Christianity 201

September 14, 2013

Call to Repentance

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Exodus 2:11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”

There’s a story of a young man in a small rural church who decided to study for the ministry. After completing an undergraduate degree in Theology, he surprised his congregations and supporters by announcing he would be pursuing an additional two years of study to complete a Masters degree. After six years total, the church’s pastor thought it would be nice if he would return to preach the Sunday morning sermon in his home church. Because he was a home-town boy the service was heavily advertised and the place was packed. What would the young man have to say that would reflect all those years of study?

When the time for the message came, he stood up in the pulpit, slowly opened his notes, and then, after a long silence, he bellowed in a strong voice,, “REPENT!”

The story is purported to be true, and if it is, I suspect he had more to say beyond that.

We who have been on this faith journey for a long time tend to admire preaching that contains a number of fundamental propositions, supplemented with related Bible texts and historical background information. But sometimes a one word message — like ‘Repent!’ — is what we really need to hear.

I promised I would keep this shorter today after a longer post yesterday, but if you made it all the way through yesterday’s item, I want to invite you to hear a message based on the above story of Moses  — available as either audio or video — which has a very simple premise, but one that invites us to bare our souls before God in a greater way.  The teacher is Steve Carter, preaching just a few days ago at Willow Creek’s Midweek Experience.

Click here to either listen or watch.  (Shovels and Thunder: Seasons in the Life of Moses – 36 minutes)

Also, for those of you who love sermons online, Alpha Course founder Nicky Gumbel returned to his home church to preach a few days ago.

Click here to watch. (The Drama of Destiny – 34 minutes)

October 8, 2010

Wanting To Hear From God

Over the past six months I’ve discovered that launching a blog of this nature is much more challenging than when I launched Thinking Out Loud earlier.   People will gravitate to topical articles, humor, cartoons, links to other blogs, and the latest gossip information about famous Christian individuals.   Even theological and doctrinal blogs will get a good following because people love a good debate.

But it’s the people who are serious about their faith that will seek out a devotional blog.   They want something that digs a little deeper, that cuts to the heart, or that processes things at a 201 or 301 level instead of just Christianity 101.   (And I confess that I some days, we don’t always get there.)   What is he speaking to fellow believers on the internet? What is God saying to me today?

I’m currently reading The Power of A Whisper by Bill Hybels (Zondervan) which is an entire book devoted to hearing God’s voice.    Here’s a checklist from page 108 of the book for your consideration if you feel that you’re not hearing God’s voice:

First, fervently and frequently ask God to improve your hearing.  Pray every day for God to give you ears like the prophet Samuel’s.  Ask Him for increased capacity to discern His voice and for heightened attentiveness to his promptings.

Second, reduce the ambient noise in your life.   For me, a sure way to get quiet before God is to head off solo on a boat.   For you, it might be listening for Him while you are driving, exercising or enjoying the quiet of your bedroom at night.  Wherever it is, be sure to carve out moments in your day when you can practice listening for the voice of God.

Third, you simply must fill your head with scripture…  Most of the promptings we receive at critical decision points in life come as the Holy Spirit reminds us of scriptures we already know.   We hear whispers that reinforce Biblical truths and we understand immediately what the Spirit is trying to say to us.  So saturate yourself with God’s word and see if His whispers don’t increase over time.

Finally, the Bible makes it clear that any ongoing pattern of wrongdoing compromises our communication with God — in both directions.   Our prayers don’t get through to God and God’s promptings don’t get through to us.  If you are stuck in a rut of sinfulness and deceit, confess your sin and turn away from it today.   Let the laser light of truth permeate every corner of your life.   Don’t truncate your communications with the Father because you’re unwilling to let go of a sin pattern in your life.