Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Do you see signs of growing? 2nd Update
When I was a child, I had in my room a full length mirror. On the side of the mirror was a large measuring section. So I would stand up next to the mirror and I would see how tall I was. I was always one of the smaller kids in school so it meant a lot to me to be able to see that I had grown a couple of inches in a certain amount of time. It wasn't until I got into high school that I finally started to grow. I eventually caught up to my friends and even passed some of them up. That mirror would constantly be a reminder to me that I was growing. I had something to measure myself to. Without it, I had a hard time seeing just how much I had grown.
As a child, I measured my growth. I was a Christian because I went to church. For no other reason, I was a Christian because I went to church. It is what "I" did, that saved me. I believed in Jesus. I knew He died on the cross for the sins of the world. But in the mind of a child, if you are a good person, then His death on the cross was for all of the bad people in the world. And it was good that they had a chance to go to heaven. But for me, it wasn't necessary. So for the next 20 years or so, I was a good person headed towards heaven. I was a Christian because I was one of those people who believed in Jesus. You know, John 3:16 is all I needed. My walk as a Christian was the same as a 28 year old as it was as an 8 year old.
It was because of that lack of growth and understanding that I fell into Mormonism when I moved out to Arizona. I heard the same things I had heard in church. Jesus, the Trinity, heaven, hell, sin, the cross, forgive others. When moving to a new city and not knowing but a handful of people, it was refreshing to find people who "believed" and we very clean-cut in appearance. Very friendly. They were passionate in their faith and I had a sense that I should be like that too. So, I totally got involved in the church. I was the youth treasurer and secretary of the ward in Tempe. I was involved in camping activities and knew everyone in the church. Life was good. I was gradually changing and "growing" as far as I was concerned. And then something happened that changed me. I heard the teaching that blacks were dark skinned because of their sin. They were not allowed in the priesthood. Then I looked in the church and it was almost completely "white." Something about that really bothered me. I did not think that God, who created all people, would think less of a person because of their skin color. I then learned about Joseph Smith and all the wives he and Brigham Young had. I didn't think that was right either. I learned that they baptized dead people. I learned that they thought they could become gods themselves. I learned that Joseph Smith said man lived on the moon and on the sun. I learned that Joseph Smith made prophecies that did not come true -- a false prophet. I learned that Jesus and Lucifer were brothers, And yet, I stayed in the church. I asked questions and no one could or would answer them for me. I went to an Easter Pageant at the Temple in Mesa, Az in the spring of 1990. There was a Christian group that was handing out tracts on mormonism. As soon as they put it in my hand, it was grabbed out of my hand from my friend who said, "don't look at that, it is from the devil." So, I never saw what it said. That bothered me. But I stayed in the church. It was October of 1990 when my heart rate went down to 26 beats per minute and stayed that way for six straight weeks. I stood up and it jumped to 150 beats per minute and as soon as I sat down, I could feel it slowing down. It got to the point where I had to tell myself to breathe in because I would just sit there doing nothing. I was scared to death. I went to the hospital and every doctor checked me out. My heart, my lungs, my blood, my brain were all in very good shape. I was the healthiest dying person they had ever seen. The Mormon Elders came over every night to lay their hands on me and would say, "In the name of Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ, we heal you." Every night, I heard the same prayers. After six weeks, I finally had enough. I threw my Book of Mormon on the floor and cried out to Jesus to save me. I woke up the next morning (Thanksgiving Day of 1990) and my heart rate was back to normal. 60 beats per minute. Been there ever since!
In the mormon church, I always thought I was a Christian. But I wasn't. I was doing "good things" but was not growing in Christ. I left the mormon church that Thanksgiving Day of 1990. That was the best day of my life. I started to read the Bible every day and I would see the Scriptures that the mormons had used and for the first time, I was able to see the errors of their teachings.
So, on my own, I became a Christian again. I attended a Methodist Church in Tempe, near ASU. It was a college campus church. I felt as though I was growing as a Christian. I eventually became a pastor in the Methodist Church and later in the Christian Church (nondenomination). After five years in the ministry, I got out to help take care of my mom. Her health began to fail (my dad had died back in 1996, he was my first funeral I ever did, one month before I began in the ministry!). My taking care of my mom was necessary because I did not want her to go into a nursing home. So, I had to take a job in the secular world again. But, I was still a Christian.
And through it all...
I was not really a Christian at all. Five years in the ministry as a pastor, and I was not saved. I knew some of the basics of the faith and I believed it. But what good is that? I believed and that put me in the same league with Satan, for even Satan believes and trembles. I didn't tremble, why should I? I never knew of a reason that I should tremble. No one ever told me to tremble.
Fast forward to today...
I heard of a ministry called Way of the Master. I heard the message titled, Hells Best Kept Secret and also heard, True and False Converts. I cried out in shame. All those years spent "pretending" to be a Christian. I had spent years living in my sins. I was behind the pulpit and I had my secret sins. I was a professing Christian and I had my secret sins that I was not willing to give up. Why? Because I was a Christian and Jesus died for my sins. And because God is a God of love and would not send me, a good person, to hell. NO, God is HOLY. He is RIGHTEOUS! And without repentance of my sins, and without putting my faith and trust in Jesus alone to save me, I was lost and headed to hell. There was no growth in my walk with Him.
Do you see signs of growth in your walk? Are you growing as a Christian. Here is one way to find out...
DO YOU HATE THE THINGS THAT GOD HATES AND DO YOU LOVE THE THINGS THAT GOD LOVES?
Lying -- God hates it! All liars will have their part in the Lake of fire.
Adultery -- God hates it.
Stealing -- God hates it.
Lust -- God hates it.
Homosexuality -- God hates it.
Covetousness -- God hates it.
Idolatry -- God hates it.
Murder and hatred -- God hates it (you can be angry but do not sin)
Blaspheme His Name -- God hates it.
Do you get it yet? God hates sin. Stop spending so much time saying God hates sin but loves the sinner. Can you honestly think that a Holy God, who abhors sin as much as He does, will just say to the openly unrepentant sinner, I love you in spite of you sinning willfully? No! God's wrath will come down on the unrepentant sinner. So you really want to tell people that it is okay to be a homosexual? God hates it. Do you really want to tell people that little white lies are okay? God hates it. Do you really want to tell people that it is okay to look with lust because you are not hurting anyone? God hates it.
WHO'S SIDE ARE YOU ON?
See, this goes a long way in telling if you are growing in your faith. Do you have the same view points that you had 5, 10, 15 or 20 years ago? Or have you finally seen that God hates sin and we should too. We should hate it so much that we will not want it in our life. That we would repent TODAY of our sins. Don't compare yourself to others and say "I have grown more than them." Ask God what you need to change. If you are born again, you are a new creature. You have put off the old self and put on the new. You will no longer desire to sin. It will just not be acceptable to you any more. Sure, you will still sin, but when you do, you will feel so dirty when you compare yourself to the holy righteousness of God.
Do you love the things God loves?
He loves the repentant sinner. The angels rejoice in heaven not over one who makes a decision but a sinner who repents of his sins.
He loves the children. Do you agree with abortion rights?? Who's side are you on?????
There are many people who will proclaim that they are saved because they love the things of God. Really? God hates anyone who worships false idols. He alone is the creator of heaven and earth. He is ONE GOD! So if you are a mormon, a Jehovah Witness or in another cult...
if you are worshipping Mary or yourself, then you are breaking the 2nd Commandment. You shall have no other God beside me!! Jesus died on the cross for sinners who have repented and trusted in Him. His blood is sufficient to cover our sins. Nothing you can do will gain you entrance into heaven. Only by putting your faith and trust in Jesus, repenting of your sins will you be saved. You will desire to reach the lost because you realize they are headed for hell. You will desire to preach God's Word in-season and out of season. Why? One reason is because we are commanded to. Wait, that should be enough of a reason. I won't even give you more reasons because if you are not willing to be obedient in this, then how can I expect you to be obedient to ANY of God's Commands?
Do you see a problem with your walk yet? Is your growth not where it needs to be?
Holy, honorable, true and just
Honest, lovely, pure and our trust
God is our redeemer and our Savior.
Are you accepting sins as a normal part of living?
God requires so much more of you.
Don't go on steroids to try growing...
Get into God's Word on a daily basis...
And BE OBEDIENT TO WHAT YOU READ!!