, does Jesus enter and make our twisted ways straight. The Savior then whispers, “Peace be still.”

Click for further info on what Jesus means by “Peace be still”

PRAYERS THAT MALFUNCTION

Where was God? His Word was dust; her prayer life shriveled up.

Adults in Peanuts animated cartoons are only heard by the unintelligible sounds of a muted trombone (“mwah-mwah-mwah”) That’s how Sandy’s family hears her. A believer. Sandy ardently wants to share Jesus with family, but whenever she does, they roll their eyes. Her prayers are not answered. Something is malfunctioning. “Mwah-mwah-mwah!”

GOD SEEMED FAR, FAR AWAY

Sandy shares her story: “This past year has been an ongoing crisis. My daughter had an accident and I ended up being the caregiver, 24/7, for both daughter and newborn grandson. Included was being a nanny-on-demand for other relatives. The pressure never let up. My car went caput. I lost all sense of independence and was at the mercy of others for transportation. In my exhaustion. In the mix was my ex-husband, a constant thorn in my flesh. God seemed far, far away.”

HER PRAYER LIFE SHRIVELED UP

Where was God? Sandy’s life consisted of a constant cycle of exhaustion and anger toward her family, her ex, and her non-helpful church family. The Word of God was dust; her prayer life shriveled up.

THE DESIGN OF PRAYER

Finally, after a year of anguish, God spoke in a way which she did not anticipate. In the midst of her rants regarding her ex, God reminded her of her own sins. Sandy had never forgiven her ex or asked for his forgiveness regarding her own livid behavior towards him. John Piper writes: “God answers prayers for people who believe in his Son and who love each other. Prayer has a specific design, and if you misuse it, it malfunctions. What is the design of prayer? Prayer is designed by God to be the effect of faith and the cause of love. If we try to pray when our aim is not to love, prayer malfunctions.”

PRAYER IS THE POWER TO LOVE

The Apostle John states in I John 3:18-24: We receive from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments. John Piper explains: “Not because keeping his commandments earn answers to prayer, but because prayer is designed to give power in the path of obedience. Prayer is God’s way of making himself available for us when we are pouring ourselves out in love for others. Prayer is the power to love. Therefore, if we do not aim to love, we pray in vain.”

THE 10% RULE

Bitterness had to be knocked off Sandy’s throne. The dam of unconfessed sin broke as God let her glimpse what and who she is: a ragged daughter of God who refused to aim to love. It is said, “If you have confessed 90% of your sin to God but knowingly keep back that 10%, that 10% is the 100% of what is hindering your prayer life and relationship with God.” Sandy gave up the 10%. A miracle has occurred. Her loved ones no longer hear “mwah-mwah-mwah” when she both speaks and acts. Her prayer life has been revived.

THE WAY TO THE PRAYER ROOM OF GOD

Are you holding back any 10% in confession to both God and man? It is humbling to make things right, but untold beauty from God can be yours. “And whatever we ask, we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.  This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. Love is costly, but love paves the way to the Prayer Room of God.

Click for further great info on unanswered prayers.

KICK BUTT AND TAKE NAMES, JESUS’ WAY, OF COURSE

Why is stepping out in faith so hard sometimes? Even if you feel the nudging of Jesus, it’s just terrifying.

Why is stepping out in faith so hard sometimes? Even if you feel the nudging of Jesus, it’s just terrifying. If you are like me, stepping out in faith can be frightening. Whether stepping out in faith with your job or your new enterprise, it is hard, especially when you want to control every aspect of your life. I knew God was calling me to step out in faith to expand my small business and start selling at another store, but doing it was entirely different.

I STRUGGLED

I had a million ideas, questions, and concerns running through my head. Will I make my rent? Will people like my stuff and what happens if not a single one of my journals or stickers sells?

If I’m being 100 percent transparent, I struggled to see how everything would work with the new shop. I had faith, but the number of sales wasn’t that same at my other store. 

STEPPING OUT WHEN IT IS TERRIFYING

One day, as I struggled to figure out how everything would work out, one of my stickers sold. It’s one of my favorites, and it’s perfect to share with you today. The sticker reads, “Kick butt and take names, Jesus’ way, of course”. Translation: defeat someone or something decisively, but only by the power of Jesus. Stepping out in faith requires relying on God and not ourselves. It requires us to step out even when it is terrifying and we can’t see the road ahead.

THE STORY OF RUTH

Someone who could not see the road ahead was freshly widowed Ruth in the Bible. She stepped out in faith, left the town she knew, and went to an unknown location. Ruth told her mother-in-law: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” (Ruth 1:16) 

Ruth decided she would follow God and travel to the unknown. The trip carried her to Bethlehem, her mother-in-law’s hometown. Ruth trusted, believing the Lord would provide, and He did. Because of her faithfulness, Ruth met her husband, Boaz. This remarkable man is noted in Jesus’s lineage.

RUTH’S DECISION

Sometimes, we don’t see in the beginning how our faithfulness will play out. Ruth didn’t either. She didn’t know how choosing to follow Jesus and leaving her town would end, but she did it anyway. Ruth followed my sticker, she “kicked butt and took names, Jesus’ way, of course”. You can step out in faith. It’s a choice.

For an inspiring testimony of active faith listen to an interview with Gracia Burnham   

LOVE LIKE AN EXPERT

Clueless unsaved John didn’t understand what real love meant. He was powerless.

I love watching “The Great British Bakeoff”. Twelve amateur bakers compete against each other to win the title of Greatest British Baker. Each round displays the bakers’ skills as they create roulades, fondant fancies, pavlovas, etc. I watch in wonder. Usually, I don’t understand the vocabulary or the method of what they are doing but I love their skill. Even if I obtained a great copy of their recipes, I could not master them. I am simply clueless (sadly, my family will agree) as a baker. Appreciating a skill set and being able to do it are two different things.

NO EXPERT AT LOVE

I John 3:11-18 was written by someone who previously was no expert at love. Clueless unsaved John didn’t understand what real love meant. He was powerless. Ray Stedman observes about John: “This is not his nature at all. He and his brother James earned from Jesus the title, “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), because they were constantly wanting to blast back at those who opposed them. It was John and James who came to the Lord when a village refused to have them come in and said, “Shall we not call fire down from heaven upon them?” Luke 9:54). It was John and James who were constantly quarreling with the other disciples. The temperament of this man, John, was not one of naturally showing love.” John’s life was upended by the resurrected Christ. Overnight, he was given the power to love.

TEMPERS AND FISTS WERE FLYING

It is important to note the recipients of this epistle were having a problem with love. John’s readers were going through a time of church schism. Tempers were flaring and fists may very well have been flying.  In the midst of this, John describes the distinguishing mark of the genuine believers versus the false teachers that were invading the flock: love. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 

“ME LOVE”

Before Christ, John only knew what Stedman describes as “me love”, a love of himself. “The love we show as non-Christians is really a love of ourselves. We love our children because they are extensions of us. Our life is related to our father or mother so we love them. We love our relatives (presumably) because they are ours. Of course, we love our dog, our cat, our horse. We love the friends who please us, we love those who help us. Love is always directed to those who do something to, or for, or receive from us. Therefore, what we really love is the projection of ourselves in others. Thus, human love is self-centered.”

A PERSON WHO HAS NO LOVE IS DEAD

John challenges us to display the kind of love that is often uncomfortable, humbling, and puts obedience to Christ above any type of pride. It shows the stark contrast between believers and people who are spiritually dead. If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. (1 John 3:14 NLT) No genuine Christ follower is allowed to be clueless and powerless in displaying sacrificial love.

DON’T BE CLUELESS

John poses the question: are you genuinely saved? He doesn’t ask if you are a nice, kind, or a moral person. He challenges us to lay it all on the line: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  Only through relationship with Christ can we win the championship of loving other brothers and sisters in Christ such that we “lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Don’t be clueless. John learned to be an expert lover and we can do the same.

Click to read the astonishing love testimony of Jacob Deshazer

NICE, BUT “OF THE DEVIL”

Religion is the death knell for the Mrs. Krebs’ of the world.

I John 3:4-10 is a difficult passage of Scripture for me. It’s personal and hard to observe very nice people (by our human standards) and lump them into John’s summary: “The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.”  What about “Mrs. Krebs”, the church “saint”? (Name withheld to protect the non-innocent) Whenever the church puts out a plea for help in the kitchen, she is there. If they need a Sunday School teacher, she responds. No matter if they are toddlers or teens, she has a lesson and a pocket full of M&M’s that meets the needs of any age. Mrs. Krebs serves, regardless.

WHAT IS A SAINT?

I call her a “saint” using the Google definition: “a very virtuous, kind, or patient person”. Mrs. Krebs possesses all three of these qualities. However, the Bible defines “saints” as a group of people set apart for the Lord and His kingdom.  That’s what holiness is: being set apart for God alone.

THE METRIC FOR KNOWING GOD

Growing up in the church, I met a lot of people who love to go to church and participate in all the activities that are offered: Sunday worship, youth activities, baptisms, weddings, and yes, even funerals. We smile and serve year after year, but none of these things are the metric for evaluating an actual relationship with God. That’s the important part: saints have a genuine relationship with God and are set apart for Him alone.

THE “CULTURAL CHRISTIAN”

Mrs. Krebs is what is termed as a “cultural Christian”. John says, “No one who lives in him, keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him, or known him?” (I John 3:6).  Mrs. Krebs does good things, but doesn’t know Christ. In secret, she sins and just shrugs it off. People may like a church, grow up in a church, and have an affinity for everything that the church approves of, but they may only be what are called “cultural Christians”. They don’t know Christ or have the heart of Christ. They just have religion; not a relationship.

THE UNSAVED CHRISTIAN

Dean Inserra has written a book called “The Unsaved Christian”. He says, “Like their New Testament counterparts from Matthew 7, they know religion, but they don’t realize that their religion is the very thing from which they need to be saved. I tried to imagine the faces of those calling “Lord, Lord”, when Jesus told them, that they won’t be going to heaven. Their religious resumes were something to admire, yet Jesus wasn’t impressed–He was outraged. Rather than calling them good people, He called them lawbreakers.”

RELIGION IS THE DEATH KNELL

John’s warning is in the present tense. The phrase “continues to sin” refers to a habitual action of defiance and rebellion. People who become Christians will sin, but they will not live as they once did because they know Him. At the moment of belief, His divine seed is implanted in their lives. God’s new life gives both the desire and the power to live a holy life; a life set apart for Christ. We may serve in a lot of wonderful ways like Mrs. Krebs, but religion is the death knell for the Mrs. Krebs’ of the world. She doesn’t have a personal relationship with Christ.

So how do you measure up? Does God define you as a cultural Christian or a genuine Christian? Has the work of Christ alone both saved and preserved you? Has God implanted in you His holiness plus a desire to serve a life dedicated by love for Him? Does “set apart for Him alone” describe your life? Maybe you need to have a talk with Him.